Category Archives: Marketing

Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Part II

In Part I of this series, we hinted at a website search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that involved getting website owners or employees in the business of digital marketing.

That may seem like a good way for a digital marketer to plan for retirement. But believe me, there are more technical roles for the digital marketer to undertake than posting on Facebook, or a blog.

Naturally, I post articles related to my business and my profession for certain reasons. Take this post for example. Within a month or so, it will be found by people who are interested in, and searching for website search engine optimization. Some of them may contact me for help in this area.

But no matter what I write about. If it’s interesting and well written, and if it is well optimized for its subject matter, and if there is ample demand for it, it will be searched for and found. That’s a simple fact of modern life.

Website Search Engine Optimization (SEO) With WordPress SEO by YoastSEO is a big part of my business and my value proposition as a consultant and service provider. So I tend to write it about it more than, say, pizza (something I love even more than SEO).

So what about you? What about your business? What about your value proposition? Is that something you can write about? Do you love it? Do you at least like it enough to write something interesting about it, or would you rather try to make your living eating pizza?

Now, as an SEO professional, I have a little bit of an edge over the average blogger – I understand WordPress SEO, I have it installed on this blog, and I know how to use it, optimally.

Some of our customers also have blogs, but most just post on Facebook. After all, doesn’t everybody? And that’s great, because it proves that YOU CAN PUBLISH TO THE WEB. We couldn’t say that 15 years ago when I had just started forming the concept of, a web based marketplace that YOU operated from your own WebAds account (with a little help, when needed).

That concept is more viable today than ever before. And yet getting business owners to write about their businesses is still a struggle.

But it’s my job to help! So our customers (and our newsletter subscribers) will be receiving a special offer to have a WordPress blog installed, with the WordPress SEO plugin included.

The offer will include a hands-on screen sharing tutorial via Google Hangout that clearly shows how I optimize posts using basic SEO optimization strategy (in conjunction with WordPress SEO) using real post by post examples, including this one.

But most importantly, I’m going to show the results, in my Google analytics account, that prove beyond a shadow of doubt, how well these techniques can work.

And these business owners will see how to apply these same techniques to their business, and to their website optimization strategy, to achieve the same great SEO scoring, and results.

I’ll even do a little of the heavy lifting and optimize their first few posts so that they can have a template for success to look back upon going forward.

The offer is going out once in October and once in November, and it’s only going out to newsletter subscribers.

There’s only so much I can convey in a blog about website search optimization – what we’ll convey in the coming live, interactive Google Hangout will go far beyond a single post – but if a single post gets you there, that’s good enough for now.

Inbound Marketing – 4 Keys To Success

Bruce Sutter's Split Finger Fastball
An Effective Inbound Pitch

I recently read an article that questioned the validity of Inbound marketing based on the financials of a company that is probably considered the “poster child” of inbound.

Without getting into that discussion at all, let me just say that the validity of inbound marketing success rests upon one of the most solid foundations of our information age, namely that:

“Prospects are findng your solution at the peak moment of interest – when they are actually searching for it.”

It’s pretty hard to seriously question the logic of that premise, both from a common sense standpoint, and from a financial one.

To truly comprehend the superiority of search engine marketing (SEM) and other forms of inbound over the outbound “spray and pray” methodology of times past, it helps to be a sales veteran of the pre-digital era.

Those experiences will help to inform an effective “digital sales strategy” for today. But we still have to fully embrace and understand inbound marketing to leverage its superiority.
Part of that understanding is that:

  •  not everyone searches the web for solutions
  •  not everyone searches the web for solutions very well
  •  not everyone who searches for YOUR solution finds you
  •  those who do find you, may not like what they find

These are “givens” within the realm of inbound. Once you address them in your strategy, your success will probably increase on an order of magnitude relative to improvements you make in each of these areas. Let’s take them one at a time.

Not everyone searches the web for solutions

That’s why email marketing is still considered a viable component of any inbound strategy  – to convert non-searching email users (a big number to factor into your “sales numbers game”) into potential customers – by directing them to your landing page through a relatively effective means other than search..

Not everyone searches the web for solutions very well

Here’s where it really gets sticky – and where SEO expertise comes in handy.  In my last linkedIn article I covered this in some detail. Of course it’s all about relevance, but it’s about perception too – your prospect’s perceptions – you have to capture those perceptions on their terms , yet relevant to you  (set your expectations accordingly).

Not everyone who searches for YOUR solution finds you

Another given, yet you can minimize this factor in several ways. Email marketing , as mentioned, is one. You may also want to engage in display network advertising if it’s the right venue for you. With display networks, people are not “searching for your solution at their peak moment of interest”. Ratherthey are being “served your message while doing something else online” … based on certain online behaviors which profile an interest in your solution type.

 Those who do find you, may not like what they find

And why should they (after all ) unless you’re rewarding them for being  smart enough to engage your least expensive sales channel (in a very price – sensitive and competitive environment) ?

You owe it to your inbound prospect to at least acknowledge their expedience in the form of a tangible reward of some type – exclusive to customers acquired online.

And if you do, you’ll gain a competititve edge over those who do not. Creativity usually earns dividends here.

Cover these 4 key strategies if you aren’t today, and I would expect your inbound success to grow accordingly. Just measure and monitor to continually reach higher.

Next time, we’ll cover the follow-up outbound call strategy (you’ll eventually have to call about 90% of inbound leads at some point anyway). Here’s where the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing BUT the Truth actually pays off in your outreach approach.

Bruce Sutter image source

SEM: The Challenge of Technical Keywords

In our increasingly complex and technical world, we take for granted many new technologies and related terms that didn’t exist 10 years ago. Because searchers on the web have varying degrees of familiarity with these terms, their ability to find what they are looking for varies as well. To say that technical keywords present a challenge in digital marketing would be something of an understatement.

As technical terms and keywords grow continually, so grows the necessity to distinguish the nuances of our technical lexicon.

PPC, SEM and SEO - the challenge of technical keywordsEven in the practice of SEM / SEO , we have growing permutations of technical jargon. So when we market a client’s technical product or service, we should be equally sensitive to the many variations of terms that could  veer quality searchers away from our content. We should also be on the lookout for close match searches that bring the wrong kind of searcher to our online destinations – because we can be paying dearly for “clickers” who bounce away (leave our destination) quickly – which has negative consequences beyond just an irrelevant visit.

With SEO, we look at webmaster tools and analytics to determine what search terms are attracting visits, and we make a judgement call about the value of those terms – and based on that, we adjust.

With SEM, we use AdWords Dimensions to track terms that trigger paid clicks, and fine tune with negative keywords and keyword matching options. Let’s talk about that for a moment, and try to close the gap between what we think Google is supposed to do, and what we observe it actually doing in practice.

If you’ll look at the link above, at the way Google defines phrase match and exact match, I think you’ll find that in practice, query matches tend to be much less restrictive than those simple explanations provide. And this tendency is greatly magnified in the realm of technical jargon, due to the burgeoning of technical terms that correspond to similar (in the mind of the searcher) yet irrelevant (in the mind of the advertiser) offerings.

Let’s say you’re a manufacturer of high tensile strength coated fibers that are superior to steel cable in bridge suspension applications for the construction engineering industry.  You may need to avoid being confused with fiber optic cable manufacturers who supply a completely different product to the telecommunications industry.

Or you could be a service bureau who provides optical scanning services to convert contracts and invoices into digital format for a line of business workflow database – and somehow be confused with providers of digital converters for analog television sets.

I know it sounds absurd, but I’ve seen both, and I’ve seen searchers click on Ad text that has NOTHING to do with what they are searching for. In fact, I’ve literally seen them do this in droves (to my complete dismay) partly for the reasons cited above.

Clearly, as the complexity of your offerings increases, variations of exact matches will need to increase as well.

We have to remember that in our technical world, there are many levels of acumen and understanding. These levels range from novice searchers just beginning to learn how to effectively find their target destinations on the web, to advanced searchers who are far more likely to search more narrowly and click more precisely.

And keep in mind also that search perspectives can vary by measures beyond intellect or sophistication alone. A CFO will not search using the same terms as a CIO – but both can be influential in a complex enterprise technology sale.

Objective: Quanitity of Clicks or Quality of Searcher?

In our Adwords campaigns, when we see a keyword beginning to dominate impressions and clicks, it’s generally a good indication that the term is too broad. That’s when we peer into the Adwords Dimensions tool and look at the keywords that are generating clicks.

When we do that, we begin to see a whole new dimension of what is being searched for, relative to our marketing intent. And as with any other metrics tool, we adjust accordingly. Then we begin to ask ourselves, “Who are these searchers?” Are they decision makers, influencers, or even obstructionists? Are they employees of our target accounts, or are they our own competitors, or perhaps industry analysts?

They could even be potential partners searching for ways to support their clients, who in turn support our efforts (as partners – which sometimes occurs) in our high-dollar complex technology sale.

The term “Dimensions” is quite fitting for this AdWords feature tab. I highly recommend exploring it, along with each of the 12 drop down views below, especially “search terms”. Using Dimensions, you’ll be able to fine tune your matching and decide where exact matches need to be used.

But you’ll gain more than that – you’ll begin to gain the perspective of your searchers as they arrive at your content. And that perspective is invaluable.

Redefining Your Keyword Strategy

As businesses mature they tend to spend a lot of time refining their keyword strategy. This approach includes looking at existing keywords and measuring their performance in various ways.

Don't overcomplicate your keyword strategy ...Inspecting and managing keyword performance is important, but in our ever-changing world, defining (or re-defining) your keyword mix can be equally important.

In fact, this may just be the most important part of “refining” your strategy, especially in our ever-changing world of technology.

How Did You Originally Define Your Keyword Strategy?

Assuming you did it correctly, you probably originally established your keyword mix by answering  a few simple questions, like:

1) What are we really good at?
2) What do we want to do more of?
3) What makes us successful?

Now there are more questions we could ask, like “what is really profitable for us?” or “what do our customers love?” and these are good sub-questions to ask. But in essence, they pretty much fall under the three questions above, or some variation of those.

The objective here is not to limit yourself to three questions, but rather to take a sometimes overcomplicated idea and make it simple.

In the world of B2B software consulting for example, a system integrator might have a difficult time just answering those three questions (believe me, I know) because the answers are pretty much in a state of constant flux.

Software partners are constantly changing their licensing or pricing structures, new versions and new features constantly come to market. New acquisitions can come into play, new talent appears, and opportunities for new business (along with prospect focus) can change fairly regularly.

Keyword  Content Gets Indexed More Quickly

In the early days of SEO, the time it took to for spiders to index a new page or keyword change was typically about 60 days. But today, with the prolific growth of search engine spiders, databases and algos, content changes or additions can take effect in search results much more quickly.

In the case of social media,  ideas or offers can be seen immediately, and promoted across multiple networks. And, in our webmaster tools accounts, we can ask Google to “fetch” our changes literally on demand.

Today, it’s a matter of days, even hours (not months) for content to be indexed, liked or shared.

How Will You Refine Your Keyword Strategy?

While some businesses stick to a branding strategy of consistent keywords that speak to their unique and enduring strengths, not all businesses are so lucky as to have earned the status and brand recognition required to rest on their laurels.

There is no truer proof of this than in the very competitive realm of technology development – because inevitably (and by definition) technology is always changing .

So we always have to re-evaluate our original questions, with our emphasis placed on the context of “TODAY”.

What are we really good at TODAY?
Our business has probably evolved (even traditional businesses do, to some extent) since we established our original keyword mix. We have probably hired new people, developed new talents, created new offerings and opened up new markets as a result.

This is an excellent time to practice the art of story telling on our company blog, which articulates that evolution – rich with those new keywords. Who are the champions of these positive changes? Can we tap into their expertise to really tell the story accurately and credibly?

What do we want to do more of TODAY?
We ask this important question because the reasons behind “why we want to do more of this” can be many, and not so obvious. There may be strategic partnerships that could be strengthened, there could be new, high margin opportunities available, or certain strategic rewards could be enabled, that are beyond the surface.

Again, leadership within the company deserves to be aware of the power of a refined keyword strategy toward furthering these goals – both those that are apparent, and those which have a deeper long term purpose. We can guess at the obvious, but we have to ask the question before the answer “either surprises us or not”. If we are surprised, even a little, the question was well worth asking.

What makes us successful?
This open ended question is meant to be more thought-provoking than the knee-jerk response of “making money”. Sure, the profit motive is a very important consideration, but what gets us there? Happy customers? Happy employees? Happy partners? Happy regulators? So when we put some thought into this, it’s again worth devoting some time to the less obvious answers.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with devoting a  blog post or a social mention to something that indirectly contributes to your success, especially if you want to build that enabler and grow that aspect of your business.

By starting with a simple foundation when defining your original keyword strategy, and by asking the right key people the right questions TODAY, you’ll have an organic, evolving keyword strategy that always taps into the relevance of your evolving business strategy.

Refining your keyword mix is certainly pertinent to the larger SEO strategies we talk about in other articles. In fact, you’ll probably notice a common thread among all our articles which support the larger idea of a comprehensive marketing strategy.

In that comprehensive strategy, each component strengthens the other, so that you are leveraging specific best of class techniques to support the broader strategy.

image credit:

Social Marketing: The Customer Success Program

Some B2B technology and consulting companies are beginning to see the power of social marketing, not as a means to an end (the social networks) but as the end itself (positive customer engagement).

They realize that it all began with the power of the “customer testimonial”.  And they understand that when that testimonial went from “static” to “interactive” (via social networks) that it became much more credible, because it was so much more genuine coming from customers themselves, in a real-time format.

For many companies, it stops there, and becomes a never-ending effort to keep up with the social network’s ability to monetize their use of the means … while never quite realizing the end.

Social Marketing - Your Customer Success ProgramFor other companies, the end is more clear: It’s not about us, and how great WE are, it’s about the positive outcomes we enable for OUR CUSTOMER’S.

THAT is what customers are buying: a cost-justifiable end result, like revenue growth, or positive investor relations, or enhanced recruiting power. Providers are just the means to those types of “ends”.

It’s Not About YOU – Social Marketing is About The Successful Outcomes You Enable.

While searching for social marketing or customer success programs you’ll find collaboration and customer care apps, even online community builders which are designed to help you refine customer engagement.

But if you’re already a successful solution provider, then you’ve already enabled customer successes. Social marketing can be used very effectively to “co-market” those successes.

While most companies praise their own “Unprecedented 3rd Quarter Growth”, or their “100% Migration Success Rate” or their “100% Customer Satisfaction Ratings” , some companies are engaging with their customers post acquisition and asking, “What did we help you to successfully accomplish?”

Of those companies, some are busy growing and nurturing their own proprietary customer communities and inviting their prospects to join in the conversation. In so doing, they won’t have to risk having their own customer’s voices “throttled back” by a third-party social network, monetizing their “fan feed”.

Those companies won’t run dry on their blog post or PR wire or newsletter content, as long as they find ways to reward customer’s for authoring the best marketing content they could ever hope for – true life testimonials coming from their own customers about the successes they’ve helped to enable.

Are YOU ready to be THAT company?

If so, then your next press release is all about your customer’s incredible 3rd Quarter Growth, or 100% Success Rate (and of course the byline shows it’s coming from you).

You have all that great content, coming directly from your customers, through your own CUSTOMER SUCCESS PROGRAM, which rewards them for many things – among them, the best article submitted to you each month about what they accomplished by being your customer. And of course they’ll agree to make that story public, because you’re  co-marketing their success, which positively reflects back on you.

And that’s just good marketing: subtle, humble, social, and all about your customer’s success – not your own, even though you’re showing (not saying) that your own success is measured by that.


(This article covers one of 4 core concepts from a consultative review of a global platform modernization company’s marketing plan. To implement a Customer Success Program for your organization, feel free to contact me)

B2E Tech-marketing: 4 ways B2C Buzz Can Cloud Your B2E Strategy

Do you ever get the feeling that the  majority of available info regarding digital marketing seems geared toward B2C strategy?

Despite all the buzz,  not all digital marketing takes place in a B2C or even a generic B2B context.

B2For business to enterprise (B2E) technology marketing, I’d like to share some ideas regarding strategy. And accordingly, we’ll deal with the potential hazards of allowing B2C groupthink “buzz” to creep into your B2E strategy.

Here are four hazards that immediately come to mind:

While “brand” is the holy grail of marketing, I tend to downplay the importance – and the mystique – of branding in B2E tech-marketing.

If we were marketing a new type of tasty, yet nutricious, sugar free candy to all the moms and kids of the world, it would serve us well to become the next “Kleenex” or “Band Aid” equivalent for the candy industry.

But when you’re marketing a ten million dollar radar jamming system specifically to the U.S. Military Defense Industry, being the “household name” in that field is somewhat a wasted effort.

True, these two examples represent the farthest of extremes, but branding should vary proportionately between the two.

This is not to say that differentiation from your key competition can be the hallmark of a focused brand strategy, and something you’ll want to articulate. But very specific, high dollar, consultative tech solutions for a limited audience of large enterprise prospects does not require the typical “brand reach” of a broad B2B or B2C scale.

With B2E, your SEO / SEM targeting is based on quality, not quantity. Your target enterprise prospect is much narrower than the typical consumer or business.  So if the question is posed, “Why do new visitors exit our website so quickly,” maybe what we should really be asking is, “Are the right visitors leaving too soon?”

All kinds of people visit websites every day for all the wrong reasons. When a visitor can be tracked back to an organization that is “close” to being our target enterprise, but would really be better served by another provider, we WANT them to exit early,  otherwise pursuing them is a waste of time and effort for Sales.

So it’s extremely important in B2E tech marketing to have very specific (longer tail) keywords in order to attract the right, high quality prospect. This means multiple specific ads for each pain point or desired outcome, and specific landing pages for each.

According to Market Sherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified.  With B2E we can expect qualification to be lower yet.

Jeff Ernst of Forrester Research estimates that only about 5% of marketers use a full-featured marketing automation solution. B2E marketers should certainly comprise much of that 5% for the express purpose of attracting and engaging the right kind of prospect, and not the broader target that even typical B2B’s try to attract.

In B2C strategies, we tend to use Social Media more than email targeting due to the consumer appeal of social, and the obvious problems of consumer email marketing.

With generic B2B marketing we tend to reach out to a decision maker via email based on matching the nature of the product to the departmental need and solution.

With higher ticket B2E tech-marketing, multiple decision makers are usually involved, since the CFO is crunching numbers, but the CIO must be comfortable with the IT impact as well.

According to Sirius Decisions, the average sales cycle has increased 22% over the past 5 years due to more decision makers being involved in the buying process. That trend is economically driven and with high dollar technology sales, it’s even more pronounced.

High relevance email campaigns with automated triggers tend to work much more effectively for the collaborative decision sale than social media. But this is not to say that social marketing is not useful in B2E, only that it’s not as effective as inbound and email, and it’s best when used differently.

Speaking of Social Media for B2E being “different”, consider that a whopping 96% of marketers using Facebook measure number of fans and followers. 89% measure traffic, 84% measure mentions, 55% track share of voice, and 51% track sentiment (source: Awareness, Inc.).

Are any of these metrics useful for the B2E marketer? Somewhat, but B2E social marketing should measure interaction with qualified enterprises much more than measures of one-way content ingestion or sharing from the source. That’s a little harder to measure.

By following key enterprises and choosing relevant posts in the company feed  to comment or share in a collaborative way, you begin to establish the peer to peer rapport and partnership relationship that defines the consultative approach moreso than the typical B2B “customer > vendor” or B2C “producer > consumer” relationship.

That strategy also keeps you informed of posts relevant to qualifying and better understanding the enterprise’s milestones, relationships and social interactions.

So much is written about digital marketing from a B2C perspective. Maybe too much. I hope you got something of a different perspective here, especially of you’re a B2E marketer.

Can Relevance Become “The Box”?

As a marketing professional, my LinkedIn account serves up lots of relevant information about topics of interest to me on LinkedIn Pulse, which is home to lots of well written and informative articles on the subject matter pertinent to my profession.

The emails I receive (from HubSpot and others) and the various news feeds served up to me on digital media platforms are very customized and relevant to me. The information comes from people like me, with interests like mine, on topics we all have in common.

Relevance SquaredIt almost seems as if my entire online world is about nothing but (1) digital marketing, (2) leadershp and innovation, and (3) social media.  And it seems like everyone else  in the world is highly interested in these same three topics, above any and every other topic of interest in the entire universe.

Of course, this is all just a byproduct of choosing to follow those three topics (and spending a lot of time on LinkedIn). But it’s not just LinkedIn. There are information gathering robots among the various social and search networks that analyze my online actions, the sites I visit, the articles I like and the people I connect with.

From this activity, network intelligence creates a profile for me, and serves me the content it thinks I’m interested in, based on what I’ve shown it I’m interested in.

In a single digital age buzzword, we call this “relevance”.

Two aspects of the relevance “feedback loop” I am  somewhat apprehensive about are information overload, and groupthink.  And we could group these two together, since they are so closely related.

I love PULSE for example, however the trend toward groupthink  for a hot topic like “culture” or “innovation” is palpable. Once an insightful article is written,  it starts trending and we have three or four more articles per day trying to compete with some new spin on corporate culture or innovation –  until it finally just wears itself out.

It seems as if  many authors and commenters are looking more for affirmation and self promotion than constructive contribution. So by adding to a trending topic, I suspect they feel they’ll have better success with that. This isn’t exactly new. We are all “trend hopping” in a sense for “likes”,  and have been ever since online affirmation became the new currency of our monetized digital  world.

This is not to say that counterpoint doesn’t emerge,  only that it is often in the form of mean spirited and confrontational comments, as opposed to disruptive, yet constructive ones – unconventional and truly creative thinking (while remaining civil) which clears a path for new ideas and true innovation.

Yes, the relevance of the content I have unintentionally immersed myself in is definately on point. And if relentless repetition were the key to understanding it all, I’d be well on my way.

But the dangers of normalcy bias, groupthink and social norming are increasing, and the inspiration for new ideas is on the decline.

We shouldn’t underestimate the value of disruptive thinking, even in today’s “digitally transparent”  age (which of course governs the conversation through “social correctness”). We don’t have to be confrontational, just innovative.  

Disruptive thinking has been the basis for so many great inventions and new ideas in our modern age, we’d be foolish to abandon it just for the sake of relevance.

It is the unepxected, outside our comfortable world of preferences, that helps us to learn and grow, and, to use a somewhat over-used term these days, “think outside the box”.

The digital world we create for ourselves by teaching A.I. to serve us only what we prefer becomes the box of our digital age, when we let the trending groupthink build walls around our own sense of discovery and  innovation..

Projectional Marketing – Verticalizing from the Inside Out

There’s no shortage of articles on the web about how to approach vertical marketing in a generic sense. But most of these approach strategy from a standpoint of a “new to market” B2C business model.

It can be an effective “miss” to employ a generic vertical marketing strategy in certain circumstances, especially in the  area of software technology and IT consulting.

Let’s take the case of a mature B2B / B2E business that has outstanding tenure in it’s own line of business, a great existing customer base that provides steady revenue, and is now seeking to turn up the volume on outbound marketing to increase new customer acquisition, and  grow revenues beyond the existing base. 


Start-ups won’t find this scenario as applicable, but businesses that have been around for years,  developing and refining their core products or services to better meet the needs of existing customers may find this approach very effective.

Does this sound like YOU? 

Chances are, a “niche” product or service has been evolving in practice behind the scenes, over the years, through your focus on customer relationship development – otherwise, you wouldn’t have a great existing customer base that provides steady revenue.

This type of business profile actually isn’t all that rare in the B2B / B2E marketplace of today. Working with one such client, I explained the strategy as follows:

In a nutshell, your customer base is separable into solution-specific "verticles". As you've been responding to inflection points and solving specific problems, you've been developing niche applications without necessarily packaging (or even identifying) them as such.
Articulate those niche applications. Make them your own, and target market them to those corresponding "solution" verticals in your new customer acquisition strategy - prospects who will immediately appreciate the relevance of those developed solutions to their situation.

In a broad sense, the strategy here is to look INWARD to what is working most successfully with your best customers -- not OUTWARD to what works "generically" in vertical terms. 
Package those offerings, make them your own, and target like companies with those niche solutions and value proposition.
The strategy is to build on your own success and then project that outward.

This “projectional” marketing approach will not be applicable to every business, but a light bulb or two may go off in the process for mature technology development and IT consulting businesses looking to increase new business opportunities in particular.

The new customers they acquire will benefit from their experience with the old, and they’ll be growing the kind of business they specialize in.

Ebay Marketing Gone Wrong

Sometimes, when you see a company, especially one as big as eBay, breaking one of the cardinal rules of social media marketing, you just have to call attenton to it, and since eBay isn’t a client of ours, they’re welcome to follow my advice without the 104 page report and $20 K “strategy” piece that a big agency might charge a global company with eBay’s market cap.

That said, we’ll stick to the KISS principle, and get right to it:

Bid now so you can get a deal!? Really??
Now as everyone who has a couple hundred eBay transactions on their member page should know,  “bidding now” or “bidding early” ALWAYS benefits the seller, not the buyer. I could fill 50 of those 104 pages with all sorts of empirical data that confirms this, but like I said, everyone knows this, so why bother?

And that’s a big problem for eBay’s credibility to it’s buyer / bidder / members. As a bidder, I cringe every time I see this, as it is an absolute LIE (as well as an insult to my intelligence). When you bid early you will NOT “get a deal”. And please, let’s not spend a lot of time about defining what a “deal” is. Let’s just acknowledge that getting a “deal” infers paying less money for the buyer, not making more money for the seller.

Now the other thing we can infer from this, (which is true) is that eBay isn’t having such a hard time attracting buyers as much as it is having a hard time keeping quality sellers. Why? The pure economics of  global price arbitrage, which puts pressure on local and regional sellers, who really make up the bulk of eBay’s commerce (since international shipping is cost prohibitive). That’s about another 15 pages there in the report I’m not writing, but that’s not the biggest rub either.

Really, there can’t be an experienced eBay bidder out there that doesn’t see what’s going on here. eBay is misleading bidders to bid early so that its buyers can get more bids, and as everyone knows (another 10 pages here, greatly condensed) early bids mean more bids, more bids mean bigger bids, and with a little luck, a bidding war, which means: (1) buyer happy, makes more money, (2) eBay happy, bigger commission, and (3) bidder loses, doesn’t get as good a “deal” as if he or she had waited until the last minute.

Now, the proliferation of snipe (automated final moment bidding) programs alone should tell us all we need to know, without an additional 29 pages of proof … that bidders who wait until the last minute help to create the impression that there’s no interest in the auction, therefore the psychology of a bidding frenzy never has a chance to go viral.

Yes, we could spend some time on the social psychology of “wanting something more, when you see others wanting it too” but please, we even have a social share button right next to the “get a deal” recommendation to help get that bidding war started early among your network of Facebook friends. Case closed.

HOWEVER … and not being one to criticize a problem without offering a viable solution … what eBay could do is recognize the ONE thing that does occasionally happen when bidders wait until the last minute. And that is … they could time the auction wrong, miss the end, and both the buyer and the seller lose out.

This is called … (wait for it) … the TRUTH … and it should resonate among experienced eBay members who have probably had this happen to them by trying to manually snipe an auction. Even a sluggish computer, or a last minute interruption (guilty), or even falling asleep (I admit it) can be to blame.

So, as my good deed for the day, and saving eBay the cost of all that empirical data for the recommendation, how about trying some truth in advertising and changing that phrase to:

“Bid now, so you don’t miss out”.

What a big difference such a tiny change would make.

It’s something refreshingly honest that most bidders can relate to, and it certainly comes across as being more genuine than what eBay is doing for its bidding “members” today.

OK eBay, that’s all you get for free. DO THE RIGHT THING, and get with the program. Social media marketing today is about transparency. And it’s shamefully transparent that you’re pretending to help buyers “get a deal” when you’re really helping your sellers (and eBay) make more money.

And by the way, there’s nothing wrong with making money for your sellers, or yourself … only with how you’re doing it.