New resources to improve customer journey to purchase

Earlier this week ‘Westpac Ready for Business Report’, found that over half (53%) of Australian small businesses do not have a website, equating to potentially more than one million businesses who are not online. Westpac and MYOB are combining to create a digital toolkit for these businesses, not dissimilar to the MYOB-Google Get your Business Online initiative in 2011.

For Aussies businesses taking the first steps into the digital space, two timely oustanding resources were released this week which shed light on the path to online purchase.

BigCommerce is a leading e-commerce platform that helps businesses set up professional quality stores online. Their new infographic What Influences A Purchase Decision answers questions about which store features affect buying and the role of smartphones and social media.

Googles Think Insights website is another treasure trove of research, insights and analysis where you can also find inspiring case studies from other advertisers in your market or industry. This weeks tool The Customer Journey to Online Purchase enables us to look at customer journeys / transactional data collected from 36K Google Analytics accounts/profiles across 7 countries. The sample chart from the website, shows the role various channels play in different parts of the purchase journey looking at data in the US for automotive clients.

Customer Journey to Online Purchase

You can use this data to plan your own marketing programs for your ecommerce store. Australia isn’t amongst the 7 countries, but the ability to see data by industry for advanced markets is still valuable.

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Is your PPC Campaign tool on Red Bull?

If you follow Formula One racing you will know that Red Bull are suddenly the team to beat in 2011, staying ahead of established teams like Ferrari that have ex-champion drivers in their ranks. Much of their new found competitiveness is down to them now having the best car, which counts immensely in this most technology dependent of premier world sports.

PPC marketing is analogous to Formula One in some ways in that the pre-requisites for success are similar. Both need a top-notch driver (Campaign Manager), race strategy (Campaign Optimisations), an experienced team principal (Account Director) and the best in line race car/engine (PPC Campaign Management tool).

As I read a recently released report on PPC Campaign Management tools by Search Marketing Now, I was left to ponder on the extent we as Paid Search marketers are dependent on our own PPC tools. So is it all about the tool?

I think a good tool can certainly improve campaign efficiency and outcomes especially with large accounts (portfolio of products/brands, active keywords >20,000,  multiple online channels). A PPC tool allows campaign teams to automate campaign tasks and provides complex reporting, competitive analysis and cross channel attribution insights all in one place. This frees time to focus on work that cannot be automated, like creative writing, forecasting, developing long term strategies, setting up tests and staying up to date with new search enhancements.

I have optimised many campaigns manually or simply through Adwords Editor and the Google/Yahoo interfaces with equal ease though I admit it does increase time required. The decision on whether to rely on a 3rd party tool or to what degree, depends on each Campaign Managers style and the complexity of the account. SMBs and SEM consultants running small or seasonal campaigns might often find working with free tools simpler and cost effective. If you are undecided, the report has a useful section on the pros and cons of campaign automation.

Here is a snapshot comparing the leading PPC management tools.  Disclaimer: I have not used any of the tools myself so cannot endorse or comment from personal experience.

PPC Campaign Management Tools

The above list at first glance appears more North America focused to me and hence may be unfamiliar to SEM practitioners locally. But it does provide vital information on the capabilities that leading automated solutions can provide.

Remember the PPC landscape today in Australia is not just Adwords and Yahoo, but increasingly also Facebook which according to an AdAge report did 60% of 2010 revenue in self-serve ads, as well as LinkedIn. In a previous post I noted IAB figures showing online advertising in Australia is growing steadily YoY and Search is already 50% of that spend. Read on and make sure your team or Agency is using the best tool on the market.

Group-buying space braces for Google Offers entry

Google is planning to launch Google Offers, a deal-a-day competitor to group-buying site Groupon after failing in its $6bn bid to acquire the latter last year. Social media website Mashable broke the news overnight providing exclusive documents to verify the news.

In the US, group-buying is mega business with Groupons 12 month revenue to Sep 2010 at 465 million and plans for an IPO later this year. The No.2 LivingSocial has entered into a partnership deal with Amazon and yesterday broke the industry record, selling 1.3mn deal vouchers by offering $20 Amazon gift cards for $10.

As competition grows, each website will vie to source the most attractive deals from merchants and keep growing their database of subscribers. With its strong brand recognition and vast in-house advertising and engineering resources Google should be able to give the existing players a good fight. Google has existing connections with local businesses (through Google Places, Adwords) and consumers (through Google Search, Google Maps) that can be used to promote and acquire scale for the new service. It could also integrate a Google Offers widget on the millions of Android smartphones shipped daily worldwide.

In Australia, the group buying landscape has seen hot competition with the top 5 of Australian Group-buying websites Spreets, Cudo, LivingSocial, Jumponit and Scoopon and numerous smaller players. Around these there are also sites that aggregate the best daily deals like Alldeals. Dell Australia also has its own group-buying site at Dell Swarm. This weeks acquisition of the AU and NZ operations of Spreets by Yahoo7! for an unconfirmed sum of $40 million further underscores the potential big players foresee in the market.

Groupon is yet to launch completely in Australia due to a domain squatting dispute with one of its clones Scoopon which owns the groupon.com.au domain. Groupon has created an Australian website Stardeals which is currently soliciting members and offers $10 credit for every additional member recommended. That Groupon is not yet a household name in Australia is an advantage for the existing players and new entrants like Google. Time will tell whether we will see a shakeout once Google and Groupon establish themselves locally. In the meantime watch this space for more updates.