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April 30, 2008

Twittering For Charity

By Li Evans

Matt McGeeEveryone who hangs around me or follows me on Twitter, knows I love to razz Matt McGee about not being on Twitter.  I actually find it kind of fun, because I know he follows who twitters his name.  He and Jeff Quipp of Search Engine People are battling to be the last person on Twitter.

Well, that all ends today.  Yes, both Jeff & Matt have succumbed to the pull of Twitter!

Now, it's just not any reason they are doing this.  It's all for charity.  So, which ever one of them gets to 500 followers first, the money Jeff and Matt have put on the line - both $250, will go to their favorite charity.  (Little do they know 500 might be a piece of cake after we're all done!)

I'm going to go with this too - who ever wins, I'll chip in $50 bucks too

How about you Twitterland, will you Twitter for charity too?

April 29, 2008

Online Marketing Tips: Social Media Types Video (Part 3)

By Li Evans

This week’s online marketing tips video covers the third part of the Social Media series where I discuss another type of social media and two specific sites - Wikipedia and StumbleUpon.  You can utilize these sites in your online marketing strategies, if you are upfront and transparent. 

The video is about 5 minutes long this week - I actually changed things just a bit thanks to a tip from a friend.  Check out this Tuesday’s video and remember I’ll be back next week with the next installment of Tuesday's Tips in Online Marketing.


   

Full transcript of the video after the jump....

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips: Social Media Types Video (Part 3)" »

April 28, 2008

Want Links? Offer Free Ice Cream!

By Li Evans

Ben_jerrys_free_ice_cream Who's got the best ice cream?  CarvelDairy QueenCold Stone? or Ben & Jerry's?  I guess each of you will have your own opinion, me, I'm a Cold Stone gal - the Peanut Butter ice cream rocks.  Regardless of who you think is the best, it might be worth your effort to stop by a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop tomorrow.

Why?

Ben & Jerry's is celebrating the franchise's 30th birthday and with that it's giving away free Cake Batter flavored ice cream.  If you would like more information about the free ice cream promotion check out the mini-site.  It's bound to garner Ben & Jerry's website a bunch of links - something they'll need cuz the mini site is entirely in flash. 

Now, go find a Ben & Jerry's and get yourself some ice cream!

Conversion Rate: What's Your Website Tracking As A Conversion?

By Li Evans

Increase_website_conversion_rate When you  hear the word "conversion" do you automatically think "shopping cart", "secure server", or "SSL"?  It's O.K. if you do, most people think along those lines when they hear talk about converting visitors to buyers.  When people first started talking about successful websites and how to measure the success of a website, conversion rates went hand in hand with retail sites.

The world of online marketing and being held accountable for the bottom line has advanced quite rapidly in the past few years.  It is no longer the retail site that is concerned about the "conversion".  Just about every site on the internet can track some kind of conversion.  Now you are probably scratching your head and thinking "what's she talking about"?  Well lets take a look at the different types of conversion rates you can track - and help to prove the success or the failure of your online marketing efforts.

  • Purchase Conversion:
    This is the type of conversion that most equate with the term "conversion".  This is where a visitor comes to your website or web page and then eventually, either in that visit or a subsequent visit depending on your analytics tracking, purchases a product or service that your website offers.  This type of conversion is pretty clean cut as you can clearly tie back advertising spend, resources and product/service costs to the conversion.


  • Email Sign-Up Conversion:
    Signing up for an email newsletter is a conversion?  You bet!  You have engaged the visitor enough for them to check that box, fill out that form and hit the submit button.  Although not quite a clean cut to tie back resources too, some companies assign a specific value to each sign up, in order to be able to track the success or failure of the campaign.

Continue reading "Conversion Rate: What's Your Website Tracking As A Conversion?" »

April 26, 2008

Why Blogging Is A Lot Like Karaoke

By Li Evans

You laughed!  I know you did! :)

Yesterday, as I was driving to Via Roma which is my usual Friday night hangout with friends, I was just thinking about the different aspects of blogging, and it really hit me that it's actually a lot like Karaoke.  Of course in most cases, this is without the music and a mic, unless you are podcasting or vodcasting.

There's a lot that you have to overcome in karaoke, just as you do in blogging.  You have to be able to take the criticism with the applause.  You need to realize and know what works and what doesn't (honestly, I really just can't do rap!), and there's likely a few other thousand minute things that can compare blogging with karaoke.  So maybe I'm just a little odd, but hey - I like to have fun and I figured it could be fun comparing my two passions - if anything this could give you a little weekend humor.

It Takes Practice... American Idol Doesn't Come To You
Big_star_kenny_chesney It's rare that even with the words on the screen, do you get a song right the first time you sing it.  You could hit a certain part of the song off key, hold a note too long or mess up the words.  Overnight sensations in Karaoke really don't happen (regardless if Kenny Chesney sings about it or not).  American Idol doesn't sit in karaoke bars, so it's ok to be "off" on somethings, until you get it right.  The same is with blogging. 

It's rare that you have a overnight success in blogging, or that a post hits digg within the first few minutes of posting.  Both karaoke and blogging take practice.  With karaoke, when you finally know a song well because you've practiced a few times, your confidence builds and your voice can just shine through.  The same goes for blogging, when you start getting comments, when people start submitting your posts to stumble upon or reddit or sphinn, you know your practice has helped.  It's true you know, practice makes perfect!

Cheer Others On!
Cheering_others_on There's one rule with my friends Terri & Glen, who run the karaoke where I go, have and that's you cheer others on.  Now, that may sound a little forced, but honestly it's not.  It also helps a heck of a lot to build up some confidence.  There are those who are first time singers, or maybe they are veterans who've just had a bad day and those few rounds of applause can ease the nervousness or pick up their day.

The same is true in blogging.  Sending a link to a blogger who you thought had a great post.  Leaving a comment because their post touched you in some way.  Subscribing to their feed.  Sending and email or a tweet and saying "hey what you wrote, really rocked!" are all tiny ways of cheering others on. 

These are simple things that can go a long way to encourage others or pick up their day.  It can boost the confidence of a new blogger or it can re-ignite the passion of someone who's wondering "why the heck am I doing this?".  Cheer someone on, it can also put a smile on your own face.

Continue reading "Why Blogging Is A Lot Like Karaoke" »

April 25, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Unleashed Fiesta of Fun with Rachel & Wayne!

By Li Evans

At the beginning of this week, Search Engine Guide held their first ever marketing conference for small businesses (Unleashed Small Business Marketing Conference) in Houston, TX and wow was it awesome!  Kudos to Jennifer, Robert, Rachel and Vicki for putting on such a wonderful event!   If you haven't read the coverage of Unleashed, hop on over to SEG and check it out.

There was a lot of learning to be had at Unleashed as well as fun, including a networking event, silent auction and birthday cake for Jennifer & myself (thanks again!) the first night.  On Monday evening a really fun Fiesta was held that was sponsored by Search Influence (thanks guys!) and everyone there had a blast.  That's where I was able to snap this week's fun photo of Rachel Phillips of Search Engine Guide and Wayne Small of SBSfaq.

Fun Photo Fridays: Unleashed Fiesta of Fun with Rachel & Wayne

If you like this photo of Unleashed Fiesta of Fun with Rachel & Wayne, feel free to comment and favorite it as that's how we'll be judging the photos at the end of the year! Check out the rest of the fun at Unleashed Small Business Marketing Conference, there's almost 200 photos total!  Keep an eye out, we'll be back next week with Fun Photo Fridays.

April 24, 2008

Online Content Strategies: One Hit Wonders or Writing for Your Audience?

By Li Evans

While I was at Unleashed, I got the opportunity to sit in on Matt Bailey's Analytics presentation.  If you haven't gotten the chance to see Matt speak, you should make it a point to do so in the near future.  Matt has a passion for relating information to an audience in a very enthusiastic way.

During SES, I let Brian Cosgrove have the honors of blogging about his session at SES NYC.  Brian's got a great summation about Matt's session at SES, which people were spilling out into the hallway to hear him speak.

Why I mention Matt's presentation, is because another post on Seth Godin's blog really got me to thinking.  Add that together with all the furor over Jason Calacanis' reported comments at SMX Social, (by the way Danny has clarified and I also got some clarification on this direct from Jason and he has promised a video response).  It really got me to thinking, seriously thinking.

Do you know, truly know who your audience is?

Are you creating content for your audience, or are you creating content for the search engines, or for the hopes of getting to the top of Digg, or maybe making it big at StumbleUpon?  Sure, these sites (search engines included) bring in, as Matt stated in his presentation, "butt loads" of traffic an links, however, is this really who you want coming into your site?

Jason isn't far off the mark, and neither is Seth, and Matt's right on the money.  Creating content for your audience is what website owners should be doing.  Now, don't get me wrong here, I'm not in the slightest way saying "SEO is bullshit", you still need the SEO to have that content found.  However, if all you are doing is constantly creating "Top Ten Lists" or insane videos, and these really don't reflect your brand, product or service - you are just going to get that spike in traffic and nothing more.

One_hit_wonders One hit wonders in viral marketing and linkbait tend to create nothing in the way of decent targeted audience members.  While viral marketing can be great and wonderful for that bounce in traffic and maybe to get a new site discovered, can you sit down and analyze that segmented traffic and see if it was truly successful?  Did these visitors just come and view one page (your linkbait or viral piece) and leave?  Did they navigate any further in your site?  Did they subscribe to your newsletter or blog?  Did they read another article on you blog or even leave a comment?  Did you even have a goal for that viral strategy to begin with, because honestly "just getting hits" really isn't enough these days.

If you can't see that your content isn't appealing to your true audience, and is only being a one hit wonder to sites like Digg and Stumbleupon, maybe you should be rethinking your online content strategy.  Do you even have one to begin with or are you just hoping that with each launch of a viral campaign, this will be the "thing" that launches you into stardom on the internet?

Write content for your audience first, they are the ones that will buy what you are selling - not the "one hit wonders."  If you don't believe me, take a look at your analytics and see how high your bounce rate is for that segmented traffic.

April 23, 2008

Building Communities in Social Media

By Li Evans

Wendy Piersall started her blog as a hobby, the blog was an extension of her business, a tool to compliment it.  Within three months, Wendy’s eMom's at Home blog became its own full time job.  She had to rethink her strategy about the business.  Within 2 years Wendy had a thriving community on her hands, with thousands of readers and subscribers. How did this happen?

Conversation.

Communities thrive on it, we humans crave it.  Unless you are a hermit or a person on a religious quest that requires seclusion and not speaking, we seek out human interaction.  We want to hear other people’s thoughts, we long for interaction to know if our own thoughts are in line with common thinking or if we are out of line, or are we rebels (with or without a cause).

Communities are nothing new.  Communities bond upon a single or a few commonalities.  It was how this nation (the United States) was formed, a common bond of the wish to have freedom of religion.  Later on for immigrants coming through Ellis Island, the bond was the dream of a better life.  It is no different even with all of our gadgets, speed and technologies, we as humans still need to bond, and it is why we seek out communities online.

Wendy’s community grew and thrived because she fostered a great conversation.  She listened and she also conversed with her audience – she never spoke "at" them.  She constantly listened and she participated in the conversation, always keeping in mind “what would her audience get” from each conversation she would invoke with her blog posts.

Wendy was also wise enough to realize the conversation wasn’t just going on, on her blog.  There were other blogs out there having similar conversations that she felt helped or contributed to the conversation.  Wendy wisely not only sought them out and commented about on their blogs she included them in her own conversation as well.  By doing this,  she was eventually pulling in their audiences to participate in the conversation.

Now a little over 2 years later, realizing that what started out as her “hobby” has grown into this enormous community and her original thoughts for the blog my limit the potential for the conversations growth, Wendy reached out to her community.  Wendy asked and the community overwhelming responded and now eMoms at Home is opening to an even wider community by becoming SparkPlugging, focusing on the entrepreneurial community.  Wendy's own blog is getting renamed to Sparkplug CEO, as well.

When you recognize that a conversation is happening and you embrace it and foster it, a community can grow around that conversation.  Hard sells, preaching a message, and advertorials just don’t work, those methods do not foster and grow communities.   You really have to have a love, a passion for your conversation, you have to care about it, if it is going to even have any shot at succeeding in this new online social world. 

It’s why companies who really do care about what people think about their brands, or their products or services succeed in overwhelming ways in social media.  If you only care about selling a soda (think Sprite Sips on Facebook ), or getting people into your store (think Walmart Flogs) you likely won’t get very far since your conversation is only one way and isn’t really genuine.  However, if you are like Wendy, or BlendTec or even Lionel Menchaca from Dell, your community grows at astounding rates.

The key to building communities?  Conversation and realizing that as much as they involve speaking to someone, building communities involves a lot more listening and understanding.  So, stop and think – are you preaching or are you conversing?

I said yesterday that Mack Collier inspired me to love Blogging again.  Wendy also inspired me about communities and she made me excited about the potential of building a great community. To read about Wendy's presentation at SEG's Unleashed Conference for Small Business Marketing, check out David's take on Wendy's session.  Hop on over to SEG to get all the coverage of what happened at SEG's Unleashed Conference in Houston.

You can also find Wendy on Twitter, Mack on Twitter and even me on Twitter, too. Why not start a conversation with us?  :)

Online Marketing Tips: Social Media Types Video (Part 2)

By Li Evans

I posted Tuesday’s Tips in Online Marketing Video earlier today on YouTube.  However, due to traveling back from Search Engine Guide’s Unleashed Conference for Small Business Marketing I couldn’t get to posting it on here until now.

This week’s video covers the second part of the Social Media series where I discuss three more types of social media that you can utilize in your online marketing strategies.  The three types discussed in this little over 4 minute video are Social Bookmarking, Social Ratings & Reviews and Blogs.  Check out this Tuesday’s video and remember I’ll be back next week with the third part in this series.

Full transcription after the jump.

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips: Social Media Types Video (Part 2)" »

April 22, 2008

Blogging for Business - Mack Collier at Unleashed Small Business Marketing Conference

By Li Evans

Mack Collier presents at Unleash Small Business Marketing Conference Mack Collier, who writes the Viral Garden blog, presented at Search Engine Guide's Unleashed conference in Houston yesterday April 21, 2008.  I came away from his presentation with a renewed outlook on blogging.  It's refreshing to hear a perspective about blogging that is so totally removed from the Search Marketing Industry, so totally refreshing and I'm very glad Jennifer Laycock brought Mack in to present this session.

In our world of links and ranking, as search marketers we see blogs as another "tool" to make a website pop.  It's another way to dominate the rankings for keywords whether they be general keywords or long tail keywords.  We all stop to worry about how many Sphinns a blog post got, or how many links the blog post generated or how fast the blog post you wrote got to the top of Digg.

That, my friends and fellow colleagues, is how search marketers think about blogging and also social media.  That's not how the rest of the world thinks about blogging and social media, and we are in a minority (believe it or not).

What Mack really drove home to me, and made me re-open my eyes to, is that blogging is about the community, and the conversation that community is having with you, about you and without you.  If you are only in it to get links, it's probably not a good reason to be blogging.  If you are only in it to get rankings, then again, it's not a good reason to be blogging.  If you are in it to have a conversation around your product, service, brand or something you love - then you should be blogging.

Mack gave a great presentation that highlighted everything from Dell's Linoel Menchaca to Stormhoek and their use of blogging.  Even how a marketing executive from Universal took 30 minutes out of his day to talk to a blogger and how that exposure helped promote his movie.  Not once did Mack focus on how many links these blog posts brought in - it was totally focused on the community.

To read more about Mack's presentation and the rest of the sessions at Unleashed visit Search Engine Guide.  As always if you like to see photo coverage, check out the Unleashed Small Business Marketing Photos on Flickr.

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