Archive for the ‘Blue Root’ category

The astronomical costs of Pay-per-click

January 12, 2009

Pay per click is an expensive business.  Today I was looking through a great website,, and found an article called “49 Amazing Social Media, Web 2.0 and Internet stats“.  On top of all of the less surprising or frankly not entirely interesting stats (2 minutes, 46 seconds is the average length of a YouTube video.. Snore..), I found an absolute beauty that will open your eyes.

$39.96 – the average cost per click for the phrase “consolidation of school loans” in AdWords (source:  keyword tool)

Why are companies paying nearly $40 dollars per click on Google?  And more importantly, why aren’t rival companies spending their spare time clicking on rivals links to charge them more money?  Surely the only beneficiary from this state of affairs is Google?  It’s not like they are paying $40 per transaction or sign up.  They are paying $40 every time an individual clicks a link, even if they then decide that they were really looking for School Loan Constellations (It’s a famous star system seen in the Southern Hemisphere, seen during the winter months… Not really..)

Well, to tell you the truth, there are far more efficient ways to get interested customers to your sites without paying astronomical Google prices.  For example, we’ve provided campaigns to some key companies that averaged out at less than 15 pence (22 cents) per click.  There is honestly no reason to spent so much of your business precious cash on Google marketing when there are so many other options out there.

A very social media Christmas period

January 5, 2009

I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong, but at least I find it interesting.  I’m talking about how social media relationships work over the Christmas period, and whether it’s perceived by the majority of people as a necessary pass-time during such a family orientated holiday or, more likely, as an anti-social behavior for the socially inept.  So what comes first for social media users, offline relationships with friends and families, or online relationships?

Many “non-tech savvy” people (read as normal people who don’t spend hours online each day) would be surprised at the activity levels online over Christmas.  Out of interest, I logged onto World of Warcraft on Christmas Eve (in between meeting the mother in law, followed by the father in law, followed by the fiance’s brother and wife, followed by having a meal with said fiance… Xmas was tiring..) and was surprised to find a huge number of people were choosing to spend their time with their online friends.  As I walked around, I was wished Merry Christmas numerous times, and left feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.  Following this, I logged onto a few of my frequented forums to, again, be happy to see people chatting away with their online friends.  In many of these people’s lives, their online friends are more important than offline friends.  No, this shouldn’t be seen as them being geeks, but it SHOULD suggest that online relationships aren’t just throw-away, part time and anti-social wastes of time, but central to people’s social calendar.  As work takes up more of our day, and the cost of living

I know it’s an old concept to some people, but I just thought I’d share the importance of social media as an intrinsic part of people’s lives.  For example, a good friend of mine recently spent Christmas in New York with his girlfriend.  They met playing Scrabbulous on Facebook.  My housemate met her boyfriend playing World of Warcraft and now are part of their own guild called “Just the two of us”.  Yes, sickening, but true…  If millions of people spend Christmas Eve online with their friends rather than being with their family then perhaps it should be realised how essential these online relationships are.

World of Warcraft wedding

Two gamers marry on World of Warcraft

Two gamers marry on World of Warcraft

Innovative blogging…from the womb

December 15, 2008

This has to rank up there with the most innovative, yet also the most pointless social media ideas out there.  Kickbee is a band worn by a mother to be which is filled with sensors and wires.  No, it’s not to monitor the babies health and well-being, it’s design is purely social media.  When the baby kicks, Kickbee posts a Twitter post to inform all concerned of the occasion.


Great idea, but it needs some improvement.  Why not conduct a scientific study to learn the “language” of a babies movements in the womb.  Rather than informing us that the kid has kicked, why not INTERPRET what it’s trying to say.  “It’s dark in here..” for example, or “stop eating gherkins with custard, I hate them!”.  Either way, I’d like to see some babies express militant views or dislike for public transport etc, just to lighten the long 9 month wait.

So where do we go from here?  Sensors on your stomach to inform people when you’re hungry, Brain sensors to tell your friends when you’re bored, maybe a sensor on your car to tell all of your friends when your car gets stolen.  Ok, most would laugh but a few may help. Maybe..  Hey, why don’t we hook our pets up so we know when they sleep, go outside, chase cats etc? That would be AMAZING. In fact, I’m working on it now.  Next stop, Radio Shack..

We’re not stupid

November 27, 2008

You need to treat your customers with respect.  They’re not stupid, and can see through all of your fancy marketing ideas.  For example, here is a shortened version of an email campaign i was sent from a company that sells sports training books.  All names are made up to protect their identities…

First email (sent to ENTIRE customer mailing list…)

From: John Johnson (Marketing manager)

To: Sarah Sarahson (CEO)

Hi Sarah,

I just had a thought.  Why don’t we increase our 30% discount to 50%.  That’s right, i said 50%.  We have such great books so why not do everyone a favor for the holidays!


Second email (sent to ENTIRE customer mailing list…)

From: Sarah Sarahson (CEO)

To: John Johnson (Marketing manager)


Are you nuts?  that’s far too cheap! I know we love our customers, and our books are great, but the company simply can’t afford 50% off.  Lets stick to 30%.  That’s still a huge discount!


Third and final email (sent to ENTIRE customer mailing list…)

From: Sarah Sarahson (CEO)

To: Entire mailing list

Dear valued customers,

I’d like to apologise for the emails you received yesterday.  A gremlin in the system must have delivered them to you all, so I’m sorry.

I have recieved hundreds of emails calling me a Scrooge for not agreeing to the 50% discount, so in light of this I’d like to finally agree to it, but only in the run up to Christmas!  We can’t afford to offer such a CRAZY discount for any longer!

That’s right, we are now offering 50% off all books until the 25th of December! You lucky people!

Have a great Christmas,

Sarah Sarahson (CEO)


There we go.  This email apparently “accidentally” slipped onto the mass email server and was sent out to thousands of contacts.  No, I have no idea how this happened either.  It’s either one INCREDIBLY unlucky accident or a completely obvious and lame attempt at a marketing ploy.  As I said earlier, please don’t think we are that stupid..

The top mistakes for business blogs

November 5, 2008

How many times have you seen it.  Some business somewhere decides it’s a good idea to write a blog (probably about their steelworks, or maybe they have a new lint remover to sell…) to generate traffic to their landing page and generally make them a squillion dollars in profit.  However, we always see the same mistakes over and over again.  They are as follows:

– Assuming we are interested in posts JUST about their products and services:  Without interesting content to draw in your audience, people will stay away.

– Spamming hundreds of links all over the blog and Twitter profile:  Viewers will jump site the second they see several links in one post.  The same goes for Twitter, but on a larger scale.  Links on Twitter must be limited, but most importantly, of interest to your readers.  If they want to see your site, they’ll look on your profile.

– Weekly updates:  If you want traffic, employ an enthusiastic English graduate to write as many interesting and thought provoking blog posts each day.  Weekly updates just don’t cut it.

– One way information stream:  You’re not providing TV adverts anymore.  Your audience needs to be engaged, conversed with, treated well, have their opinions asked and just generally made to feel like they matter.  You need to have a flow of information to and from your audience, so use Twitter, Friend Feed, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, and any other tool to keep in touch with your readers and encourage a two way information stream.

– Formal and rigid:  Finally, it’s important that you don’t sit at your computer writing blog posts with your business hat on.  Take it off, throw it away, chill out and and have fun.  Sure, you may be representing your business, but the medium of blogging allows (nay, requires) you to take more of an informal role.  People want to be chatted with, not presented to.

Harry Enfield

A good way to annoy your audience

November 4, 2008

If you’re writing blog posts, uploading videos on video sharing sites, photos on Flickr (et al) or providing any other content within social media, you need to know the one way to drive away your audience.  It all comes down to tagging.

I was just browsing through a gallery on a popular sailing site, looking for photos of the boat I’ve just bought (it’s a racing dinghy, nothing fancy or expensive!).  So I start with a search, and tap in the class of boat (RS800).  For some reason, the owners of the site decided to tag all photos of boats built by RS (200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, and 800) with the same tags.  So rather than getting 20 photos returned of the subject I’m looking for, I now have 500 photos of several different boats to wade through.  Why do people do this?

Why do people do this I hear you ask (or was it me who asked)?  It’s because they think that filling the tag column with several hundred random tags will pull a large amount traffic back.  It’s the blunderbuss approach, and it doesn’t work.

key-west-2007-1763The blunderbuss aproach involves filling your wide barrelled shotgun with bird shot and blasting a wide area hoping to kill a duck.  The problem is, it’s so unspecific it drives off new audience members quicker than Ronald McDonald at a Vegan festival.  You’ll annoy your users, new members will run away, your site will choke with so many search results being returned, your wife will leave you (probably) and you will regret ever trying the blunderbuss approach.

Only ever tag your content with the correct tags.  If you want to reach more readers, then write more blog posts, upload more photos of a wider range of subjects, vary your videos, and just generally supply a wide but interesting (and by that I mean in depth) range of content, correctly tagged.  Don’t be tempted with over tagging, it is a quick fix solution that fixes nothing.

How important is online social media?

September 30, 2008

I was asked today, by a prospective client, why I think online social media is important.  The situation this was presented in, and the way it played out, reminded me of the IBM advert currently running.

A cyncical boss asks a young manager for reasons why he should sign an energy saving proposal.  Sure, he muses, the tree huggers will be happy, but he needs to see a monetary benefit.  His mind is quickly changed when the young apprentice explains that the energy saving will halve the $18 million energy bill spent last year, and suddenly the tight fisted manager is a tree hugger.  Cute cartoon animals dance around the room, Disney-esque music begins to play, IBM are made to look like they really do care about the environment and, somewhere, advertising executives wearing shiny suits and driving big fuel guzzling cars hi-five each other over a job well done.

So when asked about the benefits of social media, I decided to simplify it beyond any tech savvy language and tell it straight, in the hope that cartoon animals will take flight to prove my point…

“Why do we use influencers within social media?  Because each selected influencer has an audience of several thousand readers each day.  Multiply that by the huge number of influential bloggers and forum members and you have a huge audience.  Now, these guys can either support your brand, or they can hinder it.  If you upset them, they could destroy you.  If you look after them, just imagine the possibilities.”

Unfortunately, this didn’t have the impact I wanted.  Disney failed to deliver, and quite frankly the cartoon birds that decided to pitch up and fly around my head seemed decidely demotivated, and quite frankly, drunk…

Anyway, some people are a little old fashioned and struggle to realise the power of social media, preferring to buy billboards and to post leaflets.  Why work with social media when you can pay big bucks to have an advert on after the “X-Factor”?  He even went as far as saying “if they get negative, we’ll fight fire with fire and stop them!”.  After biting my fist and closing my eyes for a few seconds, I decided to try another approach.

Ok then, whilst you spend millions on conventional advertisments, how many people do you think really read your sales pitch?  Do you think they see an advert and say:

“Wow! That bill board says that the new tracker mortgage is great, and that the bank is really very stable!  It must be true, bill boards can’t lie..”?

The trouble is, people have been desensitised by years of marketing, and no longer trust what the companies say.  However, if a good friend of your tells you that the new Dyson is the best vacuum cleaner ever made, you’d be tempted to buy it.  Social media is no different, except the one person raving about the new quadruple cyclone, ball shaped, hover hoover (there you go dyson, that idea’s on the house), is telling thousands and thousands of people who have gone to their site looking specifically for pre-purchase information on what product to buy.  Social media content is far more influential than advertising as the content is written by trusted community members, and reaches a wider audience.

Any click of recognition or understanding?  Nope, so I went for the facts and figures.

“In the space of 4 months, we increased a large British broadcaster’s web traffic by 401%, with a sales increase of 26%, without using expensive advertising or pay-per-click, for the same cost as one small TV advert”.

Ding!  Lightbulb.  That did it.