Best of 2012: August

Our roundup of the year moves on to some of the best articles from August, including one which poses the question: are you using the fact you’ve got a PDF document as an excuse for not creating a proper HTML web page for that document? If so, you may be missing an opportunity to provide a better experience for customers. But first…

1. Are you still measuring the “total visits” to your website? Those of you who use us to run Google AdWords campaigns and who run Google Analytics will be familiar with the format which we like to report on your website traffic. The first thing we do is to gloss over the total number of visits you get to your website, because that’s just the equivalent of counting the people who walk past your exhibition stand. The only thing which should be of interest is “how many people actually do something?” Once you’ve done this, your headline website traffic might be slashed by 90%.

2. Every site should have an XML Sitemap. What’s more, it needs to be updated permanently, or it can even be counterproductive. So, does your site have one …and is it up-to-date?

3. There’s no doubt that most written sales material isn’t nearly as good as a spoken sales presentation. That’s not down to any lack of communication ability from the writer of the sales material, but more because of this strange compulsion we have to dress up written material in unnecessarily complex words and sentence construction. The few people who actually talk like this in a business environment are rightly derided; we call it “management-speak”. Most of us don’t talk like this, but judging from most marketing material, it’s a lot harder to stop ourselves writing like this.

4. I suspect that most marketing managers are hopelessly optimistic when it comes to assessing how many of their promotional emails get opened. Of course, a lot depends on your credibility, your familiarity to the recipient, the quality of the mailing list and that all-important subject line. However, some research has just been released which quantifies what’s happening to other business marketers and might give you an idea of how your own emails compare.

5. I’ve been asked to take a look at a number of companies’ Google AdWords accounts in the past few weeks, with a view to suggesting what they could be doing better (and perhaps why BMON could profitably manage things for them instead). I’ve seen three huge mistakes on several occasions, and I’m throwing them out here for free, so that if you’re committing any of them, you can quietly make the necessary repairs. Most companies admit that the reason their accounts have fallen into a state of neglect is because of increasing demands on the marketing department. The demands don’t leave even an hour or two a week for looking after this vital advertising outlet.

6. PDF is not often a great format for SEO, and it can be hard to read on screen. The main thing the format is good for is to allow users to print off a facsimile of a printed document, but for anyone who’s ever lifted a soggy, crinkled piece of paper from an inkjet printer, it’s not always a quality reproduction. If the document is more than a few pages, nobody’s going to print it anyway, so you’re just presenting people with an inconvenient format not designed for their particular viewing medium. Why is this information not being presented to me as web pages, which are designed for reading on screen, for searching, and for general interactivity? Even when it comes to data sheets, I’d much rather see the information presented in web format, with a link at the end to view and print off an A4 PDF document for my project file, should I wish.

Quote of the month:
Running a banner advertising campaign on a well-known industry website? Never, ever rely on the numbers the website owner gives you, or the downright lie which is: “we set them up in such a way that you can’t see the clickthroughs in your analytics report“.

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