WOMMA WOMM-U: Word of Mouth (WOM) Strategy

By Li Evans

Joseph Jaffe of JaffeJuice.com Gives a Keynote at WOMM-U, a WOMM event put on by WOMMAThis past week, I had the opportunity to attend the WOMM-U event put on by WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association). This was a great experience for me, as I’ve been an avid promoter of WOMMA for a while now, including when I do training for my Social Media classes at SES Training. The WOMM-U event followed my Denver Social Media Class, so this was perfect timing, to have this event follow right after.

What I found most interesting is how different forms of marketing approach Social Media. It’s great when you get to bounce your ideas, practices and thoughts on strategies with the head marketing folks from Dell, Apple and even OPI cosmetics. When you sit in a round table discussion with only 8 people or less, a lot of ideas can be bounced around, vetted out and understood.

That’s what I got to experience with the WOM Strategy track for the breakout sessions at WOMM-U. The track had six 30 minute sessions on different areas of Word of Mouth strategy including: Building a Sustained WOM Program, KPI’s that Work, Selling WOM Programs to the CEO, CO & CMO, Measuring ROI of Fans, Going for Big, Fast Buzz Now & How Does WOM Scale. I attended 5 of the 6 sessions and they had some great takeaways.

Building Big, Fast Buzz Now:

  • Evangelism is key to this. People who are whole-heartedly behind your product, brand or service can be your best allies with creating big, fast spreading Word of Mouth campaigns.
  • The internet has become a form of entertainment. Today, it is essential that companies have strong creatives for their Word of Mouth campaigns.
  • At the end of the day, its people talking to people. That’s how the conversation spreads, that’s how Word of Mouth spreads, if you don’t have an interesting story, people just aren’t going to talk to others about you, your brand or your products or services.

Selling WOMM Programs to the CEO, CO & CMO:

  • Word of Mouth Marketing programs are a natural outgrowth of great customer service. If your company already is known for providing great customer support, word of mouth is very easy to come by.
  • One of the keys to creating a long time, good word of mouth marketing program is to make promises that your company can keep. Even if they are small, eventually the numerous small promises, add up to a continuous, reliable track record that people can come to rely and trust in.
  • Small project that give back to the community that has formed around the brand, product or service, return good incremental value. They also create and build a trusting relationship, and when that happens, word of mouth starts to spread.

Carla Hendra, CEO of Olgivy speaks about the Dove campaign for real beauty and the effects of WOM at WOMM-UBuilding a Sustained WOM Program:

  • WOM should be done by all marketing units, not just the online unit, or the customer retention. Getting all areas involved helps to ensure the WOM program keeps moving along.
  • You need to listen to how your audience is promoting you, understand how they are saying things, not just “what they are saying”.
  • Product or Service co-creation is a great way to get community involvement and help to continually spread word of mouth.

KPI’s That Work:

  • Four areas to look at in WOM: Involvement, Interaction, Intimacy & Influence
  • Consumers have become very fluid now and their touch points have become fuzzy, and therefore it becomes very difficult to track.
  • Word of Mouth Marketing has shattered the linear tracking of how consumers purchase products and services, both in brick and mortar stores, as well as online. Understanding what is “success” is key to understanding your KPI’s

Measuring the ROI of Fans:

  • You need to understand what your fans / evangelists are willing to do for you. Understanding this, can give you valuable insight into your evangelists true value.
  • You need to understand that there are different types of fans / evangelists: Adovacates, Influencers and Promoters are just a few of the types.
  • Using your advocates can lead to decreased costs.

There was a lot more in these sessions, some really great take aways were given. The open environment of the round tables, and being able to ask the moderators about their past experiences was invaluable. It’s not every day you get to pick the brains of the folks who helped Leggo and Intuit, and this WOMM-U event provided just that.

Hats off to the entire WOMMA team that put this event together, it was worth every minute I spent there! For more conference coverage of the WOMM-U event by WOMMA, check out Search Marketing Gurus. For all the fun in photo form check out the WOMM-U Flickr set I set up, too

Online Marketing Strategy, Where It All Begins

By Li Evans

Whether you are doing a PPC campaign, an SEO initiative or even social media outreach you have have to have a plan. Without an online marketing strategy in place, how will you every know where to go, how to get there and what to do once your get there? If you don’t have a strategy, it’s kind of like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see if its sticks (and is done). That’s not good for the cook – you waste spaghetti, time and have to clean the wall, and it’s certainly not good in online marketing – you waste resources, time and are left scratching your head in bewilderment.

When you are looking at starting an online marketing strategy, there’s some basic things you should take into account. Making sure all your bases are covered, will save you a lot of hassle and a lot of headaches in the long run. Sure, it may take a few more hours in planning, but it can gain you so much more in the end.

Research First
Research is probably the single most, foundational thing any marketer can do. Know your industry inside and out. Know your industry and how it relates in both an online and an offline marketing environment. Who’s your competition? Nine times out of ten, your competition is different offline than it is online.

How are people searching for you, the products or services you provide and is it different than the jargon you use? Do you want to focus on brand building or focus on the services / products? Can you do something totally different online than you do offline? By doing your research first, you can be prepared to make the right decisions and most likely get a leg up on the competition.

Decide What Online Marketing Facets To Utilize
Do I need to do PPC first? How about starting an online forum? What low hanging fruit can I pick from in the SEO world? Do I need to re-energerize my email marketing campaign? Maybe I need to do some videos & and images? Maybe, you need a piece of everything?

Knowing what approach you are going to utilize, SEO, PPC, Social Media, Email, Multimedia, Online PR or any other segments of online marketing is key to making a strategy work. Doing the research first will help you to determine what segments you really need to hone in on. If it’s a brand new site, you’ll likely need to boost that PPC campaign first, then bring in the SEO. If its an established site, maybe a little bit of social media is needed. Make sure your plan spells out what exactly you will need to use so that all the players on your team know where to put their time & resources.

Coordinate Offline & Online Marketing Initiatives
One of the biggest blunders large brands make is not coordinating their offline marketing with their online efforts. What happens when a commerical hits really big on TV? Most people head to YouTube looking for it, or they head to the company’s site. If offline and online don’t mesh, someone else can take advantage of that company’s “miss”.

It’s not enough to just put up a video or a photo, or even a blog post these days. Coordinating offline, with all facets of online marketing is needed. More often these days, people do not use just one source to find what they are looking for. They may start at a search engine, but then the go off to social sites looking for information, too. Planning and strategizing for this is essential to your marketing success.

Decide What To Measure
targeting what to measure in online marketingOne of the most important things to do from the very beginning of any online marketing effort is to decide what is going to be measured. Is it incoming traffic, is it time on site, is it number of pages in a visit or maybe its conversions? Not only is this important, but it’s important to segment that measurement.

By segmenting the measurements, you are going to know where and how these items are succeeding or failing. You can know whether its a landing page or the home page that’s driving the bounce rate up. Is that particular keyword really focused on what it needs to be? Is there a problem with your shopping cart? All of these can be seen if you decide what to measure and what segments to look at before you implement that online marketing initiative.

What Are Your Success Factors?
So you’ve got an idea of what you want to do online marketing wise, right? Well how are you going to determine whether or not that initiative is successful? Traffic & hits alone can’t give you a whole picture. Just because your traffic went up, doesn’t mean that your plan was a success.

Did you get new subscribers? Did anyone buy the product or service you were promoting? Did you get new links pointing into the marketing piece you launched? Did that email get opened more and did the receivers click through? Without setting goals and deciding on what is deemed a success, you are never going to know whether or not that marketing strategy was truly a success or a colossal blunder that shouldn’t be repeated again.

What Happens Next?
It’s not enough to just plan for “right now”, you need to also plan for “what’s next”. Is your marketing strategy agile enough to be able to capitalize on a successful viral marketing piece? Is your online marketing plan taking into account that PPC effort is tanking and costing too much? What are the contingencies you’ve set in place?

If you don’t plan for what’s next, you could miss out on some great opportunities that come your way from both successes and failures. Also planning for what comes next gives your team something to strive for an attain – the next milestone in the online marketing plan. Knowing what you’d like to do next, also helps you to keep an eye out both budget and resource wise before you actually implement. If your team also knows what is coming next, you have multiple eyes looking out to make the next action in your online marketing strategy a success.

Travel Industry: Online Marketing Going Beyond 10 Blue Links

By Li Evans

Last week I had the delightful opportunity to present on the Travel & Search panel at Search Marketing World 2008 in Dublin, Ireland. It was a really great event that featured not only search marketing in Ireland, which is growing by leaps and bounds, but search marketing across the UK and Europe. Not only did Chris Sherman of Search Engine Land give a great keynote speech, but Mike Grehan of Acronym Media presented a panel on linking, Bill Hunt of Global Strategies and, Jon Myers of Mediavest spoke on Integrating Search Into Your Media Plan, and Dave Davis of Ireland’s own RedFly Marketing presented on Blogging & Search.

Travel Industry Expanding Beyond 10 Blue LinksThe Travel & Search panel brought up some interesting topics. From why the travel industry should care about search marketing, to why it should care about mobile and finally my topic of social media and travel, the panel covered a lot of information that businesses in the hospitality industry should be looking at to be competitive in this online market. Both of my industry colleagues, Nick Walsh and Teddie Cowell brought some great information to the audience.

Businesses who find themselves right in the center of the hospitality industry like hotels, resorts, restaurants and tour companies, find themselves in an ever evolving market space when it comes to online marketing. 3rd party booking engines are a godsend and a problem, social media is this big area that is rapidly growing and a place that can make or break a business, and mobile search is coming on so fast, no one really knows what to prepare for. Understanding all of this and being able to handle it is a big task for a lot of businesses in the hospitality industry.

The big question that really came out of the panel is “Why should the Travel Industry care?” … about online marketing, which encompasses SEO, PPC, Mobile, and Social Media. There are a lot of reasons to care, and they all boil down to the company’s bottom line of making a profit. Although some of it is hard to directly relate to it, every segment of online marketing can have a direct affect on the bottom line.

Looking at hotels, making sure your site is optimized for the search engines can help ensure their site is the rankings for their listings. Not only that, but making sure that their own sites have a capable booking engine and prices are in line with both the competition and the 3rd party booking sites like Expedia, Hotels.com and Priceline, can help these hotels keep the relationship personal with the customers booking on their sites. In the end, it saves the hotels commissions, which helps their bottom line, and creates a valuable relationship with the customer that usually brings them back to their hotel again and again.

Social media has increasingly had a growing affect on businesses in the hospitality industry. From forums to review sites and then tack on blogs, businesses have a lot on their hands when it comes to not only promoting their services, but also when monitoring their brands and services. One bad post about a guest not having their sheets changed for 17 days is enough to drive enough potential customers away that it makes a difference in the bottom line. Knowing how to handle and embrace the good as well as the bad, is essential to this industry.

Finally mobile is about to take this industry by storm. Ensuring websites are mobile friendly is not just a “nice” thing to have; soon enough it will be essential if you want to keep up with the competition. From maps to find the business, to making reservations with smart phones, mobile will soon be a force that can no longer be ignored.

So where does this leave the travel industry? To be honest, it leaves them in a place with a lot of great marketing possibilities. It’s a great time for the hospitality industry to embrace a lot of new ways to market their businesses and improve their bottom lines, to reach out and engage customers and create rewarding relationships. Are you a hotel, a restaurant or even a tour company, are you thinking about embracing any of these great ways to market your business? Perhaps now, is the perfect time to take a second look at online marketing!

Stop over at Search Marketing Gurus for additional coverage of Search Marketing World.

Hanes ‘Wedgie Free’ Campaign Misses Out on Online Marketing

By Li Evans

Madison Avenue advertising agencies may be good at TV commercials, and highly paid PR Firms may know how to write a press release, but when it comes to translating that across to an online medium (i.e. the internet), the majority of them have a lot to learn. I came across a post on AdFreak about Hanes’ new ad campaign for their new product “Wedgie Free” underwear, which features actress Sarah Chalke of Scrubs fame. The commercials really hit the mark by capturing Sarah’s comedic timing and her all around good looks. It can appeal to women by them thinking “wow, ‘She Gets Wedgies Too?'”, yes I know kind of corny, but all of us have been in that situation at least once in our lives.

While the commercials are catchy, and even premiered on American Idol (trying to capture that ‘young adult female’ demographic), I stopped and wondered how this was translating online. To any online marketer, it’s probably not a surprise that it hasn’t translated yet. If you’re a major online brand, maybe even Hanes, you are probably wondering “what is she talking about?” Well lets take a look at this a little closer.

Hanes PR people sent out a press release. It’s nice, contains images of Sarah Chalke from the commercials and also includes the ability to play the videos on PR Newswire. Great! Hanes’ PR company has at least managed to figure out how to get the videos and images into the press release, but that’s where it seems to have stopped. The PR Release isn’t optimized for search – at least the way normal people search – especially if the aim is “Wedgie Free”, “Wedgies”. I’m sorry, but not many women refer to their underwear crawling up their backsides as “no ride up”, its a “wedgie” plain and simple. It make work in a commercial, but that’s not how people search.

When they launched this campaign, they probably didn’t even stop to think about an online strategy. I’m pretty certain it was more of an after thought. Why? Well because if you look at the search results, you’ll see they (meaning Hanes’ website) doesn’t rank for the main phrase “Wedgie Free”, nor “Wedgie Free” Hanes. They could own this term but they don’t and they are missing out – especially with their PR people contacting blogs like AdFreak.

Google Search “Wedgie Free”

Wedgie Free Search Results in Google

Google Search “Wedgie Free Hanes”

Search for Wedgie Free Hanes in Google

Google Blog Search “Wedgie Free Hanes”

Search for Wedgie Free in Google's Blog Search

You can see the results (in both regular search and blog search) brought back are minimal, and probably until this point, not a lot of search were conducted on “wedgie free”. However, if you launch a campaign on American Idol touting “Wedgie Free” underwear, what do you think will happen? Hello – the audience of American Idol is the demographic that uses the internet the most, they are going to go on and search for videos, images and information on “Wedgie Free”. With as little competition as there is for the key phrases around this campaign, they could have really hit the mark online with this campaign without a lot of effort. Instead their Press Release on PR Newswire gets the search results as does AdFreak, who points to the PR NewsWire and Wall Street Journal pieces, not even to the Hanes website.

Multi-Media wise Hanes is sorrily missing out too. They could really capitalize on this campaign if they only took the time to contact an online marketing agency to help them “get more bang for the buck” when it comes to their online efforts. In taking a closer look, I’ll show you some examples of where they are really missing out. First we’ll look at images and then go to video.

A search in Google Image Search shows the screen capture below for “Hanes Wedgie Free”. I also did a search on “Sarach Chalke”. Granted the search for Sarah might be a bit more competitive, but had Hanes optimized their images on their site and in their press release for theses terms, they could be capturing another segment of search, and it’s quite possible they could invoke that these images produce “blended” search results in the search engines (where the images will appear in the search results).

Google Image Search “Hanes Wedge Free”

Results for Hanes Wedgie Free in Google Image Search

Google Image Search “Sarah Chalke”

Search for Sarah Chalke in Google Image Search

Now lets go to video. Here’s another chance that Hanes could quite possibly get “blended” search results to start appearing for these phrases that undoubtedly people are looking for after the appearance of the commercials on American Idol, however, again they are missing out. Google now incorporates relevant YouTube videos into their search results, Yahoo incorporates Yahoo, YouTube, Metacafe and a few others – Hanes is really missing out here!

Hanes doesn’t have a YouTube channel (as of this writing!), and they don’t have any of their videos/commercials out there. Instead other users on YouTube do. This actually does say a lot for their commercials – they are clever and witty, and Cuba Gooding, Jr is just hilarious in those commercials with Michael Jordan. People really LIKE them. It’s too bad Hanes isn’t taking advantage of this, people would subscribe to the channel and it could be another channel to disseminate their message in a quick and easy manner. Instead, with these new commercials, only one video is out there and it’s put up by a division of a PR Company. Plus the video isn’t even optimized for what it should be, it just has that “PR Spin” in the description.

YouTube Search for “Hanes”

YouTube Search Results for Hanes

YouTube Search for “Hanes Wedgie Free”

YouTube Search Results for Hanes Wedgie Free

YouTube Search for “Hanes Wedgie”

YouTube Search Results for Hanes Wedgie

YouTube Video of Wedgie Free Commercial Uploaded By Another Company

Hane's Wedgie Free Sarah Chalke Commercial / Video Uploaded in Another Users Account

The point here is that this ad campaign is clever, it hits its mark in speaking to its target audience, and it’s got a likable spokesperson, but wow, is it missing out on taking this to the next level. The video of how the commercials were made that’s included in the press release on PR Newswire is great but only included there, why they haven’t put together an online marketing strategy to take advantage of this is really befuddling!

Hanes, if you listening, at least get your own YouTube channel! (That’s a little free advice!) 🙂

Retailers & Blended / Universal Search

By Li Evans

This past week I presented at SMX West in Santa Clara, California on the Retail and Blended Search panel. It was quite interesting to be on a panel that also included representatives from both MSN and Yahoo Shopping divisions. There was a lot of information given, from making sure your images had feeds to looking beyond feeds for promotion of online retail products.

As we progress further and further with technology and the availability of broad band to shoppers, searchers are looking for more than just a blue link on a search results. Searchers are becoming more savvy as technology progresses, and as more and more options are being provided to them, they actually WANT more than just a blue link. So where does that leave the retailers on the web who have invested so much in feeds?

Retailers need to start thinking outside of the box, because if they merely rely on a feed to get the traffic to your page, eventually as the search results become more engaging. Retailers who just rely on the feed links will loose out on all those people clicking on video links, picture links, social media profiles, and reviews. So what’s a retailer to do?


  • Make sure your products have images.
  • Make your put captions underneath image.
  • Make sure your images folder is accessible to the search engines.
  • Name your images properly.
  • Make sure your images are of good quality.

Google actually shows different images in blended search than it does in regular image search. The thing to remember with images is that shoppers are very visual and if you have the opportunity to take advantage of image search why not put your best foot forward?


Here’s a perfect opportunity to engage consumers via a social media medium. It’s visual, its interesting and it engages a customer into finding out more information. Utilize a few of the social video sites, by uploading some short videos of product demonstrations, humor takes, or even “how to” videos. If you make them fun and interesting, there’s even a chance for them to become viral and while not directly on your site, if the description is optimized with a link to your site or the page the product is on, this can be another traffic driver, beyond the search engine.

Rating & Reviews:
If you can start reviews of your products on your site, this could be a powerful resource to help raise the quality of the page. Amazon uses this very wisely and to their advantage. Rating & review sits such as Epinions and Yelp, also hold a lot of value and can help with with yet another way to “indirectly” hold another position in the results.

Social Media Profiles:
Having profiles on various – relevant – social media sites are another way to help bring awareness to your brand, as well as your products or services. People link to social media profiles, so just like with rating and review sites, it is possible to own another spot on the SERPs in an indirect manner. Make sure that your profile on all of the social media site you belong to is properly filled out with the right URL, emails, contact information, etc.

These are just a few ways retailers can broaden their reach, beyond the regular product feed. Starting to think beyond the feed and planning a full online marketing strategy will open a lot more opportunities for retailers in the new realm of blended / universal search.