Category Archives: Best Practices

Ten Things You Didn’t Know about Chat

Whether it’s in person or on the computer, people love to chat. This is visible by the amount of chat programs available: MSN, Facebook chat, Skype chat, Gmail chat, Google talk, iChat, chat rooms; we use many mediums! People from my generation especially (80s baby) have an affinity with online chat. But how do we feel about using chat during online purchases, problems and general browsing?

1. Website visitors that accept chat conversations are more likely to convert than those who don’t. Live chat is an increasingly effective sales channel. For the average website, adding live chat will increase conversions and average order size.Users who chat are 7.5x more likely to convert than those who don’t. This number has increased in the past few years. Chatters buy, on average, 24% of the time. Chatters spend about 55% more per purchase than non-chatters.2. The percentage of visitors that engage in chat has grown steadily, but varies widely from company to company. Proactive chat invites are critical for highly tracked sites.The YoY growth rate of the amount of people that have engaged in chat has jumped into the double digits. Only 1.7% of people (on average) engage in chat (varying between less than 1% to 15%) for low traffic websites; for high traffic websites, less than 1% of visitors engage in chat. Proactive chat (the issuance of a form, image, or other component that generally appears on top of a website and invites the visitor into a chat interaction) yields an 8.5% engagement rate. The ‘Chat Form’ type of invitation is 37% more likely to be accepted over other types, although 47%of website visitors abandon chats when a pre-chat form is presented. Chatters who engage via Proactive are, for the highly tracked site, 9.8x more likely to buy (and 8x  more likely on average websites).3. Website visitors are fairly satisfied with live chats and are more satisfied the longer that the chat lasts. The more satisfied they are with the chat, the greater the chance of conversion.

The satisfaction average goes up gradually from 3.5 up to 4.0 (out of 5.0) for chats that increase from 10 seconds up through 30 seconds. The average satisfaction level increases up to 4.3 at 80 seconds and up to 4.5 at 180 seconds. 25% of chatters fill out a post-chat satisfaction survey, on average. Sites with top 20% conversion rates average 4.5 on their overall chat satisfaction scores. Sites in the bottom 20% for satisfaction scores had a 35% less chance to convert a chatter than an average site.

4. Chatters will wait longer than 10 seconds for an answer.

The average wait time before visitors give up on a chat is 20 seconds when no pre-chat form is used. Visitors are increasingly less likely to fill out a form before chatting, but if they do, they want the chat answered more immediately.

5. Chatters are predominately middle-aged (surprisingly enough). They shop frequently but demand attention.

One in five shoppers preferred live chat as their communication method of choice for contacting a retailer. Live chat fans are more likely to have higher household income, shop more frequently, spend more, are college graduates, and are between 31-50 years of age. The live chat fan is also more likely to be a woman. Those who have chatted 4 or more times in the past few months expect more from the technology and retailers as well.

6. For the vast majority, live chat saves contact centers money while simultaneously empowering them to offer new support options, improve interaction speed and quality, and increase customer satisfaction. However, live chat can go wrong if not managed properly.

What matters most are the agents on the other side of the chat interaction (the most important factors that make chat sessions successful were the human factors, the live agents). Text-based communication is unique and requires different training, incentives, and skills. Because live chat is asynchronous, agents can manage more than one chat at a time and  multi-task.

7. Measuring success: Customer Satisfaction is the key metric by which contact centers providing support through live chat judge their success, next to wait time and chat length.

Technical support is the most popular type of support provided by companies that offer chat services. Live chat has a profound positive impact on support organizations. The most highly rated chat feature in helping provide support to customers is chat history (the ability to access, in real-time, past chat conversations for a given visitor). The consumers know that an agent – through any channel – who can quickly come up to speed on past issues is highly valuable.

8. Watch your ‘chatiquette’ (Toshiba telecom blog) – (chat etiquette) is a variation of netiquette (internet etiquette) and describes basic rules of online communication:

    • KISS-principle: keep it short and sweet. Keep it casual too, don’t be long-winded in your answer, if longer is necessary take the conversation to email or phone.
    • Limit the conversation to one subject or question at a time.
    • GEOTJ: go easy on the jargon. Talk to a customer in the same way as you would in person or on the phone.
    • Watch spelling and grammar.


9. Chat has been around for more than 35 years.

The first online chat system was called Talkomatic, created by Doug Brown and David R. Woolley in 1974 on the PLATO System at the University of Illinois. It offered several channels, each of which could accommodate up to five people, with messages appearing on all users’ screens character-by-character as they were typed. Talkomatic was very popular among PLATO users into the mid-1980’s.
The first dedicated online chat service that was widely available to the public was the CompuServe CB Simulator in 1980, created by CompuServe executive Alexander “Sandy” Trevor in Columbus, Ohio. Ancestors include network chat software such as UNIX “talk” used in the 1970s.

10. The future of chat is diversity.

86% of survey respondents said that live chat agents inside their contact centers work simultaneously across other channels like texting and email. Two thirds indicated that they are also actively supporting customers through Social Media channels.


Travel and Retail Report; Attribution and Conversion Path Insights

IgnitionOne released research today that shows the effect of media types and exposure paths on the speed of conversion and on the average order value (AOV). Using marketing data from US and European travel and retail firms over a two month period, IgnitionOne looked at the types and number of media exposures, latency (the amount of time between the first exposure and when the conversion occurred) and the exposure paths that led to conversions.

Download the 2012 Travel and Retail Report here.


Key findings in the report:

  • For travel, paid search is the key driver in getting customers to spend more money.  Outside of organic search, it drives a 71% higher average order value (AOV) than any other single-channel path. Within multi-channel paths, when paid search follows an organic search click, the AOV is 18% higher than the average multi-channel path.
  • Email campaigns are a drag on travel order values and increase the time to convert when part of conversion paths.  Across single-channel conversion paths, email drives a 56% lower AOV and takes over 250% longer to convert a user than on average. Across multi-channel conversion paths, when email is the last exposure, it results in a 36% lower AOV and 100% more time to convert than on average. When email is the first exposure, it results in a 39% lower AOV and takes a user almost 150% more time to convert than on average. This can be explained by email campaigns being traditionally very promotional in nature, which lowers the AOV. Email campaigns are also more heavily dominated by existing customers who may not be currently in the market for travel and/or are more discerning among promotional offers.
  • Display is an effective channel for retail, especially early in the conversion path, feeding the top of the funnel. Even on its own, display drives a 29% higher AOV than other single channel paths. Combined with search channels (both paid and organic), it drives a 16% higher AOV when it’s at the top of the path and converts users 43% faster than other multi-channel paths. At the end of the path, latency tends to be higher but AOV is 36% higher than other multi-channel paths.

“By better understanding how different media interact and assist along the path to making a purchase, marketers can more efficiently leverage advertising dollars,” said Roger Barnette, President of IgnitionOne. “These types of insights are possible when marketers take advantage of advanced attribution models and move away from last-click models.”

This report is the latest in a series of reports from IgnitionOne reviewing trends across the online advertising landscape. This and previous reports can be downloaded at

Q&A with Gareth Griffiths, Head of Digital Marketing,

Luxury travel website Secret Escapes recently came onboard the IgnitionOne DMS in order to manage and optimise all its digital marketing channels. We sat down with Gareth Griffiths, who is the Head of Digital Marketing for to ask him about some of his thoughts on the digital industry as well as who he would love to have lunch with… dead or alive.

What do you do?

A little bit of everything digital. Primary focuses are paid and organic search and affiliate marketing. We also have a large customer database so email marketing is a big source of traffic.

What is your background?

Moved from a sales and analyst background into digital marketing

What does Secret Escapes do?

We negotiate exclusive rates for luxury hand-picked hotels and holidays in the UK and abroad, at up to 70% off the price you’d pay by booking anywhere else. These special rates are only available to our members so signing up for free is the only way to get them

Which digital marketing channels do you see as being most important for your particular industry?

Email and paid search are very important. For customer acquisition paid search is key, whereas email marketing is number one for sales generation.

From your perspective what is the single biggest change in the digital industry in the last 10 years?

The biggest change in the last 10 years has to be the rise of Social Media. Whilst the race to utilise Social networks as a sales channel has a long way to go, the access to potential customers with specific interests is a big opportunity. With the use of sites like Pinterest and StumbleUpon increasing at such a rate, there is definitely scope for a luxury travel business like Secret Escapes to source new customers whilst engaging existing members and promoting our brand.

What was your main reason for choosing IgnitionOne?

Management and optimisation of search campaigns can be very time consuming, especially for a small team across multiple channels. IgnitionOne allows us to optimise and analyse multiple campaigns from one place, making it easier to implement a coherent multi-channel strategy and increase time efficiency. The use of predictive bid optimisation should see campaign performance increase and make intelligent budget allocation far easier.

How do you see the digital marketing arena shifting over the next five years?

Mobile has to be the next big shift for digital marketing. The advancements in smart phones and tablet technology will see more and more sales being made via mobile devices. Mobile devices now make up a big percentage of our visits, especially from email and search. I see the computer focussed domination of digital strategy in past years moving through a period of a more even focus and into mobile being the greater focus.

If you could have lunch with anyone, who would it be…dead or alive? 

Leonardo da Vinci. Described on Wikipedia as “perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived”. As a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer I doubt that the conversation would be boring.

What is your favourite travel destination?

Kenya. Going on safari is an amazing and unforgettable experience.

What is your favourite film and why?

Silent Running. It’s a futuristic science fiction film from the early 1970’s. I first watched it when I was little and the three robots (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) were my instant favourite.

Fun Facts about Search Engines

  1. On September 11, 1990, a young MBA student of McGill University in Montreal, Alan Emtage, emailed a newsgroup about a “nifty new tool for net users.” The “archive server,” or “Archie,” as it was later named, became the first search engine that paved the way for such monster companies as Yahoo! and Google, by gathering script-based data in response to user queries. 
  2. Before it was Google (in 1996), Larry Page and Sergey Brin had high hopes for a search engine they named “BackRub.” 
  3. When Google moved to their Paolo Alto office in 1999, the company was composed of only 19 employees. As of March 31, 2012, there are over 33,000 employees in 13 countries.
  4.  Google’s search technology, PageRank, is named after Larry Page.
  5. Google’s first rented office space was a garage in Menlo Park, California. 
  6. The Google Doodle originated as an out of office message. In 1998, Brin and Page attended the Burning Man festival in Nevada. They designed a burning man doodle to indicate that they were not in the office to fix technical issues in the event of a server crash. 
  7. Yahoo! stands for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”
  8. Yahoo! was initially named “Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web,” in 1994, and served as a way for Jerry Yang and David Filo to keep track of their online interests.
  9. Terry Semel, then CEO of Yahoo!, almost purchased Google for $5 billion in 2002, but he didn’t because the price was too high. Google is now worth over $250 billion.
  10. Google rents goats to mow their grass and clear fire hazard brush on its Mountain View campus. 
  11. It is rumored that Bing stands for “Because It’s Not Google,” because it’s not Google! Bing is marketed as a “decision engine,” not a “search engine.”

Five Things You Should Know About RTB

1994:  the year I sent my first email, the year Yahoo  was created, the year Al Gore coined the term ‘information superhighway’ and believe it not the year of the first online banner ad.

targeted digital marketing

This is not a history lesson, but rather five things you should know about the ever evolving real-time display landscape that has come a long way since that first banner ad back in ’94.

  1. How does real time bidding (RTB) work?

By now we should all know what the acronym RTB stands for, but do we really know how it works?

When a user visits a website with a display ad, a call is made by the exchange servers supporting RTB to check with the DSP (Demand Side Platform) to determine which marketer gets to serve the ad. There is a list of attributes associated with each user and the platform checks if this user has the desired attributes the marketer wants to target. Based on the perceived value of this user to the marketer, the marketer places a bid on this ad placement and the highest bidding marketer gets the spot.

  1. How does a DSP decide which campaign to serve the impression for?

The real time bidder, which is fundamentally the brain in the process, defines the bidding strategy. This means it will be decided whether or not a bid will be placed for the displayed impression. If you decide to place, a bid you need to think about which campaign is the most suited, and based on the projected performance and estimated market value, what the best price is for it.

  1. What’s the difference between an ad-exchange and anad-network?

An exchange is an auction marketplace that facilitates the buying and selling of inventory across multiple ad networks and DSPs against the network which buys inventory, and adds value in the form of technology, optimisation and data.

  1. What’s the difference between third party  and first  party data?

1st party: Any data proprietary to a marketer, such as search queries, site visitor data, CRM data that comes from marketer’s website and analytics, CRM database or any other source of proprietary customer data.

3rd party: Any data that a marketer can purchase in order to better identify and target their audiences. This includes demographic or psychographic data, past purchase history and more that can be found in data exchanges or individual 3rd party data providers.

  1. Why use real time bidding (RTB)?

RTB allows brands to bid for individual impressions in real time, capitalising on benefits which include audience targeting, global frequency caps, centralised analytics and guaranteed delivery and quality remnant inventory at a fraction of the price.



Luckily we’ve come a long way since the first banner ad, a part of AT&T’s “You Will” campaign in 1994.

14 Things You Didn’t Know about Mobile

  1. The number of social network users accessing the Internet via mobile phones is increasing. In France, users grew this year by 53.8% and will count for nearly half of total social network users next year (eMarketer)
  2. One in five respondents has made an online purchase on a mobile phone – Harris Interactive (eMarketer)
  3. The number of shoppers interested in receiving promotional texts has climbed. “As of February 2012, 31% of US mobile phone owners who did not already receive SMS message-based marketing said they were at least somewhat interested in such messages, and 10% said they were extremely interested in SMS messages.”– Harris Interactive (eMarketer)
  4. The most popular activity of mobile phone users in actual stores is collecting vouchers for use at the cash register. Mobile couponing (either using or requesting a coupon) is most popular at grocery stores. The more considered the purchase, the more shoppers rely on their smartphones. At electronics stores, users mostly use their phones to read reviews – Nielsen (emerce)
  5. Mobile wallets (for example the Wallet app) are mostly used for small, quick purchases – Google (emerce)
  6. Nearly one-quarter of B2B ecommerce professionals around the world think that the mobile web is one of the most influential touchpoints for their customers – Oracle and Endeca (eMarketer)
  7. Mobile device usage is additive, and marketers should look to build experiences that can easily transition across screens. Each activity should allow a seamless movement from mobile to desktop (eMarketer)
  8. 43% of smartphone owners have used their device to search in response to television ads at least monthly. 40% have searched in response to ads they saw in stores – research from Google, conducted by Ipsos MediaCT and TNS Infratest, March 2012)
  9. Retail locations are the number one single out-of-home place for smartphone owners to take action. Smartphone users mostly research products on their smartphone while either at home (58%) or “on the go” (43%), followed by in a store (31%) – research from Google, conducted by Ipsos MediaCT and TNS Infratest, March 2012)
  10. Android phones and tablets are the largest group of mobile devices of online users (IgnitionOne)
  11. In one year, from 2011 to 2012, the amount of mobile videos viewed worldwide has more than doubled to 280 billion views (Strategy Analytics)
  12. Mobile advertising spend reached about $5.3 billion in 2011 (according to estimates published by IAB and Strategy Analytics)
  13. By 2016, smartphones users are expected to account for 74% of all US mobile phone users (eMarketer)
  14. The screen size of smart devices has little effect on click through rates (CTRs) – Jumptap (eMarketer)

For a Dynamic Campaign, Deploy Dynamic Titles

Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI) is the chainsaw of SEM.  Everyone can agree that it’s a cool and powerful tool that should have a place in every paid search manager’s proverbial tool shed.  At the same time, many marketers are apprehensive about actually picking it up and using it.  If one loses control of it, things will get out of hand and you’ll go from quickly and precisely sculpting your project to irreversibly marring it beyond repair, and you may even lose a finger (read: client) or two in the process.

While it’s true that if used poorly, DKI could render your ads nonsensical, the truth is that the dangers have been greatly exaggerated.  Some marketers have seen the unfortunate results of using DKI in misspelling-oriented keyword groups or retailer campaigns with a massive and diverse array of products. These marketers can wonder about the wisdom of this tactic after seeing unfortunately-phrased long-tail combinations dynamically placed above their carefully manicured description lines. However, many marketers have seen the consistent increase in CTR that DKI provides and wondered how they ever lived without it.

Confining DKI to the areas where it will be both completely safe and highly effective is remarkably simple.  When seeking out the keywords to break into a DKI-safe ad group, know first that all keywords above the title-length limit for the engine in question are inherently safe because they will trigger the backup title rather than the dynamically generated option.  While that seems obvious, it’s critical enough that it merits explicit mention.  Because it’s possible to sort out every single keyword that won’t actually show dynamically due to length, the long-tail keywords that otherwise would represent a large portion of the keywords that look like DKI trouble can be instantly cleared for deployment.

Once a marketer has cut down the potential DKI keyword list to keywords below this limit, they should be looking at a much smaller keyword set that will need to actually be looked over and approved manually.  If one can identify rule-based criteria for exclusion, such as keywords that begin and/or end in certain words that you know to recur through the set (i.e. prepositions), this would further narrow the selections.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion has proven powerful and easy to execute properly in IgnitionOne’s media initiatives. The copywriting process typically consists of developing the ad templates to be employed with static titles, and then creating a dynamic title version of every single iteration to be tested against its static version.  If a marketer is brought onto a project and there is nary a curly-bracket in sight, the first question that should arise is: “Why is dynamic keyword insertion NOT being tested for this initiative?”

These are just a few helpful hints and best practices for employing Dynamic Keyword Insertion.  The art and science of putting this wonderful technology to good use could take up a long chapter in a thorough book on SEM.  Hopefully this brief objective examination will help some marketers adopt the test-first, assess-later, fear-never attitude towards DKI that will improve their campaigns and have them exploring other avenues such as {Idea: Your Own} and {Tactic: Best Practice} in no time!

Meeting the Efficiency Curve

An online marketer’s life is not an easy one. It’s a constant battle of trying to keep up with the new trends while staying efficient in the quickly evolving online advertising landscape.

  • Google introduced countless betas and algorithm changes in Q1
  • Facebook has surpassed 900 million+ users and just had its IPO
  • Yahoo!/Bing is coming up with new updates every month
  • The display landscape is getting a complete overhaul

There hasn’t been a point in time when new ideas were created, tested and executed so fast and with such precision.  That being said, it’s becoming even more vital for marketers to take a step back and focus on their existing asset management in the midst of all these emerging technologies and product updates.

Take SEM as an example: What’s the best way to find out if assets are performing at an optimal level?

Running monthly efficiency curves is one of the great ways to gauge the overall performance of a paid search account. It displays the revenue and/or action potential of an account against the media spend by looking at the impression, click, rank and bid fluctuations from the previous weeks.  Plotting the current performance point against the curve demonstrates if an account is performing at a sub-par level.


A marketer’s immediate goal should be reaching the curve and then ultimately shifting the curve up through long term account restructuring tactics, such as geo breakouts, adding new ad copy and keyword assets. These tasks are a part of a long term project that may take significant man hours to plan and execute.

In the meantime, here are some quick tactics to help marketers move their “current performance point” closer to the efficiency curve:

Get rid of poor performing ads

This is a very quick and possibly the most effective solution to immediately cut down the wasteful media spend in an underperforming account.

Pausing Creative A under this scenario will distribute its impressions to the other text ads and may potentially drive $2,872 incremental revenue for this one adgroup. Imagine the possible gains if this exercise is repeated across the account.

Identify keywords below first page minimum bid 

More often than not, marketers add new keywords with very low bids in order to keep budgets under control (and rightfully so). Over time, campaigns end up with keywords without the ability to capture all of the demand in the market place. Filtering these keywords and increasing their bids will give them a chance to breath and perform as long as they don’t belong to a flighted campaign.


Monitor Low Quality Score Keywords

Tools like IgnitionOne’s Digital Marketing Suite’s advanced filters can help marketers identify the low QS keywords so that they can be eliminated or bucketed thematically somewhere else in the account.

Dive into the Search Query Reports for Negative Keyword Suggestions

Advertisers can rely on search query reports to compare the conversion contribution of the typed queries against credited keywords. The offenders out of this list should be applied as negatives either at the account, campaign or group level depending on the account structure.

Stop to smell the roses… And clean out the weeds

The tactics described above are meant to help marketers meet the efficiency curve and improve the bottom line. They are even more effective when complemented with integrated marketing solutions and repeated regularly. While it’s imperative for marketers to follow online trends and keep an eye on the grand prize, it’s equally important to allocate the time to optimize the existing resources.