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May 30, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Ken & Erin Savage with Kristen Donnelly Heading To the St. Patty's Day Pub Crawl at SES NYC

By Li Evans

It's Friday and you know what that means here on SMG, that's right another Fun Photo! I do have a announcement as far as voting goes for these photos and which photo wins at the end of the year.  We'll be counting both Sphinns & Fetches, along with photo views, comments and favorites on Flickr.  So if you like the photos we've featured in the past, Favorite them, Comment on them on Flickr, Sphinn them and Fetch them, the community decides the winner! :)

This week's photo features Ken Savage of the Battling Diabetes Blog, his wife Erin Savage and their friend Kristen Donnelly.  I snapped this photo of them when we were in the lobby of the Hilton waiting for the St. Patty's Day Pub Crawl to start at SES New York.

Fun Photo Fridays: Ken & Erin Savage with Kristen Donnelly Heading To the St. Patty's Day Pub Crawl at SES NYC

If you like this photo of Ken, Erin & Kristen at SES NYC 2008 St Patty's Day Pub Crawl, 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 Search Engine Strategies New York 2008, there's over 400 photos to view.

May 29, 2008

What is Your Blog Conversion Rate?

By Alex Cohen

Hi, this is Alex Cohen from Digital Alex.  Following up on Li's post about conversion rate, I have a question for the bloggers out there:  What is your blog conversion rate?

There are plenty of conversion activities you could track, but the two that stand out to me are:

  1. Subscriptions
  2. Comments

The simplest way to monitor your conversions is with an on-click event.  It's a bit of code you add to the button or link you want to track.

For example, I have 4 conversion events tagged on my site:

  1. Subscriptions from the big RSS buttons
  2. Subscriptions from the little reader specific chiclets
  3. Clicks on the Submit button for email newsletters
  4. Sign ups from my "What Would Seth Godin Do?" plugin message (this display a special message for new visitors).

All I did was adjust the code on the link itself.  For example, here's how the on-click event looks for the Add To Google chiclet:

<a href="http://fusion.google.com/add?feedurl=http://feeds.feedburner.com/DigitalAlex" onClick="javascript:urchinTracker('/goal/chiclets');">
<img src="http://www.alexlcohen.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/google-chiclet.gif">
</a>

This essentially creates a fake page view whenever someone clicks on that link.  Notice how I named it "/goal/chiclets", so that it's easy to read and remember.

Next, I setup a goal to track each on-click event

  1. Log into Google Analytics
  2. Click "Analytics Settings"
  3. Create a new goal under "Conversion Goals and Funnels"
  4. The Match Type is "Head Match"
  5. Enter the URL, e.g. http://www.alexlcohen.com/goal/chiclets
  6. Give it a name
  7. Save the changes
  8. Wait

Then, go to Traffic Sources > All Traffic Sources.  Click on the conversion tab and, voila:

Blogconversionrate



Your goals are now columns and you can see how different traffic converts!

For more about on-click tagging in Google Analytics, read this.  This is a pretty standard web analytics procedure, so ask your vendor how to do it.

Of course there are plenty of other events that you can tag and other important metrics (like repeat visitation).  Naturally, many of your "conversions" occur outside of the blog--emails from readers, job offers, invitations to speak (I'm still waiting :-)). 

How do you define and measure your blog's success? 

For Search Marketing Gurus, Alex Cohen of Digital Alex.

PS: Props to Hamlet, whose post taught me this method.


NonProfits Can Benefit from Social Media, Just Ask Mara Triangle

By Li Evans

Elephant at Mara Triangle, KenyaSometimes as global audiences we get inundated with "causes" that we ignore those "Donate" buttons because we see them over and over again.  Unfortunately for Non-Profits, the offline blindness they have to overcome has now really become the same issues online.  What's worse is that some of these non-profits are getting bad advice about just starting up websites and "they will come".  I'm sorry to break this to the non-profits, just building a static website anymore - won't cut it.

Today I stumbled across the story of the Mara Triangle thanks to Twitter's blog (see even when they are down, they are still good for something!).  What's the Mara Triangle you ask?  Well, it's a wildlife park in Kenya which under the management of the Mara Conservancy helps to protect the wildlife from poachers.  Poachers are one of the biggest threats to the wildlife in this area, and with the conservancy in place, they are able to employ rangers to help protect the animals from these poachers.

Up until last year, none of these rangers had likely even touched a computer.  Up until last year, the park solely ran off of the entrance fees to the park.  Up until last year, Kenya as a country was pretty stable. 

That all changed until this year's election when political unrest erupted and put the entire tourism industry in Kenya into complete and utter chaos.  With no one coming to visit Kenya or the Mara Triangle, funds started to run out, fast. 

Enter William Deed, prior to helping the Mara Conservancy, he lead what he pretty much terms as a "bored with his lot" life and started his own blog about Waiting in Line.  That caught the eye of famed Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey and his son-in-law, Emmanuel De Merode who run Wildlife Direct.  They tasked William with building blogs and getting the word out about the different wildlife projects under Wildlife Direct.

Giraffes at Mara Triangle in KenyaIn February Mara Triangle's blog launched.  It was a slow build, but through word of mouth, news of this blog and what the rangers were doing started to spread.  The blog's chief contributer is Joseph Kimojino a ranger in the park.  He blogs just about every day, which is an amazing feat when you learn that he just click a mouse for the first time back in November.

What makes this story even more compelling?  Joseph isn't just blogging!  Joseph tweets on Twitter, he uploads photos just about everyday to Flickr, he loads videos to Vimeo and even helps to maintain the Facebook cause.

Likely though what caught the eye of Wired magazine is the use of Twitter.  It's also what caught my eye, and got me to click around and just be really amazed and excited.  There use of many different parts of social media just impressed me and made my jaw drop - photos like their's usually tend to do that.  I felt compelled enough by the story they conveyed to give a monthly donation.

Social media when used in the right way can convey compelling stories.  Whether its a blog, photos or even videos, social media allows emotions to be conveyed in ways no piece of paper or static website can.  Combining these powerful tools together can result in truly wonderful stories people just feel compelled to take up a cause for (or even buy a product or service).

Are you telling your non-profit's story in a compelling way?  Does your story touch your audience in a way like the Mara Triangle did me?

May 28, 2008

Who's In Your Audience or Community?

By Li Evans

Who's in Your Audience?Knowing who's in your audience or your community can save a substantial amount of money, time and other resources when planning out your online marketing strategy.  It's rare to find a substantial amount of users on the internet at the same place in their use of the internet whether its search, social communities or word of mouth.  However if you know the types of audiences there are, and can group them, and know by demographics where they generally fall it can save you a lot of sweat and tears in the long run.

Take for example the demographic of a 35-44 year old woman in the United States.  Do you know where she hangs out?  Do you know what types of communities she participates in, or does she even participate at all?  Does she do a ton of research, looking at ratings and review sites before she makes the decision to buy, or make a reservation?  Doe she actively create blogs, or is she more likely to participate and promote news stories, or be a "tagger" in a social bookmarking community?  If you sold shoes, designer purses, interior decorating supplies, electronic gadgets or had a line of luxury cruises you just might want to figure that out before you spend a ton of money starting a community that this demographic just might not readily participate in, or spending thousands on a PPC campaign they won't pay attention to.

In reading the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, they identify 6 types of audiences with social communities, but when you take into account that there's also search and there's also word of mouth to deal with in online marketing campaigns, there are a lot of other ways you also need to look at an audience. Charlene and Josh identify the Creator, Critic, Collector, Joiner, Spectator and Inactives. By the names alone you can get a feel for the types of participants these classifications are.

As an online marketer who tries to look at all strategies even beyond social media, trying to include and strategize for, you know a true online marketing strategy doesn't just include social media.  An online marketing strategy includes SEO, PPC, Social Media and even Word of Mouth.  With  that in mind there are more segments of an audience to take into account when you begin to strategize.

  • The Audience Members?Brand Evangelists: These people LOVE you.  They love your products, your services, they even love the janitor that cleans your desks at night.  To them, you basically walk on water.  They will tell everyone and anyone how great you are, they gush about how you sent them a Christmas card, and will tattoo your logo on their bicep.



  • Promoters: Almost as loyal as the Brand Evangelist, however, these people promote you and most people listen.  They aren't taken as wild and deranged fans by their friends, when these people talk, their friends listen.  Here's a tip, make your promoters valuable, empower your promoters, by giving them the tools to make their words, more than just words.



Continue reading "Who's In Your Audience or Community?" »

May 27, 2008

Online Marketing Tips Video: Press Release Optimization

By Li Evans

Tuesday's Tips in Online Marketing is back with another video.  This week we're featuring some tips on how to optimize Press Releases for the web.  Got a press release?  Want to just slap that thing on a web page after you've emailed it out to over 100 media outlets?  Think again, at least if you want it to get somewhere in the search engines.


   

Full Transcript after the jump...

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: Press Release Optimization" »

May 23, 2008

Fun Photo Fridays: Mike Grehan "Cheers To You" at Search Marketing World 2008

By Li Evans

Back in April at the beginning of that month I had the opportunity to travel to Dublin, Ireland to speak at Search Marketing World 2008.  It was my first time in Ireland but my friends from the search industry like Motoko Hunt, Dave Davis & Mike Grehan all helped me out with places to go and visit during my stay there.

Right after the sessions were over at Search Marketing World, there was a networking event.  Everyone was just hanging out, chilling, and generally having a great time.  I snapped this photo of Mike, who's one of my favorite people in this industry, and just loved the way it caught his sense of fun.  He was toasting, "here's to you, Li", and I say "Cheers to You Mike!"

Fun Photo Fridays: Mike Grehan

If you like this photo of Mike Grehan "Cheers To You" at Search Marketing World 2008, 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 Search Marketing World 2008, there's over 140 photos to view.

May 22, 2008

What American Idol Can Teach You About Marketing

By Li Evans

American_idol_top_3_season_7 I'm not an American Idol watcher.  But as a marketer, and one who loves social media and word of mouth marketing, there's nothing greater than seeing this powerhouse show in action.  Some of the time, the "Wisdom of the Crowds" works out, sometimes it does not.  Sometimes the crowds are with the judges and sometimes, the judges are just so way off base (and I'm not talking about Paula's weird & wacky actions).

This year was the first year I have actually not seen one episode of American Idol.  Usually I at least watch the first few episodes that feature the rather "quirky" performance, hey they turned out William Hung, so it can't be that bad, right? It's it's not unusual that William Hung's awful talents grab the nation by storm, he had a story, his story was "hey I gave it my best shot" and "thank you".  Two things that seem so rare on the entertainment world.

David Cook was this year's American Idol winner.  Interesting thing about it this year was that all three judges (that'd be Scowling Simon, Ever-So-Cool Randy and Whacky Paula ) the night before pretty much were crowning David Archuletta as the winner.  However, the crowds had a lot to say, 97 million votes later David Cook's story and talents appealed to the masses more than his 17 year old competitor's.

The thing that makes American Idol such a powerhouse, and such a "sensation" year after year, is that it's good at telling stories.  So good that sometimes it's the stories behind the contestants that propel the winner into the top categories, or even to fame if they don't win.  Sometimes those stories help the contestant win the hearts of their local audiences, too, as in the case of Temptress Browne of Philladelphia.

Continue reading "What American Idol Can Teach You About Marketing" »

May 21, 2008

How Microsoft's Cashback Search Could Deliver

By Y.M. Ousley

Hint: It's not about the money.

When Microsoft's cashback live search was announced at Search Engine Watch there were somewhat positive reactions focused on advertisers (TechCrunch), though most feedback (here, here, here and here among others) has been of people left largely unimpressed.

Last year I suggested that certain searches were still open to companies who could provide better user experiences in various verticals: a thought echoed on GigaOm earlier this year, with references to vertical search engines on track to earn $500 million-$1 billion.

When I first read about the new Live search, I thought "close, but no cigar." The doubts - low-quality traffic, not enough user interest to buy market share - have already been well stated, so I won't harp on them. While not off to a great start, Microsoft could very well turn this into a product that delivers with a few significant improvements.

1. Continue to Innovate
On its own, the cashback program won't be a serious threat to Google or Yahoo. What could give it legs, is a better search experience for each category combined with cashback.

Shopstyle, a shopping engine I find particularly easy to navigate, seems to use merchant feeds to ensure the results only include in-stock items, with available colors and sizes displayed before you click through.

Since Microsoft is starting small, this is the type of thing that could ease Danny's frustration, and get them off to a much better start with users still willing to kick the tires.

Start with:

  • Indexing technology that recognizes when an item is unavailable
  • Real-time pricing updates to minimize discrepancies
  • Supplemental results that show relevant non-cashback products if a cashback product is not available

Even Calacanis figured out the last one. While going for the money (high-volume, commerce driven), terms, it's still in your best interest to give users an option for the long tail. A non-cashback Live Search for Philips DVD3575H, the DVD player Danny grew frustrated searching for, turns up a very relevant link to Amazon along with a review of the product. I'm in France so the next results are for French sites, but if they can find the specific model being searched for and link it to retailers where it's available for purchase (with related CPC ads!), why on earth are they not using these to supplement the cashback results?

2. Differentiate
Remember Froogle? Let's pretend you do. Completely my opinion, but one of the reasons it never took off is because a shopping search is different from a general search.

When I was shopping for a new digital camera, price wasn't my only filter. I wanted a certain amount of megapixels, didn't want the primary color to be silver or black, and reviews so I could get a better idea of picture quality and ease of use. Cashback or not, I would never think to start that search at Google, Froogle, Live or on any general search engine.

Regardless of how much cash is thrown their way, most shoppers are just as unlikely to try finding the right keywords to do that type of search. Here's where Microsoft has an opportunity:

  • Give category specific filters - beyond price - to each vertical.

Shopping for an engagement ring requires different options than shopping for a swimsuit. If a man is set on proposing with a platinum ring with a round diamond, it's unlikely $50-100 cashback will convince him to go with a gold ring with a pear-shaped diamond. If I'm looking for a one-piece swimsuit, I wouldn't buy a bikini for 99% cash back.

 

If this is the product that is expected to take on Google, Microsoft would be smart to follow the people who are already doing just that (Indeed, SimplyHired, Kayak being some of the largest) and give users what Google can't: highly relevant, category specific results.

As it is, Live cashback search will likely end up in the "in theory..." internet archives of next to iWon and a few others. If Microsoft innovates for e-commerce search, gives compelling filters for its target categories and uses cashback to offer users a better price than they'd find otherwise, this could very well be the next big thing in search.

May 20, 2008

Online Marketing Tips Video: Conversion Types - Engagement, Lead Generation, User Signups, & Contributions

By Li Evans

This week's Tuesdays' Tips in Online Marketing Video is the 2nd in the 2 part series (Conversion Types, Part 1) focusing on discussing the different types of conversion types that you can track and measure the success of your online marketing efforts.  Whether its offline driving online traffic, viral campaigns, word of mouth marketing efforts or even PPC or SEO, these are types of conversions worth paying attention to, if you want to gauge and monitor the success or failure of your efforts.

   

Full video transcript after the jump....

Continue reading "Online Marketing Tips Video: Conversion Types - Engagement, Lead Generation, User Signups, & Contributions" »

May 19, 2008

Using Social Media to Research Customer Service Experiences

By Li Evans

Think that people don't care about conversations about the customer service experience your company provides?  Think again!

According to a recently released study from The Society for New Communications Research on Customer Care, a lot more people are using Social Media to investigate Customer Service experiences dealing with companies.  In the study 91% percent of the respondents said they used some sort of Social Media either "Always", "Often", "Sometimes", or "Rarely".  That's saying something, and companies should start taking heed.

Society for New Communication Research Customer Service / Social Media Study

Continue reading "Using Social Media to Research Customer Service Experiences" »

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