Shazeeye's Blog Thoughts on User Experience, Technology and Business

31May/110

Learning Google Adwords

I started my first paid advertising campaign early this month with Google Adwords and would like to share some interesting things about it. My campaign is to promote my services in design and usability. My skills are varied and range from usability to design to marketing so I created many ads (example of one on the right) to target different users in the Bay Area. Let me walk you through the process.

1. Define the goal for your campaign and a budget. My objective was to promote my services online so that targeted people would visit my blog and email me to inquire about my services. I started with a $50 budget but you can start with $10 and see if the return on investment is greater than the costs.

2. Sign up on Google Adwords: Google helps you through this process and you can sign-up in less than 2 minutes.

3. Create a campaign: To create a campaign you need to create an ad (as shown above), identify keywords, define the regions where you know your audience is from (example: Bay Area) and define the cost per click (CPC). It is best to create more than one campaign to target different segments. For example, I make websites easy-to-use so I can target marketing people, design people and user research/usability people. I could also target industries such as healthcare, finance and retail. Let's review each step in detail.

a. Create an ad: Having decided to target an audience that wants better design I created 3-5 ads as shown on the right. Ads need to include keywords and a call to action. I created more than 20 ads and after trial and error narrowed it to the ones that I found to be most effective.

b. Identify Keywords: Keywords are the words people enter in Google search which trigger the appearance (or absence) of  your ad. With the help of the Keyword tool and the Traffic Estimator tool you can identify about 10 effective keywords for each of your campaigns. Keywords should have a high Quality Score (yellow square) and attract substantial traffic for a low estimated CPC.

4. Monitor your campaign: It is critical to monitor campaigns regularly and change them if needed. I stop campaigns that don't work and create new ones that I think will work better. Similarly, I'm tracking my most effective ads and keywords. You can also connect Google Adwords to Google Analytics to track your campaigns.  In the past few days I have got 6 clicks (right image). Eye Tracking and User Experience Design are effective keywords. Visitors spent an average 2 minutes on my blog and bounce rate was at 50%. Both bounce rate and average time on my blog through these paid campaigns show better numbers than the free traffic visiting my blog. I have yet to learn how to control CPC (as it's currently in auto mode) and will share my learnings soon.

31Dec/102

Useful Frameworks to Drive your Business Strategy – Part 2 of 2

This post is a continuation of an earlier post. For the first four business strategy frameworks please read the earlier post.

5. Porter's Five Forces: Porter's five forces analyze the competitive forces in your industry - specifically, new entrants, substitutes, buyer power, supplier power, intensity of rivalry- so that you can optimally position yourself for sustainable competitive advantage and thus profitability. Nike's 5 forces show that overall it's an attractive industry for Nike with three of the five forces in favor for Nike - supplier power, threat of new entrants and buyer power.

6. Value Proposition and Positioning (4Ps & 3Cs): Value proposition defines the value you deliver to your target audience (benefits minus cost; benefits include points of parity and points of differences with respect to competitors) and positioning defines where the brand is in the customer's mind (hopefully customer and company perceptions are aligned). These terms can be better defined with the 4Ps and 3Cs. The 4Ps define your Product, Price, Promotion, Place (how you distribute your product) and the 3Cs define your Company, Customer and Competitors. The Land Rover positioning as well as the positioning for its individual car segments is seen on the image in the left.

7. Value Chain Analysis: The value chain analysis looks at the activities that reinforce the value proposition. It is a group of integrated value-added activities that are provided to the customer. It's easier for competitors to copy a company's value proposition but not it's value chain. The image below on the left shows the value chain for Crown Cork and Seal.

8. Boston Consulting Group's Growth-Share Matrix: The Boston Consulting Group suggests you look at two factors - market share and growth - to determine which products you should keep in your product portfolio and which you should drop. The image below gives you clear direction in terms of what to do if your product is a dog (divest), cow (milk), question mark (analyze further) or star (invest).

Happy New Year, Dear Readers! I wish you and your loved ones a blessed new year. May all your dreams come true!

31Dec/101

Useful Frameworks to Drive your Business Strategy – Part 1 of 2

Over the past year I have learned a few useful business frameworks that can be applied to any industry. I have divided this post into two parts as it would be too long to fit 8 frameworks in one post. Each framework is explained with a case study. All case studies were done as part of my MBA coursework at University of California, Irvine and are not endorsed by the companies mentioned in these two posts on business strategy.

What is business strategy? Business strategy is about planning how an organization will achieve its goals; about winning; choosing activities different than rivals; deciding where to compete and how to compete

1. Porter's Four Corners Analysis: This framework is used to understand your company's drivers, assumptions, current strategy and capabilities (4 corners) as well as your competitors' strategies and thus better position your future strategy. Future strategies can be based on a specific scenario or a specific market. For example the case study below analyzes GE's strategy to win the contract for China's Smart Grid (specific market). The second presentation shows how GE would change it's strategy if  China decides to own 33% of all GE's Smart Grid patents (specific scenario).

2. Judo Strategy: This is a market entry strategy and how to win against bigger competitors with agility and nimbleness, hence the name Judo Strategy. Its typically used by smaller companies who value skill over size and strength. Large companies use it to unite superior skill to move into new areas where powerful opponents exist.

3. Network Effects: This strategy is specific to the hi-tech industry. The value of the product/service increases as more people use it. The size of suppliers (one side of the network) influences the size of consumers (other side) and thus the value of the network. For example, increasing the number of games/applications built for the iPhone was one reason for the increase in iPhone users when compared to other phones. This also applies to Groupon - more restaurant tie -ups = more consumers compared to other location based advertisers.

4.  SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats for a company gives a good overall picture of what internal and external factors to capitalize on and what to watch out for. These reports for almost every company are already available on Datamonitor (online database of company reports, news, etc) but if you don't have access to such reports you can always create your own. Google's SWOT Analysis from Datamonitor is available on the right.

Frameworks 5-8 can be read in the next post.

13Sep/100

Key to Success for any Company: Listen to Your Customers

I went for a talk by Steve Blank a few weeks ago. He spoke on listening to your customers to validate the idea for your startup (or a new product for existing companies) until you get to a scalable and repeatable business model (he calls the pivot) and thus be successful. He urges entrepreneurs (or intrapreneuers) to "get out of the building" (see a signed copy of his book to me) and listen to your customers to validate your idea or tweak it based on customer feedback. I highly recommend his book because I have been practicing his Customer Development model (right image) and find it very successful. As a usability specialist for 4 years I made websites easy to use by asking customers for their feedback.

Recently, I wrapped up an internship at HealthCrowd, a telehealth platform that connects holistic practitioners such as therapists and nutritionists to you. I decided to find out for myself what our customers (in this case people who visit a nutritionist, therapist, etc) thought of our service.  I asked ten customers and found six in favor of the service and four not in favor or who would not use it the way it was intended to be used. Many would argue that ten customers are not enough to make conclusions but with limited time and resources it always helps to listen to even a few at least for the qualitative feedback if not for the quantitative extrapolation of results to apply to the larger population.

Below, you will see two video excerpts of my interviews (positive feedback video on top and negative at the bottom). Putting together the positive feedback from all six customers it is clear that they would use HealthCrowd for its benefits: convenient consultations that can be taken from work (or anywhere) during lunch break (or anytime), better control of their health through online health monitoring and a more effective way of choosing a practitioner (through common health stories shared in the form of user testimonials). Customers who did not favor HealthCrowd said they would use the service as a directory to search for a practitioner and once they identified a practitioner they would book an in-clinic consultation. Others resonated the fact that the relationship built through in-clinic consultations is integral to the healing process. One customer just didn't trust HealthCrowd (see second video below) based on impressions formed in the under-5-minute interview which goes to show how quickly we form our impressions. By addressing these needs and truly listening to our customers we should be on a less rocky road to success. Specifically, how do we capture the customer segment who will use this service as a directory? How do we substitute the power of relationships formed during in-clinic consultations? In what ways can we build credibility and get patients to trust HealthCrowd?

In conclusion, customer feedback is a critical component for the success of any company and should be done frequently to refine our hypothesis through all stages of product development.

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