A HIPPO Internet Marketing Training blog by Corey Creed

The Jungle Map, your guide through internet marketing

Search and Research – 2006 PubCon Vegas

November 16th, 2006

This session was a “super-session” and was one of the ones I was looking forward to the most.  Why?  It is one of the only opportunities to learn the truth about where people are clicking and why.  These guys know their stuff and have the data to prove it.  The information can be applied to most any site.

A similar session a few months ago was incredibly interesting and some of the same people were on the panel.  So I purposely seeked out a good cup of coffee before I got a good seat toward the front of this conference.  I’m feeling good, so this will probably be a long post…

The first person on the session was Tom Hughes of Sentient Services.  He is an expert in branding.  At first it seems like this would not have much to do with research on the web, but it really did.  Some of you may know that we are trying to rebrand ourselves at Hippo Inc this year.  So his info was good not only for us, but anyone starting to brand or rebrand their business.  Here are some main points.

While we are delivering website performance, we are delivering brand performance.  The website is the front line for delivering brand experience.  Are we delivering the intended experience for the brand?

Start with your strengths versus key competitors.  Use research tools such as market data and industry reports.  Use Qualitative (focus groups for example) and Quantitative (such as surveys, web analytics).  Talk to your customers and employees.  Get help with analysis and interpretation of data.  Analyzing data and understanding analytics is not easy.  It may require a professional.  (How true is that?  I have to agree.)

He then gave a Brand positioning and Messaging template. 

  • It starts with your Position (the essence of how you are compellingly different). 
  • Next is your identity (Who are you and what do you do?) 
  • Then, differentiation (How are you better?) 
  • Significance (Why should your customer care?)  The next level is your messaging support (The key message that deliver the brand position). 
  • Lastly is the Emotional Support (Key motivational needs delivered by the brand). 

If you are a large or small business, the above information should be reviewed in order to work your brand.

How do you use this template? 

  • Deliver optimal brand experience on the home page. 
  • Incorporate images and pictures on site pages that resonate the brand positioning. 
  • Launch ad campaigns that resonate the brand positioning.

Building and determining your brand helps you to determine what you should do with your website.  Your website is your brand.

Next up was Gordon Hotchkiss of Enquiro.  This guy is amazing.  I love his blog.  He has worked with the eye tracking tools to see where people look on the page of any website.  He’s also chairman of SEMPO right now.

Why is research important on the web?  Search Marketing is all about using research in order to be effective. To be effective, you need these things…

  1. Right message (if they search, give that what they are looking for)
  2. Right person
  3. Right place
  4. Right time
  5. Right Experience

Do research to determine what the intent of the user is.  Use personas.  (Personas involve creating a fictional typical user and use them as a scenario.  In search, you would do searches with that person in mind.  I need to blog about a great book I recently read on personas when I get back to the office.) 

Once you use personas and start thinking this way, you will automatically figure some basic principals.  For example:

  • Most people that want to purchase something will follow paid advertising. 
  • People looking for research would look to the organic listings.

Can this be proven?  Yes.  When this was tested, the eye-tracking tools determined that people look very closely at the top sponsored list and maybe one or two organic result as well.  But where they clicked was especially revealing.  The hard facts reveals:

  • In research queries, 100% of the click throughs happened in the organic listings. 
  • In purchase queries, 44.4% of the click throughs happened in the sponsored listings.

INTENT IS THE KEY.  The user is in control.  Understand your user’s intent and give them the right place, the right time, and the right message.  Don’t force something unnatural.  give them a simple and right onsite experience.

Next up is Glenn Alsup, president of Viewmark.  His company is a small research company.  He discussed the difference between quantitative and qualitative research.  He showed some great examples of how you can build a test case and perform a usability study.  A facilitator needs to assist.  There also needs to be observers outside the room. 

Interestingly, his company does usability studies on voting machines.  They have strict rules on how that is done.

He also explained that usability studies can be done remotely.  You can watch the user doing something on the computer and see the user.  This can be a cheaper method.  (Pretty cool idea.  I wonder how many companies are doing this.  Something to research later.)

Last up is Dana Todd of SiteLab International (famous for her red hair).  She talked about SEMPO and the research they are doing with their research committee.  SEMPO is only about three years old.  They track baseline data.  They have a survey that tracks all sorts of info from search engine marketers.

They have learned that:

  • SEO has a strong demand
  • SEM management is moving to in-house teams
  • Click price is growing
  • Awareness and concern of click fraud is growing
  • More advertisers are engaged in SEO than Paid Placement
  • The total dollars going into SEO is lower than Paid Placement
  • Many companies are wanting to move to 100% in-house.  This is partly due to dissatisfaction of outsourcing.
  • Many are saying that they can pay more for Paid Placement


I have to say that this type of data is what attending these conferences is all about.  To hear these people validate and have the research to prove some of the things that we have been preaching is refreshing.

And boy am I glad I had that coffee before it started.  <smile>