Internet Marketing Analogy: The Database of Intentions

There are many analogies out there to help explain the power of internet marketing, but one of the analogies I find most useful when thinking about internet marketing is describing search engines & social media sites as “Databases of Intentions.” It’s a useful analogy in explaining what makes internet marketing unique from traditional marketing, as well as to understand the unprecedented potential we as marketers have to aggregate & leverage data that our customers are sharing with us.

The phrase was coined by John Battelle, a founder of Federated Media Publishing and of Wired magazine, which is quoted below with emphasis added for effect and can be read in full here:

The Database of Intentions is simply this: The aggregate results of every search ever entered, every result list ever tendered, and every path taken as a result. It lives in many places, but three or four places in particular hold a massive amount of this data (ie MSN, Google, and Yahoo). This information represents, in aggregate form, a place holder for the intentions of humankind – a massive database of desires, needs, wants, and likes that can be discovered, supoenaed, archived, tracked, and exploited to all sorts of ends. Such a beast has never before existed in the history of culture, but is almost guaranteed to grow exponentially from this day forward.

Since originally writing the post, he’s expanded this analogy to apply to any website, and implies that marketers can leverage both their own internal data as well as publicly shared data to create their very own database of intentions.

How can we as marketers create our very own database of intentions to help us market more effectively? Look to these sources first, and expand from there with other data you might have available:

  • Your Analytics Data – Your analytics data is your very own database of intentions that no one else can see. What kind of content do users most frequently read & interact with? What search queries are they entering to find your website? What areas of the site do they spend the most time on? All of this data will help you understand your customers better and create new content on your website around the topic areas they find most important or interesting.
  • Internal search data – If your website has a search feature, then analyze your log files to see what your visitors are searching for. Those search queries represent what your visitors are looking for, what kind of services they are interested in, or what kind of content they want to read but are having trouble finding through your navigation. Analyze your internal search queries for trends & patterns, then adapt to better meet the needs of your customers.
  • Google keyword data – Google has a plethora of keyword tools to find popular search queries, correlated search queries, trends, keyword insights and more. All of these give you a sneak-peak into Google’s massive database of intentions to find what searchers are looking for, enabling you to tailor your messaging to directly address the search intentions of your customers.
  • Twitter – Part of what makes Twitter so unique is that consumers can so easily communicate directly with brands, whether to complain, praise, or just chit-chat. What kind of questions are your followers asking you on Twitter? If you receive a lot of complaints about a particular area, address it by making a change to that problematic service line or product. If you receive a lot of praise for something, build on that praise and integrate it into your core selling points.
  • Facebook, Yelp, and other Social Sites – Much like Twitter, your customers are likely communicating with you, or providing feedback to you, in places like your Facebook Page, your Yelp page, Google Places, and other social media sites. Analyze the feedback & reviews left for your business to gain insights into common pain points & areas of praise, and integrate those findings into your marketing plan.

As you can see, there is a wealth of data out there to analyze the database of your customers’ intentions – allowing you to virtually read their mind and then create a marketing plan that speaks directly to their wants & needs.

Behold the power of the database of intentions.

Can I Expect to See You at OMS This Week?

This week, starting Wednesday the 15th, Phoenix will host the Online Marketing Summit at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel (340 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix, Arizona). This year’s event will be more flexible and action packed than years past due to the new two-day format. Day 1 leads off with the choice of 12 intensive workshops covering the digital marketing essentials, advanced “how to” tactics, social media and more.  Followed by the Day 2 Conference Day agenda where Phoenicians will be able to attend sessions across 3 tracks covering online marketing best practices and case studies in search, social, email, integrated marketing and more – all presented by industry thought leaders.

Both days have jam- packed agendas! If you haven’t already gotten your tickets there are limited seats available! As always, OMS covers key topics critical to your success as a marketer – social media, search, email, demand generation, analytics, usability and integrated Marketing, brought to you by industry-leading authors, academics, brand marketers and online innovators. I’ll be there. How about you?

Mission to Meet AZIMA Members: 33

This week’s featured member is Chris Epper from P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. While April’s AZIMA event was his first, we sure hope Chris will be back!

Thanks for joining us, Chris! Hope to see you at the Online Marketing Summit! Don’t forget to register for Online Marketing Summit in Phoenix June 15-17! Register with promo code IMA15AZ, as a friend of AZIMA and  save 15 percent!

Mission to Meet AZIMA Members: 32

This week, I’d like you all to meet Michael McEuen from GannettLocal. Michael said he likes attending AZIMA events to meet others in the interactive and online industries in the Phoenix area.

Thanks for coming, Michael! Hope to see you at the Online Marketing Summit! Don’t forget to register for Online Marketing Summit in Phoenix June 15-17! Register with promo code IMA15AZ, as a friend of AZIMA and  save 15 percent!

AZIMA Communications Committee Wants YOU!

Are you interested in becoming an active part of a local organization that shares your passion for interactive marketing? Looking for somewhere you’ll have the opportunity to learn from peers or a chance to find a mentor? The Arizona Interactive Marketing Association Communications Committee is comprised of a group of individuals that share the same goal; a deep passion for the interactive marketing industry and a deep desire to grow this non-profit organization in the next two years.  Each member of the committee, which is currently lead by the Committee Chair Stephen Heitz, The Director of Interactive Marketing at The Lavidge Co., the Commitee Co-Chair Matt O’Brien the Founder and President of Mint Social and Committee Co-Chair Elise Redin-Cook the Content & Marketing Manager at Vertical Measures includes a total of 5 members and is looking for more!

Why? Its simple, because many hands make light work as well as we love to collaborate on the best ways to improve this organizations communication and marketing in order to better serve our members and sponsors. If you are interested in joining the committee we only ask that you commit to devoting about 2 hours a week to AZIMA related work such as blog post writing, web page copy writing, press release writing and or public relations pitching and social media as well as employing other misc. marketing and communications tactics in order to drive both membership and attendance to our monthly events. If that sounds like you, great! Email us at [email protected] and let us know!

Mission to Meet AZIMA Members: 31

This week, I’d like you to meet Rita Rabbani of the Phoenix Suns. Rita is a loyal AZIMA member, attending events for more than a year! She keeps coming back because of the great company and all of the knowledgeable speakers.

Thanks for being so loyal, Rita! Don’t forget to register for Online Marketing Summit in Phoenix June 15-17! Register with promo code IMA15AZ, as a friend of AZIMA and  save 15 percent!

Celebrate BBQ Month at Free Networking Happy Hour May 25th!

May is National Barbecue Month! What better way to celebrate than by enjoying the hot new menu at the Valley’s venerable Hole-in-the-Wall restaurant, which just changed its menu to slow cooked smokehouse barbecue. To commemorate the milestone, it’s hosting a networking happy hour exclusively for members of AD2, AMA, AZIMA, IABC, PRSA and Phoenix Social Media Club on Wednesday, May 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. It’s casual, free, and won’t be the same without you, so please join us!

Hole-in-the-Wall restaurant is within the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort at 7677 North 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85020-4434. The rustic cowboy-inspired historic building is now revamped into a low & slow BBQ joint, complete with an outdoor grill and vintage smoker. Parking is ample on the north side of the resort, adjacent to the restaurant.

RSVP: “Happy Hour” to 602-953-6795 or [email protected]

Online Marketing Summit Visits Phoenix in June

Did you know that the Online Marketing Summit is coming to Phoenix June 15-17! This annual event features a flexible Super Regional three-day format jam packed with actionable learning where you can choose the day(s), sessions and workshops that best meet your needs. This expanded format contains the great education you’ve come to expect from OMS plus additional learning opportunities like:

  • Online Marketing Boot Camp: Choose from 12 intensive, interactive workshops offered the day before the main OMS conference. Each workshop earns credit towards certification from the Online Marketing Institute.
  • Social Media Masters Workshops: For the experienced PR and Social Media professional that’s ready to take social media marketing to next level. Offered the day after the main conference.
  • Integrated Marketing Content: New workshops and an entire conference track are dedicated to help you learn how to bring it all together.  Learn how to integrate the various online marketing components into your overall marketing mix and form a cohesive strategy.
  • One-on-One Expert Labs: Receive a one-on-one consultation with experts in analytics, search, usability and email. Don’t miss this opportunity to ask the questions that will directly benefit your website’s and marketing performance.

As always, OMS covers key topics critical to your success as a marketer – social media, search, email, demand generation, analytics, usability and integrated marketing, brought to you by industry-leading authors, academics, brand marketers and online innovators.

Register with promo code IMA15AZ, as a friend of AZIMA and  save 15 {2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903}.

A Blueprint for Search by Vanessa Fox

Vanessa Fox with Book Winners at AZIMAGuest Post Courtesy of Adrian Vender, Senior SEO & Technical Implementation Specialist for Cardinal Path. Native Arizonan with a passion for drumming and Internet marketing.

Vanessa Fox of Nine By Blue visited the monthly Arizona Interactive Marketing Association social event a few nights ago.  As a previous employee of Google she was a driving force behind the development of their Webmaster Central and she continues to spread her search marketing knowledge through many speaking engagements and her writing. Though a search marketing strategy can be daunting to some people, Vanessa offered a refreshingly simple approach in her “Blueprint for Search” presentation and gives us the following key points.

Why care about search?

Vanessa mentions that she could have shown some slides highlighting many stats about how much people are using search engines, but instead asks the audience “Who uses a search engine?” All hands in the room go up.  Generally speaking, we should care about search because virtually everybody is using it. Especially your audience.

Your audience searches

Search engine usage is becoming more a part of our day-to-day habits.  Vanessa talks about how people are drawn to use a search engine after they see something interesting on TV.  Using Google Trends she presents data during the 2011 Super Bowl that showed people searching for “Chrysler”-related terms immediately after the airing of the Chrysler Super Bowl commercial. Another interesting stat was that after the announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden earlier this week, searches related to ‘Osama’ increased 98,000{2bbd478b6aadf2a9bb5e10dcf35d17c0d0772390afbaf5ac8145fb1096668903}!

A quote that Vanessa shows from Slate Magazine sums up this search-response mechanism very well:

“For humans, this desire to search is not just about fulfilling our physical needs. When we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about driving meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.”

In a very real psychological sense, people are eagerly using search engines to find more information about a subject that is currently interesting to them and we need to make sure that we understand how to provide them that information.

The workflow starts at the search bar

Before your audience finds your website, they will type in a search query and see a set of results. Vanessa shows a slide with Google and Bing search results overlaid by eye-tracking heat maps. We see the typical F-shaped pattern in the eye movement but Vanessa how points out how the eyes weren’t drawn to contrasting details like the local map image.

One explanation for this is that when we type in a search phrase then are minds are fixated on that phrase. That is why we easily focus on iterations of that text phrase vs. other elements on the page.  This is the reason why search engines typically boldface the search query words in the results. We should be mindful of this and make sure we include these search terms within the title tags and descriptions of our pages. (This includes you, news websites!)

Solve the searcher’s problem

Using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website as example, Vanessa points out that although their site has a lot of rich content related to ‘global warming’ but the site was getting very little search traffic for that section. It turns out that very little of this content was optimized for the search phrases discovered in the Google Trends data, making it difficult for Google to determine relevance between what the audience is searching for and your content.

Other takeaways from the presentation

  • Use Google Trends data in context. If you see trends that suggest that more searchers are interested in ‘march madness’ vs. the alarming ‘government shutdown’, you should step back and realize that the intense basketball interest is primarily coming from states with college hoops teams represented in the NCAA tournament
  • Every page on your site is a landing page. With organic search, every page is a potential entry point for your customers. Make sure your pages are optimized for user experience.
  • Don’t use bad metrics. Would you be willing to take a higher bounce rate on a landing page if in actually resulted in more phone leads to your business? The answer should be ‘yes!’ Remember to focus on key performance metrics when evaluating your search traffic performance and not to get lost in the not-so-important metrics.
  • Don’t be like Richard Branson. Even multi-billionaires can get things wrong. Vanessa shows an example of one his vacation retreat websites where there is hardly any readable HTML text (not search friendly) and has a nearly impossible method of navigation (not conversion friendly). Make sure your website is easy for the search engines and your audience to understand.

Mission to Meet AZIMA Members: 30

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already the 30th edition of the Mission to Meet AZIMA Members segment. I’ve had so much fun meeting you all!

This week, I’d like to introduce long-time AZIMA attendee Steve Bitter of Bulwark Pest Control. Steve has been attending AZIMA events for the past seven months, and doesn’t plan on stopping!  He credits his loyalty to AZIMA to the quality of speakers featured at each event.

Thanks for attending, Steve!  And if you haven’t yet registered for next week’s event, Register today! The event (on the FIRST Tuesday of May, rather than the second) will feature Vanessa Fox and will be focused on search engine marketing.