Attention my dear contractor

I had to send out this email yesterday to one of our service contractors:


I’m guessing someone was trying to help you get web traffic by reposting our company’s videos. The stats of views probably means that it isn’t working. With that few views, I’m not so concerned about impacting our business, although it is a violation of copyright and may confuse people. More to the point, it’s probably time to take them down, as I’m sure our company president wouldn’t like to find them.


It’s so easy to just copy and paste content, even YouTube videos. I’ve been very tolerant of contractors and reps and even those without affiliation when it comes to copying images of our products. (Except, of course, when they are being misused.) But copying our videos just to change the titles for SEO value … there apparently, I draw the line.

Uh oh: The Chinese are stealing our website (part 1)

A couple weeks ago I received an email passed along from our HQ in Japan that our website was getting copied by a Chinese company. This may take more than one post to discuss … here I’ll just tell you what happened. It gets more interesting than a rip-off of our website, so stick with me.

HQ’s email told us that they had found this company copying our division’s website, my baby! (I’ll abbreviate the offender’s name to GHT, my company is called ENA.)

The email from HQ:

Fwd: Written warning for the imitated website

As you have heard, there is a website that is remarkably similar to ENA. We would like to inform you of actions we took and our findings.

1. Our findings
After receiving this information through ENA, we have started investigating the company.
Company: (Lets just call them GHT)
Establishment: Jan, 27, 2011
Sales: 4,232,000RMB
Employees: 300

Their website (HK)
http://www.instrument Ye30S2.html

Their website (China)
http://www.hong acts.html (remove spaces to see the real deal)

2. Our actions
August 7th:
We sent a written warning as attached to the email account listed in the HK website, but it was returned. We sent the written warning to the email listed in the China website. It was not returned so we assume they have received it.

August 8th:
We sent the written warning to their China office by Fedex.

*As of today, we have not received any feedback or have not seen any actions by them.

3. Further actions that we wants to request for ENA:

This issue was discussed at the Directors’ meeting this morning and now below action is requested:
Please note on the ENA’s website that ENA does not have any relationship with this company and their imitated website. (Please use your wording regarding this note.)

This requested action is to prevent from any damages to our business.

If you have any questions, please let us know.

I’ve de-personalized the email and broken the URLs, but this is pretty much the email we got. My reactions (holding off on looking at the websites):

  • Wow, this company was founded a year and a half ago and has 300 employees?
  • Is there a reason why these specific page URLs are being shared? (no)
  • Why do they have two websites for Hong Kong and China.
  • Putting a note on our website is going to fix this? How am I going to do this anyway?
  •  Forget it, I’ve gotta click on those URLs!

The half-hearted website copy

As you will find out if you go to the first link, the company complied and took down the site. It was an exact copy of our current website, but with a logo that copycats our biggest competitor. There were some signs they had tried to change things, like an obvious search-replace of company names, but many of the hyperlinks actually went back to our website.

I was entertained and flattered. The more I clicked, the sillier it got. Was this worth legal action, I pondered. Well, I guess if they were going to complete the project, but as it stood, no one was going to confuse our companies, that’s for sure!

The more serious problem website

The other website URL looked more typical of a Chinese B2B website. Interestingly, it defaults to English, I assume by determining my location.

Wait, wait, I see a picture of one of our products. And the name of a different product of ours.      And that picture looks almost exactly like one of ours, but it isn’t … HOLY SHIT THEY ARE TRYING TO COPY OUR PRODUCTS!

And with that revelation, I’ll discuss this issue of copying products in part 2.

The future of webforms is here

This is the first I’ve ever seen anything like this. Makes perfect sense …

Imagine a webform for your website that predictively fills itself, much like a Google search does nowadays. Your visitor types a couple letters, and their contact info and company information can automatically fill in.

We know that webforms are the biggest barrier to getting leads, making it super-easy to fill out is cool. Although some may find it creepy for their company name to show up after typing just two letters in the company field, like I was.

This is something casually introduced in a blog post by Demandbase called Six Steps for Simplifying your Web Forms.

And even cooler, is that the idea that once a user selects the company, the form can fill in other information into ‘hidden’ form fields, so you get even more detail than the visitor is entering.

Here, you can try it by following the link in this quote:

Check out how company autocomplete works by filling out this form. We’ll return the favor by sending you a more expansive eBook on this topic: Avoid the Lead Gen Tradeoff. You’ll also gain some additional insight into WHY we ask for so much information on our forms, and how to address these information requirements with your sales team.

When a sales inquiry gets ignored because of his “unexperance”

As much as I trust and expect my salespeople to act on leads from our website, there are those strays that no one (including me) wants to touch. Case in point:

Web lead: “i have a [generic term for what we manufacture] and i want to sell it but i don’t know what its worth could you help me.”

I’ll be honest, I saw this one when it came in and didn’t know what to do with it, so I let it sit.

One week later I get this email: “yea thanks for the reply.i asked a question one week ago and still no response you guys suck and i will tell everyone i know on face book.keep in touch my ass.”

(The keep in touch comment was in response to our confirmation email each web request gets.)

I stewed about it for a bit. I had dropped the ball, but really this guy didn’t deserve a response to the initial request or the rude follow-up. I decided to respond, and tell this guy what he did wrong and ignore his attitude:

 … I’m not surprised that anyone replied for the following reasons:

  • You didn’t specify any details about the equipment, even if it was our brand.
  • There can be a lot of variability in age, brand, size, capability for each [unit], it is hard to discuss easily just to figure out what you have without investing a lot of the salesperson’s time.
  • Our company isn’t in the used-equipment business, and have little knowledge of the market value.
  • Salespeople can perceive used equipment as competition for their sales, and choose not to respond.
  • Hotmail/yahoo/gmail email accounts are a potential signs of clandestine inquiries by competitors or others.

If the equipment is by our company, email me the serial number and I can look up the equipment specifications, which should help you in selling the unit.

His reply: “Thank you for your time are right I didn’t give you any details I will check with the seller and get back to you. again thank you and sorry for my unexperance in this situation.”

My final thought on this: based on his response, I think he took my reply the right way.

What does the data mean?

Every time I open up Google Analytics, the glance over the home/overview page. A number of stats on this page are averages of user behavior. Wow! Look how busy my website is. However, what does all this mean?

Specifically, these two bug me: pages/visit & time-on-site. Are visitors so busy on our site because they are gobbling up the information … or are they just frantically clicking to find some nugget of info they want or need? In all likelihood, it is some mixture of both, but it makes these numbers pretty much useless for me.

But for those making decisions on data, assuming that they know why it is behaving that way could make some horrible mistakes. Thinking your site is ‘sticky’ when in fact it is horrible to navigate would be pretty bad.

So I direct you to this week’s episode of On The Media. Luckily, with only a glancing blow to Malcom Gladwell, the several stories in this show help remind us of the fagility of data-driven reporting and decision making.

Basically, it comes down to this: we don’t have data about the future.

The most fascinating story is the last, about the Decline Effect. This is from one of my favorite shows, Radio Lab. Radio Lab is great for bringing stories from the unknown, much about mind and nature behavior. In this case, the effect of test data declining for each iteration of a test. Really makes you wonder if being data-driven is smart at all!

Free advice from Google

Lucky me! My AdWords spend finally earned me a free consultation with a staffer from Google. I thought I’d share what I learned:

1. Use the ‘search terms’ version of your keyword screen/report to select to see ‘all’ the search terms being used by clickers. (See below)

2. For well-segmented (aka low-traffic) campaigns that can’t be set to CPA bidding, you can set to ‘Enhanced CPC’ for a more predictive bidding method designed to improve conversions.

3. Leah also suggested duplicating my campaigns targeting mobile traffic only. Makes sense to do this because: 1. Mobile users behave differently. 2. Mobile traffic may not have the same value as regular searchers. (This is something she could easily do for me, that would be a pain-in-the-neck otherwise.)

4. Finally, she suggested revisiting my ads. Yes, I optimized them a while back, but she suggested some freshness may help raise clicks. And, I guess, I might find a new approach that works better, as well.

What they say about free advice:

It’s just nice to have a pro look and agree that everything is pretty much in order and nothing stupid or out-of-place.

(5. Oh, and a final value to Google: she pointed out that my daily-spend limit was too low. I knew that, but was afraid to raise the limit again.)

Turn off AdWords?! What I learned…

As I started this blog eight years ago, I wanted to discuss my fear of online advertising. Why the fear:

  • It would be addictive … my success would depend on others, and thus
  • I would give away the power of my own website … my content (my product info) would be used by others for profit and control.

I’ve been able to cut-back or eliminate some advertising sources over the years, but the very obvious power of AdWords had me under its control.

Would I ever be able to shake AdWords? Was I paying for traffic and conversions I would get otherwise? Thankfully, my boss never asked these questions. But I always wondered.

Turn OFF AdWords?

This fall, faced with a very strong sales forecast and production capacity issues (what recession?!), I knew I could turn off AdWords. Sweaty palms when I did it.

That was three months ago. Today I turned AdWords back on.

I got my answers!

I just finished looking at website traffic and sales quote activity during that AdWord-less period (on a week-by-week basis), compared to the previous period. There were two key questions in my mind that were answered:

Did I lose prospects, or did they find us anyway?

  • My conversions dropped by almost exactly the same amount as AdWords had delivered previously. So the prospects whose clicks I didn’t pay for did not ‘find my site’ anyway. Other data confirmed this conclusion.

Did AdWords generate additional traffic?

  • AdWords appeared to generate two quotes for every one conversion. Now sometimes we make two different quotes for prospects, but not at this ratio. I attribute the extra to call-ins or direct emails to reps by these premium prospects. (i.e. the real-world total conversion rate of AdWords clicks is double what your Analytics says it is.)

I hope you appreciate these real-life statistics. I don’t think I’m giving away any real secrets. The one advantage of starting with AdWords so early is that I am used to paying the premium this additional traffic costs. And now I know I’m not an addicted fool, but a smart Marketing Manager!

Is industrial marketing this boring?

The magazine for every B2B Marketer

BtoB Magazine has its hands full, trying to offer content for different types of B2B marketers: Agencies, technology companies, big companies, small companies.

The August 16 issue has a two-page feature on ‘manufacturing marketing’ with three articles and a list of manufacturing trade pubs. (Barely a feature, but it did pull a full-page ad from Penton Media, see it below.)

Okay, I thought, this is my vertical … let’s see what the latest and greatest is.

Marketing like it’s 2002.

The articles all talk about online marketing like its something new. Here are the articles and a taste of what they had to say, and my reaction:

Online proves its ROI mettle: This main article talks about resumption of web initiatives by manufacturers as the economy improves. Sample point: “Manufacturing marketers are moving online because Web advertising and search engine marketing are much more measurable.”
Dave says: MEASURABLE? We know that! How about the web is way more functional for B2B marketing.

Outlook improving for manufacturing A two question interview with GlobalSpec’s Marketing Maven based on their benchmarking surveys. Interview response: “Budgets are shifting online: 47% [of respondents] are spending more than one-third of their marketing budget online.”
Dave says: BUDGETS SHIFTING? That ended eight years ago, IMHO. (Okay, the next article proves me wrong, but hey …)

On Site Gas manufactures leads with Web effort
A case study from an agency that helped move a $150K marketing budget to online and overcome lead-management issues. Marketing tactic: “Search marketing efforts included country-specific pay-per-click campaigns as well as an aggressive organic program.”
Dave says: PPC AND SEO? Playing catch-up with the competition?

I shouldn’t be so cynical

So manufacturers are increasingly relying on online marketing tactics? That’s been going on for a decade. I admit we still have a long way to go in improving and maximizing the value of the internet. But we have all committed to online marketing at some level, which makes these articles sound patronizing, thus my reaction.

Like we do any better with print…

Bonus: I also received BtoB’s annual reader survey that highlights a few ads for our opinions. This year was no, different … they were mediocre at best. (See my 2006 comments.)
(Hover for my snark, click for a closer look.)

Adding a local sales-rep map to your website

Back in the early days of the web, I had a map that visitors could click on to find their local salesperson. It was just simple hot spots on a map jpeg that I had borrowed from another website. (Funny thing was how many hits that page got by people searching for ‘USA map’… via Alta Vista no less!)

As the web became a stronger lead-generator, I streamlined the inquiry-path, and eliminated the map. All inquiries would go to one email address and phone number. The outside reps complained, of course, but it worked pretty well.

Now, ten years later, I am adding back a rep-locator map. Why? Well, that’s complicated, but essentially it is a feature that remained in demand since I pulled it, both by customers and reps. The rest of this post will describe the work required to do this in 2010.

Steps to adding a rep-locator map

My completed map

1. Figuring out what you want – I already knew I didn’t just want a list of reps (or a pull-down list of states), so a map seemed like the best user interface, if it could be done right. I started googling and the term ‘sales rep locator map’, which brought me to some interesting examples of the way other websites are doing this. Some bad, some overkill, and a few just-right.

2. Figuring out you can buy the solution – The beauty of the internet: someone has a solution for free or paid for about anything you can think of. A true “cool” moment when I realized I didn’t have to have a lame locator tool.

3. Selecting a solution – I settled on the FLA-Shop’s USA map tool because it seemed easy to work with without messing with the flash file. I especially liked that the map was interactive, so the page doesn’t reload … and the visitor still has access to real text so they can copy/paste email or phone numbers.

4. Setting it up – I had some quality geek time setting up the XML file and making the HTML work within my existing website. I added text links to the bottom for Canada and Mexico and made them work within the tool. But then the code started misbehaving …

5. Get your developer involved – Okay, I’ll call my version “proof of concept”. But Mike Boyink was able to use Expression Engine (already in place as the site’s CMS) to manage the reps’ contact info data, which I was thrilled he did.

6. Go live! – and get on to other projects!


One other improvement to the site done about the same time was to add filters to the product-listings tables via jquery tools I had read about. For some product lines with over 30 models, this was a god-send. Thanks to Mike for doing the dirty work on that.

As I’ve said over and over on this blog, even if you aren’t technically able, just knowing what it is possible to make your website do will get you light years ahead of the competition.

Keep tweaking your website

Its way to easy to ‘set it and forget it’ when it comes to your website. But constantly tweaking it can make for sizable gains in effectiveness. Here are two tools to help you:

1. Browser size visualization tool

Google just released a screen overlay tool that shows you what percentage of average users can see what parts of your website. What’s visible to you may be ‘below the fold’ for half your site’s visitors. Also, it can serve as a handy tool to drag your browser window to the view that 90 or 95% of your customers have.

Me, I’ve got a right-hand side menu to worry about, but luckily the site is flexible-width so 90% of visitors can see the whole thing.

2. Web-form validation technology

Validation choices
Validation choices

What’s more important to a B2B marketer than the web-form that all your leads come from? Well, after looking at this review of web-form validation technology from Smashing Magazine, I feel like my site is only doing the minimum standard. At the end of the article is a number of resources to add form validation tricks to your site. Your visitors are already getting use to these techniques at other sites, and will be expecting similar technology at your site.

Keep on tweaking

We all want to redo our website all the time. But going back and tweaking details can make significant improvements in user experience and response. Don’t believe me? Start following Anne Holland’s new blog Which Test Won? where her A/B test examples can show dramatic gains from tweaking websites.

What are you tweaking?