Revisiting Display Advertising

Remarketing is a form of exceptionally targeted display advertising, in that it is only shown to previous visitors to a website.

Its very effective, but difficult to prove. If people see an Ad, don’t click, but then come to the site directly, how do you prove that? The bonus is that we don’t pay if people don’t click. It makes for incredible value!

Is it possible that Display Advertising could get interesting too? I’ve been casting eyes in that direction.

Revisiting Display

Here’s the skinny

Essentially, display advertising produces searches, as well as clicks. Which is great, because you only pay for clicks.

On the other hand, way more people search for the brand, but you can’t trace it to the original Ad.

So because this is a correlated activity, rather than connected, you’re getting more back than you can prove. Cue hand wringing and muttering about ‘attribution’ of spend to results.

Revisiting Display

Thanks to a presentation by Nate Wood ( at Biddable World recently, I’ve been revisiting display advertising, because I have always suspected the same impact, but on a different or lower scale.

Nate mentioned a presentation on a study of Display advertising, which was brilliant. Attached, The Silent Click, Building Brands Online.

The Silent Click: Building Brands Online

Essentially, although the figures make little sense on their own, there was a 50% uplift in brand searches after the advertising – and brand searches convert quite well (generalisation).

Slide 15 onwards is great. More visits, more engagement and higher spends.

Other benefits of display

Independently, Nate showed an uplift in CTR (click through rate) on normal Search Ads for people exposed to advertising, another unmeasured (or unmeasurable?) benefit.

Getting more market share is an amazing achievement when the traffic is very profitable. Exciting, and yet invisible.

I love the irony that people steer away from Display Advertising because nobody clicks the Ads. And yet, there is business being generated that is undetectable, that we don’t pay for.

Interesting Future

Now, this is great to know. And lets imagine that the ad networks can give us more granulated ways of segmenting our audiences, and having tailored conversations with them, might not that start to get interesting?

Then we get news that we get even more ways of segmenting interest, or dividing into audiences.

Long may this continue. Really looking forward to the studies, or making them!

The most efficient business process on the planet

calls vs web

Can we afford not to make business communications more efficient and effective? I believe Web Writing to be the most underrated business process there is.

Where does that come from?

Before they invented the Internet, I grew my love of communications software in the telecoms industry. It started with some newfangled feature called ISDN (what brilliant, imaginative marketers we were in telecoms) with DDI (direct dial). Amazingly, a single telephone line could now have hundreds of different numbers. And, depending on the number dialled, we could route people to the right place without having to go through operators. What magic was this?

Better customer service

The call centre was born. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) took off. In the end, we all had our own personal number to the desk, we offered special numbers for advertising, and less special numbers for support desks. We developed numbers for different queues, for the right skill set, to answer the right level of questions, and we changed the caller routing depending on time of day and day of the year. Merry Christmas callers.

Call Centres probably still exist. To my mind, these days, Google is the new frontier of the call centre, a written down real time ACD. And callers don’t even have to wait for the call to be answered. Google sends people directly to the pages that help most, repeatedly.

Now you’re talking.

Automating repetitive processes

Many conversations would be valuable to other people in the same position. It’s a repetitive process, the same questions and answers again, and again and again.

We can do better than that.

“Notably, web writing is readable by both people and machines. This makes it more portable and accessible: search engines can find it; readers can time-shift it, or translate it, or access it using assistive technology, such as a speaking browser. By definition, writing on the web can reach more and varied people than writing on other mediums.”

To illustrate the point, the above was taking from this blog post from an online editing and collaboration software provider. Shared and appreciated.

Massive productivity

Whilst having a phone call feels productive, web writing is the most efficient business process on the planet. It is findable, shareable and quotable, and the more people do that, the more Google takes notice giving it a positive feedback loop.

Thousands of people will read a single written page, at their own pace, giving us more time to get that conversation right, ahead of time.

Writing things down enhances quality, as well as quantity.

Can you improve sales calls?

I used to joke that sales was largely a case of repeating yourself to as many people as possible until some of them bought something. But when it comes to self service sales conversations, a properly constructed website is more useful than many people think it can be. It can work for any type of company.

Having been in the position of seeing successful web marketing, where more new real time conversations are created repeatedly and automatically, through better qualification, I am part of the privileged few. I believe in it, other people may not.

The best websites inspire warm conversations, they help visitors ‘feel like they know you already’.

Routing Conversations

We searchers are more precise about the knowledge we seek than dialling a number. Today, we use very specific keywords and keyword phrases. So Search Engines no longer land us on the home page (the web equivalent of the operator), we’ll go direct to the most relevant piece of information.

It is so good, that we’re no longer having to use the phone as often as we used to. And yet, the industry is bemused by falling call revenues.

An imperfect science

But whilst Google is very good, it is imperfect at understanding requests. It can’t always tell whether we are looking for information, a solution, a specific product or whether I am merely seeking support for something I already own.

The way we write a page can help them, but the fact is, in any one individual case, a human will always be better at discerning intent within a search phrase.

It is art blended with science, and humans are just better at this stuff than machines.

Choosing the right human, I’ll leave that for you to decide.


This post was inspired by a few conversations with some old and new friends in telecoms lately. Is it me, or has call quality got worse over the years? I don’t think we can hear each other as well as we used to.

The question is, can we afford not to communicate more efficiently, more effectively?

Google gets an upgrade

It was inevitable Google would develop a god complex, as a lot of searches that people use will address the engine as the ‘all knowing’. How do I, where can I find a…and now Google is trying to be more omnipotent and answer those questions.

google hummingbird image

The Search Engine has introduced a new version (hummingbird) to better understand searchers.  Examples of the touted improvements include better results for spoken word searches from Siri and so forth, called ‘conversational searches’, which has a nice ring to it.

My favourite ever search query on a customer site was “how do I meet an orthodontist fast”.

Now that’s what I call a targeted search. I’ll wait to see how the upgraded search engine will handle that one.

In terms of the commercial searches with more intent, they are already well served, and I don’t anticipate too much change

Keywords no longer provided

Hummingbird is really an idea that means it is going so fast you can’t see it. Now, we won’t see Google flapping quite so much.

Sadly, for free traffic only, Google have stopped delivering the key words that people are using to find us. The keyword ‘not provided’ debate will continue, with many people saying it doesn’t matter. And, if you weren’t using them already then effectively you won’t be missing anything.

And commercial paid search will still yield those keywords. Its still marketing.

If you can’t hear the question

Then how can you give the right answer?

Google might be sending you valuable traffic in amongst the conversational searches, and now you won’t know. If you don’t know what people are looking for, precisely, then you can’t measure the outcome. If you can’t measure, it’s harder to improve.

But then, were we to expect such valuable information for free, forever?

Why did Google do it?

No answer from them.

But I think it’s down to content marketers. Seeing which keywords were generating traffic, and building more content around that, was a tactic that gamed the search engine far too effectively. There was no way for the search engine to understand which was the right resource. And people went for traffic that they had no business going for.

Commercial companies can afford to have content written. At the same time, they are arguably not the right people to be answering the informational and conversational searches. People will argue they were trying to give a quality experience, but how much of their intent was to generate more business?

That’s a hard question to answer for a Search Engine.

Investing in Keywords

Expending resources into a website is an investment of our time and money, at the expense of whatever else we could be doing. If we are going to get the best possible returns then it wouldn’t hurt for us marketers to know a little bit about investing.

Google Analytics Fest

This could be your chance, if you’re free on the 26th September.

The best investor of all time

When I read a book about Warren Buffett, the now legendary investor, I discovered he began by studying with a revered teacher, Ben Graham. His ‘value investing’ philosophy was that shares in a company were a little bit of ownership. That if you compared the total of all shares, with the actual value of a company, then you’d see whether the share was worth it, or not.

The key insight from Ben Graham was that shares ‘would eventually come up to value’, in the long term. Buying undervalued shares was a profitable strategy.

In my view, understanding the worth of a company was the primary skill, and I wondered if we could apply the philosophy to web marketing. What is a keyword worth, and which ones are undervalued?

The keyword market

With stocks and shares, the figures are publicly available, whilst investing in keywords with our website we have to use tools like Google Adwords and Analytics instead. And yet, it’s not always clear.

This is the subject of an informal workshop event held by the Chartered Institute of Marketing on the 26th September. Its at Cranfield Management Development Centre.

Most exciting is that I get to meet a real life investor who follows the ways of Ben Graham and his value investing. David Thomas, founder of The Shares and Stock Markets blog is with me on the panel. It should be fun mixing worlds and finding common ground.

If you wanted to invest £15 to come along, then you’d be very welcome. Find out more below.

How to Structure a Blog Post

Some posts attract thousands of visits over the years, so any of the small tweaks below can pay off handsomely. It’s easy to forget, so I’ll be bookmarking this post myself as a checklist!

tick list for post

The number one goal for our blogs posts should be clarity. So read things out loud, leave several hours before posting and read again, and finally try and be honest with yourself. You know when something is weak, so listen to the little bells that go off in your head!

A quick tip: When struggling with something ‘awkward’, delete the sentence completely, and come back in a few minutes, its liberating.

Did you see what I did there?

As the sage copy-writing  advice from legend Joseph Sugarman goes, “the job of the first sentence is to get people to read the second sentence”.

Using the first sentence to tell people the direct benefit of reading your post is certainly one way of doing that. It sets context and makes the overall point clearer.

As a by product, if the first sentence is also used as the ‘description’ snippet that Google shows ‘searchers’, then having a benefit there helps ‘sell the click’ from Google and then have the page meet the expectation of the visitor. A win win win.

Write enticing headlines

Did you see what I did there“, above, is an example of a headline designed to get people to read the paragraph, as it has a sense of mystery. Yes, it is manipulative, and we are starting to notice this trick from content writers who have nothing to say.

So there had better be a payoff, else people will be disappointed, and abandon ship.

Let headlines tell the whole story

It is courteous, and fruitful to let people skim read. Some visitors some will likely know half your points, and some will know the other half. You appeal to the widest audience and save people time by peppering the piece with headlines that give a complete summary without reading anything else.

Use h2 and h3

H3 for sub points, Google likes what users like, so having the key words in headlines could be helpful.

Use white space

Headlines also break up the text, which makes it simply ‘look’ easier to read. Even if the content area is very narrow, and a single sentence spans several lines, just keep to three or four lines per paragraph. Of course, short words give you more space than long ones, enough said.

Use Active Verbs

Most website writing is designed to inspire people into action. Active verbs tell people what to do and seep into the consciousness, that is, if you can manage it without coming across as bossy.

In fact, the right verb will cut the number of words needed and confer expertise. Or should that be ‘infer’ – perhaps this article on verbs should help…it has lists of verbs you might enjoy.

Use the write verb.

Be careful with humour, not everyone will read things in the same way you do. I bet some skim readers will miss that joke, and that will be entirely my own fault.

Avoid negativity

If I am at all negative, or make jokes at other people’s expense, then I run the risk of ‘being unkind’. People are remarkably intuitive and pick up on the smallest of clues.

A recent personal example, instead of saying ‘don’t waste people’s time’, I re-wrote it as “save people time”, which is positive and active all at the same time. These small clues add up.

Be aware of behaviour

We are judged more on what we do, than on what we say.

But when we write, we demonstrate behaviour without being entirely aware of it, which of course, makes it all the more valuable for the reader. Self interest is illuminating.

Sharing valuable information and being completely transparent is evidently helpful. But being positive, and enthusiastic is attractive.

Assume intelligence

As David Olgilvy famously quipped, “the consumer is not a moron, she is your wife”. Talking down will lose the patience of people you care about. You can leave things unsaid. It’s less distracting.

The more intelligent your audience, the more easily they will be diverted, and distraction loses the sale. So they say.

P.S. Qualifications

It is the affliction of the courteous to think ahead and try and cover all the questions of the reader. But including everything the reader might need to know often detracts from clarity, so be careful out there.

Perhaps it’s another post, or at the least, put these things later in the article.

Stay on point

If you try and say three things, you say nothing. I’m not sure if I read that somewhere, but it is my final check.

All the best in your lead generation

As to ‘what needs to be in a post, and what’s better elsewhere, that’s one we’re still working on, if you’re interested then let me know.

And that’s a call to action – a weak one, but we couldn’t finish without it!

Tragedy of the content marketing commons

Every bit of advice I’ve seen this year so far recommends Content Marketing. Is it not true that once everyone piles in to a method of marketing, it doesn’t work as well?

I really resent those marketing phone calls, whereas at the beginning, I didn’t mind so much. So just as cold calling doesn’t work very well these days, how about we try something new, is content marketing the answer?

Where shall we go today? Twitter?

Time to get out?

Time to get out?






Ok, well, have you tried all these?

  • Display
  • Email
  • Podcasting
  • Web Directories
  • Search Engine Marketing
  • Remarketing
  • Webinars
  • Blogging
  • Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIN, Facebook, Google Plus
  • Social Media Networking

Did we miss any? But the point is that companies still do all the old things, as well as all these new fangled digital things. It’s getting kind of busy.

How about Content Marketing?

As just seen on this article over on the content marketing institute, the term is just coming of age. Look at that sharp increase in the last year…this is just taking off.

Content Marketing Trends

Content Marketing Trends

We’d better hurry up

Oh for pete’s sake. A tragedy of the content marketing commons?

Anyone else tired of content marketing?

Anyone else tired of content marketing?

What can we do?

The price of entry to marketplaces has gone down, we need strategies.

Do what is new:  If you’re behind in your marketing strategies, then it’s probably wise to consider how expensive it will be to catch up. Go for the place of least resistance, focus on the place where there is less competition. Try those things the competition haven’t got around to doing yet.

Google Plus is pretty new…

Be Specific: They used to call this niche marketing. The less competition there is, the better your return.

Do less, be better: Where people are fed up with the volume, whatever the medium, then we have to focus on quality. Think of quality as the ‘interest rate’, it is the compound interest we’re after.

Always Time for Search Marketing: Whichever way we try and get the attention of people on their travels around the web, the fact is that Search Marketing continues to get more valuable.

Be there at the precise point they are pursuing an interest, rather than suffer the advertising blindness, lets show them what you’ve got when their eyes are wide open.

Digital PR and link friendly twitter tools

One of our customers refers to Search Engine Optimisation as Digital PR – which is a nice spin on it.

I heard that the PR industry used to have books of ‘experts’, places where journalists could find people for comment. And along those lines there are now a few digital PR resources around the web – the really interesting thing is they list your domain as part of their service. Now that’s a very SEO friendly thing to do.

It seems only fair to give these services a plug here, not that I have ulterior motives for doing so…. you can’t hear me, but I’m whistling innocently with my white hat on. But maybe there is an advantage to linking to the profiles.


This is a kind of expert discovery tool, to help promote yourself as an expert.

The lambert mug


A yellow pages for Twitter people

twellow profile


A list of twitterers in your own area

matt lambert twitterholic profile

There may be a legitimate reason for posting lots of images with dodgy pictures of one’s face, (or perhaps that should be pictures of one’s dodgy face) but it’s not a comfortable thing.

So I’ll stop there for now, but I’ll post some more another time.

PS: For the purists, I’m not too concerned which of these profile links are nofollows, I just like the brand and domain listings.

PPS: Be sociably careful out there

Digital Marketing versus Internet Marketing

Google Insights is no more. Long live Google Trends.

Insights was a great service that lets you check out how many people are looking for ‘x’ compared to ‘y’. It has merged, new and improved with Google Trends, so we have a superb tool to find out what might win at the oscars (a google blog post on trends).

By the way – clicking the ‘oscars’ link lets you play with Google’s balls… move your mouse over the header, for more on what I’m talking about.

internet marketing trends

SO: We used to be Internet Marketers, and now we’re more inclined to be Digital Marketers. But I think this means that we have to find a new description for ourselves, now that everyone is at it.

Hiding in plain site

How successful a website is in generating enquiries at an affordable rate, is rarely something you can just ‘tell’ by looking.

Our instinct isn’t always our friend. A great comment on our last post reminded me that ‘congruence’ is a very necessary part of the thinking.

we all love awards

The fact is, that the worst looking website  in our portfolio of marketing sites is the best performing.

(and opinions are that easy..),

There, I said it. But I should also say we didn’t have anything to do with providing the site, just in case a customer thinks we are talking about theirs. It’s an emotive issue.

The website’s good performance is mainly due to the customer journey, between what people look for, and the page we land them on, and simple product offer (very competitive) – these are mostly responsible. But the strange thing is, because it makes the company look cheap, the design was ‘congruent’ with their offer, and I think that may help.

It certainly isn’t stopping people from doing business. And they’re making money.

Of course, most rational people will say that the only way to know for sure would be to test different versions. Although, there are probably a lot of different opinions on the matter.

I feel the truth of what Andrew said about converting leads on our last post. My friend’s instinct is that the website reflects the business, and it works for him.

A guide to content that sells. Sale the 7 C’s

Its never easy writing your own content, I like to tell customers they are ‘blessed with too much knowledge’.

We have too much to say. We want to say it all at once  and because of that, often end up saying nothing at all. And yet…..

Content is the Wind in our Sales…

A boat with wind in it's sales

Customer and good friend Andy’s Trimaran, linked to his album

Good boats don’t go anywhere without the right environment. But what is good content, how do we do that?

I know! we need a template..

It’s a frequent idea, and a lot of people have asked about good content, so it’s about time I responded. It’s taken me 3 years to get this far!

Yesterday I happened to be in a traffic jam after my friend Graham asked me in a meeting, so I made some notes.

The 7 C’s of successful Content

Here’s a quick list of qualities that we have seen be successful in content (not our own, obviously, it’s easier writing other people’s stuff).

1. Credibility

People can tell if something is true. I don’t know how.

But the companies who consistently do a good job always seem to do better in generating more leads from their website. Perhaps it is because they have most obviously ‘done it before’. The insights they get from repeatedly doing something well, that shines through.

Writing should exude trustworthiness, established reliability and expertise. I got that from the Wikipedia entry for credibility – which also mentions integrity. Showing is better than telling, and so I’m not even sure you could make it up.

2. Concrete Details

I truly love stories, the humanity.

The thing is, I believe in some stories more than others. To understand why, I found and utterly recommend this book, Made to Stick, it is astonishingly good.

When I got to the chapter on concrete details, it was a head smacking moment. The best story tellers always drop some irrelevant detail into the mix, it makes it real. Good sales people do it, and so should content, case studies in particular.

3. Choice

This is more a question of a product marketing , but it extends to how you build out content on a lead generating website.

Marketing in a digital world is communicating at scale. We ‘talk’ to literally thousands of people a month. And, if you lined up just 100 people interested in what you do, it would be a different conversation every time.

Installed or hosted, outsourced or managed service, professional or entry level, basic or advanced. Offering depth of choice works extremely well in search engine marketing. Lots of choice will means lots of content of course.

The way I remember it best is “goldilocks marketing” – I wish I had a better phrase – but offering hot, medium and cool versions will extract more business from those 100 people you have lined up. Modular is good, modular is profitable, you get more return from the same amount of visitors (visitors cost money).

4. Costs

Showing costs is tangible, transparent and trustworthy.

“If you have to ask, you know its expensive”

Which is fine if you are expensive of course. But it’s embarrassing for your prospects to have to ask, especially if they can’t afford top dollar. We should care about that.

And, unless you give an idea of ‘relative cost’, there is a perceived risk they are wasting their time if they can’t afford it. Reducing risk is good salesmanship, and customers know the game, it probably won’t be the final cost if everything is included.

Service based businesses are the worst for this, but they probably have most to gain. Can you try a service before you buy it?

  • Whilst I’m at it, we offer a website telephone service that tracks the keywords that generate phone enquiries for £75 per month, plus calls. There, I feel better, less hypocritical.

5. Creativity

A new web visitor (new business) is like being in a job interview, you’re selling yourself, and caring about your appearance is a good sign. Design is a clue, a critical non-essential. I’m not sure if suits are still required these days for interviews, but showering is good, make it clean.

But creativity is more than design.

  • Magnetic words
  • Textures that delight people
  • Demos that blow minds

These things change the way people feel about your company – the most important people, your own people. People don’t contribute to things they don’t enjoy being a part of.

6. Charm

Likeable Experts get more business. In an age where Big Business, Banks, Politicians, Journalists and the Police have all been stuffing up, there is little enough trust to go round. And I’m pretty sure the economy reflects the level of trust in the world.

No trust, no business.

And on the Internet, you could be anybody. Literally. I’m not quite sure how it works, but I trust people I like. Mostly. I tend to buy from them.

7. Care

A many textured word, I’m not sure I’ll do it justice. But here’s what I know about people who care…

They show it in what they do, and in what they say. They show infectious enthusiasm, which often inspires action. They look happy when things go well, and sad when they don’t.

Lastly, only people who care can be creative and do good content…. they get the job done.

Don’t tell Jess I did this, I hope she won’t notice.


  • If you have trouble with content, it doesn’t mean you don’t care.
  • Thanks to Andy for the picture of the boat
  • You may now all point out more words I could have used, please..