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Google Analytics

Over the course of the semester, I was able to analyze data about my website in Google Analytics. I discovered that the number of visitors increased when I updated my content, such as added a blog post.  I also discovered that my website received the most traffic the day one of my posts was shared on Twitter.  I believe that I received more success from SEO then PPC advertising.  Google Analytics also showed that I received about 70% of my referral traffic from a link I put on my Linkedin profile, which was very interesting and I need to figure out how to capitalize on this. Under Content, Google analytics shows that I had a total of 646 page views, which I am satisfied with. My most popular page is unsurprisingly my home page with 254 page views and my About page came in 2nd with 87 page views.

 Google Analytics

Overall Learning

I think one of the most important things I learned in MKTG 470 is that important marketing principles that are present in other forms of marketing are still crucial to internet marketing.  They may be applied slightly differently in internet marketing.  The principles of satisfying your customers and making their experience with your company easy and enjoyable are important whether they are walking into your storefront or visiting your website, the only difference are the tactics you use to accomplish this objective.

The Future

I’m not exactly sure what I am going to do with this website once MKTG 470 is over.  I will probably update it once every couple of weeks instead of multiple times a week.  The content may also change.  I will probably still post about marketing topics that interest me, but I may blog about my life and the funny things that happen to me.  Although I have learned a lot about internet marketing, I’m not sure if I want to pursue a career in PPC advertising.  This may change as I learn more about the industry, but I think I would like a job that incorporates PPC with traditional marketing instead of one that focuses solely on PPC.  However, I did enjoy running two Google Adwords campaigns, and I won’t rule out this industry as a career.

One of my assignments for my MKTG 470 class was to optimize my JMU page using on-page and off-page factors using the phrase “Love JMU.” This allows my page to show up higher on the results page when someone goes to a search engine (such as Google or Bing) and searches for the phrase “Love JMU.”  Some of the ways I optimiSearch Engine Optimizationzed on-page factors was to using the phrase “Love JMU” in the page title, page description, and mentioning it twice in the body of page. I also used a heading to highlight the key phrase.  Other on-page factors that I attempted to optimize were putting the phrase in the title tag and the meta description tag.  The one off-page factor I tried to optimize was link building by cross-linking with one of my classmates on his JMU page. Overall, Crawler FX gave my page a 30 out of 100 for optimizing this key phrase.  The report indicated that although my on page factors were very good, my off-page factors such as incoming links were severely lacking. Unfortunately, my page didn’t improve in Google’s rankings but it did rank on the 3rd page in Bing’s search engine results.  In order to improve my rankings further, I need to get my JMU page’s links on other people’s websites, preferably reputable websites with high traffic. Search engines heavily weigh how many links your website has on other websites.  I also need to provide an alt tag with the key phrase in the picture I have of the Quad on my page.  Hopefully, all of my on-page and off-page SEO efforts will convince the search engines to fall in love with JMU.

Google Webmaster Tools Logo

Marketers should use Google Webmaster Tools because your website is like your storefront, especially for online retailers, and Google Webmaster Tools shows you any potential problems your website is having.  This is extremely important for marketers because major problems such as very slow loading pages or 404 errors can cause your potential customers to develop unfavorable attitudes about your company.  Google Webmaster Tools also shows any issues Google has crawling your website which can hurt it in the rankings.  Having your search rankings hurt for an easily fixable problem is a major threat because many users don’t look past the top 3 results on the page, and even less look at the next results page.  Google Webmaster Tools allowed me to discover that my website contains two invalid URLs which I plan to fix as soon as possible.  From my experience, encountering this error is frustrating and makes me much less likely to revisit a website in the future.  Another interesting feature of Google Webmaster Tools is Search Queries, which allows you to see which search queries gave your website impressions.  I also like the Keyword feature which shows the keywords that are mentioned in your site most frequently.  I would like to learn more about the Sitemaps feature because Google Webmaster Tools shows that I do not have a sitemap, and I believe I submitted one to Google last week. I think this is probably an example of user error, but I want to learn more about how to fix this issue.  Overall, I found Google Webmaster Tools to be pretty user friendly and a great tool for marketers.

 

Last Tuesday, Deb Van Horn, the Vice President of Support Services at The Rockingham Group, spoke to my MKTG 470 class about social media and online advertising.  One of the insights I learned was how companies use social media to interact with their customers.  I have long been curious how companies measured social media interaction and Ms. Van Horn explained how her company calculates the engagement rate of The Rockingham Group’s Facebook Page.  Another key insight that she shared was that Rockingham Group strives to provide their Facebook fans with content that is relevant to them, instead of trying to sell them something every time they post something to their page.  I believe that this kind of behavior builds brand loyalty and doesn’t risk alienating your existing customers who have alreadyThe Rockingham Group Logo purchased your product.  The Rockingham Group also uses Facebook to receive feedback from their customers and responds to them in a friendly, timely manner which I’m sure their customers appreciate.  The third insight that Ms. Van Horn shared was career advice.  She told her story about how her career didn’t turn out as she planned, but she is happy with the outcome.  She told us to be flexible and resilient without getting too comfortable with the status quo because the business world is constantly changing.  I believe that this is great advice regardless of the career you choose.  I really appreciated Ms. Van Horn taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with us and share her knowledge about internet marketing and hope that she will share her story with future JMU students.

If you would like to know more about Ms. Van Horn or would like to contact her, check out her Linkedin page.

Retargeting is when an online advertising agency uses a customer’s previous search history or buying behavior to provide them with ads for products they have viewed or will probably enjoy based on past behavior.  This technique uses cookies and collected data to make these assumptions.  Personally, I can’t remember a time when I encountered retargeting advertising, but I also don’t pay attention to online ads.  However, I believe that this practice is borderline creepy and has some significant issues.  I’m aware that customers leaving their online shopping carts and viewing another page is a significant problem for online retailers, but I believe that there must be a more effective method than repeatedly pelting this customer with ads for the product they decided not to buy.  If a customer decided to hold off on buying a product, or not buy it at all, they probably had a legitmate reason in doing so. 

Additionally, according to a New York Times article, many customers find these ads intrusive and creepy.  Why risk your customers viewing your brand as annoying and creepy? In spite of the higher click through rates of these ads, I believe that this risk isn’t worth the reward.  There are other issues with this kind of advertising, for example, what if someone is purchasing a gift for someone that they share a computer with and the potential recipient views the ad? Or embarassing products that anyone using that computer can see after the original user leaves the computer open? Although I don’t believe that this practice is unethical, I believe that companies who use this technique should provide an opt-in option when a customer first signs up for an account.  This way, the company can highlight the benefits of having highly targeted ads, which some customers may find extremely helpful.  I think this is the most promising use of retargeted ads because companies will only target customers who actually want to view these ads and improve their click through rates without the risk of tarnishing their brand image.

 

 

I love Pinterest.

It’s a recent addiction for me, and I’ll be honest, I tend to “pin” some of the stereotypical girly things such as puppies, kittens, cookie recipes, and clothes. It’s the perfect way to waste time.  It’s filled with pretty pictures of delicious looking food, clothes I can’t afford, and beautiful cities I want to visit.  In fact, it is cutting into the time I spend on Facebook. I believe that this is for a couple of reasons. First, the Facebook Timeline has made my experience less user friendly.  I was one of the first few to get the Timeline and have become acquianted with it and still see the major flaws.  The big one is that I can’t see what my friends have added/updated/commented in the past week on their profile. The only places for that are the Newsfeed and the streaming feed on the side of the page that I rarely look at. This rolls into the second reason, Facebook has less new content due to the Timeline.  My Newsfeed has become less relevant to me and I don’t spend hours on Facebook looking at the streaming feed.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love Facebook and I don’t plan on quitting it because of the timeline, I just spend less time logged on and more time on Pinterest.  Pinterest always has new content.  However, I believe that main difference between Facebook and Pinterest is that Facebook reflects my life as it is now and Pinterest reflects what I want my life to become.

In my opinion, this is the main appeal of Pinterest. Pinterest users “pin” beautiful clothes they want but can’t afford, pictures of physically fit women with workout tips when they want to lose weight, and pictures of exotic locations they want to visit. Many people also use Pinterest to help plan their dream weddings.  People want to imagine themselves in the future, and Pinterest allows them to visualize this content in the form of stunning pictures and share it with their friends. I believe that this demonstrates a key component of marketing that many companies seem to forget, when people buy unique or differentiated products, they buy a lifestyle. For example, I tend to “pin” pictures of New York City, where I hope to live in the next 5 or so years. I also ”pin” pictures of puppies I plan to get someday as well as dresses that I can’t yet afford.  Pinterest allows me to envision my future, and most of my friends do the same.

From My Pinterest Board

This also underscores a need that is important in this economic climate. Pinterest users seem to use Pinterest as an escape from their current financial situation. Looking at beautiful pictures of what I hope will reflect my future life offers me hope and excitement about the future, in spite of the disappointing economic statistics on the news.  I don’t think Pinterest intended to fill this need when it was founded, but its user’s content has satisfied a need that I was only vaguely aware of until I joined.  The skyrocketing popularity of the site shows that selling a lifestyle is incredibly important and I believe that more companies should take notice.

 

 

 

 

 

I have always been interesting in branding and I love how marketing communications can create strong brands.  The following is an excerpt of a paper that I wrote about Volkwagen’s marketing campaigns during my junior year of college. I really love this company, not only because I own a VW Jetta, but because of the incredible job they have done branding their cars over the years.

 

Ever since the iconic commercials for the VW Beetle, Volkswagen has been a leading company in marketing communications. The 1960s campaign for the Beetle has been voted the number one advertising campaign of the 20th century because it completely shifted how companies appealed to customers. Volkswagen understood its target market and appealed to them on a tangible, emotional level, which had not been tried before.  Fifty years later, Volkswagen continues to be innovative and creatively appeal to their target market with their marketing communications campaign which emphasizes their cars’ speed and safety. 

VW’s message is that they offer affordable cars that harmonize speed and safety.  They have portrayed their cars as fun to drive but show that you can also transport young children safely to their destinations.  VW even ran ad campaigns from different advertising companies to highlight the two distinctive parts of the message, speed and safety. Overall, Volkswagen utilizes the basic communication model very well and their ads are effective.  Their logo is memorable, recognizable, and portrays the image of a sleek, dependable, affordable German car.  Their television and print ads clearly target their market of college students and young professionals who may have young kids but don’t want to sacrifice buying a boring looking car for safety.  The ads use little to no words and appeal to customers on an emotional level.  An example of an ad that effectively eliminates noise is their well-known Passat Superbowl commercial “Darth Vader.”  The ad consciously doesn’t include any verbal communication and the screen at the end of the commercial only displays the product name and price, along with their new tagline “Das Auto.”  The ad doesn’t mess around with extensive product information but instead shows a young, hip couple and their small child interacting in humorous way and highlights the car’s cool features. The “Darth Vader” ad shows how well Volkswagen understands and appeals to its target market. 

Volkswagen realized the power of effective marketing communications during the 1960s, when the Beetle ad campaign pulled the company into the mainstream.  I believe that Volkswagen will continue to have success in the future as it looks for groundbreaking strategies that appeal to drivers on an emotional level with a message that emphasizes the marriage of speed and safety.

 

I have been late to jump on board the Twitter craze.  I’m still not crazy about it but I really like that I have the ability to follow famous people like comedians and actors. Since this is the first time I have spent a significant amount of time on Twitter, I’m going to give my inital reactions to different aspects of the social networking site.

Pros

I really like the concepts of hashtags.  It not only categorizes tweets but it can allow you to bring in more content to your tweets when you have limited space (it doesn’t require punctuation or even spaces).  It also provides context to tweets.  Most of the time I have no idea what a person is talking about until I see the the hashtag #thebachelor.

I also really like that it allows companies to interact with their customers in a more informal way. Hashtags are also great for branding if people tweet and hashtag positive things about your brand name. However, this can obviously quickly become dangerous if people begin to tweet bad things about your brand.

Cons

 I still find other people’s tweets a little confusing with all of the seemingly random characters that I’m sure actually mean something.  

 I also receive way too many tweets. It’s an information overload already and I only follow 31 people.  I need to figure out how to limit some of these tweets from people I don’t know.

This may be another example of user error, but I don’t understand the replying to tweets process.  Each time I reply to someone, it shows up as a tweet. Maybe this is how it is designed. 

I’ll figure it out eventually.  I was skeptical of Facebook at first too and now I couldn’t imagine my life without it. Maybe Twitter will change my life also.

I just added the theme Brightpage 1.5 by Effi and I like it so far. I found this theme by doing a general search for themes in my WordPress dashboard.  I tried a few other themes first and found that they didn’t have the functionality I was looking for. I originally chose the Twenty Eleven Theme by WordPress but discovered that it was the default theme.  Ultimately, I chose this theme because it is simple and interesting.  Unfortunately, a couple of my widgets disappeared such as my twitter widget. My original favicon also disappeared.  Other than these two issues, I haven’t noticed a significant lose in functionality.  I think the layout and color contrast will make the site appealing and easy to use for visitors. I was also able to customize the picture and the background.  Hopefully it looks clean and visually appealing to users, although the image was distorted when I applied it to the header section.  My only major concern is that some of the text on the menu options doesn’t contrast with the background as much as I would like. 

 I ultimately chose this theme because I like how it lays out the page and believe that it draws the eye in a natural pattern with the large picture in the top – center of the page.  I also really appreciated the simple design.  I didn’t want a theme that was too complicated or difficult to find the different pages on my site.  I didn’t experience any major issues when I activated the theme.

 I hope you guys enjoy my theme and would appreciate any feedback you have to offer. Feel free to comment about it on my Twitter.

Welcome to my blog.  I am currently enrolled in Strategic Internet Marketing (MKTG 470) taught by Dr. Theresa B. Clarke at James Madison University.  As one of the course requirements, all students will be completing some of the assignments as blog posts.  This is my first official blog post for Dr. Clarke’s course in the JMU Department of Marketing.

 

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