Browsing articles in "Online Marketing"

DoubleDutch: Foursquare for the Enterprise

Apr 12, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

SXSWi

The buzz on geolocation marketing is hot. Recently Lawrence Coburn released the beta version of DoubleDutch, a platform for creating your own geolocation check-in app, ala Foursquare. I connected with Lawrence to ask more questions about DoubleDutch and to get tips for marketers that want to incorporate geolocation and review services into their online marketing.

First, can you share a bit about yourself and your company RateItAll? We spoke on a panel several years ago at Pubcon and I remember that you have a great story about how your company started and really exploded with media attention.

Sure, RateItAll is a story of endurance. I ran it out of a coffee shop for years (along with a number of other niche sites). By 2007 it had started to grow to a point that I couldn’t handle it by myself. It was making decent money, but I was struggling to keep the servers up. Mathew Spolin, our CTO joined us in 2008 and we were able to go out get a little funding for it. We now have a team of seven based in San Francisco’s Mission District.

double dutch appCongratulations on launching your new project, the iPhone App: DoubleDutch. I appreciate getting a pre pre alpha view of it and now you’re really added some great features – especially the ability to white label it. What prompted you to create DoubleDutch and how is it different than Foursquare and Gowalla?

Lee, you were actually one of the first people to see DoubleDutch in the wild. We’re really excited about it – it has been called “Foursquare for the Enterprise” and “Ning for Mobile Social Networks.” We’re OK with both of those descriptions.

We had been eying location based services for a long time. I was an obsessive user of Dodgeball (the SMS precursor to Foursquare). By the time 2009 SXSW rolled around, Mathew and I were determined to do something with location. We approached Foursquare to team up on a reviews + check-ins combo, but weren’t able to get their attention.

So we set out to build the thing ourselves, leveraging RateItAll’s massive database of geo tagged data. Over the years we had signed a number of geo data partnerships, giving us a big advantage in entering the location fray.

Our goal was to put together a collection of mobile, social components that could be remixed and customized by white label partners. In addition to the check-in functionality, some of our features include game dynamics (leaderboards, achievement stickers, and “Rockstardom,”), ratings and reviews, photo uploads, Facebook / Twitter integration, and many more. This app was in development for more than 6 months and we’re quite happy with how it turned out.

Our big difference from Foursquare and Gowalla is in our emphasis on reviews. We think there is an endemic relationship between a social check-in and a review of a local business. Just as Amazon has been able to leverage sales data to convert more reviews than anyone else, we think that check-ins are the first step towards posting a review.

We also believe strongly in the concept of “The community IS the social graph.” What I mean by this is that on public networks like Foursquare or Gowalla, you need to recreate your social graph for the apps to get any value from the service. Not so on a private network like DoubleDutch. You can imagine an app white labeled for a conference like Pubcon, in which every attendee could see the check in activity of other attendees. Think about what a boon this would be for networking – no more just heading to the lobby bar and hoping for the best. And because everyone was there for Pubcon, no friending would be required.

Are widgets still sexy?

Of course! Just not as sexy as geo at the moment. In fact, I’m not posting much on Sexy Widget any more. I started a blog called Location Meme a few months ago with a friend. The folks at The Next Web took notice, and invited me to be an editor at that network’s Location blog, and that’s where I’m doing most of my writing now.

double dutchBack to DoubleDutch. Not only is this a (another) geolocation iPhone app, but you’re offering companies or organizations the opportunity white label the DoubleDutch platform to create their own location-based iPhone app. Who is your target and how do you see them using it? What are your plans to make it competitive with the other apps out there that are already well entrenched?

Our three target verticals right now are Conferences, Hotels, and Universities. We think that almost any community that is tied to a location could benefit from a location and knowledge sharing service, but we needed to narrow the universe down a bit. Conferences and Hotels are interesting because they typically are communities of people who are converging on a new city looking for recommendations and interaction. DoubleDutch helps on both counts. Universities are interesting because of their tie to a specific geography, and the demographic. You can check out some sample use cases on DoubleDutch.me.

How does the Double Dutch app tie in to your main business, RateItAll?

Great question. We are seeing signs that DoubleDutch has the potential to become our main business, with RateItAll taking a supporting role. RateItAll provides a tremendous foundation for the service, with its massive amount of geo tagged data, and its 4M+ reviews. Our server infrastructure is key as well as it allows us offer SLAs to our clients. Also, all check in, ratings, reviews, and photo activity is aggregated on RateItAll.com, making DoubleDutch another content collection channel.

You were at SXSW, who won the geolocation prize there? Gowalla or Foursquare? I guess that’s a loaded question. What did they do right? Did you see any big mistakes?

I think geolocation won the geolocation prize. Both those services got a big boost, but I think the whole space benefited from all the attention. At DoubleDutch, we are huge fanboys / fangirls of both services and wish them only the best. If you believe that Enterprise trails Consumer by two years (which we do), the faster that those services blaze the trail, the faster that DoubleDutch will grow.

Please share 3-4 best practices and tips for companies that want to use geolocation based mobile apps to market their businesses?

I think it really depends what kind of business you are. If you are a local business, you don’t really have to do much other than ensure that your address info is up to date on the mobile services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, and of course, RateItAll. If you are a bit more savvy / experimental, you can try offering discounts / giveaways to Foursquare Mayors, and try and incentivize your customers to check-in and push to Twitter / FB.

If you are a big brand, perhaps it makes sense to try and cut a deal with Foursquare or Gowalla to sponsor some Badges. Lots of companies are cutting these sorts of deals, and it’s a good way to drop your brand into the experience of those apps in the context of the location game.

But if you are a big community, it might make sense to use a service like DoubleDutch to create a more pervasive connection with your customers / members / employees and extend your community out into the real world. Social check in apps are not only fun, but they can be productive. We’re talking to companies with some pretty innovative ideas for putting geo to work – for example, a real estate company wants to put this app in the hands of their agents to encourage more property visits, and help those agents capture photos and thoughts about each property. We have been amazed at how creative some of these companies are.

What about tips for marketing within the consumer reviews marketplace overall? How important is it for companies to be active, whether it’s editorially, through advertising or offline promotion with services like Yelp, Epinions or even RateItAll?

I strongly recommend that businesses be active on the big review properties. Being active does not mean being confrontational and bullying – it means engaging thoughtfully with customers, even the insane and / or angry ones. If you suspect cheating, don’t call out the customer – go to the host site. Most of these services allow commenting and messaging – on RateItAll, which is the 9th biggest review site, we see a number of big brands on the site every day making use of the free tools like commenting and messaging to engage their customers. Some of those folks pay us for access to a few more tools, but you don’t need to have a budget engage your customers.

One question I like to ask smart and busy entrepreneurs like yourself is: How do you stay current with technology and marketing? Do you have favorite events, books, blogs, networks or some kind of crystal RateItAll ball to keep you on top of what’s important for the future of your business?

RateItAll

I read and write as much as I possibly can. Writing makes me smarter about a topic, because I don’t want to come off as a moron. It takes a lot of research to write a post. Sexy Widget was born out of my desire to get smart about widgets, and my role as Editor at the Next Web was born out my desire to get smart about geo. In terms of reading, I hit Techmeme and Hacker News all the time, and also get a lot of good links from Twitter. My two favorite blogs are AVC and CDixon.org.

Living in San Francisco, I have access to a number of technology meetup type events – I try and hit a couple per month. There’s nothing better than talking to entrepreneurs, because for them, predicting the next big wave is life or death. I tend to listen to folks running companies more than I listen to journalists.

Thanks Lawrence.

You can download the Double Dutch app here. RWW did a great overview with screenshots here.

Lawrence Coburn is the founder and CEO of RateItAll and co-founder of the white label geolocation app,DoubleDutch. In his spare time, he is an editor of The Next Web’s Location blog. Lawrence is also a mentor at Ventures.io, a San Francisco based technology incubator.


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
DoubleDutch: Foursquare for the Enterprise |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

5 Ways to Leverage Real Time Search in Your Online Marketing Mix

Apr 9, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

real-time searchSince late 2009 when Google introduced real time search, the concept has gained a lot of attention.

Today, real time search is at the top of the priority lists for all the major search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo!.

As part of the new technology, Google is combines live updates from sites like Twitter and FriendFeed with the latest news headlines and blog posts in search results.

For web searchers, real time search means the ability to discover breaking news the minute it’s happening.

For marketers, it presents a whole host of opportunities to increase online visibility. Here, we’ve provided five ways to leverage real time search in your online marketing efforts.

1. Develop the type of content that supports real time SEO

With real time search, frequently publishing online content becomes a must. Try incorporating these three types of content to support both traditional and real time SEO programs:

  • Tweets and Facebook fan page updates: Micro content from social sites now has the ability to appear in search results. It’s quick and easy to frequently post Tweets and Facebook fan pages updates, so both should play a big role in your real time SEO content strategy.
  • Blog posts: Blogging presents the opportunity to help your content rank and show thought leadership at the same time – since blog posts can offer more valuable information than micro content.
  • Optimized press releases: By optimizing press releases and submitting them through authoritative newswires, you can help your content achieve high rankings.

2. Mobilize your fan base

Creating a core group of brand advocates is important for a number of reasons. They recommend your products and services to their friends and family, defend your reputation in times of trouble and are more likely to adopt future products and services you introduce.

Now add one more benefit to the list: Brand advocates – particularly authoritative ones – can link to your content to help keep in the real time stream.

In addition, brand advocates who are active on social sites like Twitter can create their own content about your company that can appear in real time search results.

3. Know what’s hot in the news

With real time search, it’s important to recognize both what users are searching for online and what they’re discussing via social channels – at this very minute. Create frequently updated content that speaks to the latest topics and trends, and is optimized for the latest search terms.

A variety of tools exist to help monitor search and conversation trends:

  • Google Trends: Use this free tool to find the hottest topics and hottest searches in Google
  • Social Mention: Determine the strength, sentiment and reach for terms used throughout the social web, including blogs, microblogs, social networks, video sites and news sites
  • BlogPulse: Find the top blog posts, key phrases, new stories and more from across the search universe or related a specific topic
  • Delicious: See the types of content that goes wild across the social web
  • Trendistic: Learn trending topics in Twitter over the last 24 hours, week, month or more (see image below)

Trendistic shows “online marketing” trends over the past 30 days.

4. Time your content promotion efforts wisely

Give your content an extra boost by monitoring when blog posts, articles and other online content are indexes in Google News or Google Blog Search. Then ensure tweets, Facebook fan page updates and other social content promotions are timed right after the content is indexed. Doing so will help you take advantage of every opportunity to appear in real time search results.

5. Optimize your web site and online content for mobile technologies

Real time search is relevant on many mobile devices, including Android and iPhone devices. So Web site optimization for mobile technologies becomes even more important.

Consider these few mobile SEO tips:

  • Limit the use of images
  • Keep the design simple and clean
  • Test to ensure your site appears as it should across various mobile devices

The bottom line is, it’s crucial to take advantage of every real time search opportunity that comes around. Remember that these opportunities won’t stick around for long – presenting themselves quickly and then disappearing. It is real time, after all.

Have you implemented real time SEO into your online marketing mix? Tell us what best practices you’ve found so far.


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
5 Ways to Leverage Real Time Search in Your Online Marketing Mix |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging

Apr 8, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

As companies that realize the value of online marketing understand the need to publish engaging content, one of the most common considerations is a company blog.  Blog software is fundamentally one of the easiest content management software systems to install and use. Of course the software isn’t magic. The content and ability to reach and engage with customers is a big part of what makes a business blog successful.

For those companies that are thinking of starting a blog or reinvesting resources into a company blogging effort that has gone stale, some of the most important questions to ask are:  Have you identified specific goals for the blog? How will you measure success?

In sports you can’t score if there isn’t a goal and it’s no different with business blogging.  There are a variety of reasons why publishing ongoing communications that allow readers to interact adds value to a business. Add to that the distribution via RSS that extends the reach of your message and  it’s easy to see why so many companies start blogging. The failure for many business blogs is centered around not making a connection between business goals, blog specific objectives and most importantly, how meeting customer needs leads to the first two.

Here are three key questions to consider as you design your plan for business blogging success:

Why start a business blog? What end goals or outcomes can you reasonably expect?

There are many good reasons to start a blog. But are those reasons good enough to start and stay blogging for the long haul? Our survey on blogging and SEO showed 90% citing blogging as important, significantly important or a primary SEO tactic. 94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months.

  • Initiate and foster customer engagement
  • Improve coverage by media and bloggers
  • Improve search engine visibility
  • Increase mentions on other blogs, social networking, news, bookmarking and media sites
  • Build thought leadership
  • Provide an informative communication channel
  • Recognize employees, clients, marketing partners and especially brand evangelists

How will you know your blogging efforts are successful according to those goals? How are you measuring blogging success?

We ran a poll last year with our readers that ranked their most important measures of blogging success. Here is the distribution:

  • Engagement: comments, links 36%
  • Improved brand recognition 31%
  • Build thought leadership 31%
  • Search engine rankings 31%
  • Better communicate with customers 30%
  • Traffic to the blog 27%
  • Coverage by media and other blogs 18%
  • Traffic to the corporate web site 16%
  • Sales leads 16%
  • Industry Recognition 13%
  • Sell products 2%
  • Improved customer satisfaction 11%
  • Page views 9%
  • Time on Site 6%
  • Ad revenue on the blog 5%

What tools are you using to measure blog performance?

Goals for business and the blog are great but it’s essential to have the right tools in place for analytics. One of the biggest mistakes is to rely on things like Google Alerts.

  • Web analytics (Google Analytics, Woopra, Clicky, etc)
  • Feedburner
  • Social media monitoring tools
  • Link analysis tools
  • Comment tracking tools
  • Clipping services
  • Forum conversation tracking tools

It’s fundamental, this notion of setting goals, understanding outcomes and the tools needed to measure. But you know the saying, “Common sense is the least common thing on Earth.”  Companies can achieve great return on investment with the right plan and leadership in a blogging effort. The key is to do the baseline work to build a foundation upon which it can grow and succeed.  Stay the course and leverage both listening and engagement tools to guide content. Develop networks and distribution channels to grow readership and reach. Take the time to really understand the impact of data provided by reporting tools and create reports for executives that highlight business goals.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with setting, measuring and reaching business goals through corporate blogging? Have you started a business blog only to shut it down? Have your company blogging efforts been successful beyond expectations?


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging |
No comment | http://toprankweb2.mn2.visi.com

Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging

Apr 8, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

As companies that realize the value of online marketing understand the need to publish engaging content, one of the most common considerations is a company blog.  Blog software is fundamentally one of the easiest content management software systems to install and use. Of course the software isn’t magic. The content and ability to reach and engage with customers is a big part of what makes a business blog successful.

For those companies that are thinking of starting a blog or reinvesting resources into a company blogging effort that has gone stale, some of the most important questions to ask are:  Have you identified specific goals for the blog? How will you measure success?

In sports you can’t score if there isn’t a goal and it’s no different with business blogging.  There are a variety of reasons why publishing ongoing communications that allow readers to interact adds value to a business. Add to that the distribution via RSS that extends the reach of your message and  it’s easy to see why so many companies start blogging. The failure for many business blogs is centered around not making a connection between business goals, blog specific objectives and most importantly, how meeting customer needs leads to the first two.

Here are three key questions to consider as you design your plan for business blogging success:

Why start a business blog? What end goals or outcomes can you reasonably expect?

There are many good reasons to start a blog. But are those reasons good enough to start and stay blogging for the long haul? Our survey on blogging and SEO showed 90% citing blogging as important, significantly important or a primary SEO tactic. 94% of bloggers reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months.

  • Initiate and foster customer engagement
  • Improve coverage by media and bloggers
  • Improve search engine visibility
  • Increase mentions on other blogs, social networking, news, bookmarking and media sites
  • Build thought leadership
  • Provide an informative communication channel
  • Recognize employees, clients, marketing partners and especially brand evangelists

How will you know your blogging efforts are successful according to those goals? How are you measuring blogging success?

We ran a poll last year with our readers that ranked their most important measures of blogging success. Here is the distribution:

  • Engagement: comments, links 36%
  • Improved brand recognition 31%
  • Build thought leadership 31%
  • Search engine rankings 31%
  • Better communicate with customers 30%
  • Traffic to the blog 27%
  • Coverage by media and other blogs 18%
  • Traffic to the corporate web site 16%
  • Sales leads 16%
  • Industry Recognition 13%
  • Sell products 2%
  • Improved customer satisfaction 11%
  • Page views 9%
  • Time on Site 6%
  • Ad revenue on the blog 5%

    What tools are you using to measure blog performance?

    Goals for business and the blog are great but it’s essential to have the right tools in place for analytics. One of the biggest mistakes is to rely on things like Google Alerts.

    • Web analytics (Google Analytics, Woopra, Clicky, etc)
    • Feedburner
    • Social media monitoring tools
    • Link analysis tools
    • Comment tracking tools
    • Clipping services
    • Forum conversation tracking tools

    It’s fundamental, this notion of setting goals, understanding outcomes and the tools needed to measure. But you know the saying, “Common sense is the least common thing on Earth.”  Companies can achieve great return on investment with the right plan and leadership in a blogging effort. The key is to do the baseline work to build a foundation upon which it can grow and succeed.  Stay the course and leverage both listening and engagement tools to guide content. Develop networks and distribution channels to grow readership and reach. Take the time to really understand the impact of data provided by reporting tools and create reports for executives that highlight business goals.

    What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with setting, measuring and reaching business goals through corporate blogging? Have you started a business blog only to shut it down? Have your company blogging efforts been successful beyond expectations?


    © Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
    Setting and Measuring Goals for Business Blogging |
    No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

    Losing Time on Social Media

    Apr 7, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

    social mediaSocial media is everyone’s shiny object in the digital marketing world. Personally, professionally and otherwise, millions of people worldwide are switching from other information and entertainment channels (or multitasking) for social destinations online and on the mobile web.

    I know there are a good number of early adopters that read Online Marketing Blog and since you’re probably prone to trying the latest apps and tools, there are undoubtedly certain types of social media sites that have really turned out to be a time suck.

    That assumption leads us to our 60th Reader Poll! (pick up to 3)

    Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

    No, I didn’t include online games of any kind in this poll because, while they can absolutely be social, I consider them to be inherently time wasting. Whereas the sites/tools listed in the poll above have at least the remotest possibility of helping people become more productive.

    If your top time waster isn’t listed, please share in the comments. I’d also like know your preferences on topics for future Reader Polls. If your suggestion is picked, we’ll give you credit and a nice juicy link when the poll is run.


    © Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
    Losing Time on Social Media |
    No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

    Landing Page Optimization Deep Dive: Interview with Tim Ash

    Apr 6, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

    Tim Ash is a marketing machine. He writes a blog, contributes to Search Engine Watch, hosts a weekly show on WebmasterRadio.fm, is author of the book “Landing Page Optimization”, speaks at numerous conferences and is the chair of the upcoming Conversion Conference in May. Oh, and he also runs SiteTuners, a successful landing page optimization consulting business and has launched a new tool called AttentionWizard that offers eye tracking “without the eyes”.  Tim has worked with American Express, Sony Music, American Honda, Coach, COMP USA and many other major brands.

    “Landing page testing is the best accelerator of your business that you have available.”

    Tim is a very smart and very nice guy who took a few rare moments of time to answer a few questions about measuring social media ROI, budgets for testing, common mistakes, tips, tools and how he stays current in such a fast paced and changing field.

    Please tell us about your background, your business, and the book?

    I am a recovering technologist. I almost got my PhD in computer science, but dropped out to start my first Internet consulting business. Over the years we have focused on driving traffic. But after a while it became clear that the bigger problem (and business opportunity for us) was to improve the efficiency of that traffic once it landed on the website or landing page. That’s how SiteTuners was born. We offer a range of consulting services to improve conversion, full-service landing page tests in which we guarantee performance improvement, and software such as out cutting-edge TuningEngine testing software, and the AttentionWizard visual attention prediction tool. We work with some of the biggest companies in the Internet universe, as well as scrappy smaller companies.

    I wrote the Landing Page Optimization book a couple of years ago and it has been very well received. Wiley Press has asked me to write a second edition that I am co-authoring with Rich Page and Maura Ginty. It will be out early next year and will have over 150 pages of completely new content.

    There’s a lot of speculation about social media and measuring ROI. Do you have examples where conversions were improved from content on a social network or other social media site as a result of a/b or multivariate testing? What is significantly different about measuring social media marketing efforts versus search marketing where the goals are conversions?

    The fundamental principles are the same – you should be trying to increase the efficiency of conversion actions that have a measurable impact on your business. The only difference is that the conversion actions might not be sales, but rather “micro conversions” such as re-tweets, fan page sign-ups, or visits to blog or content pages that you are trying to promote. So if you can lower your cost-per-acquisition for any of those actions, that is good. What makes testing a bit more tricky to conduct in a social media setting is that you need steady traffic sources over an extended period of time. Unfortunately much of social media happens very quickly and results in one-time traffic spikes that go away.

    The type of social media marketing executed by many SEOs does seem to behave according to the “go hot” principle where content gets voted on and attracts spikes in traffic. However, many companies are building networks on social channels and community participation often drives more steady streams of traffic according to the content publishing schedule of the brand. When it comes to measuring social ROI, are you seeing more social media marketing efforts fall in the first situation versus the second?

    Many social media programs are based on “go hot” kinds of activities. The content is often “perishable” and time-sensitive. But there is also long-term “content farming” activities which continue to add to a pool of general company awareness through creation of new content pages on the website, whitepapers, blog posts, and media placements. This takes a more disciplined approach and a long-term commitment of resources, so in our experience is more rare.

    This is one of those “it depends” questions but let’s give it a shot. Is it your experience that most marketers allocate budget for testing as part of overall web analytics? What percentage of that budget should go towards ongoing testing for say, an ecommerce site? What advice do you have for getting more approved?

    Landing page or conversion rate optimization is not a part of Web analytics. It is a top-line revenue-growing activity. How much would you pay for a 5% increase in volume? 10%? 50%? Landing page testing is the best accelerator of your business that you have available. It should not have a fixed budget. The economically rational thing to do with any marketing activity is to keep spending money on it as long as it produces a positive ROI. Setting fixed budgets is the same kind of silly logic that some companies use when driving traffic. If you have a fixed pay-per-click budget and you could buy more profitable traffic above that threshold, you are just throwing profits away.

    It’s interesting that you say that when it comes to budget allocation, since both concern measuring and improving web site performance. Of course there are many things that make sense to a consultant or service provider that don’t necessarily fit with the reality of how companies forecast their marketing budgets. Have you been successful at winning more budget with the “keep spending money on it as long as it produces a positive ROI” argument or do you only work with companies that have more flexibility with where they spend?

    Technically landing page testing is part of measurement and Web analytics should always be actionable. Unfortunately often it is just looking in the rear-view mirror at things that have happened in the past. My friend Jim Sterne insists that all Web analytics should be forward looking and actionable, otherwise it is useless. But in practice most analysts spend more time on data mining and not on landing page testing. If you have a testing mindset, then the question you continually ask is “Where can I make the biggest impact on our business by tweaking a mission-critical step in our value creation chain?” If you do that, the resulting improvements should make the business a big pile of money and will create psychological momentum inside of your company for further testing and experimentation. Once an organization gets excited and buys into this continual-improvement mentality, the testing budget question often goes away.

    What are some of the most common mistakes experienced search marketers make when it comes to landing pages? Top 5?

    That’s easy – I can give you more than 5. If you have heard my “Seven Deadly Sins of Landing Page Design” presentation, you know that there are seven common types of mistakes on all landing pages: unclear calls-to-action, too many choices, asking for too much information early in the process, too much text, not maintaining continuity with the expectations that were set upstream of the actual landing page, visual clutter and distraction, and lack of trust and credibility.

    What tools do you recommend (in addition to Google Website Optimizer and those at SiteTuners like AttentionWizard) for corporate marketers that are still fairly new to conversion rate improvement? Advanced tools?

    There are a number of tools that have come out in just the last couple of years that make it much easier to diagnose and correct conversion issues. These include ClickTale.com, CrazyEgg.com, UserTesting.com, and CrossBrowserTesting.com.

    How do you stay current with practices? Do you have favorite conferences, books, blogs, newsletters or other resources that you rely on?

    Wow – that’s tough. There is an explosion of resources around landing page optimization. I pay attention to Bryan Eisenberg, Avinash Kaushik, Anne Holland, and try to look for interesting resources through Twitter tags like #lpo, #cro, and #measure. Conferences like Search Engine Strategies, eMetrics, and PubCon always feature solid content on the topic.

    Conversion Conference is coming up soon (May 4-5 in San Jose) with some big names in the conversion and testing space including Bryan Eisenberg, Jakob Nielsen, and yourself. Who is the conference for and why should they come? What prompted you to start it?

    I created the new ConversionConference.com series to give conversion improvement it’s own home. Until now, conversion has been a side topic at conferences that focused on driving traffic. The first event will be in San Jose next month, and then in Washington DC in the fall. There is also a German show in Hamburg, and other international shows on the drawing boards. The San Jose show will feature three dynamic keynotes that you mentioned. There will also be twenty six fast-paced sessions over two days covering all aspects of conversion. The presenters are all top notch. The show is held in parallel with eMetrics and will share the expo hall, lunches, networking events and the Conversion Bash party put on by WebmasterRadio.fm. The top conversion tools and services companies will also be there. If you want to turbocharge your online marketing you should be there.

    By the way, your readers can use an exclusive promo-code “CCW562” for an additional $100 off of the early bird rate if they register by April 15th.

    Thanks Tim. You can connect with Tim Ash on the social web at:

    Twitter
    Facebook
    LinkedIn
    Blog


    © Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
    Landing Page Optimization Deep Dive: Interview with Tim Ash |
    No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

    Sponsored Posts – Measure The Risk Carefully

    Apr 5, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

    Sponsored posts have been a hot topic in the blogosphere and among marketers the last few years.

    What exactly is a sponsored post?  The simple answer is:  a company pays a blogger cash to blog about their product or service.  This is different than an advertorial since the blogger is paid cash to write the content as opposed to the sponsor creating the message.

    An entire cottage industry of companies such as IZEA, Smorty and a slew of others have sprung up to offer a variety of methods to pay for sponsored posts.  Some require bloggers to say good things.  Others tell bloggers they are free to write what they wish.  But in either case, there are potential risks involved marketers should be aware of.

    Many digital audiences appear to have an  issue with sponsored posts because they see it as a breach of unwritten editorial rules of the web.  It is for that core reason sponsored posts remain controversial.

    For the purposes of this post, I am just talking about cash for blog posts.  This a different animal than offering sampling, trials or demos of products.

    Let’s dig into why sponsored – aka cash for blog posts – are something you should measure the risk of carefully:

    Sponsored posts may draw the eyes of the engines

    Cash for blog posts could be risky behavior if the sponsored links are follow links.  Matt Cutts at Google has publicly stated that paid posts should not affect search engines.   A simple solution for companies brokering sponsored posts is to require the no-follow attribute added to links within the content.  Some pay-per-post companies offering this service state they require it.  Some bloggers may adhere.  But many bloggers have no idea what a no-follow attribute is and may not follow this guideline.  Additionally, bloggers and marketers engaging in outright cash-for-play are involved in risky behavior even with no-follow links.  This is due to halo effect of linking in the social web, and may walk a thin line with the engines who are paying attention to these campaigns.

    Before engaging in sponsored posts, consider organic outreach

    More than 80% of bloggers are already writing on products and brands.  In other words: be remarkable, have great marketing/PR and you’ll be talked about.  Learn the intersection of social media and PR, begin content marketing and engage in strategies that inspire natural coverage, conversation and influence.  The organic approach yields the highest results: since sponsored posts must have no-follow links, the SEO and PR intersection does not exist.

    Sponsored posts may train audiences to expect cash to write about you

    By engaging in sponsored posts, you may succeed in training audiences to expect a return every time they mention your brand or product.  Instead of growing in an organic fashion, sponsored posts may keep your brand out of the natural conversations and put you on a treadmill of having to pay cash for coverage.  And that’s not a sustainable way to grow a web community.

    May be seen as inauthentic

    Due to FCC rules, all sponsored content must be disclosed.  With this disclosure and transparency, readers see the content was influenced by cash, not the author’s true perception of the product or brand.  This potentially destroys the true power of word of mouth.  It affects the blogger as well:  they may lose the trust of a carefully built audience.  Audiences may not believe a blogger thought a product was great because that blogger was paid to talk about it.

    Sponsored posts are advertising – not social media

    Companies who pay bloggers cash to write about them are engaging in advertising, not social media.  Would you pay someone cash to talk about your company or product at a party?  What would everyone else at the party think?  That’s exactly what happens on the social web when users see bloggers taking cash to write up products.  So if you think it’s a risky play to pay people cash to talk about your brand or product in person, it’s equally so online (perhaps even more so since the web is referential).

    Organic push methods do exist

    Newswires, article submissions, advertorials, syndication products, and other paid methods of gaining exposure amongst web audiences exist.  The social web as a whole has less issues with these services because they are not paying individuals directly to talk about them.  Rather, they are paying to have their messages added to areas they will be found – and then reacted to – without cash going directly to users or leveraging a personal brand for influence.  Communications professionals can use paid tools to cross the editorial line with less risk than directly paying cash to individuals.

    Conclusion

    Forrester research has been touting the positives of sponsored conversations.  Jeremiah Owyang says they are here to stay.  There are companies engaging in this tactic and doing fine.  I’m not ruling the tactic out entirely, but I do wish to caution marketing and PR professionals to weigh the risk carefully.  Sponsored posts may run counter to a social media marketing strategy focused on inspiring organic attention and building a community based on trust.  They do not provide the SEO benefits of organic outreach.  Consider your larger objectives and strategies carefully and ask yourself  if sponsored posts are the tactic for you.

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    Sponsored Posts – Measure The Risk Carefully |
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    New Google Design & Not Entirely Unlike Jeremiah Owyang

    Apr 3, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

    No this is not linkbait using Jeremiah’s name. Read on to find out what this “not entirely unlike” business from Google is all about and what it has to do with him.

    A while back I wrote about the new design Google is testing (which I like a lot) that adds a third column to search results along the left side.  It’s come and gone a few times since then as I move about the country and as Google reveals it for testing.

    As of this morning, Google is delivering the new design to me again and I noticed something different after doing a search on my name. (Admit it, you Google your own name too!) At the bottom of the new column it shows an unconventionally named, “Not entirely unlike” result.  What kind of label is that? It reminds me of the slang phrase, “it doesn’t suck”.

    With the addition of Google Profiles and real-time search as well as many other sources, it’s interesting that Google is making such a distinction at the individual level. However, it’s not just people being referenced as “Not Entirely Unlike”.

    Jeremiah Owyang SERP - New Google Design

    Here are an interesting set of connections that came up:

    • Lee Odden > Not entirely unlike:  Jeremiah Owyang
    • Jeremiah Owyang > Not entirely unlike: chris brogan, robert scoble, charlene li, om malik, john battelle
    • John Battelle > Not entirely unlike: guy kawasaki, david weinberger, seth godin, robert scoble, om malik
    • Om Malik > Not entirely unlike: marshall kirkpatrick, walt mossberg, kara swisher, robert scoble, john battelle
    • Robert Scoble > Not entirely unlike: dave winer, jason calacanis, jeremiah owyang, steve rubel, guy kawasaki
    • Guy Kawasaki > Not entirely unlike: seth godin, john battelle, robert scoble, clay shirky, lawrence lessig

    And on and on it goes with circular references (except for me, since I hardly belong in a list with these people). The notion that many public figures on the web frequently reference each other or at least cite common concepts and resources may very well be supported by the connections listed above.  Also I would note this is not the same as the “Related searches” that often show at the bottom of the search results.

    Is there anything useful in the “Not entirely unlike” feature for marketers? I’d say it’s about as useful as the Wonder Wheel if you were to use it for keyword brainstorming or research. Besides certain people’s names, it does come up for certain, general phrases too:

    • Internet marketing > Not entirely unlike:  search engine optimization, online marketing, affiliate marketing
    • CRM software >customer relationship management, erp, financial software, crm solution, business software
    • Coffee >espresso, cocoa, orange juice, banana, chocolate

    iPad - New Google Design

    Interestingly, it doesn’t fire for phrases like, “iPad”, “iPhone” or “Apple” but does for “smart phone” and “google phone”.  To test this yourself, Google must have chosen to display the new Google design to you. It doesn’t work with the current form of Google.

    Are you getting the new Google design? What do you think of it? Are there other features you’ve seen that are interesting?

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    New Google Design & Not Entirely Unlike Jeremiah Owyang |
    No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

    3 Tools to Help You Share Microcontent Online

    Apr 2, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media, Twitter  //  No Comments

    Over the last few years, the concept of microblogging has gone from zero to hero. Just a few short years ago, the terms “microblogging” and “microcontent” were known only to early adopters.  These days, the only thing “micro” about microblogging and status updates is character count. Consider a few recent statistics:

    • There are nearly 40,000 Tweets a minute, according to TweeSpeed
    • Last year, Tweets grew 1,400%, while traffic to Twitter.com grew around 1,100%
    • More than 60 million Facebook status updates are posted every day

    When it comes to microblogging sites, customers and prospects are either there, or those that influence them are. Microblogging can take on a life of its own – with users making connections, developing relationships and publishing content all from within.

    Are you unsure of how to best leverage microblog connections and microcontent for other online marketing efforts?  One answer: cross-publishing or syndicating microblog content to other channels.

    Fortunately today there are several tools available to help you and here, are three:

    1. @anywhere

    Twitter is in the process of rolling out a new feature, @anywhere, that will allow users to syndicate Twitter content to virtually any online channel without sending visitors back to Twitter.com. Not only that, but the syndication process will be as simple as dropping a few lines of JavaScript.

    Initial participating sites include Amazon, eBay, Digg, Yahoo!, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, You Tube and several others. With @anywhere, visitors to these sites will be able to follow Twitter users, retweet content and search for new Twitter accounts – without ever having to leave the website.

    Here’s what it could someday mean for your organization:

    • Customers reading a blog post written by your CEO could follow him or her on Twitter directly from your site
    • Prospects viewing a video on your website could retweet the content without leaving the webpage

    2. Google Buzz

    Google Buzz

    The latest social media player to enter the game is Google. Its recently launched Google Buzz tool is built into Gmail and enables sharing of updates, photos and videos all from within the inbox. The tool connects with sites already in use, including Twitter, Picasa, Flickr and Google Reader.

    Essentially the tool enables Gmail users to leverage the personal email contacts already made, as well as the entire Gmail community at large, to engage in conversations and share microblogging content.

    Google Buzz goes beyond just status updates, though. It automatically pulls images from links and enables users to respond to content without ever leaving Gmail.  Whether Google Buzz attains the popularity of Facebook or Twitter remains to be seen.

    3. Facebook Connect

    Facebook Connect

    Facebook Connect

    With Facebook Connect, marketers can create more engaging experiences on their websites by allowing site visitors to bring their Facebook life with them. Facebook Connect pulls Facebook users’ profile information, photos, connections and more directly to your website.

    Facebook Connect creates what it calls a “viral sharing loop” on your site by:

    • Making it easy for site visitors to share your content with their Facebook networks
    • Enabling you to show visitors what’s most popular on your site with their Facebook friends
    • Allowing visitors to comment on, review and rate content on your site

    Other tools that make it easy to share microcontent incude: ping.fm, HootSuite or socialoomph.com.

    What tools do you use to cross-publish or syndicate your microblogging content to other channels?

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    3 Tools to Help You Share Microcontent Online |
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    BIGLIST Update: These SEO Blogs Are No April Fools

    Apr 1, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

    BIGLIST SEO Blogs
    On this fine April Fool’s day BIGLIST foregos the tricks and brings you yet another collection of better than average SEO & SEM blog reviews. Over the past 2 years we’ve reviewed over 1,000 SEO blogs and we offer you 5 more to add to your RSS reader and get search engine smart.

    Think Traffic – This blog by internet entreprenuer Corbett Barr  makes some serious promises: “…teach you the techniques, tools and knowledge you need to build real, sustainable web traffic without a big budget.”  Sounds pretty good to me. Corbett relates his experiences with past projects and growing an audience for Think Traffic to the benefit of readers.  This very new blog offers practical tips and is well designed enough to get our top listing for this week’s review.

    Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg – Best selling author of multiple books, Bryan Eisenberg begged me for months to add his new blog to the BIGLIST. I challenged Bryan to write another best selling book, start a new company, become a keynote speaker at several popular industry conferences and lose at least 30 pounds. (Hey, we set the bar high for the BIGLIST).  Of course, I’m kidding about the challenge (and the begging). Bryan has accomplished all of those things and much more while writing an excellent blog on conversion optimization and internet marketing strategy with his brother Jeffrey, who is also a best selling author, keynote speaker and online marketing strategist for major brands.

    Jeff Bullas’s Blog – Jeff works as a sales and marketing manager at Infinity Technologies and his self-titled blog flavors towards social media – offering examples, case studies, lists of tips posts and insights from setting aside his traditional marketing roots and current focus on building trust and relationships with customers through social media, permission and inbound marketing.

    CanuckSEO – Long time internet marketing veteran Jim Rudnick writes with passion and flair about “Canadian SEO for Google Success!” as well as small business, local SEM and plenty of flavorful opinion posts on a variety of search marketing industry topics. Go for the tips, stay for the story telling and enthusiasm.

    Honorable Mention

    Lip Service – Laura Lippay is an ex-circus performer, SEO pioneer, very classy woman and currently Director of Technical Marketing for Yahoo! Media. Laura teases us all by occasionally writing about life and search marketing on this blog that just isn’t active enough to be added to the full BIGLIST. But the Feb 2010 posts are certainly worth an Honorable Mention.

    Did your SEO or SEM blog make the cut? Share the good news with your readers using the badges page.

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    BIGLIST Update: These SEO Blogs Are No April Fools |
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