Banner Ads and the Personal Touch: How Wikipedia Increased Donations by Almost 1500%

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Fri, Nov 19, 2010 @ 08:10 PM

If you surf Wikipedia as much as I do, I'm sure you're familiar with the recent addition of banner ads featuring the face of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and a simple message asking you to please read his personal appeal. I have to say, this campaign is the first that's managed to cut through the noise for me, apparently despite several previous attempts.

When I first encountered the banner, I didn't give much thought as to why this particular ad grabbed my attention. Instead, I was immediately engaged by the banner, and clicked through to read the extremely well written letter, just as Wikipedia intended. Since then, Jimmy Wales' concerned mug drew my eye every time I dropped in to read about the egregious pollution in Norilsk, Russia, personality theory, or whatever subject happened to be the fascination of the hour.

According to this awesome infographic from (via my one of my favorite tumblogs, TheDailyWhat), I wasn't the only one noticing.

wikipedia jimmy appeal

The donation numbers speak for themselves.

Of course hindsight is 20/20, but I'm not very surprised that a banner ad with a simple message accompanied by a very personal image of Riddle got people's attention better than text banners with pithy messages and guilt trips. As a marketer, you hear every day how important the personal connection with your customers is. The increasing business impact of social media has driven that point home, quite painfully for some. The Wikipedia case shows just how effective that personal connection, established by the banner ad, and intensified by the letter on the landing page can be. 

Whether you're currently engaged in banner advertising, or considering it as an option, there's a valuable lesson to be learned here. Sometimes you don't need witty ad copy, flashy animation, or high end graphic design to be successful in display advertising. Sometimes, all it takes is the same kind of personal connection that salesmen have been making with prospects since the very birth of business. If you're running out of ideas for your ad campaigns, why not try taking it back to the basics?

Tags: Social Media, SEM, Wikipedia, Fundraising, Landing Pages, Advertising, Banner Ads

A Digital Marketing Manifesto: Have You Been Misled?

Posted by Mike O'Rourke on Thu, Nov 04, 2010 @ 01:56 PM
A Digital Marketing Manifesto

The most frustrating challenge facing marketing directors today probably isn't how to convince their boss that they need to spend more time and money on digital marketing, although what may seem obvious to you may not be quite so crystal clear to the folks upstairs. It probably isn't figuring out which method of digital marketing can help your business succeed in accomplishing your greater marketing objectives; if your inbox is anything like mine, you’re inundated with a library of information on how search engine optimization, paid advertising (search engine marketing), social media, etc. can benefit your business every day. Not that anyone has the time to digest it all, but once you’ve read enough whitepapers and attended enough webinars, you probably have some solid ideas for how your business stands to benefit from a myriad of digital marketing methods.

My hunch is that the biggest challenge facing marketing directors and businesspeople of all kinds today is: knowing where to begin with their digital marketing plan?

Indeed, the agencies, consultants, and various service providers do such a splendid job of espousing the benefits of their services that it quickly becomes paralyzing unless you understand how each piece of the marketing puzzle fits together. While there are certainly a few things that every organization marketing on the web should have in place before aggressively seeking traffic online (we’ll go into greater detail on these basics in a later post), it’s important to approach your overall marketing plan from a macro level as well as a micro level. It can be very easy to get lost in the minutiae of the benefits of SEO versus SEM versus blogging and forget that there are many ways that these disciplines overlap, and feed each other.

Unfortunately, many marketers with limited experience online make the mistake of focusing their efforts entirely on one or two aspects of digital marketing while neglecting other complimentary or even essential aspects, dooming their plan from the get-go. As digital marketing service providers become better at what they do and more specialized in their respective fields, their advice and marketing messages often become more focused on their one area of expertise, often misleading their clients to believe that their method is the silver bullet for all their digital marketing problems.

I’ve even heard well-respected gurus advising their clients to avoid entire pieces of a marketing plan altogether because their web design service is competing with SEM for client dollars. The sad reality is there is no silver bullet in digital marketing, and yet there are people making millions of dollars a year on marketers and business owners who don’t know any better. I’m sad to say that from what I’ve seen, this cottage industry based on ignorance shows no sign of slowing down.

There are so many specialists in the market pitching their services, and not enough strategists helping marketers determine how to employ them for long-term success. In this environment, marketers need help developing a comprehensive, holistic marketing plan to increase efficiency of their marketing dollars and grow their organizations the smart way. No two organizations are the same, and I believe that a thorough understanding a client’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses combined with diligent research and marketing creativity can achieve a lot more than one-size-fits all, digital snake oil.

My purpose is not to insinuate that all marketing specialists can’t back up their promises. Coming from an agency background myself, I’ve seen firsthand what a relentless focus on your business’ core strengths as opposed to trying to be a jack-of-all-trades can accomplish. My purpose is to help you see how necessary it is to approach your organization’s digital marketing from the big picture so that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket, only to become bitter about its inevitable inability to live up to your expectations.

Tags: Digital Marketing Strategy, Social Media, Digital Marketing, PPC, SEM, SEO, Strategy