Monday, February 23, 2009

We've Moved!

I've moved the blog from Blogger to the KidPub domain. After doing a bit of reading, it seems to me that there are advantages to hosting the blog myself versus hosting on Blogger, including better control of the blog, and being able to leverage's high Google page rank to get better search engine placement of posts.

I'll of course write a blog entry or two about the results :^)

Click here to visit the new blog page.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is FaceBook Advertising Effective?

Earlier I wrote about implementing FaceBook advertising as a way to reach KidPub's young market. I'd dug up $350 in coupons for ad credit and spent about two weeks spending it, testing out different ad copy for click-through rates. Once the $350 in free ads was burned through I backed off to a budget of $150 per month, just to see if FaceBook could really bring qualified traffic to the site.

I'm advertising our publishing program on FaceBook...KidPub Press publishes books written by kids age 15 and younger. The goal is for a new viewer to download our publishing guide, a PDF that explains the program.

Here's a Google Analytics chart showing traffic from Facebook during and after the $350 campaign:

You can see that over the past 30 days we've received 614 referrals from Facebook. The $350 campaign ended about a third of the way through the period.

The ad with the best CTR sees about 65,000 impressions per day on FaceBook, with a CTR of roughly .05%. Because daily spending is capped we get around 25 click-throughs per day. Of the 25 visits, an average of 5, or 20%, download the publishing guide. We capture email addresses as part of the download process, so we are building the marketing list for KidPub Press at a steady 100 to 150 per month.

We're projecting that 1% or so of the folks who take the trouble to download our publishing guide will sign up for a publishing package; an optimistic number is 2 new book deals each month, which makes the FaceBook ads a good investment. We also will reach out specifically to FaceBook users who download the guide to talk to them about the ad in an effort to improve the effectiveness of our Facebook advertising. Our average cost per lead right now is about $1.

Would CPM advertising be more cost effective? Probably not for us. Our effective CPM (eCPM) on FaceBook right now is just under 7 cents. It's unlikely that we would be able to see ads served in a CPM campaign for a bid under 10 cents, and we'd likely need a bid in the 15 cent range to achieve the same number of click-throughs. I'm comfortable with an eCPM of 7 cents, especially considering the side benefit of brand recognition as 65,000 ads are served each day to my target audience.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Video and Google Results

David Berkowitz just posted an interesting article on MediaPost about a study that suggests video content is 53 times more likely than text to make the first page of Google search results.

I'm not convinced. In the original Forrester study, the numbers just don't seem to add up to the conclusion, which is that SEO optimized video content increases your ranking in search results. How many optimized videos didn't make it onto the front page? How many of the videos that were on the front page were not optimized? Did the meta data for the video content even match the search query? We aren't given any of this information.

It's a bit like noticing that there are several blue arrows in the bullseye on the archery range and jumping to the conclusion that you should paint your arrow blue to increase your accuracy.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Analysis of Facebook Advertising

It took ten days to burn through $350 of free advertising on Facebook. I ran five ad variations to test click-through rates and styles (for example, using a graphic versus not). I set a daily maximum of $35, and a CPC rate of 18 cents.

I have a couple of observations.

1. The targeting capability of FB is pretty good. My ads were aimed at kids 15 and younger, which required an approval from FB. I noticed that impressions were nearly zero each day until about 4pm, when kids started getting home from school. After 4pm they picked up dramatically and continued strong until the number of click-throughs hit my daily maximum.

2. Impression rates are good. In ten days my ads saw just over four million impressions. The effective CPM was about 9 cents, which is an excellent price in today's market. It wasn't possible to check ad placement, unfortunately.

3. Click-through rates are terrible. Average CTR for the best-performing ads was about .04%. On other networks, and on my own site, CTR ranges closer to .2%

4. However, Facebook provides a breakout of data based on unique impressions and clicks. For those 4M impressions, just over 1 million were unique, and the unique CTR was closer to .1%.

Here's a look at visits to the target of my ads during the test:

You can see that there was a significant impact during the run of ads. The average deal for the target product is about $100, so a relatively low conversion rate will recoup my ad investment.

Will I continue with FB ads? Yes. I think that FB is delivering my target audience in a measurable way, and providing brand awareness among kids 15 and younger. It was nice to use FB's money to do testing, and I'm using the highest CTR ad in the current campaign.

I found that an ad with a graphic did considerably better than one without, and that offering a free downloadable guide performed best of all. No surprises there. I capture email for downloaded guides, so in addition to building awareness and putting literature into the hands of a potential client, I'm building my marketing base.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Two tools for tracking search keyword placement

I've been working over the past few months on better search-engine results for several key phrases related to KidPub. There are two tools that I'm using to help track them:

This site monitors weekly changes in placement of search results on Google and Yahoo. It's currently free to sign up. You can track a large number of search phrases, and the results are shown in an easy to understand table. You can also export the results to a Excel file. Here's a snip of a recent report:

You can see that 'kids stories' is moving up nicely, from 37th spot to 24th. You can also see that 'publish my story' doesn't point to KidPub's home page, which I need to fix.

SheerSEO's service runs once per week and sends an email to you when new results are ready. You can add or remove search terms at any time.

You can see a position chart for each phrase on either Yahoo or Google:

I think that this is really useful information, and it saves me the trouble of having to track and chart a spreadsheet full of keywords. I can measure the effect of changes I make on KidPub, both positive and negative, and know when I can stop tweaking.

SEOBook Rank Checker
For spot checks I like to use SEOBook's Rank Checker, which is an add-on for Firefox. You can grab it from the SEOBook site. Even though it does offer historical information, I tend to use it when I want to know how a particular keyword is standing on Google or Yahoo (it also does Live Search). There's a scheduling option that will run the checker periodically for you in the background.

The results are typically identical to SheerSEO's.

Both tools give you a great bit of intel on how your SEO work is progressing, and you can quickly see if something has either gone wrong (fix it!) or is working well (duplicate it!). This level of detail might seem overwhelming, but remember, half to three-quarters of your site's traffic is probably coming from Google and Yahoo, so it make sense to pay attention to search reult positioning!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Closing in on 100K!

Back in August, KidPub was ranked around 400,000 by both Compete and Quantcast. We targeted the 100,000 mark back in November when we started doing serious work on building traffic, mainly through SEO and grass-roots marketing. I just looked at today's Quantcast number...119,146. Last week was 127K or so. We're getting closer!

Once we hit the 100K mark the hard work begins...gettting KidPub into the top 50K web sites. I know there are ways to 'spoof' Alexa to get a high ranking, but Quantcast numbers don't lie, since they are directly measured.

We're not getting many conversions yet from the Facebook ads, but the exposure is helping a bit, I think. It's only been three or four days since the FB campaigns needs more time before I can really analyze the results. We're still watching click-through rates on several ads to figure out which are the best performers.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Free (Ad) Lunch on FaceBook

I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure out that Facebook is a seething pool of KidPub's target audience. The site is aimed toward kid ages 8 to 15, and there certainly are a few of them on FaceBook. A blog post over at StartupNation prompted me to take a look at advertising opportunities on FaceBook.

Ads on FB are similar to Google Adwords. They are small, textual (though you can add an image) and appear in an ad bar at the right-hand side of the page. If you run Adwords campaings you can likely run the same ads on FB.

What is great about FB advertising is that they offer you the option of targeting a specific audience, and provide a rough estimate of how many users are in the particular set:

My target audience is kids 15 and under, and FB estimates about 2,000,000 users in that range.

Like Adwords, you can set daily spend limits, set the bid for either CPM or CTC ad types, and track progress. The first ad I placed has run for about 12 hours with 142,000 impressions and 64 clicks. Not a great ratio, but my cost-per-click is lower that on the Google ad network, and I hope that I'm reaching a higher concentration of my target audience. I'll post about conversion rates when I have some data.

Ah, the free lunch part. The StartupNation blog pointed out the value of advertising on FaceBook. I started doing a bit of resarch, and kept running acroos bloggers saying, "For goodness sake, don't spend YOUR money on ads...use coupons!"

Sure enough, a bit of Googling turned up lists of coupon codes to redeem at FaceBook for advertising. I spent about half an hour hunting and submitting, and ended up with $350 credit in my ad account. Coupns are used before your primary source of funding (a credit or debit account), so for a week or so I can play with ad styles, formats, and copy and see what works well, using FaceBook's money.