Most likely feeling the pressure as a result of the launch of Google+, Facebook has created a new site aimed at helping small businesses more effectively market and advertise their products on the social network.
It’s a wise decision, considering that it will be a couple more months before most businesses can enjoy the benefits of Google+, but the effort behind Facebook for Business appears to be a little half-hearted upon first glance.
The new site offers guidance on how best to use Facebook marketing tools such as Pages, Ads, Deals, Sponsored Stories, Platform and social plugins. While it may provide some useful basic information for new or beginning Facebook marketers, most businesses that have been using the social network to build their brands and audiences for any length of time might be hard-pressed to find new ideas much less new features and tools.
The site is positioned as a small business owner’s guide to Facebook marketing, and the timing indicates that it is an attempt to lure businesses back to the social network after the initial hoopla about Google+. Google launched its own social network several weeks ago to much fanfare, but it has essentially told Web marketers to be patient while it prepares to roll out its business product and opens the doors for companies to create their business profiles sometime in the fall.
“We want to inspire small businesses by seeing how other businesses have found success on Facebook by sharing their stories,” a Facebook spokesperson said about the new site.
Social CRM and customer support cloud solution Assistly has announced a new pricing model along with version 2.0 of its SaaS software.
Assistly customers, which include Yelp, Etsy, 37signals, Pandora, Vimeo, Spotify, One Kings Lane and many others, all now start with one free Full-Time Agent license to the Assistly software and can then expand their access to the product and pay as they go. Customers can also earn bonus flex hours as rewards by using the product.
The new pricing and rewards program accompanies the rollout of Assistly 2.0, an updated release of the customer support platform.
Assistly connects companies to support channels such as phone, email, website, live chat, Twitter, Facebook and community forums, and consolidates requests in an airtight ticket management system. The new version introduces a streamlined administrative interface and hundreds of new features.
Web analytics solutions provider Webtrends has announced a new version of its social offering that it hopes will change the rules of Facebook marketing with disruptive pricing, a free model and unequalled measurement.
Formerly Webtrends Apps, the new Webtrends Social expands beyond apps and campaign analytics to include page dashboards and wall management, coupled with tools to build, customize and get branded apps to market quickly with a drag-and-drop design. Social marketers can build, promote and manage their Facebook presence without having to write code or integrate disparate tools.
Another significant development is the new pricing model. Webtrends Social has an entry-level offering that makes the suite free for one Facebook page and one app. It also offers a mid-tier solution targeted to pages and brands with less than 100,000 fans at $250/month. There is also a higher-priced solution for the enterprise market with more than 100,000 fans.
Highlighted features of the new release include the following:
• Do It Yourself Campaigns: Webtrends Social's app builder doesn't require code to customize. Relying instead on UI controls similar to those used in Photoshop and PowerPoint, it allows social marketers to create custom layouts and designs. The suite was designed with tracking built-in, which means setting up campaign tracking requires only a few clicks to configure.
• Analytics: Webtrends Social offers analytics from all of Facebook's data sources including Graph API, Insights API and the exclusive Ad API. Webtrends also brings its industry-leading analytics capabilities to measure the areas Facebook doesn't: Apps and Campaigns.
• Wall Management: Webtrends Social simplifies the task of moderating wall posts using keyword filters to automatically delete posts or to send alerts for review. Social also allows users to publish to their own wall in real-time or schedule posts for the future.
Webtrends Social is available now and free Starter accounts can be created online.
Using RSS Feeds to Increase Website Traffic: Guaranteed Results!
RSS (real simple syndication) feeds provide online business owners, bloggers, and marketers the opportunity to connect with members of their target market in an ‘ongoing fashion’. While it is still essential for a website to feature valuable content which interests others to be successful, RSS has the ability for a site owner or blogger to send out notification of new content or promotions to interested subscribers. Thus, allowing them to stay in contact with previous visitors like never before.
Visitors who find a site or blog useful and entertaining could easily subscribe to the RSS feed and receive notification and have and easy access to any future site updates. This adds to an advantage of being able to keep in touch with past visitors, and in this way, would increase repeat business for a site. There are a couple other reasons why businesses are now embracing the use of RSS feeds:
1.Feeds increase your chances of others linking to your content, mentioning your site, and spreading your business around by word of mouth.
2. Having an RSS feed to your site aids in your ranking with search engines.
3. With RSS feeds, you could be able to get your content indexed with search engines much faster.
4. It is possible to attract traffic to your site which does not come from the search engines results pages, if you have RSS feeds installed on your site
5. Since your content is distributed to all subscribers, there are chances of your content catching on and “going viral” as it spreads from one person to another.
When you have RSS feeds operating with multiple sites, you could essentially get free marketing and traffic for your business! Some websites which operate RSS feed directories receive thousands upon thousands of visits every single day.So, you are listed with them, you get to benefit from this tremendous business exposure. The result is a constant flow of traffic which you do not have to pay for!
Most people do not realize how powerful RSS feeds can be, and are not using this tool to its greatest ability. They use it to some minor extent, but they do not understand or know how to get the back links that they should be receiving from the usage of RSS feeds. Most, as well, do not understand that RSS feeds can improve their page ranking. All in all, if you could grasp the concept and understand the application of RSS feeds, you could take a huge leap ahead of all your competition!
If you want to see substantial increases of traffic to your site and watch your business explode, you really can’t afford to pass up on RSS feeds.
10 Ways to Energize Your Email Marketing
emailmktgEmail marketing has grown tremendously over the years and it can benefit your business substantially. As with any type of marketing, email marketing takes a great deal of time and effort to insure it is working effectively.
There are many types of email marketing such as sending out periodical newsletters/ezines, sending out promotional emails and product updates, tutorials, etc.
Regardless of which type of email marketing you utilize, one important thing you must do is continually evaluate the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign. Do not let your email marketing go stale. You need to keep it alive, fresh and energized.
* Below are 10 ways you can help energize your email marketing campaign:
- Fresh and Helpful Content
Always be sure to include good, solid content. Check the content to make sure it is reliable. You want to make sure you are providing true, helpful information for your mailing list. Offer good resources, tools, tips and other content that will actually help your subscribers. This will help in building the foundation of the essential trust relationship between you and your mailing list members.
- Make it Personal
Making your email more personal will help build trust and your reputation. You need to connect with your list and by making your emails more personal, warm and friendly, you will accomplish this task.
- Grab Their Interest with Your Subject Line
Grabbing the readers’ interest with the subject line can make all the difference as to whether they open the email or just delete it. Keep the subject line short and to the point. Use words that will pique the readers curiosity and make them want to know more. Use power and/or action words such as new, innovative, secret, reveal, etc.
Which email would you open? How to Increase sales or New, Innovative Sales Strategy Revealed…
- Be Available for Your Readers
There is nothing worse than emailing questions to a company about their products/services and waiting days or longer to get an answer. Make it a point to answer questions and concerns as soon as possible. Be as helpful and responsive as possible. You will be amazed at the difference this will make in your business.
- Be Consistent
I know some people that will send out an email here and an email there – sometimes with months in between. This will never bring you any results. Send out your emails on a regular basis using the same design, layout and format each time. Keep them neat, clean and free from a lot of clutter. You want your readers to become familiar with your mailings.
- Add New Features
Always be thinking of new features to add to your mailings to keep it fresh and alive. Add a Q&A section or do interviews with your readers. Give your readers a weekly challenge to accomplish to help them obtain their goals.Publish success stories. The possibilities are endless!
- Offer Subscriber Only Specials
Let your subscribers know they are appreciated by offering them deals and specials that you would not offer anyone else. Give them an extra percentage off the price or give them a free gift in your mailings. Doing little things like this can go a long way for your business.
- Get Your Mailing List Involved
Encourage them to email you with ideas, suggestions and feedback. Let them know you are willing to consider all their suggestions. Ask them if you can use their feedback. Post their questions with the answers to help all your readers. Make them feel like they make a difference because THEY DO!
- Contests and Competitions
Hold contests and competitions for your subscribers and offer prizes. For example: Each week in my newsletter I have a trivia challenge for free advertising and a movie quote contest for a free e-book. They are a lot of fun and my subscribers let me know how much they enjoy it.
- Offer Referral Incentives
Let your mailing list members know that if they refer people to your mailing list, they will be rewarded. Have contests on who can get the most referrals for a grand prize.
Business owners who successfully implement an email marketing campaign are likely to gain a huge advantage over those who don’t. But you must keep your email marketing fresh, alive, consistent and reliable. Keeping in contact with your mailing list members and providing them with useful, helpful information and resources will help build a solid foundation of trust with which to grow your business!
Slingshot SEO has released the largest click-through rate (CTR) study of the last five years, striving to give marketers a better understanding of what to expect in terms of website traffic as it relates to search rankings.
“Conducted over the last six months, our study will help marketers better define the value of SEO to a brand’s budget,” explains Evan Fishkin, head of research and development for Slingshot SEO. “By establishing a reliable CTR curve, you have valuable data in estimating the amount of traffic your website will receive.”
Based on a sample set of 324 keywords, the Slingshot SEO study reveals an 18.2-percent CTR for a No. 1 search engine rank and 10.05-percent CTR for the second position. CTR for each position below the fold was observed to be below 4 percent.
The last comprehensive study using actual traffic data, rankings and search volume was conducted using leaked AOL Search data in 2006. That study, however, occurred before recent algorithm updates, a new user interface, increased mobile search, the addition of social signals and blended SERPs with videos, news, places, images and shopping results.
To be considered for the study, a keyword phrase had to have a stable first-page ranking (1-10) in the search engine ranking page for a 30-day period. Because more changes are expected as search evolves, including changes Google is considering to its user interface, this study will be an ongoing project that will compare with future search engine ranking pages and also compare with other CTR studies.
Full study results are available on the Slingshot SEO website.
Niche Marketing Strategies
Niche marketing is essential for any good internet marketing campaign. Niche marketing is easy enough almost anyone can drill down to the micro niches where money can be made, but some people aren’t doing necessary niche research before hand. The key components to finding these money making micro-niches is proper research and careful selection. So how do you select a niche? Here’s 3 simple niche marketing strategies.
1. Follow Your Strength
Remember in school when you had to do a presentation and the teacher was assigning topics and you got stuck with one you weren’t exactly happy to do research on?
Don’t relive those feeling with picking your niche. Select something you are passionate about or at least would enjoy doing research on. It’s important to select a niche you have a natural strength in because following a strength will give you leverage and make your work seem less like work.
Selecting a niche you have no interest in will reflect to your customers or clients. Lack luster enthusiasm or information about a niche will equal lack luster sales.
Though, when you have a strength in a particular field it shows through not only in your writing and the amount of value but it helps give you an edge over your competition because you know where to find your target audience and exactly what their looking for when it comes time to market to them.
2. Look to Mainstream Media
Turn on the TV, open a magazine, and watch talk shows. You can get a ton of ideas of profitable, hot niches just by flipping through a magazine while standing in the check out line at the supermarket or studying television commercials during your favorite show. You can even log onto Google Trends to see what the latest trends are online.
There are many clues beyond the internet which will indicate good niches. Many of the advertisers you see in magazines and TV also operate affiliate programs so be sure to check out advertisers you’re interested in.
3. Do Your Keyword Research
Keyword research is essential when selecting a niche marketing or any other type of marketing. Do not skip researching potential keywords to target. Research a possible niche with a keyword tool and investigate if your niche will be profitable.
Does it get a fair number of searches per month? Are there more searches than there are competing websites? Also, see if there are advertisements running along the side of the search results of your main keyword, that’s another indicator the advertisers may very well be making money in that niche.
Look for indicators in a potential niche will be profitable. Keyword research can be fascinating, but be sure not to get too involved with research or you might not get anything done.
Niche research can be fun and it should be like anything else you do online. Not only is it fun and relatively easy, but finding the right niche can also create a nice part-time or full-time income. Just remember follow your strength, look for hints of profitable niches from the real world and always do your keyword research with proper keyword research tools. With those three niche marketing strategies in mind you’ll be your way to becoming a niche marketing wizard.
Dedicated, managed and cloud hosting provider Codero recently introduced some enhancements to its online portal including a new and improved dashboard. The Codero Server Portal v2 was designed to be a one-stop shop for customers to manage their hosting accounts and give them exclusive access to information related to all products and services.
The tool is still receiving positive feedback from customers six months after its initial release, and Codero says it continues to refine it to improve it further. Below are highlights of some of the major changes just released:
- Improved Dashboard. The new dashboard redesign increases overall usability, design and navigation. It makes it easier to find messages, tickets, invoices and services to manage Codero accounts from a single web page. Visibility to bandwidth usage is even more immediate and a Twitter feed has been included.
- New SMS Service Notifications. Customers can sign up with the new SMS service to receive service notifications in the event of an emergency. There are now three methods to receive emergency alerts: SMS, email or instant messenger. Customers can also follow @CODERONOC for service-related Codero messages.
- Revamped Payment Method. Managing payment options has been streamlined for simplicity with more functionality. The functionality to edit existing payment methods and delete outdated payment information is now available.
- DNS Management Improvements. The entire DNS Management section was rewritten to provide bulk modifications of DNS records through the online portal. We have also extended the functionality to provide support for long data records, such as Domain Keys, and IPv6 in preparation for the IPv6 roll out at Codero.
In the coming months, Codero says it will have new functionality on the service page. The enhancement will give customers the ability to see available upgrades and downgrades to their existing packages and schedule those changes, during a maintenance window of their choice, directly from Server Portal v2.
Tag Management solutions provider Tealium has announced the launch of Tealium iQ, a new self-service product that enables marketers to manage and deploy their digital marketing solutions without having to burden IT resources.
Tealium iQ’s new point-and-click user interface allows marketers to add, remove or modify the various Web page tags associated with the vast majority of today’s digital vendors. This means that digital marketers can launch online campaigns faster, measure more accurately and more easily swap out and test different marketing vendors before making a buying decision.
“The goal of tag management is to give marketing and measurement professionals direct control over their digital measurement infrastructure, and to eliminate the need for costly and time-consuming IT cycles,” says Gary Angel, president and CTO of the Web analytics and measurement consulting group Semphonic. “Tealium iQ does a superb job of that.”
Users can click on a vendor, set some rules and hit publish to implement their tags automatically. They can do everything from adding a Google AdWords conversion code to their confirmation page to launching a banner retargeting campaign. Tealium customers include Cisco, Dreamworks, Advance Auto Parts, Orange, Classmates.com (now MemoryLane.com), Nicole Miller, FingerHut and Big Fish Games.
Online marketing software provider Optify has upgraded its Professional Edition and announced a new Basic Edition focused on the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. New to both editions are an onboarding wizard and keyword auto-suggest feature.
The $99-per-month Basic Edition for smaller businesses supports a single user, provides 250 tracked keywords and includes one global search engine. It also offers page optimization, link tracking, lead scoring and tracking, social media monitoring and Twitter for Business.
For larger enterprises, Optify continues to strengthen its $499-per-month Professional Edition and includes all the features of the Basic Edition plus support for 10 users, multiple Web domains, custom reporting, multiple lead scores, phone and email support and bundled QuickStart and Success Services.
“We’re building a world-class suite of software and services for online marketing success,” says Brian Goffman, CEO and co-founder of Optify. “With these new editions, we are bringing an even higher level of capabilities to companies of all sizes – whether you’re a large in-house marketing department or a solo, SMB marketer just getting started.”
Hi SES Community! Welcome to the re-launched SES blog. This is an exciting time for SES, as we are just a few weeks away from our week long marketing festival in San Francisco, Connected Marketing Week. And there are lots of new things happening over at SES headquarters….we’ve just launched our first ever mobile app, we have brand new shiny badge booklets making their debut at Connected Marketing Week, and new session formats such as SpeedConnect and Meet the Experts Roundtables are all being introduced. These sessions reflect the core values of our brand – Education and Networking, which leads me onto our blog. I’ll be covering all aspects of SES, including the following:
· Key information on our events
· Previews for upcoming shows
· Interviews with speakers/attendees
· Roundups of sessions and networking events
· Relevant news
· Tips for speaking pitches
· Polls on Industry trends
· Videos and pictures from recent events
And lots more….Stay tuned for a preview with our opening keynote speaker coming tomorrow.
Remember this blog is for YOU – tell us what you would like on here and we’ll do our best to feature it for you. If you have any comments or ideas that are relevant for the SES community get in touch via email@example.com, look me up on twitter at @lauraroth, or come and find me at Connected Marketing Week in San Francisco in August!
Google announced that it has made several major improvements to the way it handles parameters within URLs.
Important note: any configuration of existing URL parameters made in the old version of the feature will be visible in the new version.
URL Parameters help web masters control which URLs on a site should be crawled by Googlebot depending on the parameters that appear in these URLs. The functionality provides a powerful way to prevent Google from crawling duplicate content on your site.
There is a lot involved in Google’s URL parameters feature but today’s changes aim to help all involved with better handling capabilities. In addition to being able to assign a crawl action to an individual parameter, it is now possible to describe the behavior of the parameter.
Web masters will need to indicate to Google whether or not the parameter changes the content of the page as seen by the user. If it does change (e.g. narrow content or reorder content) then the URL parameters feature is where you should start.
If the parameters do not affect page content Googlebot will choose URLs with a “representative value of this parameter" and will crawl the URLs with this value. If a parameter does change the content of a page however, web masters can now indicate to Google four ways to crawl URLs with the parameter – “Let Googlebot decide,” “Every URL,” Only crawl URLs with value=x,” or “No URLs”.
The No URLs option is new and deserves the most attention. According to Google, “This option is the most restrictive and, for any given URL, takes precedence over settings of other parameters in that URL.” If the URL contains a parameter that is set to the “No URLs” option, it will never be crawled even if other parameters in the URL are set to “Every URL.”
Popular social sharing widget provider ShareThis is rolling out a redesigned version and a brand new feature in FastShare which lets users spend more time sharing and less time logging in to social networks/services.
Thanks to support for OAuth (an open standard which allows users to share private details stored on one site with another site without having to re-validate credentials – typically username and password), ShareThis is enabling visitors logged in to any of the sites within its publisher network to automatically see their FastShare options.
Web masters that have implemented current ShareThis widget (using buttons.js code) will be able to access FastShare and the new design elements within 48 hours.
Professional network LinkedIn released a plugin today that enables job seekers to submit their LinkedIn profile to employers.
After clicking the "Apply with LinkedIn" button on a company's site, job seekers will have the opportunity to edit their information before submitting or go directly to the one-click "Submit Application" button which will send the candidate's public LinkedIn profile data to the employer or pre-populate the employer's online employment application. Perhaps most interesting, and what most clearly shows LinkedIn's future, job candidates will be able to manage any job submissions using the Apply with LinkedIn button when they go to their LinkedIn.com "Saved Jobs" tab.
"In this challenging jobs environment, LinkedIn's ability to connect talent with opportunity at massive scale is more essential than ever. Apply with LinkedIn is the next phase of our open platform effort and we hope an important catalyst in creating economic opportunity for our members," said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn.
Many companies have the Apply with LinkedIn plugin accessible on their websites today, including LinkedIn, Netflix, LivingSocial, Photobucket, Concur subsidiary TripIt, Foodspotting, GazeHawk, and Formative Labs.
Companies can customize the plugin and will soon be able to add up to three questions for the applicant to complete, such as a candidate's willingness to relocate, option to add a cover letter, or customized questions. The plugin can be tailored to a company's existing applicant tracking service and may offer varying features based on their ATS partner.
The latest release of shopping cart software provider BigCommerce (version 7.1) provides merchants with tools for search engine optimization and product merchandising.
"With this release we’ve introduced advanced URL customization options to improve keyword proximity for our clients looking to outrank their competitors in the SERPs," said Chris Iona, product development manager for BigCommerce. "We’ve also improved functionality around product merchandising, specifically for verticals where options are important such as apparel, computers and health.”
The new features within this release include custom URL formats (for product, category, news and Web pages), and rules for product options (price, weight, and stock) among others. While these tools are not unique among shopping chart software providers, they will certainly be a welcome addition for merchants using the BigCommerce platform.
Big Commerce also released storage and transfer statistics to show merchants how much storage and transfer they are using. Storage reports provide information on total usage, along with usage for database, email, and images. Transfer reports on total usage, incoming HTTP, outgoing HTTP, incoming FTP and outgoing FTP are within the reports.
All stores running BigCommerce 7.0 or above are being automatically upgraded to 7.1 over the coming week.
With consumer confidence still at record low levels, and in an increasingly complicated technical environment, Internet retailers that are actively marketing products on comparison shopping may be the only ones that will be left standing as consumers continue to look for the lowest price – and not just their favorite merchants. Those merchants with an eye on performance optimization will be thriving and not just surviving.
Retail clients of Channel Intelligence (CI), a provider of performance-based e-commerce services (product search, paid search, display ads), saw a thirty percent year-over-year sales increase (on a same-seller basis). Retailers using CI Product Search saw a 28 percent year-over-year sales increase, and clients using CI’s Shopping Engines service experienced a 32 percent increase compared to the same period in 2010.
“Although there is a significant increase in year-over-year sales, our analysis reveals that consumer confidence may still be weak because we see the majority of online shoppers currently making selections based on price.” said Rob Wight, CEO of CI. “The good news is that consumers are spending. They are just being very deliberate and price-conscious in how they spend.”
Channel Intelligence has a long roster of leading companies as clients including Best Buy, Target, HP and others and drives upwards of $2 billion annually in online sales.
appMobi released an authentication technology today dubbed cloudKey which could change ecommerce security for the better.
cloudKey is unique in that the user’s credit card information is stored on the user’s device and never in an online database. The private data is stored using 256 bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard). Using a distributed key topology, cloudKey stores only the decryption keys in the cloud. Since that information is all but worthless without the device and password in hand, we could have a real winner here.
“With this advance, cloudKey has eliminated all the tempting targets for the bad guys; even if they could steal appMobi’s entire crypto key database and a user’s device, they’d then have to guess the user’s password, and at most they could get only 1 credit card number,” said Sam Abadir, appMobi’s CTO. “It would be a huge expenditure of effort for very little gain. By keeping private data local on the device, cloudKey makes massive security losses like the recent 77 million account Sony PlayStation network breach impossible.”
The product, which is available for use in Web and mobile apps, will be integrated immediately into appMobi’s 1Touch “single touch” payment system. The 1Touch technology integrated with any payment gateway including PayPal or Authorize.net and can even used with direct carrier billing.
Slow-loading mobile websites and applications can be significant revenue-killers for any Web business – just ask the majority of consumers.
One company striving to reduce page-load times and speed up the delivery of mobile sites and apps is Cotendo, which recently launched its Mobile Acceleration Suite (MAS) of products. Designed to accelerate mobile content and to integrate with Cotendo’s other content-acceleration technologies, MAS offers Web businesses and application developers a new way to ensure their content arrives faster and more reliably to end users’ mobile devices.
“While using Cotendo services we’ve seen up to a 33-percent performance improvement on our site,” That’s huge because our customers expect instant response when downloading apps to their handsets,” says Allan Moger, operations manager for GetJar, the world’s largest open app and entertainment store for smartphones with more than 2 billion downloads.
“Aside from the performance benefits, we chose to use Cotendo services because they understand the importance of the mobile space and are ahead of the curve in improving services for the mobile industry.”
Cotendo’s Mobile Acceleration Suite offers mobile-specific solutions that also leverage the company’s other services for content acceleration such as Dynamic Site Acceleration, CDN Load Balancing, Advanced DNS services and the Cloudlet Platform – the first CDN-integrated High Performance Cloud Application Environment.
If slow load times are getting you and your customers down, visit Cotendo for more information about the Web and Mobile Acceleration Services suites.
Affiliate tracking software as a service (SaaS) provider HasOffers recently announced the development and beta signup process for a new offering designed to allow advertisers to compensate multiple affiliates for their influence in a single user’s buying decision.
More than 1,500 advertisers, publishers and networks have responded to the announcement by applying to be among a select group of beta testers for the product, called Adtribution. The beta testing period will aim to address the “last click” problem by allocating compensation to millions of publishers that provide valuable brand-engaging content but who are rarely responsible for providing the last click (or interaction) before a purchase.
According to Forrester, 45 percent of hard goods shoppers are influenced by more than one touch point before purchasing and 53 percent of soft goods shoppers had two or more touch points. The online buying landscape has changed dramatically in recent years but affiliate tracking has remained very much the same, only compensating the last touch point in the purchase path.
HasOffers is currently in production on a tracking platform that targets the need for more reliable, more transparent tracking technology to support advertisers, networks and publishers in the rapidly changing affiliate marketing industry. Affiliates are still encouraged to apply for access to the Adtribution beta to help reach a faster solution.
It might sound crazy, but driving increased traffic to your website through SEO and paid search may be damaging your brand, rather than helping it. SEO and paid search efforts can be valuable ways to increase site traffic, but launching these efforts without first developing a solid business and marketing strategy is risky. If done incorrectly – without a winning strategy in place – SEO and paid search could actually threaten your marketing efforts and possibly erode your brand name. You also risk wasted time, money and effort – and may also alienate prospective customers.
But there’s a solution! By conducting the following five assessments of your business prior to launching an SEO or paid search campaign, you’ll build a bullet-proof business foundation while greatly increasing the chances that your SEO and paid search campaigns will thrive.
Before launching your SEO and paid search campaigns, determine whether your branding is truly effective. Many companies skip this step, but the right branding will serve as a solid foundation, generating greater results for your SEO and paid search efforts. If your brand is in good shape, you’ll drive more revenue for the same (or even less!) effort. That’s just smart business. Yet, companies often plow ahead full-force with SEO and paid search campaigns with brands that are taped together with rubber bands, silly putty and band-aids.
A B2B e-commerce company was eager to launch their first SEO campaign and had earmarked a large percentage of their marketing budget to the endeavor. Yet their online business had no identity, mission, personality, positioning or differentiation. In contrast, their competitors looked far more professional, reliable and credible. Regardless, this company insisted on moving forward with SEO, hoping to drive more traffic to their site.
This is a doomed plan. Even if the company increases traffic to their site, there’s no compelling reason for site visitors to trust them or purchase from them. The company’s poor brand image is apparent. Their time, funds and energy would be better spent on building a strong brand first, and then launching an SEO campaign. Otherwise, their revenue results will continue to lag far behind their traffic numbers indefinitely.
It’s critical to understand your audiences prior to launching SEO and paid search campaigns. Certain companies rush to create online campaigns without fully understanding their priority populations and crafting customized marketing messages targeted to defined personas.
An online apparel retailer believed that their audience included all mothers. Market research showed, however, that fashionable, upscale, metropolitan moms wouldn’t even consider shopping on their site, but budget-seeking moms would. By changing their approach – and messaging – accordingly, this company’s search campaigns performed more efficiently and increased revenue.
Because SEO and paid search are so data-heavy, you’d think that all search marketers start with a major analytics analysis. However, all too often, they don’t, which is a problem. Analytics reveals important marketing insights, which can be key to a successful search campaign.
A national food brand was optimizing their website and launching a new paid search campaign. After reviewing their web analytics, it became clear that driving additional traffic to the site would actually create poor brand experiences. Their analytics revealed that their average site visitor came to the site only 1.1 times. There were hardly ANY repeat visitors. People clearly didn’t like what they saw on the site, so they never came back. Before driving more visitors to the site, the company needed a major site overhaul to help attract and retain their customers.
A B2B documentation company wanted to launch a new search campaign, hoping to drive additional traffic to the site. Their web analytics showed that their website had a conversion rate of 0.3%. That's not a typo! It was truly that low. The source of the visit didn’t matter – the conversion rate was consistently dismal. Clearly, they needed to fix their website prior to focusing on SEO and paid search. After creating customized, redesigned landing pages, the company was able to increase both their conversion rate and revenue. Subsequently, their search campaigns generated much greater business results.
Struggling companies often assume that their business models are working, but their marketing campaigns are underperforming. But what happens if the business model is weak and/or outdated?
Every industry can go through disruptive innovation. At one point, Smith Corona was the world’s leading typewriter company. Over time, they believed their marketing campaigns were failing them, but in reality, their business model had become outdated. Tweaking their marketing campaigns didn’t matter. They needed to blow up their business model, switching their focus from outdated typewriters to innovative computers. Amazon is an example of a company that disrupted the book industry in the 90s, introducing a revolutionary e-commerce model. They’re doing it again with the innovative, timely Kindle today.
Is your company focusing as much attention on your business model as your SEO and paid search campaigns? Tweaking a campaign can lead to improved marketing results, but to maximize your business performance, you need a current, competitive business model.
Sometimes, adjusting just one aspect of a business model prior to SEO or paid search can make a huge difference in your campaign results. A music studio wanted to grow its revenue. Instead of incrementally capturing more students to take music lessons under its existing pricing system, the company needed to overhaul its business model to perform more like a membership-based health club. Changing that one element of the model improved their financial performance dramatically. Consequently, their SEO and paid search resulted in an increased profit per student and the company grew in an accelerated manner.
Assuming you’ve defined a solid brand, identified your audiences, gained insights from your analytics and created the optimal business model, the next step is conducting a website assessment.
If you’re driving traffic to a site that doesn’t satisfy visitors’ needs, it doesn’t matter how much traffic you generate. As more traffic visits the site, more people suffer through a poor user experience and associate that negative experience with your brand. Therefore, you need to first ensure that your site is fully satisfying your site visitors.
A B2B corporate gifts company wanted to launch an SEO campaign. Their business model centered on an audience-segmented approach, specializing in the education, healthcare and government sectors. Even though their business relied so heavily on segmentation as a competitive advantage, their website felt “cookie cutter” and didn’t spotlight their customized solutions. The company redesigned their website, focusing on different offerings for their core audience segments. Their subsequent SEO campaign increased traffic in line with their differentiation, producing better financial results.
If you hope to maximize business results through SEO and paid search, remember that these efforts do not work in a silo. Instead, they’re part of the overall business and marketing strategy, and without solid foundations, any SEO and paid search campaigns will fall short of its potential. Therefore, it’s critical to first build your brand, understand your audiences, measure their online behavior, build the right business model and launch the right website. Only then can you maximize your SEO and paid search results.
About the Author: Tom Shapiro is the founder & CEO of Digital Marketing NOW, a full-service digital marketing and design firm that offers strategy, web development, design, SEO, conversion optimization, social media, email marketing and more. Tom cuts through all the hype and develops clear, differentiated marketing strategies focused on real results for his clients. Throughout his career, Tom has worked with dozens of Fortune 500 companies including P&G, HP, IBM, Sears and Kraft Foods.
Google product manager Christian Oestlien wrote a Google+ blog post on Thursday night indicating that the new social media platform has slightly accelerated the timeframe for business profiles and promises “to have an initial version of business profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months.”
Presently, a “tiny handful” of business profiles exist on Google+ “solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers.” The Ford Motor Company is one such account that Google+ selected from tens of thousands of businesses applying to take part in the test.
Accelerating the process of getting business profiles up and running, writes Oestlien, is a direct result of the overwhelming response from businesses, as is Google’s request that companies refrain from trying to open new accounts before the platform is ready.
From the blog post:
“In the meantime, we ask you not to create a business profile using regular profiles on Google+. The platform at the moment is not built for the business use case, and we want to help you build long-term relationships with your customers. Doing it right is worth the wait. We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles. We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him- or herself.”
While many Web businesses are clearly eager to test the marketing value of the new social network, many are also unhappy with how Google has handled the testing process thus far – specifically in whom they’ve chosen to participate and whom they have passed over. Hence Oestlien's need to emphasize EVERYONE in his post Thursday night.
Visit the blog to see the lively and informative debate in the comments section below.
How to Navigate Online Marketing’s Slippery Path
It’s not an easy task to be successful at online marketing. One slip and you can practically watch your leads and sales roll down a hill and end up with some other company.
Here are 10 key tips and suggestions to keep in mind as you make your way along online marketing routes.
1. Grow thick skin
Encourage your staff or consultants to tell you the plain truth instead of going out of their way not to offend or upset you.
If your website design has serious issues, own up to them so the rest of your campaign can really pay off. In other words, if you invest in getting more traffic and visitors give up on your website, then you’ve failed.
2. Pick the right keywords for search engine optimization (SEO)
It’s not about just researching keywords. It’s about selecting keywords. You need to think about site age, keywords in the domain, competition, current rankings, existing content, planned content, page headers, keywords in URLs and more.
3. Learn how paid search really works
The primary pay-per-click tools are easy. You can have an ad up in no time. If you waste your money, it’s not Google’s fault. If you send your paid search visitors to your home page and can make a good profit, great. Odds are, you’re better off directing them to a specific interior page. In fact, you’d be wise to make some outstanding custom landing pages with clear Calls to Action and not a lot of distracting navigation.
4. Use paid search negative keywords
Why should you pay for the wrong keywords? Think of all of the ways you don’t want to be found. Maybe you sell men’s jackets. You better rule out women’s jackets. Your options – broad, phrase and exact match can make a huge difference.
5. Use misspellings with paid search
You can find different tools to generate misspellings, including one at SEO Chat. Sure, these phrases won’t get a lot of traffic. But it could be worth while adding a number of them to your overall mix.
6. Write content – lots of content
At least from an SEO perspective, tiny websites get what they support – tiny traffic. Whether you expand the website with a blog or regular pages following existing navigation, write more words. Yes, you may rank well for keywords on a single page. However, several pages with cross-linked pages can make a big impact on rankings.
7. Don’t bury your calls to action
Too often, I see pages with 12 paragraphs followed by a phone number that’s probably going to be overlooked. Promote the phone number up high. Add a short form – you can easily see. Create an image that points visitors to case studies, white papers, demos, how-to guides, etc.
8. Track everything
Are website analytics on every page? Did you set up your goals (Google Analytics makes it easy)? Are you using all of the right settings with your paid search? For example, are your ads running all of the time or just when you want them to appear? Are you favoring certain ads or giving all of your ads a shot?
9. Don’t ignore link building
It takes time – a lot of time. Sure, you can register with hundreds of free directories. But what’s the impact? Make sure you get links from industry-related websites and credible directories with structures categories that relate to your services and products. Swap links with some other businesses (try to get them to include strategic keywords when they link to you). Create a blog and get involved in other blogs. If you participate, you’ll increase the odds that someone will link back to you. Share your knowledge – write articles for online publications (you always get a good link in your bio). Speak at conferences (you’ll get another link).
10. Test and measure everything
If people get lost on your website, fix it. If your keywords don’t rank, change them. If no one is calling, stop hiding your phone number next to your outdated 2003 copyright notice. Make note of where people leave their shopping carts in your digital aisle. Shorten your long response forms. Seriously, do you really need their address, zip code, state in all cases? Look at your competition. Are you charging more than they are and can you defend your pricing? Add some testimonials – real ones (the fake variety turn me off).
A new company called Squarz says its goal is to change the way merchants view retail marketing and the way consumers view daily deals sites. Sound familiar?
Probably, with a new twist to daily deals cropping up almost every day now, but this one is legitimately twisted – not to mention highly innovative and equally intriguing.
Chicago-based Squarz merges savings, sweepstakes and sports into an opportunity for merchants to drive new customers to retail through compelling offers and valuable prizes. The patented technology allows Squarz to cut through an increasingly cluttered online savings environment with perhaps a stronger marketing message than the typical savings and deal sites.
Because consumers are engaged at more than just price point (Squarz also offers links to sports and big prizes), Squarz can offer opportunities to merchants that are more profitable in both the short and long term. And unlike other sites, it’s a win for both consumers and merchants.
When Squarz members purchase a deal, they also receive a 1-in-100 chance of winning a grand prize, typically offered by the same merchant. The winner of the prize is determined by a sports event, like in the traditional game of office squares. The patented Squarz Board is unique because the winner of each board is determined by the final score (or other pre-designated statistic), and uses a random generator to determine each square’s corresponding number prior to game start.
Each day Squarz showcases a variety of active deals that correspond to upcoming sporting events — there are grand prizes associated with each game.
“Squarz is a new take on retail marketing,” explains Chris Foufas, who founded Squarz. “The business model works to not only engage, incentivize and drive new customers, but can also be used to improve performance of existing customer databases with low click-through rates due to email fatigue. We’re working with local, regional and national merchants to develop win-win programs. Promotions that are profitable for our merchant partners and offer great prizes and create a fun experience that will return customers both to the Squarz site and to the retailer.”
Squarz is an example of the growing technology innovation culture being cultivated in Chicago, the most famous of its startups being the daily deals originator itself, Groupon. Lifelong Chicagoan and Squarz CEO Foufas has assembled a highly skilled team of professionals from technology, marketing and retail sectors including Squarz’s newly appointed CMO Joe Sciara, who has more than 20 years of experience in retail and sports marketing on a variety of national consumer brands.
Squarz has been in development for 18 months and is nearing the end of Beta testing, working primarily with Abt Electronics as a testing partner. Squarz is currently available only in Chicago with plans to expand to other major markets nationally over the next year.
Manipulation is an essential part of our everyday life and business. Artful psychological techniques make us vulnerable and eager to follow suggestions or buy the advertised products. Online business is flourishing due to various mental shortcuts and persuasion tactics that our today’s research will inform you about.
With 25-percent year-over-year growth, digital content is currently the fastest-growing sector of e-commerce. That rate of growth is driving a significant increase in small-ticket transaction volumes, but merchants that sell digital books, videos, music and games are underserved by traditional payment options.
Mazooma, however, has a new micropay solution that aims to fill this void, enabling merchants to sell these goods faster, safer and more cost-effectively. An online banking-based payment solutions provider, Mazooma connects consumers directly to their bank accounts from the merchant’s checkout page, enabling secure, instant payments for online purchases.
Mazooma’s new micropay-in-a-box solution has as much as a 71-percent reduction in merchant fees for digital content merchants. The solution is available to Discover’s direct merchants using the Centinel Universal Merchant Platform through CardinalCommerce Corporation.
Merchants using Centinel can place the Mazooma payment button on their checkout pages to support a new payment option that enables consumers to pay using their online banking accounts. There is no implementation required for these merchants and no changes to existing settlements and reporting from Discover.
Other features of Mazooma’s micropay solution include a processing fee of 1.5 percent + $0.05 per transaction without the need to aggregate transactions, and a streamlined checkout in two clicks, with no offline sign-up process.
10 Networking Blunders That Cost You Sales
Networking is a critical skill sales; after all, the more people you connect with the more you sales opportunities you create. However, many sales people make a variety of mistakes that prevent them from maximizing the power of networking. Here are ten blunders and mistakes you need to avoid.
1. Attending the wrong networking events. When I first started my business I attended as many local networking events as I could fit into my schedule. However, I quickly noticed that I encountered the same people at these events-other small business owners out looking for business. These people were not my target market and very few of them interacted with the type of decision-maker I usually worked with so I realized that I was going to the wrong events. Get the most from your networking opportunities by showing up at events that your prospects attend.
2. Waiting for people to introduce themselves. Let’s face it; the vast majority of people are reluctant or hesitant to approach strangers. However, if you take the initiative to introduce yourself to others you will be perceived as a person of authority and power. Not to mention that the other person will be relieved that they didn’t have to make the first approach.
3. Spending too much time talking. One of the most fatal mistakes is to dominate the conversation. If you truly want to make a great impression, limit the amount you talk to no more than 40 percent of the airtime. Remember, networking events are not the appropriate setting to sell your solution. However, they are perfect situations to uncover potential sales opportunities.
4. Failing to ask other people questions. The most effective way to create a connection with someone is to ask them questions about their business and what they do. Ask them about the challenges they face and what they enjoy most about their work. High-value questions encourage people to share information and help you position yourself as an expert and a great networker.
5. Becoming distracted by other people. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who constantly watched the room instead of paying attention to what you were saying? If so, you likely felt ignored and unimportant. I also suspect that you would not refer business to that person. Don’t make the same mistake. Pay close attention to every person you meet and learn how you might be able to help them.
6. Focusing on your self-interest. This follows the last point. If you make the effort to find out how you can help someone else, the chances are they will reciprocate. In the words of motivational guru, Zig Ziglar, “You can anything you want in life if you just are willing to help enough other people get what they want.”
7. Failing to articulate your value proposition. I once spoke with a small business owner at a networking event and after a 20 minute conversation I still had no idea what she did because she was unable to clearly articulate the purpose of her company and her ideal client.
8. Failing to establish a connection. Effective networking means connecting with people. Although you will not connect with everyone you meet, you can improve your results by making great eye contact, smiling, asking questions, and showing interest in the other person.
9. Executing the “meet & move” strategy. We’ve all encountered the person at a networking event who introduces themselves, gives you their business card, asks for yours in return, and immediately moves on to repeat the process with another victim. You get much better results by connecting with a small number of people rather than trying to meet as many people as you can.
10. Failing to follow-up afterward. Post-event follow-up is critical. However, don’t make the mistake of calling someone three months after a networking meeting and saying something like, “We met a few months ago and I thought I’d touch base with you.” This approach simply does not add any type of value to the relationship. Here two follow-up strategies to consider:
- When you meet a potential customer, arrange to contact them shortly after the event. Mark it in your calendar and make sure you contact them on the agreed-upon day and time.
- After you meet someone who is NOT a prospect, look for opportunities to refer business to them. You can also help them by sending articles or information related to their business.
Networking effectively can have a dramatic impact on your sales providing it is done correctly. Avoid these fatal networking mistakes and improve your results.
A new study predicts that nearly 700 billion minutes of mobile video will be watched by 2015. The In-Stat study shows significant growth in usage of mobile video, not only with smartphones but also with tablets.
Some of the research findings show that videos are currently being watched more frequently on smartphones than on tablets, but that gap is expected to decrease in the future. The findings also show that tablet users are more likely to pay more for and watch longer videos.
Both types of users are prone to watch videos in a non-mobile environment, like at home.
However, the choice in what video is watched differs considerably between smartphones, tablets and notebooks/netbooks. Differences include content length, genre and content acquisition.
Therefore, content providers need to customize their offerings for the targeted platforms.
Catalogue, a popular iPad App by TheFind, is now available on Facebook. The App aims to drive business through social sharing of catalogs.
Catalogue includes more-than 120 catalog titles including Crate and Barrel, Williams Sonoma, Sephora and Nordstrom. Shopping is made simple with patented search and discovery technology, which allows viewers to search for desirable items – in every store and all at once.
By moving onto Facebook, TheFind already has an audience familiar with flipping through pictures. “Leveraging the open social graph, there are additional opportunities to add features that integrate the iPad and Facebook experiences such as custom catalogs curated from the things you and your friends like,” says Siva Kumar, CEO of TheFind.
According to the American Catalog Mailers Association, catalogs were a $270 billion industry in 2006, with 50 percent of Americans purchasing at least one item from a catalog annually. Sharing catalogs through social media should bring a bigger audience and better opportunity for businesses to expand.
Small business owners understand the importance of Internet marketing, but also realize that help may be needed to reap all of its benefits.
Eighty percent of small businesses have websites and 16 percent plan on starting one, according to a recent survey conducted by Hennerberg Group, Inc.
But although 50 percent of small businesses say they receive good results from their websites, 30 percent are not getting the results they’d like.
While 41 percent of small business owners believe their websites bring exposure, 28 percent aren’t sure about the effects they’re getting and realize they need additional help.
More than 40 percent want help with SEO for better local search rankings, while nearly 37 percent say they need help using social media. Another 35 percent want outside help with email marketing promotions, and 33 percent say they need help building inbound links to their website.
“This survey suggests that small business owners know what online marketing initiatives should be done to grow their businesses,” says Gary Hennerberg, president of Hennerberg Group, Inc. “But when they get into the actual implementation of website optimization or social media, they realize they don’t know how to do it on their own.”
The 2011 marketing and advertising budgets reported by small business owners show why so many are trying to tackle website development and social media on their own: About 23 percent plan to spend between $1,000 and $4,999 on these initiatives, with more than 14 planning to spend less than $1,000.
Only about 16 percent have budgets exceeding $5,000.
The June numbers have been crunched, and LinkedIn officially passed MySpace to become the number two social networking site in the U.S.
According to ComScore, Facebook was the number one social networking site with 160.9 million visitors in June. LinkedIn followed with 33.9 million visitors.
And, despite its famous new stakeholder, Myspace dropped to the third spot with 33.5 million visitors. Sorry, Justin Timberlake.
Although LinkedIn trumped MySpace in visitors for the month, the overall number of active users still lies in Myspace’s favor with 130 million compared to LinkedIn’s 115 million. While not a true apples-to-apples comparison (LinkedIn is a social network for business professionals and MySpace is, well, not) it does indicate MySpace's ongoing struggles.
Time will tell if MySpace will regain momentum with Facebook ruling all that is social and the emergence of Google+ posing a significant threat with nearly two million visits last week alone. But, remaining connected with all of them might be a safe bet for anyone looking to stay on point.
Email marketing service provider MailerMailer has released its eleventh Email Marketing Metrics Report. If you’re as into email as we are, you will want to roll up our sleeves and dig into the data because it looks like much of the data is quite actionable.
Some of the report’s highlights from this year include:
- Sunday generated considerably high open (12.2%) and click rates (4.4%) on average when compared to the rest of the week
- The highest volume of opens occur between 6 and 11 am local time
- Clients that sent emails less than once a month experienced a bounce rate of 5.1% while those that sent daily saw a much lower bounce rate of 0.4%
- Personalizing the email subject line generated 0.8% click rate, while personalizing the message boosted click rates to 3%
- Subject lines consisting of 4 to 15 characters generated the highest open rate of 14.1%
“Email marketing is extremely measurable and we have a great amount of data at our fingertips,” says Raj Khera, CEO of MailerMailer. “This report is provided for free as a community service to help businesses improve their email marketing effectiveness.”
Google announced that its Call Metrics product is now available to all advertisers in the US and Canada.
Call Metrics works not unlike other click to call providers. A toll-free forwarding number is assigned and placed next to a text ad unit on Google search results pages. When users call that number, Adwords registers the call and forwards it on to you.
So is the program effective? Google has connected over five million calls for thousands of businesses to date and those calls, and according to Google, calls generated from ads using Call Metrics last six minutes on average.
Google announced a few other changes with this rollout. In addition to showing advertisers the time, duration and caller area for each call which has been available since March 2011, Google is also making reporting available at both the group and campaign level. Pricing for “manual” calls is $1 USD – mobile clicks-to-call remain charged as regular mobile search ad clicks. Google won’t stop there.
Also worthy of note: In a future release, Ad Rank calculations, which determine an ads position and CPC will be incorporated. According to Google, “At that time, you’ll be able to influence your ad position by specifying a bid per call greater than $1.00 USD. This will parallel the way that clickthrough rate (CTR) and max CPC bids can influence Ad Rank today.”
Job search and "matching" engine Monster.com announced the launch of SeeMore, a cloud-based semantic search and analytics platform for managing resume databases.
"Our philosophy on innovation is simple – we focus on products and solutions that deliver breakthrough technology to address a real market need. SeeMore(TM) is no exception. It solves a complex problem that many employers are facing — not having strategic visibility into their internal and external talent pools because they are using a range of technologies in an increasingly fragmented recruiting environment," said Darko Dejanovic, EVP, Global CIO and Head of Product for Monster Worldwide.
The SeeMore platform allows companies to search recruitment information to identify, access and match up appropriate talent with available positions. The platform enables HR to score and compare candidates, and mine current employee population to understand talent needs among other features. Minimizing manual reviewing and screening of resumes could lead to lowering cost-per-hire costs.
As you might expect, the performance of HR professionals is judged by how they measure processes and provide metrics in regards to talent management. "Despite continued high levels of unemployment, shortages of key skills remains the top talent acquisition pressure among organizations," said Mollie Lombardi, Research Director, Human Capital Management at Aberdeen Group. "Talent is critical to power business performance, so the ability to better find, manage and move candidates through the hiring process will be a true differentiator for top performing companies."
SaaS marketing solution provider Hydra conducted a survey of 300 UK marketers recently and found that a third of respondents said less than 50 percent of their needs are being met by their current marketing toolset.
The survey results were announced in tandem with the release of Hydra’s One Platform, which enables marketers to manage and optimize digital performance in natural search, paid search and social media. While powerful tools exist for each of these channels, few are available which do all three well. There might just be a spot at the table for Hydra’s platform if it fulfills its promise.
Several features make the platform stand out including its central feature in WordBank, a keyword research tool for all three primary marketing channels (social, CPC, and organic), and a Natural Search module which provides site specific recommendations of keywords. The platform also provides a competitor analysis tool – something we at WM believe to be an essential component of integration marketing software.
“Companies have multiple people, doing multiple tasks, in different ways, across the same set of words, all with the same goal of acquiring customers and engaging them in the language they use. The One Platform brings synergy to currently fragmented work streams”, says Martyn Jobber, Hydra Chief Executive Officer, formerly a member of the Omniture (an Adobe Company) EMEA Executive team. “We have listened to digital marketers’ needs and the One platform is our response. It is unique to the market and has specifically been developed and tailored to address and solve the pain points they have told us they routinely face.”
Live support and real-time collaboration are two of the hottest topics in Web business right now, and there’s an impressive new software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that delivers those tools and more to its growing base of users.
VeriShow enables online retailers and other Web-based companies to give customers multimedia support that can improve sales and build trust among website visitors. The company’s apps-based approach is designed to help business owners increase sales by offering their customers a new level of online assistance.
Internet retailers can engage with customers and prospects in real time on a platform that uses a host of collaborative apps. A new integration with live chat provider LivePerson enables an ordinary live chat session to be complemented by VeriShow’s fully synchronized multimedia customer support such as document sharing, image and video viewing, order form completion and more.
“Internet retailers and their customers expect top-notch live help and real-time online sales and support,” says Yuval H. Moed, co-founder and CEO of HBR Labs, VeriShow's parent company. “We’ve already seen tremendous interest in the joint VeriShow solution built on the LivePerson platform, and we look forward to meeting and exceeding that need among e-commerce customers.”
VeriShow offers a 30-day free trial period on all premium accounts, which include three levels of service ranging from $49 per month to $399 per month. The free solution provides basic Web meeting and live support for a limit of 30 minutes per session.
It’s mid-July and much of the country is sweltering in temperatures near 100 degrees, which means it is time to be thinking about back-to-school deals. For affiliate marketers, that means partnering with the retailers that give them the best chances to rake in substantial commissions from now until Labor Day.
We’ve done our homework on the subject and below are five programs that make the grade:
Few retailers are pushing harder to become the go-to destination for back-to-school shoppers than Macy’s is right now. They’ve just announced several new initiatives offering exclusive fashion brands, family-oriented activities and charitable partnerships with Reading is Fundamental, DoSomething.org and the new online Web series, Wendy. Macy’s affiliates earn generous commissions with the average online purchase value being $120, and the program is run through LinkShare.
This hip clothing retailer is a favorite among young women for having its finger on the fashion pulse and also for its generous discounts. Whether returning to high school or college, millions of girls will be turning to Wet Seal for the latest styles at prices a student can afford. The company knows its way around the Web and social media marketing, and its affiliate program is run through the Google Affiliate Network.
If Wet Seal provides a good fit for your site, many of the same shoppers will be visiting Sephora next. The JCPenney property carries hundreds of top brands in makeup and accessories, as well as a full line of men’s products to help returning students start the semester in style. The affiliate program is run therough the LinkShare network, and offers tiered commissions from 5 to 7 percent.
Apple’s back-to-school promotions are legendary, and the most recent one is going on right now through September 20. Students buying a qualifying Mac product will receive a $100 Back to School Card to redeem at the Mac Store, App Store, iTunes Store or iBookstore. Apple affiliates earn tiered commissions by selling widely used products such as the brand new Macbook Airs that are sure to be on millions of students’ back-to-school lists this summer.
Whether it be simple supplies such as paper and pens, a stockpile of accessories for that new Apple product or office furniture for the dorm or bedroom, few students are able to avoid shopping at Office Max when the summer winds down. Run through the Google Affiliate Network, the program offers commissions ranging from 4 to 6 percent.
Email marketing firm iContact has introduced the latest version in its growing line of social media marketing solutions. I Contact Social Tools gives small and medium-sized businesses a powerful and effective means to reach existing and new customers through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
The upgraded version of iContact Social Tools builds on the foundation established earlier in the year when the company started blending email marketing and social media marketing into a single conversation focused on small business success. Following are a few of the expanded features and functionalities:
• Social Tools Tracking – Users can insert, edit and track Like and Tweet buttons in every message for recipients to easily share with their friends, colleagues or followers on Facebook and Twitter. This feature splits up the tracking of Likes and Tweets by source so marketers can see how the numbers break down across viewers coming in from Facebook posts, Twitter posts, direct email recipients and other third-party sources.
• Facebook Like Buttons – Contacts can now “like” a vendor’s emails from their inboxes to further extend their reach.
• Tweet Buttons – Users can add a tweet button and contacts can tweet from anywhere in the message.
“It is easy to share information with friends on Facebook,” says Chris Regalado, revenue manager for Miami’s Beacon Hotel, which uses Facebook to encourage fans and previous guests to sign-up for its email list and take advantage of promotions for future visits. “We have found that incorporating social media with email makes each approach more powerful, and helps us expand our marketing efforts and grow our brand awareness. iContact’s Social Media tools are very straightforward to use, and we can see great results in a short period of time.”
The Impatience of Internet Marketing Newbies
If you attempted to take a test without studying, chances are, you’d fail. Yet, every single day on the Internet, thousands of newbies are performing the equivalent of the aforementioned test analogy, by putting up a website without having the slightest idea how to promote it. And guess what happens – they fail. No, they don’t all fail, but most do.
The point is starting a business – any business without having even basic marketing skills is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. It’s a bad move. Competency in marketing is one of the most important business skills that you can acquire. If you become proficient in the art of marketing, there is no limit to what you can accomplish in the business world.
A) Take the Time to Educate Yourself First
Look, there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious and enthusiastic. Those attributes can take you a long way in business. But you also need to be smart about how you approach things as well. Why be in such a hurry? Take some time to educate yourself first. Does it really matter if you build that website now, or a few months from now when you’re more prepared? Of course it doesn’t.
Starting a business is like building a house. You start with a strong foundation, and then you build on it. Well,in business, being knowledgeable about basic marketing fundamentals is your strong foundation. You just have to build on it.
That means taking the time to learn how to do things the right way. Be patient, and prepare yourself for success. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Study and apply basic marketing fundamentals. Read a few marketing books. To get started, I highly recommend Web Marketing All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies. It’s actually eight books in one, and is written by multiple authors. It’s perfect for newbies, and touches all the bases including,
* Establishing a Web Presence
* Search Engine Optimization
* Web Analytics
* E-Mail Marketing
* Blogging and Podcasting
* Social Media Marketing
* Online Advertising & Pay-Per-Click
* Mobile Web Marketing
B) Increase the Odds in Your Favor
To be clear, I’m not suggesting you have to become some sort of marketing expert, before you build your website. After all, even experts don’t know everything. And reading books certainly doesn’t guarantee you’ll be successful. But at least by educating yourself first, you give yourself a fighting chance – you increase the odds in your favor. And the Internet marketing process won’t seem like such a foreign language to you. In addition, your learning curve won’t be nearly as steep.
Conversely, when newbies rush into the process with their eyes wide shut, more often than not, they end up thoroughly defeated, disillusioned, and convinced that Internet marketing doesn’t work. Many give up on Internet marketing altogether, and never bother trying again. And that’s a shame. The sad part is many times those failures could have been avoided, if newbies had just taken the time to learn how to do the process the right way.
C) What’s Effective Frequency?
I’m a member of several small business forums. And one of the questions newbies ask most often is why isn’t anyone responding to their ads. Now if these newbies had taken the time to educate themselves about marketing beforehand, they would know about effective frequency.
What’s effective frequency? Effective frequency is the number of times a person must be exposed to an advertising message before they act on it. How many times that actually is debatable. However, some marketing experts believe in The Rule of 7…meaning on average, people have to see your ad a minimum of seven times, before they act on it. Does that mean people will automatically buy what you’re offering after they’ve seen your ad seven times?
No it doesn’t. Again, it’s just an average. It could be more than seven, but it could also be less. The fact of the matter is there are far too many variables involved to suggest that after people see your ad seven times they will automatically whip out their credit card, and purchase what you’re offering – not the least of which is traffic quality, competency of your sales copy, and the viability of the item being offered.
The point is by educating yourself on basic marketing fundamentals, you will learn about and understand marketing theories and concepts like effective frequency. By the way, the theory of effective frequency isn’t new. In fact, as far back as 1885, Thomas Smith, a successful London businessman wrote:
1. The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
2. The second time, they don’t notice it.
3. The third time, they are aware that it is there.
4. The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
5. The fifth time, they actually read the ad.
6. The sixth time they thumb their nose at it.
7. The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.
8. The eighth time, they start to think, “Here’s that confounded ad again.”
9. The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.
10. The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.
11. The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.
12. The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.
13. The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.
14. The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.
15. The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.
16. The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.
17. The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.
18. The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.
19. The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.
20. The twentieth time prospects see the ad, they buy what is offering.
Indeed, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Thomas Smith’s words are every bit as salient today as they were back then.
In closing, Internet marketing is serious business – so be sure to treat it that way. Slow down, and take the time to educate yourself first. In the long run, it will be in your best interest. Because unlike the movie, Field of Dreams, where “if you build it, he will come.” In the real world, if you build a website without knowing how to promote it – nobody’s coming!
The findings of a new survey show that consumers’ expectations for mobile and application performance are not being met.
Today’s mobile users demand exceptional Web experiences and highly satisfying, convenient, on-the-go mobile site speeds regardless of their mode of access, according to a study from technology performance company Compuware Corporation. The independent survey of more than 4,000 mobile users worldwide was conducted to understand consumers’ mobile Web and application expectations and experiences.
Key findings include the following:
• Mobile users’ expectations for mobile website speed continue to increase. Seventy-one percent of global mobile Web users expect websites to load as quickly, almost as quickly or faster on their mobile phones compared to the computers they use at home – up from 58 percent in 2009. However, almost half (46 percent) said websites load more slowly on their phones.
• Nearly 60 percent of Web users say they expect a website to load on their mobile phone in three seconds or less, and 74 percent are only willing to wait five seconds or less for a single Web page to load before leaving the site. Fifty percent are only willing to wait five seconds or less for an application to load before exiting.
• Fifty-seven percent of global mobile Web users had a problem accessing a website in the past year, and 47 percent had a problem accessing an app on their phone. More than 80 percent of mobile Web users would access websites more often from their phones if the experiences were faster and more reliable.
• Mobile users do not have much patience for retrying a website or application that is not functioning initially – a third will go to a competitor’s site instead. Eight out of ten mobile Web users are only willing to retry a website or application two times or less if it does not work initially.
• A bad experience on a mobile website leaves mobile Web users much less likely to return to, or recommend, a particular website. Nearly half of mobile Web users are unlikely to return to a website that they had trouble accessing from their phone, and 57 percent are unlikely to recommend the site.
“We conducted this study as a follow on to our 2009 study that showed mobile users had high expectations, but the majority experienced poor mobile performance,” says Steve Tack, CTO of Compuware APM. “Almost two years later, user expectations for mobile continue to increase, but companies are still not meeting mobile users’ needs for fast and reliable experiences.
“Today, 77 percent of top companies across multiple verticals have mobile page load times of five seconds or more, while mobile users are only willing to wait five seconds or less for a Web page to load before leaving the site. Poor performance is preventing many companies from taking advantage of the opportunities being provided by increased mobile access.”
The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has launched a formal call-for-entries to its new Rising Stars Mobile contest.
Announced at the IAB’s Mobile in the Mainstream…and as the New Main Screen conference in New York City, the competition encourages agencies, marketers and publishers to effectively delve deeper into the mobile arena. The winning submissions – which will be named the first-ever IAB-endorsed mobile ad formats – will be selected based on their potential to propel brand creativity on mobile devices at scale.
The contest is part of the IAB’s larger Rising Stars initiative aimed at broadening the creative canvas across the interactive advertising spectrum. It kicked off in September 2010 with the launch of the Rising Stars Display competition. After a months-long review phase, the IAB announced the six winners in February 2011.
By June, 36 top-tier advertisers – including GM, Home Depot, Kraft, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Universal Pictures – had already implemented one or more of the six new display ad formats to tell their brand stories.
A cross-disciplinary panel of judges that will include agency creative directors, media executives and ad operations specialists will lead the IAB Rising Stars Mobile selection process. The mobile ad unit submissions will be evaluated on the following criteria:
• User Experience – How well does the ad format positively impact the user experience?
• Branding – How well does the ad format provide a canvas for brand creativity?
• Functionality – How does the ad format take advantage of mobile user behaviors and technologies?
• Page Integration – How does the ad format enhance the relationship between the ad and the mobile publisher content?
• Adoption – How easily could the ad format be widely adopted across the mobile ecosystem?
Submissions for the new mobile ad units will be accepted until October 15, and the selection process will span the remainder of 2011. In 2012, a set of Rising Stars Mobile ad units will be chosen and subsequently evaluated in-market based upon consumer and business adoption, with new IAB-endorsed mobile ad units named by the end of the year.
To submit prospective mobile ad units and to learn more about the criteria, please go to: http://www.iab.net/risingstarsmobile
To find out more about the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence, please go to: http://www.iab.net/mmcoe
Google has announced in a blog post that the company has acquired the g.co domain as its new URL shortener for official Google products and services. The move was made to create URLs that are easier for users to remember and more easily distributed across the social Web.
Google’s vice president of consumer marketing Gary Briggs writes in the post:
In the world of URLs, bigger is not always better. In 2009, we helped shrink up long, unwieldy URLs by launching our public URL shortener, goo.gl. Today, we’re announcing a new URL shortcut that will only link to official Google products and services: g.co.
The shorter a URL, the easier it is to share and remember. The downside is, you often can’t tell what website you’re going to be redirected to. We’ll only use g.co to send you to webpages that are owned by Google, and only we can create g.co shortcuts. That means you can visit a g.co shortcut confident you will always end up at a page for a Google product or service.
There’s no need to fret about the fate of goo.gl; we like it as much as you do, and nothing is changing on that front. It will continue to be our public URL shortener that anybody can use to shorten URLs across the web.
Performance marketing firm Performics has released its second-quarter mobile paid search data and found that mobile paid search traffic is now 12 percent of all paid search impressions (mobile + desktop), while mobile clicks are about to cross the 12-percent threshold.
This latest iteration of data is particularly noteworthy since Google Adwords is now breaking out “tablets with full browsers” as a distinct device within reporting, as of June 1. In the Q2 data, Performics found that tablets now account for 1.7 percent of all paid search impressions, which is 14 percent of all mobile impressions.
Performics has been tracking these mobile metrics among their clients for more than 18 months now. Some of the most interesting data points include the following:
• Mobile click share continued to rise in June to more than 11 percent of all search clicks. Tablets contributed more than 13 percent of all mobile clicks.
• For the past two months, mobile and tablet devices have been virtually tied with computers for click thru rates (CTRs). This follows 11 months during which mobile devices largely lagged behind computers.
• Early tablet impressions are heavily weighted towards display, with virtually no impressions coming from search partners. Tablet clicks, similar to both computers and mobile devices, are largely coming through Google search.
Managed hosting provider ServInt has begun implementing the largest free Virtual Private Server (VPS) resource upgrade in its history.
The upgrade will take two forms. First, disk space on all hosting packages will be increased by 20 percent. Second, as a result of the company’s decision to reduce the number of customers allocated to each virtualized server, most VPS customers will enjoy greatly increased access to RAM, CPU and other performance-impacting resources.
On average, these resources will increase by 33 percent, resulting in a measurably faster end-user experience.
ServInt has also introduced a new service package, Essential+ VPS, that offers 33-percent more RAM than its entry-level Essential VPS counterpart, in addition to greater access to CPU and other performance resources for $10 more per month.
Visit ServInt to learn more about the hosting solutions and new service package.
IBM has announced a new cloud-based Web analytics and digital marketing suite designed to help organizations automate online marketing campaigns across channels such as websites, social media networks and mobile.
The IBM Coremetrics Web Analytics and Digital Marketing Optimization Suite provides analytics designed to help companies better determine the effectiveness of new products and services, fine-tune marketing campaigns and create personalized offers in real-time across all online channels. It automates and simplifies a company’s ability to design and deliver a tailored online experience and marketing promotions through real-time personalized recommendations, email ad targeting, and more:
• Enables marketers to perform advanced segmentation and automate marketing execution based on multichannel data, including off-line data sources
• Delivers real-time product recommendations for all online channels, including social, mobile, email, and display ads
• Provides A/B testing capabilities to help search engine marketers compare pairs of search terms to determine the most cost-effective terms and associated ads
• Incorporates best practice key performance indicators and corresponding industry-specific benchmarks
• Supports deep analysis into how customers interact with a brand over time and when each marketing program is the most effective.
As most everyone knows by now, earlier this month California became the latest of several U.S. states to have passed a law requiring sales taxes to be applied to online purchases. The legislation is commonly referred to as the affiliate nexus tax or the Amazon tax because the e-commerce giant is tied up in several lawsuits throughout the country challenging the constitutionality of the new laws.
Understandably, the e-commerce industry is somewhat on edge and will most likely remain so until the issue winds its way slowly through the federal legal system. While the affiliate marketing industry has a legitimate cause to worry, online merchants can rest much easier as far as this is concerned. The reason being that, taxes or no taxes, consumers will shop on the Web regardless of the final outcome.
Here are five reasons why:
E-commerce currently accounts for approximately 4.5 percent of all retail sales in the U.S., and that number will continue to climb as our lives continue to become busier. A larger portion of the American population is finding they have less and less time to do their shopping the old fashioned way, and most online shoppers do so for the convenience it offers with little regard to whether or not they are paying sales taxes. The small percentage of those that do factor in the absence of sales taxes into their decisions to shop online may want to consider the price of gas it takes to get to and from their favorite brick-and-mortar stores.
Speaking of the price of gas, how many stores would one have to visit and how many miles would they have to drive to find the kind of product selection available on the Web? Thirty minutes of Internet research probably amounts to thirty trips around town and the surrounding areas, depending where you live. Most Web shoppers go right to their computers when they get the hankering for a new pair of shoes, and whether they buy online or offline makes little difference if they decide to buy your brand or from your establishment.
Every savvy online shopper knows how to find a great deal on the Web, but the days of haggling over price in person with store proprietors went out with the horse and buggy. Discounts are a huge draw for Web shoppers and the most successful merchants know exactly how to make them work to their advantage. If a consumer can find that pair of shoes for 20 percent less on the Internet than at a physical store, what difference will a few dollars’ sales tax make anyway?
Price comparisons/User reviews
Back to the price-of-gas thing. How many stores would one have to visit for a thorough price analysis of all the shoes under consideration for this particular purchase? Online shoppers can zero in on the brand and style they want and then, with the click of a single button, see how they compare in price on a dozen different websites and store locations. Better yet, they can find out how other shoppers rated each product and factor those reviews into their decision-making.
As smartphone adoption increases in the U.S. and mobile commerce approaches the crest of what will be the biggest wave in the industry’s history, the potential of instant gratification will be too much for consumers to resist. While shopping online once offered the convenience of shopping from home at any hour of the day, mobile shopping makes it possible to purchase things anytime, anywhere. The lure is just too strong for most Americans to give up this kind of power based on a new sales tax law that’s passed in the retailer’s state.
Are these new laws fair? Will they bring more revenues to each state? Will they complicate lives for online retailers? I can’t assuredly answer any one of the three, but what I do know for sure is that the e-commerce industry will continue to grow at its currently impressive pace regardless of any new tax laws.
Search marketing software provider WordStream has released data showing the top 20 high-volume keyword categories with the highest costs-per-click at Google.
According to WordStream, the top five keyword categories are Insurance, Loans, Mortgage, Attorney and Credit (see the infographic below for more). Advertising accounts for approximately 97% of Google's revenue.
The keyword categories with the highest volumes and costs represent businesses with very high lifetime customer value – in other words, these industries can afford to pay lot to acquire a new customer. These businesses include lawsuits, mortgage applications, and server hosting. Some high-volume keyword categories have lower CPCs because advertisers have slimmer margins to expend on PPC advertising.
WordStream compiled data from its keyword database and the Google Keyword Tool to determine the top 10,000 most expensive English-language keywords over a 90-day period. This keyword list was then organized into categories by theme. The largest keyword categories were determined by weighting the number of keywords within each category, as well as the estimated monthly search volume and average cost per click for each keyword.
There is a big difference in performance when an ad appears in position #1 at the top of search results and when an ad appears in position #1 on the side.
Several months ago, Google’s Chief Economist Hal Varian wrote a post about understanding the average position metric, saying that “this distinction is important, since, on average, ads that appear above the search results tend to get substantially more clicks than ads that appear on the right-hand side.”
To help advertisers capitalize on that, Google last week announced its new “top vs. side” Adwords report segment. Advertisers can use the report to see how ads perform above and to the side of Google search results. While there may come a time when top vs. side targeting or bidding options are available, for now it is useful just to segment the data to help make bidding decisions and analyze comparative performance before and after changes.
Adobe announced its acquisition of Web-based electronic signature and signature automation provider EchoSign. No more faxing for you.
Several weeks (maybe months) ago I had the opportunity to look at EchoSign first hand and have been impressed ever since – even recommending it casually during some conversations with business owners. The product helps to automate the signature process from request to distribution and execution, but what I liked best (and likely you will too) was the out-of-the-box integrations with CRM solutions including SalesForce (the number one rated app on SalesForce’s AppExchange for the past five years), SugarCRM, Oracle CRM on Demand, NetSuite and even Google Apps.
The company has been performing well with more than three million users worldwide and has some notable names on their client roster including Dell, BT, Time Warner Cable, Delta Airlines, ADTRAN, Dow Jones, American Express and many others.
Echosign’s solution will be offered as part of Adobe’s online document exchange service platform and will be integrated with other Adobe document services including SendNow for managed file transfer, FormsCentral for form creation and CreatePDF for online PDF creation.
“Adobe’s document solutions help organizations turn inefficient, paper-based workflows into streamlined electronic ones,” said Kevin M. Lynch, vice president and general manager of Acrobat® Solutions, Digital Enterprise Solutions, Adobe. “By adding electronic signature capabilities to Adobe’s document exchange services platform, we will be addressing the need to provide better customer experiences by significantly reducing the time, cost and complexity associated with having a document signed.”
comScore released data this week which reveals that the growth of video continues unabated but the direction its growing might not please very many.
The comScore Video Metrix service showed that 178 million U.S. Internet users watched online video content in June for an average of 16.8 hours per viewer – quite amazing.
Perhaps more impressive however is that the total U.S. Internet audience engaged in more than 6.2 billion viewing sessions during the course of June, an all-time high.
The top video property for the month of June was Google Sites (whose primary video property is YouTube). Google Sites generated the highest number of viewing sessions (2.3 billion) and highest time spent per viewer (324 minutes, or 5.4 hours).
Google Sites essentially are just blowing everybody out of the water – nearly tripling the minutes spent per viewers, and more than doubling the total unique viewers when compared to the nearest competitor. Google Sites are also responsible for driving more than five times the number of viewing sessions of Vevo and nearly 10 times that of Yahoo!.
comScore also analyzed the top video properties by video ads viewed. While Hulu is responsible for the greatest number of video ads, its percentage of reach over the total U.S. population is lacking, leading credence to the notion that pure-play video advertising networks such as Tremor, Adap.tv, RightRoll, Specific Media, Undertone, and SpotXChange have an honest chance of sticking around in the competitive landscape.
A new company of interest launched in the competitive daily deals space last week. Called Booqoos, the Austin, Texas-based startup aims to offer a better way for merchants and consumers to manage online deals.
For merchants, Booqoos claims to provide a powerful platform with complete control and self-management of deals to suit individual business goals, and instant distribution through multiple channels. For consumers, Booqoos aggregates deals from other sites, as well its own, creating a one-stop shop with the ability to search by location, date and product/service category.
Booqoos’ do-it-yourself platform claims to be a smarter choice for local small and medium-sized businesses. Unlike other deal sites, Booqoos aims to be more than a discount solution for merchants: instead striving to be a full marketing platform that gives businesses unparalleled control over their deals.
With Booqoos, merchants have the power to:
• Self-manage deals— Create deals with no minimum required discount, place caps on the number of deals available, plan deals up to a year in advance, and distribute them to consumers via email, social media and/or Booqoos.com all in one click
• Feature multiple deals— Present multiple deals at once; package deals to upsell slow-moving items or excess inventory
• Optimize scheduling— Set up traditional open-ended coupons or offer deals available only for specific, scheduled time slots to increase business during slower times
• Avoid deep cuts into profit margins— Post a deal at half the cost of other deal sites and customize it to meet the business’ unique needs
“Booqoos is better for businesses, and better for buyers,” co-founder Tina Cannon says. “It gives merchants the flexibility to optimize deals to better suit their needs and gives shoppers an easy-to-use platform that cuts down on the clutter and confusion of countless deal emails.”
Web-based timesheet software provider Replicon has announced the availability of Smart Interface for Replicon Web TimeSheet.
This free update includes a variety of interface enhancements, including a new, user-friendly design, streamlined task selector, integrated search and dramatically faster speeds. Smart Interface allows employees and managers to perform tasks faster and easier while dramatically reducing time entry errors, the company said in a release.
Several new features have been designed to help businesses more efficiently manage time. With Smart Interface, users can now do the following:
• Process tasks associated with timesheets — such as loading, submitting and every action in between — up to 14 times faster, using the latest Ajax technology.
• Select clients, projects and tasks directly from the timesheet itself, without using a separate pop-up window.
• Create new timesheets based on older versions more easily with an enhanced copy feature.
• Make text entries quicker with new auto-complete and intelligent search functionality that presents selectable options as they type projects, task or client names.
Visit Replicon for more information on Smart Interface, or register for a webinar that will walk users through highlights of the new offering. Serving more than 1.5 million users in 70 countries, Replicon is the market leader in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based time and expense tracking software.
LiveChat, the real-time software and Web analytics tool for e-commerce merchants, has launched LiveChat for iPad, giving support and sales teams the freedom to monitor and assist website visitors anytime, anywhere.
The new iPad app joins a growing family of mobile LiveChat apps designed to help online companies deliver better customer service and higher sales, including support for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone 7 devices.
“We’re continually extending our mobile strategy since we believe that putting LiveChat in your pocket makes it even easier to provide a great ecommerce experience,” says LiveChat CEO Mariusz Cieply. “Our goal is to make it as seamless and affordable as possible for ecommerce teams to be available for their website visitors at all times, and freeing support personnel from the desk is the best way to accomplish this.”
The new release is a universal app that supports both iPad and iPhone devices. The application can work in the background on these devices, automatically notifying the user whenever there’s an incoming message from a website visitor. The iPad app supports the major LiveChat mobile features, letting users accomplish the following tasks:
• Preview website traffic in real-time
• Invite website visitors to chat and respond to customer-initiated chats
• Chat with multiple users at the same time, including the use of canned responses
• Monitor any ongoing chat (supervisors)
• Review sneak-peeks of customer messages, as well as survey results and client status and details (supervisors)
The LiveChat for iPad app, along with all LiveChat mobile applications, is free for active LiveChat customers and is also available for use with the LiveChat trial. LiveChat starts at $36/month for a single agent, with additional discounts available for larger plans.
Google CEO Larry Page confirmed this week, as predicted, that the company’s new social network has surpassed 10 million users in less than two weeks. While neither Facebook nor Twitter had anywhere near the global reputation that Google has when they launched their services, the 10 million mark was a long time in the making for both.
Google Plus, then, has all the makings of a real winner, and not only for the company but for millions of users and Web professionals. The big question for businesses, of course, is how to take advantage of this new and potential-filled opportunity.
To answer that question as thoroughly as we could, we scoured the Web to hear what others are saying about Google Plus, and below is some of the best actionable advice we could find:
From practical advice to tips and tricks for better success, Google+ users have plenty of resources at their disposal. Here is just a sampling from one of the links listed below:
“Business owners should be utilizing their employees who are social media savvy and passionate about the company. Use them as touch-points and allow them to post content about your business. This will also mean that, when it comes time for the “business features” of Google+ to be released, you’ll have employees that understand the etiquette and environment of the network, which will be key in connecting with people.”
It didn't take long for Google+ users to form opinions about the best extensions to use with the service, and here's an example of what they're saying from one of the links below.
"Start G+ – Automatically post to Facebook and Twitter when you share something on Google+. Additionally, it puts your Facebook and Twitter streams inside your Google+ feed. The only downside is that you cannot reply to or like a Facebook or Twitter post within Google+. This extension is far from perfect, but it will do until Google adds these features."
Users have been adding to the earliest known Google+ cheat sheets almost daily, and here's an example of some the latest comments from one of the links below:
“There have been lots of updates about the platform's new features, tips and tricks, and here is the latest one that contains most of the common syntax, hotkeys and tips you need to know to use Google+ more proficiently.”
According to a new study on mobile commerce, most if not all major online retailers are testing the waters with mobile-friendly websites but only a small percentage have complemented those sites with mobile applications. Many of the sites, in fact, even lack some of the basic features that would help consumers shop or browse from their mobile devices.
For a more in-depth discussion on how to most effectively take the plunge into mobile, keep an eye out for Website Magazine’s upcoming September cover story, Five Ways to Dive into Mobile.
The survey from technology provider CrossView selected 25 top retailers such as Toys ‘R’ Us, Foot Locker, Best Buy, Urban Outfitters, Abercrombie & Fitch, PetSmart, Coach, ’s Sporting Goods, Polo and Ralph Lauren, and all 25 have implemented mobile commerce sites. Only 12 percent, however, currently offer mobile apps for the iPhone, iPad or Android.
Some of the features and functions included on the retailers’ mobile-friendly websites include mobile accessibility to customer reviews, product availability, loyalty programs and GPS technology to locate stores. All 25 mobile sites include product names, descriptions, prices, the ability to complete a purchase and a store locator, while 88 percent of them allow customers to share product information via social media and to set up an account from their mobile devices.
Eighty percent of the sites allow customers to track their orders after a purchase as well as to create a wish list. Sixty percent offer ratings and reviews, 56 percent allow customers to access their loyalty program accounts, and 52 percent of the sites integrate GPS satellite technology within the store locator.
Only 44 percent show product availability online and at store locations, 40 percent display the estimated shipping charges before adding a product to a shopping cart, and 28 percent feature buy via mobile/pickup in-store.
“A majority of the mobile-optimized websites we looked at lacked basic features to help shoppers make purchase decisions in physical retail stores,” says Jason Goldberg, vice president of strategy and customer experience at CrossView. “Mobile must be integrated as a part of the overall cross-channel shopping experience. It’s critical that merchants avoid creating mobile silos in the same way that many brick-and-mortar retailers did with their first-generation e-commerce sites.”
Again, look for Website Magazine’s upcoming September issue to learn Five Ways to Dive Into Mobile.
We recently reported on a new desktop application from Kenshoo that is designed to help simplify some of the more intricate aspects of search engine marketing (SEM), and now we’re hearing some pretty substantial testimonials about the product.
Tesco, the U.K.’s largest retailer and one of the Web’s most profitable enterprises, reports that it has achieved a time savings of 40 percent by using Kenshoo Editor. Through Kenshoo RealTime Campaigns, Tesco can sync SEM campaigns with actual inventory availability and dynamic merchandising, making ad placements more relevant and effective.
“The Kenshoo Editor has made a big impact for our SEM teams, saving us an enormous amount of time, especially with bulk editing and copying elements,” says Paul Wilkins, marketing manager at Tesco. “The hours we save each day using Kenshoo Editor translate to more time spent on developing strategy and planning new tests.”
Tesco’s digital marketing strategy encompasses a wide range of retail promotions and e-commerce initiatives. Using Kenshoo’s flexible dimensions feature, Tesco associates SEM elements such as ad groups, keywords, and copy with specific brands or products to more quickly measure performance and identify areas of opportunity.
The Kenshoo Editor brings the sophistication of a global enterprise technology platform to the desktop, which has helped Tesco create new campaigns and optimize multiple channels in minutes. With drag-and-drop and copy-paste functionalities, the Kenshoo Editor makes it quick and easy to implement bulk changes across large, complex accounts.
Kenshoo’s other customers include Barnes & Noble, CareerBuilder, Facebook, Walgreens and Zappos, and the company provides local as well as enterprise solutions.
Since its inception in 2004,
Ruby on Rails has increased
in popularity on its way
to becoming a mainstay in
the Web design world.
The reason for this is easy to understand;
Ruby on Rails is a flexible Web
application framework that allows
developers to focus on driving their
website or application to its full
potential rather than getting stuck
in the mud bringing their site to
fruition. For developers concerned
with software compatibility, Ruby on
Rails is able to be installed on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux
operating systems, which caters to a variety of developing platforms.
In other words, the Rails framework makes getting the
job done much easier.
Ruby on Rails’ strength as a framework lies in its meticulously
honed and tested tool set that tackles a lot of the problems
that Web developers face when creating a site. Normally, Web
development is tasked with two objectives when designing
1. Designing a website, and
2. Creating the tools to make the website interactive.
The second task is one that causes problems. One option
for developers is to create their own tools; but this is especially
time consuming. Ruby on Rails does away with this problem
by providing a proven and expansive tool set that is varied in
depth and breadth.
Yet another strength of Ruby
on Rails is right in its name: Ruby.
Ruby is a robust programming
language around which the entire
Rails framework is built. While
this might not sound like much,
this streamlines the Web design
process. When different developers
come together as a team
“speaking” different languages
(PHP, .NET and Python, for example),
accomplishing even the
most menial of tasks becomes
much more difficult. The Rails
framework alleviates this problem
by allowing an entire design team
to speak the same language.
The Rails framework is also lauded for its implementation
of the Model View Controller, or MVC. The MVC divides
design into three sections:
1. The backbone of a website, such as programming code and
2. What the website looks like to the user.
3. How users interact with the website.
This can be compared to a dish served at a restaurant —
composed of the recipe, the presentation on the plate, and the
taste. Now, imagine changing one aspect of the dish — another
part inevitably changes, too. This is not so with the Rails
framework. Each division in the MVC is compartmentalized in
a way that allows the three divisions of a website to be tweaked
without disrupting the other. The MVC grants great flexibility
to designers, reducing the amount of time rectifying mistakes
caused by editing one aspect of a website, and letting them
continue to move forward in designing the rest of the site.
Ruby on Rails is still a relatively new approach to designing
a website. With the unpredictable nature of the
Internet, there’s no way to be sure that the Rails framework
will withstand the test of time. However, with sites like Twitter,
Groupon, NYTimes.com and Hulu implementing their
design using this strong framework, it’s safe to say that Ruby
on Rails has its foot in the door and is securing its inclusion
in the future of the Internet.
About the Author: Peter Marino is the Senior Partner of reelWebDesign.com, a social
media marketing and Web design firm in New York City that caters
to content creation for small to mid-sized businesses and micropreneurs.
He can be reached by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Envy Labs released a free online tutorial called Rails for Zombies. The website combines screencasts with in-browser coding to provide an interactive learning experience that teaches the basics of Ruby on Rails. Learning Rails for the first time should be fun, and Rails for Zombies allows you to get your feet wet without any setup or configuration. At the moment the application has five episodes. Each consists of a single screencast followed by a group of exercises that must be completed before moving forward. Once you complete all the labs, you unlock a hidden video which shows you where to go to continue your Rails education.
Mobile Marketing – The Different Types Of Mobile Websites And How They’re Used
More and more people are signing up for advanced mobile plans, which means that smart business owners and entrepreneurs have a window of opportunity open to them right now. Mobile marketing is cheap and people don’t have ‘banner blindness’ when it comes to their mobile device.
Those to things spell out an incredibly easy marketing solution. What I want to do is lay out a few different ways mobile marketing. Then, I’ll follow it up with a few resources you can check out for more information.
* Mobile Squeeze Page
Mobile squeeze pages serve one purpose, and one purpose alone, to collect data. Basically, what you do is offer a free download of some kinds or discounts/coupons to visitors who sign up for your email list. That way, you can market to them again and again in the future.
* Using A Check Out Page As A Mobile Landing Page
Another effective way of mobile marketing is sending prospects directly to your main product page or the page where they can sign up for your services. Obviously, a higher ticket item will need some pre-selling, but lower end offers work well.
* Mobile Landing Page – Phone Number
One of the best innovations of mobile marketing ads is its click to call technology. What that means is that when someone clicks an ad, it automatically dials a phone number! That’s awesome for pizza shops and doctor’s offices!
* Does Mobile Marketing Work?
Right about now, I’m sure you’re thinking that all this stuff is good in theory. But does it actually work?
On a cell phone, there is very little screen real estate. The user only has so many options… Sign up for your free download or exit the page. More times than not, the person will sign up so they can get your information or they’ll call you. It really is incredibly effective.
A properly designed mobile website won’t have any distractions at all. It’ll have a call to action and a action option… Something that the user has to do.
Graphics will be minimal and the page will seem relatively simplistic. That’s OK though, because mobile phones are typically much slower than normal computers and will need more computational power to load the page.
* My Mobile Marketing Results
Based on the testing I’ve done, mobile marketing is definitely a big hit. Generally, people who view mobile websites or find your business on Google Maps are very well targeted. They know what they want and are willing to pay for it. If you place an email marketing opt-in box on the mobile page itself, you’re going to get lots of new leads. The ‘click to call’ option is also really impressive.
Email service provider MailChimp has integrated with mobile commerce platform (mobile CMS) Movylo Shop. http://www.movyloshop.com/
The integration will enable retailers to integrate their email lists with their Movylo Shop mobile commerce platform for deal-based promotions on their customers' mobile smart phones. Mobile store customization looks simple with several mobile templates available.
With the deal-based, mobile economy in full-effect, you have to give some credit to Movylo for being forward thinking enough to provide a mobile shopping platform with the out-of-the box functionality the service provides.
“We are excited to offer Mailchimp customers the ability to quickly and easily promote their business on mobile smart phones such as iPhone, Blackberry and Android,” said Movylo Shop’s CEO, Stefano Colonna.
Several weeks ago Google announced support for link rel="canonical" relationships specified in HTTP headers as per the syntax described in section 5 of IETF RFC 5988.
Editors Note: As a quick aside, Website Magazine will feature a very practical article from Prashant Puri on canonicalization in the Small Business Lab column of our September issue.
Webmasters can use rel="canonical" HTTP headers to signal the canonical URL for both HTML documents and other types of content such as PDF files. For example, perhaps you have a white paper as an HTML page and as a PDF using two URLs – example.com/white-paper.html and example.com/white-paper.pdf. SEO's can signal to Google that the canonical URL for the PDF download is the HTML document by using a rel="canonical" HTTP header when the PDF file is requested.
So how do you apply it?
If you’re using ASP.net, Classic ASP or PHP web pages, here’s how:
<%Response.AddHeader(@”Link”,@”< http://www.yoursite.com/>; rel=”"canonical”"”);%>
ASP BLOCKED SCRIPT
<%Response.AddHeader “Link”,”< http://www.yoursite.com/>; rel=”"canonical”"”%>
<?php header(“Link: <http://www.yoursite.com/>; rel=\”canonical\”");?>
When the web page is requested the server will respond with a 200 status as well as the link header telling Google that the page is a canonical of the URL specified.
Google provided another instance when this might come in handy. For example, serving the same file from multiple URLs (common if using a content distribution/delivery network). The rel=canonical HTTP header could be used to signal to Google the preferred URL.
Google announced several important changes to its product search feed specification this week. If you're an Internet retailer and use Google Product Search as a channel to promote products, the developments should be top of mind.
The changes relate primarily to providing shoppers with more accurate and "fresher" information. Google is now requiring merchants to show availability of products, include the appropriate Google product category, and is making the image link mandatory as well. For retailers selling apparel, merchants will need to include information such as size and color as well as for whom the product is designed (age and gender).
Perhaps the most important aspect of the announcement was that starting September 22, 2011, Google will take "taking action" against accounts with feeds targeting the United States, France, United Kingdom, Japan, and Germany that do not comply with the new specification and policy requirements.
There are advantages to leveraging paid search advertising in website marketing. It is efficient, immediate and measurable – these benefits are all very well documented. Paid search and performance-based CPC promotions have forever changed the advertising/marketing landscape and its multi-billion dollar valuation is evidence.
Paid search has its disadvantages too and not only are they detrimental to advertisers, they are perpetuated by large networks that care less for advertisers with limited budgets (perhaps unknowingly) and more for big brand advertisers spending millions of dollars each month – or more. As someone that buys keyword search traffic you should understand this before portioning budget for CPC ad campaigns as the approach taken will vary by advertiser.
To squeeze every iota of value from search, marketing campaigns need to be well balanced between long tail searches (where the aim is conversion) and short head keywords/phrases which tend to drive the majority of awareness/impressions for advertisers. The distinction is an important one. In a quality score world, understanding each campaign's objective and aligning keywords (and keyword groups) accordingly is of paramount importance. Failure to will never enable advertisers to move the revenue needle from "negative" to "positive".
It is not uncommon for some advertisers (particularly merchants) to have thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of keywords within their accounts. Digging into the data will reveal however that only a handful of keywords are responsible for the majority of clicks. Take a look at your own data to confirm. What you will find is that while these “short head” terms are fantastic at driving awareness (and clicks) they don’t compare to the value that is provided in long tail search terms which do little for volume but possess the ability to drive a significant percentage of actual sales.
The reason is that since these long tail phrases have lower CPC’s (on average) than their high-traffic, short head phrase counterparts, they are capable of driving a significant amount of the profit that can result from advertising upon them. Many marketers will look at this as an untapped opportunity (many already do) and if you’re moving from negative return to a positive one you should too.
Advertising exclusively on the long tail is not always the answer however. Long tail search advertising requires an immense amount of work (made far easier of late with features in CPC networks including DKI – dynamic keyword insertion) and attention to detail than a campaign which focuses on a handful (let’s say a few hundred) search terms. More terms within a campaign often means a greater chance of inefficiency and potential errors. Not only will you need strong systems to generate and maintain compelling, relevant, and targeted ad copy, but you’ll need a rather sophisticated reporting and analytics system to identify gaps and gaffes.
Ultimately, when long tail PPC search advertising is done well and thoughtfully it can provide a significant overall increase in performance. Here are a few suggestions for long tail CPC campaigns:
- Spend Time Defining Bid Rules
Not all clicks are created equal. Just because a keyword/phrase receives a low number of clicks does not mean that you can apply a broad rule to all of them. Keyword research should indicate what if any terms are being used by your competitors so start there. While setting rules can reduce the amount of management time involved, rules set too broadly will prohibit keywords from working their magic – positioning your brand at precisely the right time for precisely what consumers are searching.
- Customize Landing Pages Accordingly
While there are certainly some challenges associated for those PPC accounts with tens of thousands of keywords, all keywords/phrases should be treated equally and that means proper grouping, and directing users to the proper landing pages. As you might image, organization is fundamental to CPC advertising success – particularly when you get into the long-tail.
- Manage Long Tail/Short Head Bids Differently, Patiently
Success in the tail is about aggregation, smart copy management, and aggregation. Success in the short head is about copy testing, match-type optimization, and quality-score improvements (should you use a network that relies on quality score). Long tail queries, by their very nature, may not produce results right away so be patient with these low-frequency phrases.
Managing bids on long tail phrases manually can be an exercise in futility if the wrong approach is taken or taken hastily. The long tail, while not an appropriate approach for every small, medium or large-budget advertiser, can be the catalyst for higher profits and deeper user engagement. Advertisers that take the long tail seriously are advertisers that more easily move from negative to positive.
Video marketing provider TubeMogul has launched a new private ad exchange product. Media companies interested in pursuing some real-time media buying on video now have a powerful solution capitalize on surplus inventory. Private exchanges are commonly used in the display advertising market but this may just be the first foray into the same for video.
What makes TubeMogul’s platform so interesting is that the exchange plugs into an existing ad server. At setup, publishers set rules on variables like which agencies and trading desks have access, pricing packages, available inventory, and what data can be used for targeting. It is easy to see how by providing insights into bids and performance assists publishers in monetizing their inventory effectively and serves to correct the imbalance perpetuated by programmatic buying.
“We’re making the bet that if we empower publishers, it will result in better inventory access for buyers and ultimately a better advertising experience for advertisers and consumers,” said Brett Wilson, CEO and Co-Founder of TubeMogul.
On the demand side (for advertisers), the product leverages TubeMogul’s existing demand side platform for video advertising PlayTime. Advertisers invited by a media company to participate in a private exchange will automatically be emailed, and the new inventory will show up seamlessly into their TubeMogul account for immediate planning and buying.
Related Reading from Website Magazine on TubeMogul:
- TubeMogul Retools as Demand-Side Video Ad Platform
- PlayTime Now With Demographics
- Free, Real-time Video Analytics from TubeMogul
Now that the Bing/Yahoo Search Alliance is in full effect there seems to no longer be a need for Yahoo! Site Explorer – one of the most used search engine optimization tools on the market – so Yahoo! is shutting the service down.
Yahoo transitioned the backend of its organic search to the Microsoft search platform last year to great fanfare. As Bing Webmaster Center began gaining several new functionality and features, maintaining two services apparently did not make sense so the final days for Site Explorer have finally arrived. Microsoft’s Webmaster Tools will now be the only source for Bing and Yahoo! webmaster site and analytics data.
Yahoo! indicated that it will continue to “innovate on the search experience beyond the services delivered by Microsoft” meaning their slurp crawlers will continue to selectively crawl websites.
A thread in the Google Web Search Help forum indicates that Google has moved the similar sites link found previously near the cache link in the search results.
Likely a result of the search engine’s recent relatively low profile site redesign (where it also dropped real time search – likely a result of Google+, the popular wonderwheel and image sizes) Google actually moved the similar pages feature to instant previews.
By selecting the magnifying glass icon next to the site title, the instant previews window will appear and a “Similar” link will appear at the bottom of the popup window. Web professionals can also still use the “related” search query (related:www.websitemagazine.com).
SEO Platform BrightEdge is reporting that its analysis of the Web’s 10,000 largest websites is showing a 33 percent increase in placement of the Google +1 button in the last few weeks.
While Facebook still claims a two-to-one lead in placement on these sites over other social networks, most brands are still not linking to Facebook. BrightEdge’s SocialShare Site Analysis found that 47 percent of sites are linking to the social network with Twitter seen on 42 percent of the sites measured. It is important to note that these percentages are based on the sites “linking” to Facebook and do not include actual social plugins.
When it comes to social plugins however, Facebook still leads the way with almost 20 percent of the sites including the plugin tools offered by Facebook. But Google+ is surging, achieving placement on 4.4 percent of the sites (Plugins from Twitter are displayed on just 3.4 percent of the front pages.
“Overall, this inaugural version of our SocialShare Site Analysis shows huge opportunity for brands to engage more socially,” said Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge. “Fewer than half the largest sites on the Web offer any kind of social link at all on their front page and these sites represent a massive slice of Internet traffic on any given day. We would expect to see a land grab effort this year as plugins vie for placement on this very valuable Web real estate.”
Mobile Marketing – Another Market To Build Your Empire?
Smartphones have suddenly become the device to have. No longer a novelty, or a tool for the rich, everywhere I look I can see someone using their iPhone or Android phone. Doing everything from making calls to searching for information. That’s new eyes in a new market with new customers. How could you incorporate a business model using mobile marketing, and affiliate marketing, as a part of your Empire Building?
The surprise arrival of the iPhone a few years ago and its incredible growth has given rise to explosive growth in the mobile market. Over 2 million phones were sold recently by Apple. The recent launch of the iPhone 4 was Apple’s most successful yet. Then there are all the other handset manufacturers that are scrambling to catch up. Let’s stop and consider for a moment the number of people that are connected to the internet from their smartphone right now… Most people have their phones within 3 feet of them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Furthermore, over half of all new connections to the internet are from these new mobile phones.
* Smartphone marketing
What is it? In it’s broadest definition it is providing customers with personalized information that is time and location sensitive using media sources that is interactive and wireless to promote goods, services and ideas, such as from Google search.
There are not many marketers in this market yet. I will emphasize the word “yet”. With mobile advertising your ad is the ONLY ad that will be displayed on the page. With a bit of tweaking and personalizing your ad using a bit of research and geo marketing and you can begin to see how easy it would be to get someones attention without all the noise and distraction of other AdWords and flashing banners on the page.
Everything that you are using now in affiliate marketing using ClickBank, CPA offers, and building a list will also work the same with the mobile market as it does with a PC. The difference is that it is not as competitive.
The mobile marketing potential has just started, and there appears that it is not going to slow down anytime in the near future. The number of people going mobile continues to rise – using their smartphone for so many more things than just making calls.
How you could use this developing market to build your Empire?
Bing (and yes, Yahoo!) search advertisers are now able to target advertising to appear when consumers search around a specific geographic location – up to a 100 mile radius.
Bing expects radius targeting (which enables advertisers to create local ads around an address, the center of a zip code or a lat/long coordinate) to increase relevancy for users – and it's easy to see how. It will likely have some positive effects for campaign efficiency and ROI as well.
Expect savvy advertisers to jump on board in droves. Bing provided a few examples of how the feature might be used, from "encircling the competition" to "driving shopper loyalty" and repeat visits.
If you’re struggling with Facebook promotions, you might want to take some social media marketing cues from NameCheap.
The domain name registrar recently ran a promotion on Facebook that generated over 5,000 new fans to unlock a $1.99 coupon code for a new domain name. NameCheap’s Current Deals tab was launched in late June and generated upwards of 500 new likes each day, reaching 5000 fans July 7th and activating the deal
"We thought we'd leverage Facebook in a unique and compelling way," Richard Kirkendall, CEO of Namecheap said. "As a result of this promotion, we were able to bring our community together — there are so many new discussions with members helping each other — while also giving back to the community in the form of a unique coupon code to all Fans of our page for a highly discounted domain package."
Domains purchased with $1.99 coupon code include free WhoisGuard, Namecheap's domain name privacy option, and a free Comodo PositiveSSL certificate.
While NameCheap should get a a great big virtual pat on the back for acquiring 5,000 fans in such a short period of time, should all those new fans use the code the domain name registrar will certainly be in for a short term loss as the total value of this opportunity retails for more than $53. Many of those new domains of course will be renewed and additional services purchased, but at least to me it clearly seems like more of a long-term investment in social media.
Ad management platform Marin Software released findings from its Paid Search Quarterly Benchmarking Report (available here) which indicates a 20 percent year-over-year increase in paid search advertising spend.
Marin examined 800 large-scale advertisers from its Global Search Index and found not only that search spend increase, but click-through rates also rose (12 percent) compared to the same quarter last year. Overall cost-per-click remained the same.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of data was that on Google, advertisers saw a decline in impression volumes in the second quarter. Advertisers managed to increase click volumes on an annual basis however, suggesting that either search marketers are improving efficiency or Google modified its algorithm for matching ads to queries. It is likely a combination of both.
Linking Strategies: “To Buy or not to Buy, That is the Question”
Buying text links for your website is a highly controversial subject online. Like it or not, approve of the practice or disapprove, it does exist and there are many website owners who are doing it. I’m not going to debate the issue one way or the other; just shed some light on what some consider a “gray subject.”
So why would you want or need to buy a text link on another website? It all goes back to “link popularity.” Search engines look at how many other sites are linking to yours when deciding on your ranking. Granted, this is just one criterion, but nevertheless an important one to pay attention to.
If you don’t know how many other sites are linking to yours, go to any search engine and type this in: link:http://www.yourdomain.com … you should get a pretty good idea of your “popularity.” Keep in mind that Google never shows all sites linking to yours, so what you see in the results will not be an accurate presentation of those linking to you. Why they do this is not clear (it’s one of those “Google Secrets”), but a possible explanation is that it’s one of the methods they use to keep their ranking algorithms private.
When considering a link purchase, only buy from sites that are related to your theme and use the Google Toolbar to check their page rank. You can download it here:
A page rank of 4 or above is pretty good but a 7 or 8 is excellent. Never buy a link based on page rank alone. If the site doesn’t relate to your site’s content, don’t do it.
Here are some things to keep in mind before making any purchases:
There are two types of links: one-way and reciprocal. A reciprocal link is when two sites agree to link to each other, a one-way link is just one site linking to another without linking back. Purchasing a text link is an example of a one-way link. One-way links are counted higher by most search engines and therefore are more valuable then reciprocal.
When supplying your text link to other sites, make sure to include your keywords in your anchor text. The anchor text is the part of the link that is clickable. Use a variety of key phrases so as not to raise any red flags with the search engines.
You also want to be consistent with your url. Use the “www.” part in all incoming links, as links to “yourdomain.com” and “www.yourdomain.com” could be treated as two different websites by the search engines.
Another tip when buying links is to do it slowly. Don’t buy too many at one time. You want it to look natural to the search engines. Hundreds of sites deciding to link to yours in a week is not “natural” and may catch unwanted attention from the powers that be.
Stay away from link farms when choosing link partners. Just associating with “bad sites” can be enough to get you banned by the search engines. You’ll also want to make sure you’re getting links from different IP addresses. Search engines will give the links more weight if they don’t all come from the same IP.
* So now that you have the basics, where do you buy the text links?
I thought you’d never ask:
1) LinkHaul: http://www.LinkHaul.com
Purchase static links to PR 4, 5,6, 7 or 8 websites. Pricing starts at 3.00 per month.
2) Text Link Brokers: http://TextLinkBrokers.com
Offering a variety of link building programs to increase your link popularity.
3) LinkAdage: http://www.LinkAdage.com
Buy or sell text links within an auction format or buy direct thru a broker.
4) Text-Link-Ads: http://www.Text-Link-Ads.com
Offering $100.00 in free text link ads when you spend $125.00. So you only have to spend an initial investment of $25.00
5) BackLinks: http://www.BackLinks.com
* A service that allows webmasters to trade, sell or buy text links
When you buy a link, it’s usually billed on a monthly basis and you’ll always pay more for a site with a higher page rank, and also for having them put your link on their main page compared to a page deeper down within the site. Once you purchase a link let it run for a few months at a time, search engines will need it in order to find and spider them.
Right or wrong, purchasing links is one way to improve your link popularity quickly and move your site up the ranks in the search engines. Remember, there are many ways to increase your website traffic, and buying text links is just another means to an end.
Usability and remote testing platform Userlytics released an enterprise version of its interactive testing solution this week.
The enterprise-ready platform will provide an executive summary of key events and comments which are linked to the relevant video and timelines. Enterprise users can also download the composited “Video in Videos” (ViV) – video of the tester synched with the video of their onscreen activity – for use in presentations and internal media, and be able to annotate each participation video to highlight important user feedback.
“Despite the wealth of available metrics, marketers and designers are faced with a qualitative blindspot when it comes to analyzing the success or failure of a campaign or digital property,” said Alejandro Rivas-Micoud, CEO of Userlytics. “They may know the click-through rates of various demographics for a particular ad or the abandon rate on an e-commerce site, but they generally don’t know the ‘why’ behind these numbers. With Userlytics, agencies and brands can actually ride alongside as target audiences, in the real world context of their home or work, interact with ads, videos, applications and websites. No other solution provides this type of rich multimedia record of users’ actions, thoughts and feelings or is as easy, fast and cost-effective to use.”
The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) announced that audience measurement solution Quantcast is participating its "Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising" and will offer the Advertising Option Icon (seen to the left) to its publisher base.
Publishers participating in the program can feature the Advertising Option Icon on any Web pages where data is collected. Consumers clicking the icon are sent to the Consumer Opt-Out page, a universal, opt-out mechanism available at www.aboutads.info. Starting in July, the Icon and link to Consumer Opt-Out page will be available to publishers with annual OBA revenues under $2 million and total annual revenues under $15 million.
“Consumer privacy is a top priority for Quantcast,” said Michael Blum, general counsel for Quantcast. “We’re proud to support the DAA in this effort to provide the advertising community with more effective tools for consumer notice and choice and to bring accessibility of the Self-Regulatory Program to the IAB’s Long Tail Alliance. We are making this investment because we believe it will help the DAA continue to achieve widespread adoption of the Program and establish the Icon as the universal symbol of transparency and consumer choice.”
Quantcast joins more than 100 companies actively participating in the Self-Regulatory Program including advertisers, ad agencies and ad networks; 90 more have registered for the Self-Regulatory Program and are expected to integrate the Advertising Option Icon.
Abandoned shopping carts a very real, very serious problem for merchants. With consumers deal hunting at a feverish pace, Internet retailers need to be proactive. Forrester reported earlier this year that abandonment rose to 71% which translates to 18 billion in lost revenue.
Email service provider Listrak and multi-store ecommerce software Znode have partnered up to help users lower the abandonment on their merchants’ carts. Znode has integrated Listrak shopping cart abandonment solution (something WM has covered previously at some length), an automated behaviorally triggered remarketing solution that prompts abandoners to compete a sale.
”Shopping cart abandonment is real pain point for all online merchants, costing billions per year in lost revenue. Our technology partnership with Listrak now provides our customers a comprehensive integration with our ecommerce platforms that will allow them to recapture lost revenue,” says Vish Vishwanathan, CEO of Znode. “The value of remarketing is fully realized with Listrak’s innovative solutions by way of increased cart conversions and re-engagement techniques that will lead to a very real ROI for our end users.”
As an affiliate, monitoring/tracking sales activity is an essential part of the day-to-day activities. While affiliate programs should at a minimum provide basic reports on impressions, click activity and sales or leads, there are a few whose reporting systems are lackluster in this regard. If the merchant cannot supply even the basic reporting, it's difficult to be confident that anything is correctly logged.
While it is not absolutely essential, it will benefit you greatly if the affiliate program provides detailed statistics on your sales and referral activity. And the more detail, the better. Two reporting features to look out for are referring pages stats and the ability to add your own ad-tracking codes to links.
Referring page statistics will tell you which page a visitor was on when they clicked on your affiliate link. Custom tracking codes enable affiliates to create unique URLs for use in different locations (different sites/different site sections), providing you with independent stats for each. Ad-tracking code is far more useful because it provides the ability to analyze the clickthrough-to-sales ratios for different links or banners in specific locations. This enables you to see what works best and gradually fine-tune your promotions for maximum effectiveness.
Of course, there are far better ways to keep track of your earnings statistics and performance. If you’re testing out an advertiser or merchant’s creative and are participating in several networks, you need to consider using affiliate stat aggregators.
A Better Way for Affiliate Stat Tracking
Statistics aggregators automatically retrieve key data from different networks and provide an overview of daily performance through their reporting suites. The advantage of using these systems is that, should you be promoting the same offer on two different networks (or different ad formats from the same network), you are able to see which is outperforming the other – ultimately flipping the off-switch on the poorest performer.
Here are a few of the very best solutions on the market today:
NiftyStats: A desktop software that automatically downloads statistics from affiliate programs/networks and advertising networks (PPC campaigns). Nifty Stats (the pro version) will also send email alerts about sales/rebills and daily summary sales reports. More than 1,500 affiliate programs are currently supported. Another interesting feature is that stats can be monitored through a mobile phone – Nifty Stats uploads data to a server so it can be checked by visiting a URL address. The free version is limited in download of statistics up to 15 affiliate programs or advertising networks. The cost for the professional version is $19.95 per month.
Affmeter: One of the most well-known and robust solutions, Affmeter has a long list of supported affiliate networks. What makes the solution so powerful, however, is that not only can you view earnings but you can also find the top revenue generating/losing merchants and make comparisons between different time periods. Multiple currencies are supported and email alerts can be set for automated delivery. Besides being one of the most popular solutions on the market today, it is also one of the least expensive with the pro version costing just $14.95 per month.
AffJet: Currently in beta, Affjet looks to be one of the most promising statistics aggregators and analysis tools for affiliates. The elegant looking Web-based solution (one of the only solutions available as SaaS) provides a dashboard that can be customized to display on the data you need, the ability to access payment history, view and join programs, to browse and sign up for networks and, of course, view network and merchant performance statistics. A one-month trial is available, but package pricing is not available as the service is usage-based.
StatsRemote: Another desktop application that aggregates stats from affiliate and advertising programs. The multi-platform software features payment tracking (which programs have paid, and which have not) and email statistics reports. The cost for Stats Remote is $29.99 – a seven-day free trial is available.
What is the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?
When it comes to marketing, you can go either inbound or outbound marketing. Most of us are familiar with outbound marketing. This type of marketing is a push strategy where you advertise to purchased leads, have a cold calling department, use telemarketing, and advertise through various channels. Inbound marketing is different in that it focuses on attracting people to your business.
Inbound marketing is where you focus on strategies to get the attention of prospects, industry leaders, and customers. An example of this is setting up a blog for your business where you attract subscribers and readers by posting valuable content. By focusing on quality content, you will start to establish yourself as an authority, gain credibility, and start a conversation in the community around your site.
An additional benefit of inbound strategies is that you will start to get traffic from the search engines because other websites start to naturally link to yours. You will also get traffic because the blogosphere is viral and loves to share great posts. Bloggers love to work together, share other valuable blogs, link to great resources, and are open to helping each other grow.
Another example of inbound marketing is email marketing. Many marketers use the Internet to deliver a regular newsletter to their subscribers. Through this newsletter and regular email communication, they are able to create relationships with prospects and customers. An email list also provides a great way to promote your latest product and services. Email campaigns have been known to generate big profits because of the fact that it is very affordable to use.
So should your business use inbound marketing or outbound marketing? It really depends on where you are and what direction you want to go. If you’re looking for quick results and have money to spend on advertising then outbound marketing may be a great way to grow your business. Most businesses depend on outbound marketing to bring in their profits.
However, if you’re on a limited budget and you have the time to spend on developing an authority site then inbound marketing may be the better choice. If you have the confidence to deliver something of value to your industry and community, then inbound marketing can really produce great results for you.
By establishing yourself in your market and industry, many people will choose you over competing businesses because they feel you’ve presented enough value, have established credibility, and also because they are more familiar with you as opposed to other businesses that don’t have a following behind them.
The difference between inbound and outbound marketing is that outbound marketing can help you get quick results and can give you a scientific way to measure your sales.
Inbound marketing is more about a long term strategy that will establish your business in the market and industry. It may be a great solution if outbound marketing channels are too crowded or expensive to compete in.
Many businesses that have used outbound marketing are also using inbound marketing to complement their business model. They are realizing that while maintaining cash flow with outbound marketing is important, they need to establish themselves in the marketplace and connect with people so that can ensure long term success.
Inbound marketing is still in its infancy and there is so much to learn about how to use it to its full capacity.
Many businesses are using multiple channels from blogs, email, Facebook, Twitter, to community forums. There are different ways to monetize these channels as well as rules that you need to follow when using them.
The best way to get the most out of inbound marketing is to focus on learning how to use one channel at a time and slowly integrating it into your overall strategy. There is a community of marketers devoted to learning how to use inbound marketing to grow their business and is worth your time to learn from them if you want to get the most out it.
In conclusion, there are big differences between inbound and outbound marketing. Some say that outbound marketing is the better choice while others think inbound marketing produces better results. It’s really up to you which strategy you go with as it will depend on your business model and also on what direction you want to lead your business towards.
Social business software company Jive Software released results from a study which revealed that social business is “increasingly perceived as a strategic executive imperative in the enterprise” to which you should say – no kidding.
The Jive Social Business Index 2011 however does reveal some more meaningful information. For example:
- 53% believe they must adopt a more social business approach
- 62% cite the potential to achieve "better customer loyalty and service levels"
- 57 percent anticipate "increased revenue or sales" as a result of implementation
Perhaps the most interesting bit of data was that the degree that online communities play in the decision making process. The survey revealed that online communities are an important source of information for making purchase decisions, especially for millennials. Fifty-four percent of millennials said that they are more likely to rely on and make purchase decisions from information shared via personal contacts in online communities versus 33 percent more likely to use information from "official" company sources.
Google Chrome surpassed 20% of the global internet browser market during the month of June 2011 according to Internet statistics firm StatCounter.
Chrome took 20.7% of the global market, up from 2.8% in June 2009. Microsoft's Internet Explorer has fallen from 59% to 44% globally and Firefox dropped slightly from 30% to 28%.
"It is a superb achievement by Google to go from under 3% two years ago to over 20% today," commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. "While Google has been highly effective in getting Chrome downloaded the real test is actual browser usage which our stats measure."
StatCounter Global Stats are based on aggregate data collected on a sample exceeding 15 billion page views per month (4 billion from the US) from the StatCounter network of more than three million websites.
Domain name marketplace Sedo notified its users that it is raising the commission rate of broker-free domain sales to 15% from 10%. For those using the fixed price domain sales in the Sedo MLS, the commission rate will rise from 15% to 20%. These changes will be effective August 1st, 2011.
Sedo is seeing a lot of increased pressure to boost revenue with a flood of new domain extensions hitting the market within the next few years and some rather serious competitors including Flippa.
Sedo CEO Tim Schumacher also outlined several improvements to the platform designed to give users/clients “more efficiency, connectivity, and visibility.” Sedo has integrated WhoIs verficiation, provided new certication options, improved its email notifications, and integrated social sharing (Facebook Connect).
Last week was a busy one for Google, and summer vacationing Webmasters may have missed the global release of +1 buttons to Google search sites, as well as the introduction of the Google+ project.
Both are key elements to Google’s social networking initiative, designed to compete directly with Facebook by making it easier for users to connect with friends and colleagues online. The +1 button aims to bring recommendations from friends and trusted contacts into actual Google searches – potentially giving it similar weight for marketers as the Facebook Like button.
Google may make up for being late to the party by providing the kinds of analytics that marketers have been yearning for in the social space. Late last week, the company released a number of reports within Google Webmaster Tools that will show website owners the actual value that +1 buttons are bringing to their sites.
The +1 metrics in Google Webmaster Tools will show how the button affects traffic in the following ways:
• The Search Impact report gives an idea of how +1’s affect organic search traffic. Webmasters can find out if clickthrough rates change when personalized recommendations help their content stand out. You can do this by comparing clicks and impressions on search results with and without +1 annotations. Google will only show statistics on clickthrough rate changes when there are enough impressions for a meaningful comparison.
• The Activity report shows how many times pages have been +1’d, from buttons both on your own site and on other pages (such as Google search).
• The Audience report shows aggregate geographic and demographic information about the Google users who’ve +1’d your pages. To protect privacy, Google will only show audience information when a significant number of users have +1’d pages from your site.
The +1 Metrics menu on the side of the page can be used to view reports. Sites that have not yet been verified on Google Webmaster Tools can get access here.
• The Social Engagement report shows how site behavior changes for visits that include clicks on +1 buttons or other social actions. This allows site owners to determine whether people who +1 their pages during a visit are likely to spend more time on their sites than people who don’t.
• The Social Actions report tracks the number of social actions (+1 clicks, Tweets, etc) taken on a site, all in one place.
• The Social Pages report compares the pages on a site to see which are driving the highest the number of social actions.
When adding +1 buttons to a site, Google will automatically enable Social Plugin Tracking for +1. Site owners can enable tracking for other social plugins in a few steps.
Confidence Building Tips For Internet Marketers
It doesn’t matter how much talent or acquired ability you have, if you lack confidence you aren’t going to get anywhere. On the other hand, if you have confidence plus desire, even if you lack the raw talent, you can acquire the ability you need to succeed.
This is as true on the Internet as it is anywhere else in life. When you look at who has succeeded with Internet marketing you will find a surprising range of people. They are not all technical whiz kids at all. Yes, some of the Internet marketing greats have a lot of technical talent, but on the other hand there are plenty of work from home mums, retired company employees, youngsters with no formal qualifications who have built successful businesses on the Internet.
They succeeded because they had the desire and determination plus the confidence to risk failure and not worry about what other people thought about their dream to succeed on the Internet.
So what can you do if you want to succeed as an Internet marketer but suffer with your confidence? Let’s look at some confidence building tips for Internet marketers.
Just telling yourself that you need to be more confident will not help. Instead, think about and imagine your ultimate goal as an Internet marketer. You may have no idea how you are going to achieve this goal at the moment. Don’t worry about that at this stage. It is important to see yourself as having already attained the goal that you have set for yourself. Don’t just see it, but feel the feeling of success, the exhilaration of having achieved your goal.
Now you will need to set yourself a series of small goals that you can achieve in a reasonable amount of time. Each small goal should be seen as a stepping stone towards the ultimate goal that you have mapped out in your imagination. State what it is that each mini goal is seeking to achieve and set a time limit in which you aim to achieve it.
When it comes to Internet marketing there are several things that you can try to achieve without challenging your fear of failure.
For example, you could aim to improve your website’s Alexa ranking by a certain amount in the course of the coming month. This kind of goal can be achieved with various online activities, such as posting articles, building back-links, blogging and posting comments on other people’s blogs or on forums and so forth. (See Alexa.com if you do not know what I am talking about!)
When you see that your activities are producing results, it will give your confidence boost and help you to set slightly more challenging goals, while keeping your new positive business building habits as part of your routine.
The next step could be, for example, starting to build a mailing list and aiming to get so many subscribers by a certain date. This would involve learning about auto responders and researching list building tactics and putting them into action, one step at a time.
Gradually, as you see your skills improve, your website ranking improve, and traffic to your website starting to increase, you will want to think about how to convert your traffic into your first sale. Just aiming for one sale if you have not yet begun to sell anything is a good goal to aim for because once you have sold something you will feel more confident in your ability to simply do it again. After all, if you’ve done it before you can do it again. And again and again.
As each of these small steps takes you a little nearer to your ultimate goal of Internet marketing success, they will in turn help to boost your confidence in your ability to succeed. A key confidence building tip is simply that the art of success is discovered in trying to succeed, and a feeling of self-confidence is generated almost as a side-effect of this process.
Finally, another valuable confidence building tip for helping to build confidence is to read the stories and testimonies of other people who have come from unpromising backgrounds and circumstances to achieve great success on the Internet.
There are many examples of successful Internet marketers who are just average people, with no special skills beyond a determination to succeed, often from a starting point of abject failure. Reading their stories will help you to build your own confidence and determination to succeed as a home-based Internet marketer.
5 Tips on Creating and Using Successful Squeeze Pages
* Creating a successful squeeze page that converts well is a must if you want to be successful as an Internet marketer
Basically, a squeeze page (also known as an opt-in page or a splash page) is used to capture visitor information, like their name and email address, so that you can build a relationship with them. A good squeeze page will help your business save time and money.
Getting traffic to your website can not only be very time consuming, but it can also be very costly. However, if you have a good squeeze page, you will attract more subscribers to your list. And with a list, you can leverage your marketing efforts for the years to come.
One problem most marketers face with their squeeze pages is the reluctance of people to enter their contact information online. To help you with this, five tips to effectively create successful squeeze pages are discussed below so you can increase your visitor opt-ins:
Since you will be asking complete strangers to part with their information, you have to make sure they are comfortable in doing so. Introduce yourself and make them feel that they know something about the person they are giving their information to.
Add a video, picture, or an audio message of you so that you can establish rapport at your first point of contact.
2. Professional Layout
A professional layout means that you don’t overcrowd your squeeze page with graphics and bright colors. There is no need to hire a professional designer to accomplish this. Use the swipe system…simply check what other successful marketers have done with their squeeze pages and copy and paste the process.
Evaluate it and if it looks cluttered to you, adjust it accordingly.
In order to motivate your visitors to fill in your opt-in form, give them something in return when they do so. Simply offer them something of value like an excellent ereport, ebook, interview or video that would entice them to opt in.
Everyone loves freebies and you can take advantage of this fact. Just see to it that your giveaway is beneficial to your target market so that your conversion rate will increase.
4. Remove Distractions
Keep in mind that everything in your squeeze page should work together with one goal in mind – getting your visitor’s contact information. See to it that your headline, graphics, and copy support what you are trying to accomplish.
Don’t make the mistake that many marketers online make by creating extremely long squeeze pages with unnecessary information. This practice defeats the purpose of getting the much desired visitor information because when people get distracted, they tend to leave the page immediately.
Distracting them away from opting in on your squeeze page defeats the purpose of the squeeze page…to gather their personal information for your list.
If you’ve been around lately, you’ll see squeeze pages that look exactly like each other. Before you label these pages as spam, think again. There’s a reason why people continue to use them — they are very effective in getting the conversions required. For this reason alone, it is recommended that you create a squeeze page with a similar template and see it work its wonders for your conversions.
By taking these five tips into mind, you’ll surely have a squeeze page that will get you the conversions you need. However, if you already have a squeeze page up, you must test and tweak it until you receive your desired conversion rate.
The mobile Web and mobile applications are here to stay. For many, mobile may present the biggest and best opportunity yet to establish brand loyalty, deepen engagement and convert more users.
Others, however, continue to struggle with including mobile into their existing services and solutions.
Check out fifty top movers and shakers in the mobile space now – as seen in the Website Magazine August 2011 issue.
Familiarizing one’s self with the modern markup languages, semantic structures and schemas available today can yield a more engaging, easier to manage Web property. Let’s get to know markup in this edition of Website Magazine’s Small Business Lab.
Learn more now about HTML5, Microdata and the Rel=attribute now – as seen in Website Magazine August 2011 issue: Read "Getting to Know Structured Data Markup"
Website Magazine's August 2011 issue is available here
The Internet retail experience has changed dramatically over the
years. From product recommendation and social media to site
search and remarketing, merchants today have more information,
more tools, technology, resources and proof that the strategies,
channels, and media they select can improve their bottom line. And
there’s proof—the continued growth of e-commerce over the years.
The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced in mid-
May that its estimate of U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the first quarter of
2011 was $46 billion, an increase of 3.4 percent from the fourth quarter of
2010. While some analysts believe that the world’s economy might be in
for what we call a double-dip, rest assured that if anyone is in position not
just to survive but thrive, it is Internet retailers.
Website Magazine’s August 2011 feature, “Beyond the Cart,” approaches
the challenges and opportunities of the e-commerce industry in a unique
way. While a great deal of attention is given to what happens with merchants’
shopping carts, much more happens in the lifecycle of a customer.
Discover practical acquisition strategies, retention methods and resources to
make sure your e-commerce enterprise capitalizes on all of the opportunities
beyond the cart.
This edition of Website Magazine also features several practical yet actionable
articles on topics such as getting started with HTML5 and microdata,
content development, the mobile Web, title tag optimization for SEO,
development frameworks, data-driven editorial calendars and a special look
at the white-hot alternative health vertical and the challenges it presents for
Enjoy this issue of Website Magazine and share your stories of ’Net Success
and moving “beyond the cart” with us online at WebsiteMagazine.com.
Best Web Wishes,
Peter Prestipino — Editor-in-Chief,Website Magazine
The Forgotten Method of Marketing: Forums
Forums are a great way of marketing alongside articles, email and blogging – there is no real way to compare all of these, they are just a different way of communicating. The big difference however with forums is that many many more people will see you and get to know you which builds trust as you interact with the community.
Forums have been around in many forms since the dawn of the internet, they provide a means of conversation with like-minded people in a community-driven atmosphere of helping one another with problems. If you don’t know how they work, let me just tell you a bit about them.
First off, you have to find your forum in your niche, the best way to do this is type in subject forums as the keywords (replacing subject with your topic) into a search engine. Once you have found one in the topic you’re interested in, with a nice community going on, registration is the next step.
Registration is pretty simple, its just a case of filling your details in and perhaps entering a captcha (one of those funny sets of digits and numbers that tell the site that you are not an automated spammer!) You may have to click a link in your email to register the fact that you own the email address you registered with.
There usually is many sub-forums, i would reccomend finding one that usually reads something like “introduce yourself” and post a brief overview of what you are about and say hello. I would advise against just registering and posting “buy my product now” or “come to my website” etc. type comments as you’ll end up with a flame war – if you dont know what that is please do a search on it as its not a nice thing to happen to you!
Get involved in the forum, post replies to people’s problems to help with any questions that you can – its a community-type feeling that you will enjoy. Forums which are busy have the advantage of many more people in the nich you are targeting, so you can find out about some really exciting new widget thing in your niche that is very important to you, and also reply and ask more.
Some forums have a specific buy, sell or trade section where you can sell your products, this is the place to be if you want to directly pitch your product. Another way of pitching your product is to enter links to your website in your signature, this is shown directly under each post that you make and is updated automatically – be careful however, some forums dont like this and will ask you to remove them. Some have rules on the size of images or links allowed, please read these before adding it.
Some of the more advanced forums that run vbulletin have private messaging which can be great to directly carry out business to people privately on the forum, i’ve bought many websites and domain names using this – some sites like digital point have itrader which is also a way of showing how trustworthy the user is in terms of buying and selling, similar to the ebay feedback system.
One last thing to remember, forums are a great place to communicate rather than a place to pitch-fest – if you want to advertise on a forum, but you cant find any other method other than the ones i’ve outlined, contact the owners of the site and ask for banner rates, this is a great way of getting in front of these people, then you have the right to freely talk about your product or service which is a huge bonus compared to advertising on a static site!
Are You Sacrificing Your Long Term Internet Marketing Success For Short Term Profits?
One thing about internet marketing is that all the strategies you implement require a level of specialization in order to be successful. Very often, this causes internet marketing start-up businesses to sacrifice consistent, passive long-term profits for short-term gains.
This isn’t a bad strategy when done correctly, but it will most likely mean that you’ll always be looking for the next sale instead leveraging the power that you have gained over time. Here’s a look at some of the potential trade-offs that are often made.
* PPC vs. SEO
PPC is a very common short-term tactic which is one of the quickest ways to generate targeted traffic to your web pages. The key to effective PPC campaigns is a mix of bid management, effective ad creation and conversions. While this approach can be extremely successful, it also involves consistent monitoring. The skills involved also require some level of specialization and time.
On the other hand, SEO has consistently proved that it’s the most effective way to ensure that your website has long-term visibility. While more work will be required at the outset to generate traffic, in the medium-long term, less and less time needs to be allocated to SEO. Plus, all of the work builds upon itself, so over time it will provide you with a large number of valuable assets that can be leveraged to promote new websites you may have in the future.
The trade-off between PPC and SEO is twofold. The first is time. Putting emphasis on one almost requires focusing less on the other when there is only a limited amount of time and resources. While PPC marketing can generate short-term profits, you’ll need to monitor and tweak your strategy consistently. Plus, if you decide you no longer want to pay for anymore PPC ads, you’ll no longer get any traffic.
On the other hand, if you stop doing SEO tactics, you’ll still be able to generate traffic based upon your past efforts. In most cases, people can set-up small websites, and once efficient enough, can be left to generate passive income without any additional work. Thanks to effective SEO, these websites can continue to generate profits for years after they are left alone.
* Possible Solutions
There are ways that you can include both PPC and SEO into your short and long-term marketing strategies. Regarding PPC, make sure that your landing page is focused on generating opt-ins to your newsletter list rather than trying to directly sell a product. This will allow you to use PPC to feed your long-term traffic and marketing strategies.
Also, if you’re currently only using PPC, then take 25% of your net profits and use them to start building your SEO efforts. Then, you’ll still be able to generate short-term profits from PPC but will also be able to invest time and money into creating and executing a long-term SEO strategy.
You can now see that it can be tempting to put off generating long-term passive income for short-term profits. However, if you plan accordingly and make sure to focus on the end-goal, then you can easily maintain both short-term profits from PPC ads and your dedication to SEO tactics. By doing this, you’ll cut down the amount of work that needs to be done in the long-run, without giving up on generating a profit in the short-term. This is the key to Internet marketing success.
Web workers use customer relationship management (CRM) software to help them better understand their users and even to manage the communication and information connected to each user. When you know more, you can market products and services more precisely and gain more conversions in the process (with far less work and error).
Managing customers and information is far too complicated without a CRM today which is why spending on CRM has exploded in the past few years.
Online business networking platform GageIn has announced a new suite of content-based applications aimed to help sales, marketing and competitive intelligence professionals enhance their performance on the Web.
Each application delivers customized information based on specific job functions and needs. Activated automatically through user self-identification, the platform delivers pertinent data quickly and easily. Users can drill deeper into the data and deliver value to colleagues across departments or an entire enterprise, via GageIn’s set of content, collaboration and job-specific tools.
“We recognized that one size does not fit all. Sales, marketing, and competitive intelligence professionals have very different needs when it comes to content aggregation, information sharing and collaboration,” says Dr. Luosheng Peng, CEO and President of GageIn. “We crafted and improved each application through trials with small and large organizations in the past months.”
The new customized applications target the following areas in the following ways:
• Rich sales intelligence delivered on one platform
• Complete company and employee profiles
• Lead conversion tracking
• Company and contact import/export capability from/to your CRM system
• A database of 13,000+ publications to monitor company and competitor news
• Media coverage tracking
• Real-time update streams and company profile management tools
• Automated business promotion tools that syndicate marketing content to audience ecosystem, including social channels
• Social media integration
• Traditional and social business intelligence on one platform
• Real-time intelligence collaboration
• Customizable content delivery
• Powerful filters and organizational tools
• Industry trends tracking
The three applications and associated features are offered to users for free.
The Sunny Side Of Internet Marketing
I am the type of writer that can look at the glass half full or look at it half empty. Sometimes I think Internet marketers need to fully realize what a sunny business they have chosen to be in.
Here are 4 things that bring a smile to my Internet marketing lips!
1. Instant affiliate commissions. I love the fact that I can get paid to sell other people’s stuff and I do not have to wait to see my money.
Today there are affiliate programs you can join that will set you up with your own PayPal url. When you make a sale your commissions are instantly deposited into your PayPal account.
WackyCentral.com has a great program. PaySpree.com is an instant payment affiliate network. Both are worth joining for free.
2. Easy blog set up. I admit that I do not like to build websites. Even setting up a WordPress blog used to be enough to turn me into an A #1 Procrastinator. Not anymore.
Most hosting companies offer a Fantastico icon you can click on for fast WordPress set up. This is simple enough that I can even do it.
Because of how easy it is you can also pay someone to do it for you and not break the bank doing it. Outsourcing a WordPress blog set up is very cheap to do.
3. Very good training available. When I started out online good Internet training was expensive. Today you can join membership sites for under $1 a day and get some really good personal coaching. The Affiliate Power Group is at the top of my list.
There are also many top notch discussion forums where you can get excellent training and meet some fantastic Internet marketers. The Warrior Forum is one of my favorites.
4. People will pay you to do things for them. I learned this by mistake at first. I had my son write content articles for me starting back in 2005. He was a journalism major and I wanted to expose him to Internet writing.
Out of that came our own Internet writing company and article marketing company. We have been able to turn that into a 6 figure writing business.
There are many examples of people getting paid by other Internet marketers. Some of what they do includes copywriting, blog building, virtual assistant, graphic design and so on. You will be smiling all the way to the bank when you get paid to stay at home and do things for online businesses.
These are 4 things that make me happy about Internet marketing. It is very easy to see the sunny side of this business when you think about all of the advantages it offers!
Many Web marketers and designers who have to create multiple QR codes for a wide range of clients with different objectives believe they have found an answer in ScanTag.com, a new QR management solution from the makers of JumpScan.com. The site is now offering a free 30-day trial to try out the various functions and features.
“Our goal was to allow Web and social media-savvy professionals the greatest flexibility possible,” says Mike McKearin, co-founder and lead designer of the site. “As someone with my own set of internet-based clients, I wanted to create a customizable solution – one that would allow me to serve their individual needs, from QR based real estate listings, to promotional contests and offers. With ScanTag you can do just that, create, colorize, customize and then track each QR code campaign.”
An additional vertical for ScanTag is the newspaper and print industry, says co-founder Phil Davis. “We can see these codes being added as another option for display ad sales, just like adding a second color, or a better position. By creating an account, it allows anyone in print media or the print industry to offer their clients a physical link to a pre-optimzied, mobile-friendly web page, with just a simple scan from any smart phone.”
The challenge now, according to both Davis and McKearin, is for creatives and social media firms to generate great customer experiences. “With ScanTag, the technology is now in place. It’s just a matter of creating compelling user experiences that warrant the customer’s time to scan a code. It could be a great offer, discount, video, contest – anything that makes the potential buyer glad they took the time to scan the code,” added Davis.
ScanTag is a service offering from JumpScan.com, a Web-based, custom QR service for use as a digital business card.
Online news distribution service PRWeb is offering a new tool that evaluates the components of Web releases such as headlines, content, multimedia, keywords and links. Called Make it Better, the service aims to help small business owners gain online visibility and improve the impact and reach of their releases and SEO opportunities.
The interactive news releases are distributed to search engines, news
sites and thousands of regional, local and
national outlets, letting users include keyword
links, video and images to earn more reader interest.
“The majority of journalists and bloggers search for news on the Web," says director of product management Jiyan Wei. "And the majority of consumers search for information about businesses online, rendering old, expensive wire services ineffective for most businesses. Companies large and small need to get their news where everyone is looking – the Web. And they need to create releases that work well on the Web, which means including multimedia, images, keywords and links.”
Web recommendation site StumbleUpon has created a new widget designed to help keep users on the websites they visit.
Called StumbleUpon Widgets, the new tool involves embedding a small box on a page that will include links to other content on the same site. The company claims that the service refers more traffic to external websites than any other social media organization outside of Facebook.
“The widget is a way for us to offer people a better way to see curated content on a specific website that other users have surfaced,” explains Marc Leibowitz, vice president of business development at StumbleUpon.
“The widget looks like a typical recommendation list, but instead, our recommendations are created using an algorithm that isolates users who are experts in a topic or area. Then the content they have rated is highlighted within the widget.”
While the primary function of mobile ads has been to drive consumers to the Web, many campaigns are increasingly setting their sights elsewhere.
New data released by Jumptap has found that 34 percent of performance-focused campaigns are set to initiate a call or download, rather than direct the user to a website. The report evaluated over 11 billion ad requests made to the Jumptap network by over 83 million unique users. It also revealed that the peak time for mobile ad engagement occurs around midday, as opposed to the early morning or late evening time slots.
Conversely, click-through rates are at their lowest during the morning commute and first hours of the workday.
“Mobile, like PC Web-based advertising, is very measureable,” says Paran Johar, Jumptap’s chief marketing officer. “As such, many brands and app developers are measuring their ROI very closely and allowing consumers to respond to ads in varying ways including click-to-call , click-to-map, click-to-download or click-to-SMS”
The report showed that Android continues to drive the largest share of ad requests on the Jumptap network. Google’s mobile platform increased its share by more than 3 percent from the previous month to 42.4 percent while Apple’s iOS gained less than a percent to 30.3 percent.
While ad requests are handily dominated by Android devices at a growing rate, iOS leads in user engagement with the highest average click-through rates of all the mobile operating systems. These distinctions are important to note as advertisers and developers weigh the importance of reach and engagement and showcase how a cross-platform strategy is critical to a mobile campaign.
If you find yourself spending
hours coding, recoding and
coding again, know that
there are some benefits to
A Web application framework is designed
to support the development of
dynamic websites, Web applications
and Web services. The reason to use a
framework is to make writing code,
Frameworks are wonders of the
modern world of development and design. Results are seen in the reduction of time
spent on numerous common activities (many frameworks provide libraries
for database access, templating frameworks and session management,
and even to facilitate code reuse).
There are many benefits to using a framework. Efficiency is
the draw for most developers — what could have taken hours
can be done quickly, thanks to pre-built functions.
Cost is another attraction. Most frameworks are free, which
results in a lower cost for the project — for the client as well as
for the developer.
There are, of course, some downsides to using frameworks –
perhaps why more developers don’t use them at all. The primary
drawback is the limitation of the core behavior. When you use a
framework, you need to work within its limits and work exactly
the way it requires you to.
Another issue with frameworks is that developers who may
just be starting out tend to learn their way around the framework
itself, but not the language. All that said, there are many
frameworks that can benefit one’s future Web apps, services
framework in terms of overall usage. As mentioned here before,
that simplifies HTML document traversing, event handling, animating
and even Ajax interactions for Web development.
MooTools (mootools.net) and Prototype (prototypejs.org) are
PHP is arguably the most widely used programming language
on the Web today. There are numerous PHP frameworks on the
market for coders looking for both simple and elegant toolkits to create high-functioning, full-featured Web applications.
CodeIgniter (codeigniter.com), CakePHP (cakephp.org), Zend
(framework.zend.com) and Symfony (symfony-project.org) are
four of the most widely recognized frameworks for working with
and coding in PHP.
e-Tip: Innovators in HTML5
Web designers the world over have caught the
HTML5 fever. Visit Website Magazine’s HTML5
showcase to find inspiration
for your next project.
Ruby on Rails is an open-source Web application framework that
is used for the Ruby programming language. Ruby on Rails
(RoR) includes templates to enable developers to generate a
skeleton application with custom gems and configurations, engines
that let a developer reuse application pieces, and the Rack
Web service interface and Metal which allow for writing optimized
pieces of code that route around ActionController.
Well-known alternatives include Padrino
(padrinorb.com) and Bowline (bowlineapp.
A CSS framework is a library that is
meant to allow for easier, more standards-
compliant styling of a webpage
using the Cascading Style Sheets language.
Similar to programming and
scripting language libraries, CSS frameworks
package a number of ready-made
options for designing and outlaying a
webpage. Some of the most popular CSS
frameworks include BluePrint (blueprintcss.
org), 960 Grid (960.gs) and
Elastic (elasticcss.com). Another is YUI2.
The foundational YUI grids offer four
preset page widths, six preset templates,
and the ability to stack and nest subdivided
regions of multiple columns.
Perhaps more than any other medium (the
Web included), mobile dominates the attention
of developers these days and for
good reasons: high use and big profits.
There are several popular mobile frameworks
on the market including DHTMLX
Touch (dhtmlx.com/touch/), an HTML5-
apps, and iWebKit from SnippetSpace,
which is a file package designed to help developers
create iPhone- and iPad-compatible
websites and Web applications.
If you’re interested in having the ability to distribute
publications for the iPhone and iPad including digital
magazines, catalogs, or anything else you can
imagine, check out Laker Compendium. Laker is a
collection of files, frameworks, styles and tips for
designing digital publications in HTML5. Its ease of
use and general elegance caught our attention and
while perhaps not the most robust solution on the
market, it does have some exceptional features for
those looking to get a leg up in a more app-friendly
environment. Features include the ability for the
layout to scale automatically depending on screen
size and orientation. Also with Laker, developers
are able to have a framework which lets users
swipe to change pages, double tap to show a table
of contents, implement native looking slideshows,
and include media and assets (e.g. sound, videos,
images). The best part? No Web server required.
Some Tips In Creating Consistent Marketing Collaterals
A few weeks ago a flyer was handed to a friend of mine at the mall by a lady selling real estate. My friend doesn’t have any intentions of purchasing a house, but she read the flyer anyway and checked out the company’s website. The houses looked nice and the prices were reasonable but being a marketer herself, she was turned off by the typographical errors she spotted on the flyer and wondered why the color schemes in the flyer and the site were different. In marketing, image is everything.
This is why having consistent marketing pieces is essential. You may have a clear mission, vision and values when you started your business. You know your objectives, and you’re thrilled to execute your marketing strategies.
You know you need to build your communications based on your value propositions, so you look at some of the most commonly used marketing materials and decide which ones you’ll create for your company such as brochures, newsletters, product sheets, and business cards. With a good copywriter and a creative graphic designer, it should be a piece of cake right?
* So why do we still see some inconsistent marketing messages in some marketing pieces?
a) The importance of a consistent look and feel
Just how important is producing quality, consistent marketing materials? These pieces are the “face” of the company, so it’s essential that they not only look great and have flawless content – they also need to sends out consistent messages in order to be effective. We wouldn’t want to mislead prospects, customer and clients with inconsistent messages, slogans and even company colors, would we?
I’ve enumerated some tips for creating consistent marketing pieces. These may be very easy and basic for any marketer, but still, I believe it bears repeating. Eventually, marketing materials speak volumes about your brand, company and credibility. Might as well make it perfect.
b) Colors and Images
Materials should be created from a consistent palate of colors and images. You don’t want to cause confusion. You would want to make certain that you are conveying a clear, consistent and compelling message, from your website, brochure and email newsletters to your print and billboard ads.
c) Perfect grammar, consistent terminology
What would you think of a company if you notice bad grammar after visiting their site or reading their brochure? Care about the words you use. Consistent marketing collaterals require the use of consistent terms so that your customers are clear on what you are explaining. Content is king in your marketing pieces, and this shows a lot about the professionalism of your company.
d) Update, update, update
After spending the time and money on your marketing collateral, perhaps, you don’t want to do it again.
Nevertheless, it’s important to keep them current. Make it a practice to check and review your pieces often to be certain that your messages are still consistent. Perhaps, you could even adjust the content and improve the design. No matter how busy business gets, never, never forget to keep your materials recent.
With consistent marketing pieces, you not only make an excellent impression – you also establish your brand and attract potential customers in!
A Web-based visual communication application called LucidChart has recently become available with full offline functionality and real-time collaboration features.
The offline mode is part of the application, automatically switches to offline and syncs all application data as soon as the user comes back online. Users can both edit and create documents whether or not they have Web access.
LucidChart offers a solution for Web professionals looking to organize and communicate information through diagrams, wireframes, app mockups, flowcharts, mind maps or other visual images. Its drag and drop interface makes visual communication available to a new class of users. LucidChart also offers the ability to collaborate with others in real-time, including group chat for live interaction.
“More and more software is being delivered in the cloud, but one of the major shortcomings of Web apps is what happens when users aren’t connected,” says Karl Sun, LucidChart CEO. “With our full-featured offline mode, users can create or edit any of their documents no matter where they are. The entire experience is seamless and fits right into each user’s natural workflow.”
The browser-based application is built on open standards, including HTML5, so it works on virtually any internet-enabled device on any operating system without the need for plug-ins. Users can create a diagram on a computer at work, view it one their phone in a cab or touch it up on their iPad at home. Team members can collaborate on charts whether they are using Windows, Mac or Linux platforms.
Microlending website Kiva and payments provider Visa announced a program that will provide microloans to small businesses in U.S. cities with the greatest need.
According to the official announcement, the Kiva City program “aims to spur job growth and economic recovery by connecting Kiva’s global network of 592,000 individual lenders with the owners of small businesses throughout the country”.
The Kiva City program will launch today in Detroit which ranked fifth in the study’s list of U.S. small business trouble reports. In addition to Detroit, several other regions including Cleveland, Miami, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Orlando, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Providence, and Milwaukee are also able to join the network.
“Since launching in the U.S. two years ago, we have worked with our partners to replicate our successful global model, empowering each and every American to help our economy by adding as little as $25 to a small business owner’s loan,” said Premal Shah, co-founder of Kiva.org. “But as our study shows, the needs in the U.S. are widespread and many regions simply don’t have microfinance institutions operating at scale. Now, spurred by Visa’s commitment to small business, we are able to expand our reach and, as a result, open new avenues of capital for small business owners across the country.”
According to a new study commissioned by Kiva and Visa, the Economist Intelligence Unit, 20 of the nation’s 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas have lost at least one percent of their small businesses from 2006 to 2008 – representing approximately 15,000 businesses.
Barnes & Noble announced that it has selected the LinkShare affiliate network for its performance marketing initiatives.
Affiliate publishers will receive a straight six percent commission on the products available at Barnes & Noble, and be able to promote seasonal sales, coupon offers and special deals, along with a variety of traditional creative. The biggest draw for affiliates however will be the ability to promote the Nook reading device and all that comes with it – including ebooks (which BN just .
“Scaling our affiliate channel to create new, far reaching partnerships with online publishers is an important part of our online strategy,” said Michael Kildale, director of acquisition marketing at Barnes & Noble.com. “We selected LinkShare for its combination of experience, technology and strategy to meet our online performance marketing objectives.”
Business owners, if half your workforce fails to show up on Tuesday, July 5, there’s a good chance that there really was something funky in the potato salad. But if the same thing happens right after Labor Day, it may be time to drop the hammer.
New data from Replicon, a provider of time-and-expense software for businesses, reveals some interesting findings about employee productivity, such as the fact that the Tuesdays after Memorial Day and Labor Day and the Wednesday before Thanksgiving rank among the most popular sick days.
Based on the data from approximately 100,000 users in more than 1,000 participating companies around the world, the Replicon Productivity Index tracks trends and presents insights about employee productivity throughout the year. For example, the study shows that employees are 31 percent more likely to use vacation time in June through August than any other time of the year.
Additional findings from the Replicon Productivity Index include:
• Summer Slump: Companies feel the summer productivity slump with employees 52 percent more likely to use paid time off to soak up the summer sun (June through August) than during the spring (March through April).
• Sick as a Top-Dog: While it seems likely that employees would take off more sick days than managers due to fewer vacation days, the Productivity Index found that managers actually take more sick days than non-managers per year.
• Weekend Hangover: Though many may assume people kick off the weekend early by calling in sick on Friday, the Index found that Monday actually leads the five-day work week pack as the most popular sick day among employees. Friday and Thursday, respectively, rank as the least common sick days.
• Jack Frost Takes a Toll: Cold and flu season is to blame for absences in the winter months (December through February). On average, 10 percent of employees call in sick during these months. This is 78 percent more than in summer months.
• Holiday Blues: According to the Index, many people kick off annual holiday vacations a day early or need an extra day to recover. The top three U.S. holidays that most often require an extra day of celebration or recovery include Memorial Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving.
Replicon offers companies a way to track time and attendance policies within one end-to-end solution. In advance of the “Summer Slump” in productivity, Replicon offers several tools that allow managers and employees to track and maintain productivity to ensure that companies do not feel the slump in the summer and rest of the year, such as the following:
• An interactive calendar that allows employees and managers to book, view and approve time off. The calendar also allows managers to see which employees are scheduled to work on any given day to avoid scheduling conflicts to ensure proper team coverage.
• The ability to view schedules for a single department or across multiple departments within the organization and make adjustments to account for vacation, sick leave, etc.
• Self-service for accrued time-off and vacation requests. Employees can view accrued time off and make vacation requests accordingly. Managers are able to approve time off based on how much is entitled and how much has been requested.
Replicon's portfolio of SaaS applications includes Web TimeSheet Project & Billing, Web TimeSheet Time & Attendance, Web Expense, Web Schedule and Web Resource. Clients include Ernst & Young, Cornell University, Health Canada, Shell, Verizon, Ferrari and Amazon.
Amazon has selected ad technology provider Triggit (a demand side platform) to power display advertising on its own site and on third party sites.
Amazon will use the data it collects during customer visitors to create pools of potential marketing targets. Thanks to Triggit, Amazon will be able to display advertising to Web surfers after they leave the site through tracking “cookies” (retargeting at its finest and on a grand scale). Once Triggit locates those users, the company purchases ad inventory those users are looking at in real time. Amazon then uses the ad space to serve up an ad for the marketer it’s working with, and charges them for the impression.
Amazon has dipped its virtual toes in the advertising waters before with little success, but by using the massive amounts of data it collects about visitors, coupled with sophisticated remarketing technology like Triggit, Amazon could become a real contender in the battle for Web advertising dollars.
Triggit is current the technology of choice for several Fortune 500 brands inclyuding Kodak, Mazda and Orbitz.
Blogs and Forums: Only Comment if You Have Something Meaningful to Say!
Posting and adding comments on blogs and forums really needs to be a fundamental part of your Internet marketing approach. Yet again, we can see the influence of networking at work in this field, and similar key points apply – be consistent, be interesting and always avoid the “hard sell”.
Whatever niche you’re in, there are forums galore out there. Here you can meet people who are actively and intently interested in your subject, and have taken the time to become a member of the particular forum because they value the information. Where could you find an audience with better potential? While there are numerous forums for each particular field, there are even more independent blogs, created by people who are also interested in your speciality. You may think of these individuals as rivals in many instances, but that shouldn’t mean that you can’t engage with them for general marketing reasons.
One thing to always remember when commenting on blogs or forums is that you should consider the power of the content that you post as opposed to any potential benefit that you could receive from links. This is very important. Some people undertake a commenting strategy with the sole purpose of getting back links. In some cases this can be technically flawed anyway, but you had better make sure that the content posted next to your individual or corporate name is good!
Blog and forum commenting is highly recommended as part of an overall strategy. As is the case with blog production in general, or with social media network interaction, the material that you publish will be read and its composition judged. You don’t want to be posting irrelevant comments, or comments that are designed just to get your name out there. It’s largely pointless just writing “great post”!
Blog owners will usually look at comments with great interest, and forums are almost always moderated by motivated individuals. In every case, whatever you write will have an impact. If you have something contrary to say, make sure that it’s constructive. It’s not necessarily wrong to be negative, as long as it can be seen as a positive addition to the discussion in view. Being negative just for the sake of it, or to create some kind of viral controversy isn’t really a good overall marketing technique for you.
You should note that some blogs have installed a “no follow” link policy, which means that if you have a link associated to your post, either in the signature or otherwise, the search engines are being told not to score the link. Most experts in this area recommend that you give more attention to the content of your posts and make sure that they are informative and contributory, rather than worrying about a potential back link to your site.
Start a strategy of posting on active blogs and prominent forums connected with your niche. Use your competitor’s sites in a creative way to build your credibility as well. Remember, as is the case with many Internet marketing strategies, a subtle yet consistent approach is key.
Successful Online Businesses: 5 Must-haves for Making it in Internet Marketing
Successful online businesses don’t come easy or we’d all have one—right? It is a hard game, and there are plenty of people who never make it, but the ones who do make it have a pretty good life indeed. And if you’re the type who was inspired by the Four Hour Workweek and loved Tim Ferris’s idea of tramping around the globe and leveraging currency differences in some of the best place son Earth, it doesn’t take all that much money for a good internet marketing business to set you free.
* So what does it take to create a successful online business then?
1. Ridiculous Work Ethic
Cast your assumptions aside – internet marketing success takes A LOT of hard, hard work – at least in the beginning. Most big-timers have put in massive amounts of time and energy to get their businesses where they are today. Sure, now they may be coasting now – although many learn to love the grind and just keep creating – but most have paid their dues.
Be prepared to put in 120% effort, as they say, and work while your friends and family are sleeping. Keep your eye on your dream, and push on.
2. Money to Invest
While it is possible to start successful online businesses from scratch, in most cases, it will take some money to get going along the way. Now, most costs, like web hosting, a domain name, and a quality autoresponder program, are quite cheap, but there are other costs you may not be taking into account until you get your feet wet.
I’d say a major one is skills. Learning things like graphics design, web design, and marketing itself – these things cost time and money. You can hire a quality freelancer to do some of them, and I recommend that with the most important ones, but if you want quality, be prepared to pay.
Another thing that costs is knowledge. You can find anything you want for free – or come up with them through your own through processes – but unless you want to grind away for years at this craft, it’s better to find someone highly successful to emulate, in which case you’ll likely need to pay for their knowledge.
Finally, if you don’t want to do all this while working a full-time job, you’d better have some money saved up – to last a good chunk of time. I highly recommend freelancing as a way to fund your internet marketing journey.
3. The Ability to Learn
Do you have the ability to learn new skills and the energy to keep after them until you have achieved mastery? In many cases, that’s what it takes, and while everyone says they can learn and love to do it, true learning is rare in our culture. Just look how often the people around you have made actual changes in their life if you don’t believe me.
4. Unrealistic Goals
Like any successful entrepreneur, you need to be somewhat of a dreamer. And the ability to stand behind those big dreams when no one else has faith in you is even more important in this business because all your friends and family will be there telling you it’s a sham.
Finally, nothing is so valuable as solid guidance in the internet marketing world. It is hard to find someone you can put your faith in, but if you don’t find someone then you will find yourself running down one path after another, never staying on one long enough to get results.
I highly encourage you to find one person who you respect and trust that is doing very well for themselves, and follow them. Once you’ve mastered what they are teaching and begun making money, then you can begin to study someone else and keep building on your knowledge-base to emulate the successful online businesses that are already out there.
Website Magazine's August 2011 issue is available here
The Internet retail experience has changed dramatically over the
years. From product recommendation and social media to site
search and remarketing, merchants today have more information,
more tools, technology, resources and proof that the strategies,
channels, and media they select can improve their bottom line. And
there’s proof—the continued growth of e-commerce over the years.
The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced in mid-
May that its estimate of U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the first quarter of
2011 was $46 billion, an increase of 3.4 percent from the fourth quarter of
2010. While some analysts believe that the world’s economy might be in
for what we call a double-dip, rest assured that if anyone is in position not
just to survive but thrive, it is Internet retailers.
Website Magazine’s August 2011 feature, “Beyond the Cart,” approaches
the challenges and opportunities of the e-commerce industry in a unique
way. While a great deal of attention is given to what happens with merchants’
shopping carts, much more happens in the lifecycle of a customer.
Discover practical acquisition strategies, retention methods and resources to
make sure your e-commerce enterprise capitalizes on all of the opportunities
beyond the cart.
This edition of Website Magazine also features several practical yet actionable
articles on topics such as getting started with HTML5 and microdata,
content development, the mobile Web, title tag optimization for SEO,
development frameworks, data-driven editorial calendars and a special look
at the white-hot alternative health vertical and the challenges it presents for
Enjoy this issue of Website Magazine and share your stories of ’Net Success
and moving “beyond the cart” with us online at WebsiteMagazine.com.
Best Web Wishes,
Peter Prestipino — Editor-in-Chief,Website Magazine
Website testing and relevancy targeting solutions provider Amadesa has released a new version of InPlace, the latest addition to the Amadesa Customer Experience Suite.
InPlace provides Web marketers with the ability to designate testing zones on a live website by scrolling over the desired areas and visually selecting images, text or any other type of content with no disruption to site functionality. After uploading testing information through the Amadesa platform, InPlace displays a pop-up dashboard that provides instant access to current test performance and real-time results for easy review and updates.
InPlace also allows website owners to adjust test settings, view snapshots of each alternative and drill into visitor segmentation data, while in the context of their own websites.
"Marketers who wish to stay responsive to their audience cannot afford waiting days and weeks to launch a new campaign,” says Amadesa CEO Rita Brogley. “InPlace tagging makes it possible to launch new optimizations in a matter of minutes by leaping over the IT queue and maintaining full control over their sites."
Amadesa InPlace is available to all Amadesa customers currently running onsite optimizations.
Google has released the first version of Swiffy, a Google Labs product that converts SWF files (Flash) to HTML5. Users only need to upload a SWF file and Swiffy produces an HTML5 version which runs in modern browsers with lots of SVG support such as Chrom and Safari.
While Swiffy won’t convert all Flash content, it seems to work well for ads and basic animations. Google provides several example of SWF files converted through Swiffy. Check out the Google Chrome ad and Symphony Orchestra ad for examples.
Local.com extended their distribution agreement with AT&T Interactive today. Under the arrangement, AT&T Interactive’s YP.com ad listings will be given premier placement on Local.com search results.
“As a part of the YP Local Ad Network made up of over 300 publishers, Local.com supports our focus of helping advertisers grow their business. By extending our agreement, we are providing them access to one of the industry’s most comprehensive databases of local ads and localized content,” said Todd Rose, vice president of business development at AT&T Interactive.
“Combined with AT&T Interactive's reach across other popular media channels such as mobile and iPTV, we are giving advertisers the opportunity to increase their reach and drive leads to their business.”
Daily deals site and Groupon competitor LivingSocial announced the acquisition of several regionally focused daily deals sites around the world.
Living Social acquired Ensogo, one of the leading daily deals sites in Thailand and the Phillipines, DealKeren, an Ensogo company based in Indonesia, and GoNabit, which was one of the first daily deals sites in the Middle East. Living Social also introduced Daily Deals in the Netherlands.
The acquisitions and launch bring the total of countries/regions LivingSocial operates in to 21 and spanning six of the seven continents. The growth seemingly mimics the rapid growth of LivingSocial’s primary competitor in Groupon.
"As with previous acquisitions, LivingSocial has again chosen to align with local companies that possess similar values and ways of doing business," said Tim O'Shaughnessy, CEO and co-founder, LivingSocial. "We are excited to enter the dynamic Asian market and our presence in the Middle East and the Netherlands further strengthens our strategic global efforts to bring LivingSocial values to members across the globe."
For years LinkedIn was the only game in town when it came to career and professional networking but job board Monster.com just announced its intent to become more social and its using Facebook to get there.
Monster.com is launching a networking platform called BeKnown on Facebook, which will enable FB users to make their professional connections distinct from their personal relationships.
Through the application Facebook users will be able to invite contacts from other social networks to expand their BeKnown network beyond their existing Facebook friends. They will also be able to import their Monster profile to BeKnown and search for jobs from within the app, as well as make recommendations.
Next month, Monster will also launch its social referral program, where BeKnown users will receive cash rewards for referring their professional contacts to particular jobs. According to reports, employers will also be able to claim and manage a profile in BeKnown, which users will then be able to follow, and be alerted to new job opportunities as they become available.
Monster is not the only vendor looking to make a mark in the career networking space on Facebook. BranchOut, another player in the space, has also been generating a lot of attention recently and is definitely one to check out.
After nearly six months of waiting, word is out that Google has just pushed out new PageRank values.
This is the first update since January 2011 and the first since the now infamous Panda update clawed through a long list of sites. While many have questioned the value of PageRank in the past (some even very recently), the update might just provide site owners/webmasters/SEO’s an indication of just how Google currently perceives their site’s authority and standing.
Because of the rapidly evolving search landscape, WM believes this might just be one of the most important (meaningful) PR updates in a very long time. It is also interesting to note that the recent PageRank update closely follows Google’s release of a new Google Toolbar a few weeks ago.