How to Measure Your Brand's Online Influence (Inc.)

Analytics for Measuring Social MediaMarketers are creatures that feast on numbers.  Metrics are used for such important marketing functions as uncovering opportunities, creating marketing plans, and determining if decisions actually yield positive results.  While research has been an integral part of marketing for a long time, the explosion of data available from customers’ interaction on the Internet has vaulted analysis of metrics to a new level.  Unfortunately, not all of this information is easily understood.

For instance, one area that has been difficult to measure is the impact social media has on marketing.  Everyone believes Facebook, Twitter and the like are important for marketing, but placing an actual monetary value on this has been problematic.  One reason is that it has been hard to connect a social media posting to customers making an actual purchase.  Yes, the referral measures are there (e.g., Facebook’s Like, Twitter’s Retweet), but many marketers want the answer to a simple question: “If I spend the money to use social media what money am I getting back?”

The Dirty Little Secrets of Search (New York Times)

Black Hat Search Engine TechniquesMost companies looking to build a successful online presence must rely heavily on search engines to drive customer traffic.  In a perfect world, though, this is not what most marketers would want since they do not have complete control over an important method for acquiring customers.  But as things currently stand, performing well on search engine queries is vital and marketers have little choice but to deal with it by developing a search engine marketing strategy.

And what does it mean to have a successful search engine marketing strategy?  The best measure of success is high visibility on the list of links returned to someone’s keyword search (called organic search results).  Yet, what many marketers, especially those in small firms, do not realize is that gaining high rankings is not easy.  It takes work and it takes understanding how search engines operate.

Taco Bell Using Ads to Battle Back on Beef (MSNBC)

What do marketers do when their company is under attack for its marketing decisions?  Some may take the approach that the best way to handle things is to diffuse the situation quickly by working hard to address the issues being raised.  With this approach, the marketer will often make concessions to those who are screaming the loudest.

For instance, a marketer may remove an advertisement that a certain group feels is offensive.  While the marketer may not really believe it is necessary to do so, the potential negative backlash that may arise if the ad is not removed may be viewed as too risky.

Issues with Company Provided ResearchThe standard market research report, generally viewed as a routine and often dull business document, is being viewed in a new light by many marketers.  While most people do not equate a research report with promotion, the fact is many companies are turning these reports into major promotional tools.  The practice of distributing research reports to potential customers has been used for a number of years in scientific and technology industries but in recent years the practice has expanded into many other fields particularly among service firms such as those involved in consulting, healthcare and financial industries.

In the past these reports have served as background supporting materials to help establish credibility for a company’s products and services.  Today companies are placing these reports at the front of their promotional activity.  The release of company-produced research reports is often supported with a promotional press release highlighting key findings and encouraging anyone interested to visit the company’s website to see the full report.  Though, in most cases, accessing the report requires completion of a form containing contact information that can later be used by the company for follow-up purposes.

The Borders Story: Is This the Final Chapter? (Newsweek)

Retailer Faces Tough TimeWith the U.S. economy clearly on the path to recovery, we can now look back on the wreckage the recession left behind.  What we see is that many companies failed to make it through the tough times and needed to reorganize by filing for bankruptcy, while others simply went out of business. Besides the obvious failures in the automotive and financial industries, the business landscape is littered with many well-known firms that ran out of steam during the recession.  Among those on the list of companies that failed since the downturn started in 2008 are Frontier Airlines, Lenox, Nortel Networks, Reader's Digest, Tribune Company and Ziff-Davis.

While financial problems afflicted companies across a wide range of industries, arguably the retail industry suffered the most.  Among those holding a spot on the long list of bankrupt retailers are: