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Podcasting: Who’s Listening?

As Edison Media Research reported in March, podcasting has experienced 18% growth year-over-year. This is good news for podcasters and those thinking about joining the medium. comScore published findings this week on the iTunes podcast audience and compared their stats with their numbers on the general Internet population.

Perhaps comScore’s most interesting finding, is the fact that, while the 18-25 year old set naturally dominated (29%), the 35-44 year old and 45-54 year old groups weren’t too far behind, with 27% and 23% of the audience respectively.

It might be important to note that there are (at least) two audiences here. Unless I’m doing something wrong, I don’t think that most 18-24 year olds are making over $75k (although they may still be living in their parents’ houses and counting their parents’ incomes). So you have the 35-54 year olds, who are educated and making decent money as an entirely separate—and larger—demographic than the traditional “youth” set we associate with podcasting.

Word-of-Mouth the Most Influential for B2B Execs

Over at eMarketer, they’ve compiled some recent reports that suggest executives in business to business industries rely heavily on referrals and word of mouth, when making buying decisions.

“One-to-one communications make the difference in the B2B industry,” says eMarketer Senior Analyst Lisa Phillips. “Word-of-mouth can be generated from trade events such as shows and conferences. The Internet helps to sustain marketing momentum.”

Internet channels also look like they’re playing a strong part in influence business buying decisions. Who’s influenced by what they see on the web?

  • Online magazines influence 36.5%
  • Search engine natural listing 24.1%
  • Technology blogs 19.6%
  • Media/analyst blogs 10%
  • Paid search ads 6.8%
  • Vendor blogs 4.6%
  • Unsolicited email 4%
  • RSS feeds 3.6%
  • Podcasts 2.7%

Hitwise Dashboards to Consolidate Competitive Intelligence

Hitwise announces today their newest product: Hitwise Dashboards, “a new interactive report that enables marketers to review customized competitive intelligence information from a single page in the Hitwise interface.” These reports feature current information on marketers’ most important metrics.

The competitive reports include up-to-date information on:

  • The relative market share of their brand within [an] industry online
  • The sources of traffic among competitors’ sites
  • The percentage of traffic from affiliate partners
  • The brands and products that are top of mind among consumers
  • Demographic data and Lifestyle segmentation data

Last week, Hitwise announced the “Hitwise to Go” product to deliver online consumer usage information for journalists and academics via RSS. These announcements come less than a month after Hitwise was acquired by Experian for their Marketing Solutions business.

Good News for eCommerce

Two items of good news for eCommerce in the last few days:

Friday, Accenture reported that most product research (69%) and comparison shopping (68%) happens online. Actual purchases, however, happen offline (67%). 13% said the Internet played no role in their offline shopping. The study backs up last year’s comScore stat that stated that 63% of search-related purchases happen offline.

The Kelsey Group adds that for purchases over $500, more than 90% happen offline.

Search Engine Watch says that this offers an opportunity for local product search to step up.

There wasn’t any indication of shoppers’ reasons for buying in person. These could range from “I wanted it now” to “I didn’t want to pay shipping costs” to “I wanted to try it on/out first.”

Six Elements for Effective Landing Pages

By Greg Howlett.

MarketingExperiments just released a new research brief discussing how to make landing pages more successful.  As always, their conclusions are very relevant to online retailers and other companies who are trying to generate an action from their visitors.

A key part of the study involved trying to determine whether long copy or short copy performed better when the desired action was a simple email capture.  As it turns out, the short copy was more successful.

In the past, many studies have shown that long copy is more effective in certain situations.  However, MarketingExperiments believes that there are four factors that should influence your decision about whether to use long or short copy–the cost of what you are selling, the perceived risk, the commitment level, and the motivation.

In other words, if you are selling a high priced product, asking for a lot of personal information, requiring a time commitment, or using logic as your selling strategy, use long copy.  On the other hand, if you are giving away something for free without commitment and selling with emotion, use short copy.

MarketingExperiments identifies six elements that affect the performance of landing pages:

1) Friction – how much work the visitor has to do (this includes the reading)

2) Incentives – extras that are thrown in to sweeten the deal

3) Visitor motivation – how much they want what you have

4) Value proposition – the perception visitors have of you and what you are selling

5) Anxiety – the perceived risk to the visitor

6) Credibility – how well you convey trustworthiness

To increase site conversion, you should focus on these elements.  It is important to understand that few changes will in themselves make dramatic differences.  My company tripled our conversion rate over the past year, but we did it with a huge number of very minor changes.  Even very modest improvements in these six areas can cumulatively add up to a significant increase. 

While studies such as this one provide valuable information to online marketers, they can at best provide useful guidelines to begin your own research.  If you sell online, it is imperative that you develop a platform to do your own research.  The simplest way to do this is to use split A/B testing.  This involves splitting traffic randomly between two pages that are identical except for the factor that is being tested.  A split A/B test will quickly give you answers about how you should be marketing, and is very simple to implement.

Having launched two multi-million dollar online companies, Greg Howlett has been working in the trenches of internet marketing for over eight years.  He currently is the President/CEO of Vitabase, a leading health supplement company, selling hundreds of products under the Vitabase label.

Google Market Share Up (Again)

Hitwise released their April 2007 search engine market share numbers today—and, surprise, surprise, Google is still way out in front, climbing just over a percentage point over March’s numbers. Google’s latest piece of the pie: 65.26% to Yahoo’s 20.73%, MSN’s 8.46% and Ask’s 3.69%. Take a look:

source: Hitwise

Look, Mom, that purple PacMan is going to eat all the other pieces!

Google is not the only SE to gain over March’s numbers; Ask’s share increased 0.21 percentage points over March. Yahoo declined by half a percentage point and MSN/Live declined by over 2/3 of a percentage point. Tiny changes, yes, but I’ll bet Yahoo and MSN/Live hope they’re not indicative of a larger trend.

If You’re Reading This, You’re “Above Average”

The Pew Internet & American Life Project published their findings of “A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users,” on computer, Internet, mobile phone and other technology use among Americans. The full, 65-page study is available.

Technology Use

49% of the 4001 adults observed and surveyed in the study “only occasionally use modern gadgetry” or “bristle at electronic connectivity.” Another 20% are “middle-of-the-road” tech users, either finding technology burdensome and intrusive, or “mobile centrics” who are avid mobile phone users, but less into the Internet. The last 31% are “elite users,” who (for better or for worse) are highly immersed in technology.

Each of these groups was broken down further into 2-4 categories, separated by activities, “assets” (devices or hardware) and attitudes. Search Engine Land lists all of these subcategories, with Pew’s descriptions.