Tony Tsang, General Manager, Greater China Regional Guided by the principle that marketing should be managed like any other critical business function, online marketing and optimization is imprinted in Coremetrics DNA. 

While Online e-commerce is rather new, Tony Tsang, general manager, Greater China region, Coremetrics, feels that it has good potential to pick up in the Asia Pacific market, when compared to both the US and Europe.

He says that Coremetrics is committed to bringing in new spectrum / knowledge / best practices to their Asia Pacific clients, letting them to learn and tap on the benefits of running precise e-marketing campaigns. The company follows a globally deployed product approach to offer their services and solutions to their clients.

Roslyn Layton, Director of Agency Services at Coremetrics adds, "In the past, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), PPC (Pay Per Click) were considered separate tasks to be managed by different software solutions.  Now that we have more powerful analytics tools, that is no longer the case.  This is validated by the recent Forrester Wave report (US Search Marketing Agencies, Q1 2009) as well. The Coremetrics platform allows customer to manage all aspects on online marketing in one powerful but simple interface. This allows a broad and robust suite for analytics, seamless real-time application integration with search engines, as well as data import from other key business intelligence tools (brick & mortar point-of-sales systems, corporate accounting systems etc)."

Interestingly, Layton says that the term SEO is a misnomer. She elaborates, “It should be called TAO, or Target Audience Optimization.  Though search engines are still dominant, 25 percent of all searches today are for video. One out of 5 Google searches takes users away from Google to a social network.  While we have not seen sales from social networks and mobile displace the search engine sales, the traffic trend away from search engines is nevertheless clear.”

Ms. Roslyn Layton,  Director of Agency ServicesLayton observes that the leading driver of sales for the majority of websites is still direct load. This is where SEO becomes important.  “You need to make yourself findable for your target audience, wherever they may be, and you need to be able to make profitable leads and sales.  The Coremetrics Online Marketing Agency and Strategic Services Team works closely with clients to ensure that their websites are optimized for SEO as well as to help them manage their marketing to maximize leads and sales,” she explains.

According to her, regardless of the channel, the company uses analytics to manage their messaging in order to deliver profitable leads and sales. 

Commenting on how SEO can be used to increase brand visibility, she says the key here is to have a powerful Unique Value Proposition (UVP).  Coremetrics strategy here is to work closely with their customers to help them craft a compelling UVP based upon the relevant keywords that brings the company leads and sales.  In order to achieve this, the company has a detailed, systematic method to develop and test UVP.  It starts with thorough research of analytics on every channel: direct load, natural search, paid search, referring sites, onsite search etc.  Next, a message is crafted with those keywords and then tested in PPC.

“SEO is no longer just about meta tags, links, and keywords.  It’s about quality. In addition, our team keeps up to date on all the evolutions of search engines.  There is a major change every 12-18 months at least,” stresses Layton.

Coremetrics has a formal, detailed SEO engagement that takes about one month to complete.  It results in a 75-page document with actionable items such as:

  • Analytics
  • UVP
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Keyword Research
  • Page Design
  • Sitemaps (Human and XML)
  • 404 Pages
  • 301 Redirects
  • Policies

When it comes to search marketing, Coremetrics has worked with many leading retailers, marketing hundreds of thousands of products online as well as managing millions of keywords and landing pages.

Layton shares, “We meet or exceed industry standards for marketing ROI and achieve superior returns in online advertising by maximizing Google’s Quality Score with our proprietary account structure methodology. Our agents receive 200 hours of training on the Coremetrics platform and Internet marketing practices and principles.”

Coremetrics Services include:

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Marketing:  Their analytics platform and proprietary account structure methodology allows them to maximize Google’s Quality Score, the single most important measure in advertising in Google.  Text, image, and video advertising are conducted in the areas of search, content, display, and social networks.  In addition, digital tracking can be applied to nearly any channel including radio, TV, print, mobile, Twitter, YouTube etc, providing a total multichannel solution.

Channel Optimization (SEO):  By evaluating Coremetrics analytics on every online channel (direct load, natural search, paid search, onsite search, and referring sites), they can recommend and implement changes necessary to achieve higher sales.

Recommendation Engines: Using Coremetrics Intelligent Offer, enables them to increase the average sale of any website transaction.

Email:  With the company’s LIVEMail, integrated email marketing campaigns can be conducted.
Lead Generation

Display Advertising Effectiveness:  Impression Attribution helps customers improve sales with content and display advertising

Layton observes that analytics is an approach to marketing, not an end in itself.  “If you have the attitude for analytics-based and data-driven marketing, SEM integration will come.  If you have the evidence, the decisions are evident.  Discussions of SEM are secondary,” she states.

Like most of the other online companies Asian eMarketing spoke to for this issue, Layton believes that e-commerce is less developed in the Asia Pacific as compared to North America, for example. She notes that the proof here is the fact that buying and transacting online via credit cards is still not very popular in some countries in the region. Data warehousing is also an issue for some countries owing to the specific data privacy concerns. Thus, marketers in region are working in a bit “simpler” ways to measure their online campaign effectiveness. For example, when running SEM, they may still focus on getting the number of clicks through and impression to determine whether the campaign is successful or not in meeting their campaign goals.

It’s because of this that Coremetrics feels marketers in the Asia Pacific should work on understanding more deeply, the power of web analytics and its benefits. “Marketers here shouldn’t focus and spend on visitors’ acquisition ONLY, which is a predominant focus now for most of the SEM activities. Visitors’ conversion – such as, what kind of elements in their web sites can help drive the effective sales conversion; plus the exact visitors’ behavior & reaction towards a specific web site / page structure & logistic (i.e., a registration form or/and the ordering flow) design set there etc … -- is far more important in order to give marketers an insight on how their dollars spent can effectively convert to revenue. Thus, SEM is actually a sub-set of the entire online marketing strategy. One will not be able to leverage the full potential of SEM, if they are not working on an entirely analytics-based, data-driven marketing plan,“ elaborates Tsang, General Manager.

Surprisingly, according to Coremetrics, the primary issue that marketers face in the region is keyword search. Explaining why this is so, Tsang says that when marketers work on their paid keyword strategy & campaign, they may not actually think of getting other analytics-based and data-driving means in their site to help make the best decisions as well as utilize the full benefits of the keywords used. For example, do they analyze & know the on-site search terms that most of their visitors used?

So, does Coremetrics believe that SEM can give marketers something to smile about especially in these hard times? Tsang shares, “There was a saying that “Half of my marketing works, the other half doesn’t.  I just don’t know which half”.  Now with analytics, we track our investment in marketing.  Before, we had to employ third-party market researchers and after-the-fact reports. Now, we can know everything going on in real time.  So that efficiency and improved information helps us save money and spend it more wisely. Again, the key is: Yes, SEM can definitely help drive more site exposure and attract site traffic. But, without knowing your visitor’s behavior and how they react towards the elements, promotions and special offers within your site, the traffic simply stays as traffic as it doesn’t really drive effective sales conversion.”

He continues, “It’s not difficult to find that marketers are allocating more resources to SEM, which is pretty important in driving more online traffic. With increasing globalization, the current economic crisis, plus the public health concerns (Swine Flu), we do believe more businesses will find the online world an efficient and cost effective means to leverage. At least, the mindset may start to change that people will be more willing to try out transacting online.”

“Again, to spend online marketing dollars wisely in this growing and complex online world (i.e., we have more channels and visitors are getting more & more information these days when they are looking for things online), it is essential for marketers to understand that a more comprehensive strategy, with more concrete data-driven planning on their online marketing strategy (i.e., covering acquisition, conversion and effective client retention) is more important for them to win.  We are already starting to see some positive responses & thoughts from our big and more “forward-mind” customers in Asia Pac on this already. When they approach us to discuss about solutions, they start to ask questions on “how I can optimize my site / page better in order to get more sign up, etc.”

When it comes to Web 2.0, Tsang notes that the proliferation of social media means that a company’s brand reputation is now very much in the hands of their customers. This means that it’s increasingly important to have a strategy and an end goal in mind when it comes to social media like Twitter.  He advices that marketers should be using hard data to carefully measure the success of their programs. In this sense, social media and online reputation management are no different from other programs.

In the end, success with SEO is all about understanding well how people engage on websites. A company like Coremetrics than takes this one step further by ensuring that this knowledge is translated into tangible results.

By Shanti Anne Morais