Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Category

Weird marketing terms

The way that some marketing terms arise is quite peculiar, isn’t it.

For instance, Cyber Monday, the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday, came from a marketing campaign that ran five years ago which was picked up by many of the other online retailers. Nowadays, it’s become a day (or, in some countries, a week) of major discounting for online retailers. Crazy as it may seem to do a week of major discounting, I’m sure that consumers don’t complain about it as an early Christmas shopping day.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Putting a negative spin on your marketing

You usually expect companies to put a positive spin on their products, even when they’re not so good so I try to downplay such messages in my mind to see what the true picture is.

So, I was a bit thrown by the recent car insurance renewal from Axa. They had their main marketing message in big letters (“10% discount for renewing online” and the usual promotion of the insurances that you don’t yet have with them). However, the insurance renewal at £78/month seemed a bit expensive and when I checked it certainly was as it was only £25/month last year. Net effect of that being that I was getting together the information I needed to get a quote elsewhere. After all, tripling the insurance was a bit much.

They are just lucky that I read a bit further though. It seems that the £25/month was actually over 9 months with an initial deposit bringing the total to around £275 whereas the £78/month is over three months with an initial deposit bringing the total to almost exactly the same total.

Talk about bad marketing! I wonder how many customers they’re going to lose by presenting an insurance quote that appears to triple the cost but actually leaves the total almost exactly the same?


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

The ups and downs of offering free holiday accommodation listings

We’ve been offering free listings for holiday accommodation for over seven years now with quite a few changes to what we offered over that time.

Initially, we did the site by hand, taking in emails with the text and a photo then adding the property to what was then a simple list. That worked just fine ’til we got over 50 properties when it started to become a bit of a chore to keep up with the growing number of updates. That’s when we moved to the original database driven version of the sites (which had become plural by then) with a rise in the amount of text and the number of photos. As the years went on, we filled out the sites by offering more options for text and photos and variations on how we presented them with the general aim of producing a professional site but without the cost overheads. Depending on how you count them, we’re now on the fourth or fifth version of the site and possibly the sixth if you count the Android version that we’re trialling out at the moment.

One problem that we have which fully commercial sites don’t is that we need people to upgrade their entry now and again as we implement new facilities on the sites. Most noticeable is the resolution of the photos where we’ve moved from 150 pixels wide to 500 pixels at the moment yet still have some of the early properties using photos at the original low resolution. However, we’ve added heaps of sections from room descriptions, through local attractions to GPS co-ordinates which also need attention. We do prompt people to update their entry in our, slightly irregular, newsletters but it’s an uphill battle: people won’t update their entry without receiving more bookings yet they won’t get the extra bookings without updating their entry!

Along the way we’ve grown from the initial band of 20 property owners to six or seven thousand across the various sites. Although the original game plan was to offer totally free listings, we were prompted by a number of owners to add a charge. No, really! They felt that “free” meant that the listing had no value and there are a number of people who feel that way if the quality of the adverts we receive when we mention “free” is anything to go by. What we do these days is to say that it costs £40 or so but that there’s a free trial period. In practice, our listing is actually better than free as we do a free SEO review of your own website and we tidy up your entry so that it’s well presented on our sites. That free SEO review has been enough to increase the traffic on a fair number of sites around 30 fold so it’s definitely worth having!

The timing of the arrival of the adverts is still confusing though! I would expect them to turn up when the properties aren’t that busy so in principle we should have had next to no new entries over Easter but we received a good deal more than we normally do and pretty high quality entries at that too.

One big advantage that we offer over commercial sites is that all the development work is in-house.  The effect of that will be increasingly clear over the coming year or two as we will be rolling out a series of updates. Commercial sites generally contract out their development work and therefore only update their sites every three to five years. In principle, that should mean that we will gradually overtake more and more commercial sites in the markets in which we operate. For example, we’re in the process of writing a native Android app that would ordinarily cost around £15,000 or so which is a lot of money even for fairly large listings sites.

What’s been particularly sad to see over the last year is the massive rise in the number of people dropping out of the business. For us the drop out rate has historically been tiny but it’s around ten times the normal rate over the past year or so. Equally sad is the jump in the number of listings sites which have ceased operations: up from one to over 20 in a year.


Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Experimenting with the adsense

The web applications course threw up an interesting possibility for the adsense last week which looked potentially really profitable so I thought I’d try it out.

Basically the theory is that if the ads on your site are more visible then people will click on them more often and therefore increase the income. There are limits to this though as it’s easy to move from “more visible” to “too visible” and thereby lose visitors.

What the course showed me was a way of keeping the ads on-screen all the time but in a not overly annoying way. As the screen concerned is sometimes very long and the current ads were simply scrolling off it, this seemed like a sure-fire way to increase the income.

What it didn’t allow for is a quirk of adsense which has the effect that the highest paying adverts are inserted into the first adblock that adsense finds on the page. This meant that those ads went straight into the new adsense block. Not necessarily a disaster in itself but the snag was that the click-through for the new block was less than half that of the original block. Moreover, the clicks were split between the two of them. The net effect was that the income dropped somewhat.

Whilst you might think that this was a failed experiment, it wasn’t. What it showed me was that keeping the ads visible is, in principle, a good thing. However, what I need to do is to keep the big paying block on-screen rather than adding a new one so that the highest paying ads stay there rather than introducing a lower click-through ad that captures the higher paying ads.

I think a bit more thinking is required before the next experiment.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Fashionable wedding dresses

Wedding dresses are a bit of a peculiar kind of purchase, aren’t they?

After all, few people would spend anything like the amount of money on any dress never mind a dress that’s intended to be worn only once, would they? Yet, of course, destination wedding dresses are very much a purchase that people aspire to, pretty much regardless of the cost involved.

They’re slightly odd also in that they generally aim to have a strong hint of tradition whilst also trying to be quite fashionable at the same time. That’s not an easy combination to manage which, of course goes some way to explain the high prices for these dresses.

Make sure you make the most of your purchase experience… chances are that it’ll be a long time before you get that much attention when buying something.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.