Month: October 2013

Risk vs reward of owning a new gTLD

Image courtesy of Anusorn P nachol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Anusorn P nachol at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Risk vs Reward

During ICANN47 in Durban I spoke with a cross section of applicants involved in the new gTLD process. I asked one question “Will your gTLDs be successful?”

The general feeling amongst all the applicants was yes, and why wouldn’t they say that, when they had spent at least $185,000 for their applications. One of the main reasons for their confidence was based on a risk versus reward analysis of what the break even cost was to run a gTLD successfully vs. the number of minimum registrations needed at an attractive price.

It’s estimated that you would need about $50,000 a year to cover your costs of running a new gTLD. So as long as the applicants felt that they could cover those costs with a minimum number of registrations based on their business plan, they felt that the upside was well worth the risk.

Here’s the logic

The thinking in many cases was based on a worst case scenario that if you sold 10,000 second level domains for $5.00 each you reach your $50,000 to cover your costs. Any registrations above that would be considered profit.  Considering that one of the slower performing TLDs on the market place like dot.aero currently has nearly 10,000 registrations, getting to 10,000 would be considered realistic and the risk reasonable.  Also through the largely untapped emerging BRIC markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China, the demand for registrations in the coming years is thought to continue to grow strongly. Sounds like a pretty straight forward plan right?

Possible errors in gTLD applicants thinking

Although SLAM Strategy is very much an advocate for the new TLDs program as a whole, we do have our doubts about the viability of some of these new strings. Not because they can’t be successful but because of three main and very real issues.

  1. Domain Supply vs demand concerns – There will be approximately 1,000 new domains available to the public in a very short time frame and although there will be considerable demand the supply is going to vastly outstrip demand with a flood of string options. Owners need to see this as a long term strategy that could take 5-10 years before they reach their breakeven points.
  2. $1 for a dozen domains for sale – Further to that, owners need to consider the fact that ICANN has mentioned subsequent rounds and the price for entry to own a domain likely to drop. This could further put pressure on existing owners trying to reach their break even points and extend or even make it impossible for some TLDs to ever reach their minimal requirements. A glut of registration options could lead to some offering a dozen domains for a $1 just to move stock.
  3. Risk of extinction – Anything with a small population is at risk of being wiped out if it is unable to adapt quickly enough to survive a changing environment. This is something that is a serious issue for the new gTLD owners as they are relying on a small pool of long established, existing Internet advertising and marketing companies to help them. In an environment where innovation, creativity and new thinking are paramount, the new top level domain name community is dangerously “short of options”, increasing the likelihood of catastrophic failures if they pick the wrong company to partner with.
    To some degree, a cookie cutter approach is inevitably going to be used by many of these companies who know no better, resulting in fewer registrations than anticipated and more importantly possible failure of the entire gTLD business model. All new gTLD applicants need to be wary of this and think outside the square. To understand this in detail you only need to look to the industry’s past and you will see that until the approved release of these new generic top level domains in 2011, the industry was tiny with only 22 top level domains and 250 country code top level domains which were drip fed into the system and snapped up by an almost inexhaustible demand for domain names. A fledgling and largely administrative driven industry was able to be serviced by a small number of Internet and Advertising providers who performed what would now be considered to be basic functions.
    The industry is now set to suddenly and massively expand into a very different and almost hostile digital landscape of dog eat dog and over supply. However, the number of new and external Internet Advertising and Marketing experts available that understand the gTLD industry but are not from the industry hasn’t really grown at all, and could almost be counted on one hand. Many of the people working in these companies have either worked at a registry, a registrar or at ICANN itself at some time in the recent past. While these companies and their specialists really are very, very talented with many years of industry experience, their greatest strength is also possibly their greatest weakness. Many of the current internet advertising and marketing companies providing support to the gTLD industry are providing advice based on their prior experiences from within the industry itself, as that is all they know. As a result, a lot of the same, repetitive and conventional industry thinking is likely to be offered, limiting any real competitive advantage that the gTLD owner may think they have. There’s no doubt these existing companies are extremely talented with amazing insight of the old gTLDs industry. However, the industry is rapidly changing and morphing into something very different from its past, requiring a more diverse approach to create real wow factor and excitement in the mainstream world of the average consumer.

How to make your new gTLD an Internet success story with fresh ideas

Yes this is a plug for SLAM Strategy but only because the new gTLD industry is a perfect synergy of business in the real world and the virtual world and creating ROI strategies in this space is where we see the future of online. We are an Internet Strategy company that could see instantly the potential of the new gTLDs on the global stage from a business strategy point of view. With over 23 years of experience in retailing, advertising and marketing and Internet strategy, the CEO of SLAM Strategy, Shaun Le Cornu saw an opportunity to give businesses an edge on the new Internet frontier that was clearly missing. Fresh thought is needed with a new approach by an Internet marketing company from outside the industry. There is a different game to be played that has not been played before and the current players could be lacking in vital real world experience.

Facebook Advertising ticks all the right boxes

 

Facebook advertising has been shown to have made significant improvements this year in increased impressions, clicks and views, spelling good news for brands thinking about or already using Facebook ads.

A recent report by Kenshoo Social reveals major improvements in the performance of Facebook advertising in the third quarter of 2013, compared with the second quarter. The data is based on over 85 billion ad impressions across a range of advertisers and agencies, including brands in the travel, retail and financial services sectors.

The key findings include:

  • Ad impressions rose 13%.
  • Click volume was up 14.4%.
  • Cost per click fell 9%.
  • Conversion rate was up by 2.36 times (ie. more than doubled)
  • Return on investment was increased 3.04 times.

A driving factor in the improvement of the performance of ads on the social networking site was users’ increased willingness to engage with brand advertising. Facebook’s recently improved audience targeting capabilities for ads has also been a helpful in improving rates of response.

If you’ve been on Facebook for a while, you’ll have noticed how the algorithm which sorts the News Feed works, by filtering messages and showing users the most interesting content. It’s estimated that on average Facebook users only see 20% of a potential 1,500 updates per day. As a result, brands can find it hard to have their content seen in the News Feed and thus could be missing out on valuable brand exposure and opportunities for fan engagement.

Facebook advertising is an ideal way to boost brand exposure on the social network, providing a cost-effective and highly targeted way to reach users where they interact with friends based on shared interests. As Facebook provides deep audience targeting capabilities, it enables marketers and brands to create highly customised, relevant ads that are more effectively able to reach new and existing customers.

How can I advertise on Facebook?

Facebook ads fall into three main categories: Ads, Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories. Here’s a run-down of what each ad type involves:

Sponsored Stories – the voice of friends

Image via: Facebook.com

Stories are actions taken by users which can appear in the news feed, such as “Lauren likes a link…” Sponsored stories are a message about a friend engaging with a page which can appear in the News Feed or on the right-hand side.  Sponsored stories are a form of advertising which seems more like a recommendation from a friend rather than an Ad.  As people trust recommendations and referrals from friends and those they have a connection with, Sponsored Stores are a great way to let your fans do the talking.

Sponsoring a story won’t change the content of the update, but it will increase its distribution. They are usually the most interactive form of advertising on Facebook due to being a ‘recommendation’ from a friend, and tend to receive higher click-through and engagement rates.

Sponsored stories are best used when you want another user to take the same action as a friend, such as liking you page. This way the user can see that a friend has taken interest in the page or post, which gives your content social context, making it more likely that the new user will complete the same action.

Sponsored stories can be created from a large variety of Facebook features and content, including:

  • Page post: like, comment, share, offer claim
  • Page/Place: like, check-in
  • App: use, share
  • Event RSVP
  • Game played
  • Domain: like, share

Promoted Posts – conquer the News Feed

Image via: Facebook.com
Image via: Facebook.com

Promoted posts enable you to have your posts appear higher in the News Feed, so there’s a better chance your audience will see them. You can choose to “boost” a recent post by going to your page and selecting the post you wish to receive more views. You then set a budget based on how many people you want to reach.  Promoted posts are ideal for getting greater reach for important posts, such as news or special offers.

Promoted post will appear in the news feed and not in the side bar. The difference between a Promoted Post and a Page Post Ad is Promoted Posts will reach existing fans and friends of fans, where Page Post Ads can reach non-fans (or friends of fans).

Ads – the voice of business

Image via: Facebook.com
Image via: Facebook.com

Creating Facebook ads gives you full creative control in producing ad copy and adding an image. Currently, you have ten different types of ad formats to choose from, which are:

  • Page post: status, link, offer, photo, video
  • Page like
  • App
  • Event
  • Mobile app install
  • Domain ad

Unlike Sponsored Stories, which appear in the News Feed, Ads will only appear on the right-hand sidebar.  Mobile app ads are only eligible to be shown in the mobile News Feed and, when clicked, will take users to the Apple App Store or Google Play (depending on their operating system).

The most effective ads are those that are a) relevant to your audience, and b) contain a call to action or reason for clicking on the Ad. Whether you’re advertising your page, website or event, tell people why they should be interested with catchy headlines and interesting photos (avoid stock photos which can lack personality).

The broad range of ad options budget-friendly nature of Facebook advertising makes it an ideal choice for all types of businesses to get the most out of Facebook and the thousands of users online.

This month we have a special offer for businesses looking to advertise on Facebook. Chat to us about receiving a $100 voucher with every Facebook Advertising packaged purchased in October.

 

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Facebook #hashtags

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#Hashtags

Just in case you’re not sure how they work, hashtags turn words and phrases into clickable links. When a user clicks on a hashtag, it will take them to a list of posts featuring that particular hashtag so they can find similar stories, updates and follow trending topics.

Facebook added hashtags to their network back in June, and since then a number of pros and cons have been noted.

Pros:

Allows you to include and associate your update with a topic of conversation, as you would with Instagram and Twitter. For instance, if you wanted to tell people more about your location, you could add #Adelaide to your content.

You could develop a hashtag for your business, eg. #AdelaideCoffeeHouse, and encourage your Facebook fans to use the hashtag when they check-in or post about your business. This would allow you to see and reply to content with #AdelaideCoffeeHouse.  As your hashtag serves as an online word of mouth tool, it would be a good idea to acknowledge and reward fans who use it.

Using hashtags will be beneficial if you have connected accounts, as the tag will be live across multiple networks, including Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.

Cons:

As there have been some months to examine the effect of hashtags on post reach, Edgerank Checker conducted a study and found that the use of hashtags did not increase the organic reach of a post. Further to that, posts without hashtags had more viral reach than those with hashtags. Edgerank Checker’s conclusions to this were that the lack of increase in reach could simply stem from users not clicking on hashtags, especially when they were used in conjunction with promotional content (which often receives less engagement, clicks and therefore, reach).

Facebook’s response to Edgerank Checker’s report pretty much sums up how you should approach the use of social media – with quality content:

“Pages should not expect to get increased distribution (what some call virality) simply by sticking irrelevant hashtags in their posts. The best thing for Pages (that want increased distribution) to do is focus on posting relevant, high quality-content — hashtags or not. Quality, not hashtags, is what our News Feed algorithms look for so that Pages can increase their reach.”

Thus far, Facebook don’t really seem to have put a lot of effort into making hashtags work as well as they do on Twitter. Maybe users aren’t used to it yet and are not sure of what to expect, or maybe they just don’t fit in with Facebook-style conversation. Hopefully Facebook will add a ‘trending topics’ feature to make it easier for users to follow what interests them, and for brands to join in the conversation. Currently, to use hashtags well on Facebook you would need to follow them closely, and as suggested before, follow up with fans that use them.

If you do use hashtags, use them sparingly – #no #one #enjoys #reading #a #sentence #that #looks #like #this.  Pick hashtags relevant to your conversation or topic, or even create on specifically for your business or promotion (just check that no one else is using it first!) Again, a custom hashtag would be ideal for use across connected platforms.

Tell us your thoughts, do you use or would consider using hashtags on Facebook? Leave a comment below or join our conversation on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.

 

 

 

Why you can’t ignore Google’s latest algorithm changes

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What’s new?

Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm update means that Google can now react more accurately to conversational enquiries from mobile and voice searches, such as “How do I…” and “Where is the nearest…”. The focus is on determining what a user really wants to know, besides just focusing on keywords.

What this means for Internet marketers and SEO is the need to adapt keyword strategies for conversational enquiries in three parts (as listed in this fantastic article): Informational, Navigational, and Transactional.

An example of an Informational enquiry could be: “What are the local public holidays?” and the top results would include a link to a list of public holidays.  A Navigational enquiry could be a user looking for a website of a government department, and a Transactional enquiry could be a simple, “Where is the nearest Cibo?”

These types of enquiries will require you to look at conversational enquiries users might use when searching for your services, and classify them under one of the three search types listed above. From there you can create relevant content and keyword strategy.

Another focus of the Hummingbird will be determining what a page is about using keywords, as well as synonyms and co-occurring terms. This means that a user may see results for a specific term, as well as theme-related terms. By expanding keyword research to include related keywords, acronyms and spelling variants, you can tap into extra opportunities for page exposure.

One of the ways that Google determines what your business is all about is through co-citation. This means that each time your brand or a link to your site is mentioned alongside your competitors, it lets Google know that the two companies are related. This is a good thing, meaning that your brand can be recognised as a business niche representative. Working to make sure your brand gets mentioned alongside your competitors can help you to get higher rankings and recognition from Google.

Your SEO professional will know more about the more technical side of SEO, such as re-examining anchor texts and utilising structured data markup to ensure your site and pages are thoroughly optimised for Hummingbird.

More content, better experiences

The biggest change to Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithms recently is the focus on clearing our low-quality content from search results.

Google is no longer disclosing to website owners which terms lead a user to their page, therefore forcing page owners to concentrate on delivering quality content.

By running a blog, keeping your website up to date with news, pictures, etc., Google will know that your website is informative and relevant to users. Google will be rewarding pages which provide users with a positive experience and engagement.

Sharing your content on social media (and linking back to your site) is super important now, with regards to aiding your SEO efforts. When your quality content is shared and interacted with (likes, comments, etc.) on social media, this helps build authority. Google takes into account recommendations from users on social media, as these ‘social signals’ help to filter out low-quality content.

Working with an Internet strategy company on refining your content strategy for SEO and social media will help you to achieve high rankings and get greater results from your online presence.

Got any concerns about how Google’s algorithm changes will affect your website? Chat to us, we’d love to help.