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Web platforms: Reintroduction of basic website feature functions and benefits

Ebay had an ad on Facebook for EBay fashion that caught my eye.  It caught my eye because back in the day, I used Ebay quite a bit.  Now not at all. 

I  just posted some furniture on Craig’s list and got no response.  I used to get it sold that day. 

Plaxo use to be my digital address book, now I do not even open their emails. 

I don’t even know my MySpace log in, nor have I used it in years.

So what is going on?  I have created a lot of litter on the digital highway with my usage. Self created, but none the less add to a CMO’s marketers dilemma.

My thought is that even the most famous websites or platforms need to reintroduce themselves frequently to their current user base.  The key driver is to reintroduce what they do, how to do it and why they are still relevant.  The basic 101 of the site. 

Most marketers as of late have been focused on organic optimization of the website and content, which is great, but have forgotten the basics of if and when they find you, they better know how to use you and why to use your site.

I still  have preconceived ideas about Ebay based on my last use.  They have may changes dramatically, yet I still shy away from getting reintroduced. Nor has Ebay even tried to re-engage me. Running a sale is different from reintroducing me to how to use the site.

Google Marketplace has miss stepped over and over again.  I was a huge loyalist, then they because so complex that it drove out all small business with having to add ownership tags that drove out most who do not have in-house web techs. Now they are charging per click to make money off the big brands.

 As compared with Amazon market place, which still has some bugs to work out, but which I sing their praises every day.

As the CMO, dig a little deeper with your team. Look at your own website.  Is traffic up or down, not net new traffic, your returning traffic.  Why are they using your site, what are they doing, what are they not doing. Most sites are designed for net new, not returning visitors.

Returning visitors need  their own path of re-education on how to use the site, whats new, what is familiar. Just as same store sales is critical for brick and mortar, it is critical to activate those who are returning.

The digital road is littered with use and disuse.  What state is your website or platform in? What are your returning customers needing?

These simple questions could improve conversion 10% and who would not want that these days.

CardMunch is a CMO’s virtual admin assistant

CardMunch by Linkedin is something all CMO’s need to download on their phones and use. I have stacks of business cards that I want to convert to digital and now can.

It allows you to take a picture of business cards you get, you then send it to them with a push of a button, they transcribe and send it back to you, so you can save to your phone or email or forward it. Better than an admin….

It works well about 80% of the time. Sometimes the person transcribing does not fill in all the info on the card. So you have to send it back.

Once you get enough cards loaded it even alphabetized it for you in a mini address book. It also ties to your Linked in account, so pictures of the person is added.

It is free and worth trying. cardmunch.com or down load from the app store.

What is also nice is you have a photo of the card also.

This allows me to see any notes I may have put on the card.

Blogging Mistakes for Beginners

I was researching best practices in blogs the other day and come upon an article that Hubspot did: The Fundamentals of Business Blogging that is worth repeating.

“Seven Easily-Avoided Mistakes for Beginners   1.  Never actually launching it:  This is likely the most common mistake.  Sure, you’ve been meaning to get your blog kicked off.  You may have even authored your first article.  But guess what, it’s not a blog until you actually publish something.   
2.  Using a sub-domain (ex: myblog.typepad.com):  If you’re going to go to the trouble to start a blog, then you owe it to yourself to get started right.  Even if you decide to use one of the many popular free blogging services, you should register your own domain name.  There are many reasons for this, but the most important is control over your website URL.  This is one of the few decisions about your blog that is going to be difficult to fix later.  Trust me on this one, the price is worth it.  [Note to self:  Add a check to the website grader to let people know when they’ve made this blunder] 
3.  Spending too much time on design: Don’t let the design of your blog get you bogged down.  Pick one of the many existing templates out there that are free or close to it and go ahead and get started.  You can always change templates later.  Besides, blogs are fundamentally about content.  Aesthetics help, but your first focus should be on authoring great content.  
4.  Not telling anyone about it: The beginning days of a blog are the hardest.  You don’t have anyone linking to you, the search engines are not ranking you (and maybe not even indexing you).  So, there’s really only one source of traffic:  Direct contact.  The best way to get a new blog launched is to tell people in your network that you now have a blog.  Many people are a little reluctant to do this becomes it seems vain or boastful.  As long as you’re sending the notification to people who have an interest in your topic, there’s nothing wrong with it.  
5.  Getting discouraged too early: Most things in life worth doing take time.  Blogging is no different.  You should give yourself at least 6 months (perhaps even a year) to determine what kind of interest there is out there before giving up due to lack of traffic.  Early momentum is hard, but once things start moving, lots of things will start working in your favor.   
6.  Too many widgets: Given how easy it is to add various blog widgets to your blog, it’s tempting to go overboard.  Resist the temptation.  In the early weeks, focus on the basics:  Content, comments, categories and perhaps a blog roll.  Save the fancy stuff for later.  
7.  Monetizing too early: Just because Google makes it easy to throw ads up on your blog doesn’t mean you should.  With minimal traffic, the amount of money you are going to make is negligible (probably pennies a day).  If you’re serious about blogging, you’ll first focus on building an audience before even attempting to try to make money at it.  Trying ads out on your blog too early will reduce the chances of your getting that critical early traffic.
 
You don’t have to blunder in the beginning of your blogging efforts.  HubSpot’s training and support program make it super simple and easy for you.”

This is so true even today, now that Google has changed the way to searched and gives relevance to blogs.  Changes in the way to bring blogs to market are in order if you are starting today.  If you already have a well established blog that is getting good traffic, then I would not touch it and start a second blog and grow that for the new ways fo the blogging world.

Creating a video sitemap for Google search

Adding video to your website is a key element today,  just as adding social media elements is a must do in today’s world of organic search. To gain page one video placement you need to get the video indexed by Google.  We all know of pushing an XML site map to gain organic traffic to our content, however many do not know to add a video sitemap, in addition. Check with your webmaster or agency to be sure they know to do this.  The Quick Online blog had a great article on this a few months back, and it is worth revisiting or visiting for the first time, especially if you are adding videos to your site or are already using video.  The blog  also addresses, hosting videos on your site vs feeding from YouTube or DailyMotion.

How to Get Your Videos Indexed by Google  by Quick Online blog
March 1st, 2010
Guest post by Keiros.
How to get your videos listed on Google? Have you already noticed while performing a search on Google, those videos thumbnails displayed on the left side of some sites? They are definitely great traffic attractors, and having such a video associated with your site when being on 5th or 6th positions of the search results page may be better in terms of “click-thru-rate” than being on 1st position without it.
There is an additional bonus in having a video associated to your site: on some occasions, Google displays in a block titled “Video results for Keyword“, often on the 3rd or 5th position, several videos, and when it is the case, you can jump several positions and land directly on the first page to join an already existing video results block.

The trick is to find a search argument for which your page is already ranking well but not yet on the first page, with Google displaying a Video Results group on first page: you will benefit from the optimization work of those who made the way to the first page.

Found the perfect search request? All you need to do now is to make your video indexed by Google, and that’s the easiest part !

1.Put a video on your page : I mean a real video, hosted on your site, not on Youtube or DailyMotion. You need a .flv file (or .mpg, .avi, .mp4) and a video plugin that supports this kind of video formats. Jing is perfect to record onscreen action and make nice video tutorials.
2.Create a thumbnail of your video : that’s the thumbnail that Google will display on its search results page, so making a good quality thumbnail out of your video is an important step. Personally, I’ve found that 160×120 gif or jpg works well for that purpose….and they actually don’t need to be extracted from your video. Any image pertinent to the content of your video will make the trick.
3.Create a video sitemap : Video sitemaps are XML files similar to usual sitemaps but using a different syntax. See an example.
4.Submit your video sitemap to Google : Video sitemaps can be submitted in Google Webmaster Tools exactly as a standard sitemap. If you had not yet registered your site in Google Webmaster Tool, that’s the perfect occasion to do it now.

Video Sitemap example

( See HTML on the Quickonline site)

The video-specific XML tags are pretty straightforward, but if you need more detail, you can check this page on Google Webmaster Central: Creating Video Sitemaps. Don’t forget to optimize your video sitemap by inserting your main keywords in the video tags, it will give an additional boost to your ranking if done meaningfully.

Guest author Keiros is an outsourcing and infrastructure management consultant, and a contributor to SEO Chat Forum. You can also write guest posts and share your Google tips with our readers.

Social Media web traffic stats mean changes in social media direction

 When the landscape is changing so fasts in social media, a stat like 41% of social media on Facebook would be a key driver for the 2011 marketing plans.  However for me the interesting fact is the growth of the others like Ning, and Hulu. The fact that MySpace has held it own and has not declined, is a definite relook, were many had started to count them out. The flattening of Twitter trend is also one to take into consideration when planning to use it in your social media mix.  The term – Social media mix, is the key to 2011 planning, it is not longer a one tool plan as an add-on that will work.  Social Media mix is now my new mantra.

Mashables article on social media stats gives a road map to next steps.   By Jolie O’Dell 14

Facebook and YouTube are displacing rivals and taking over the social web, according to data we’ve just received from comScore.

In addition to showing massive and continued traffic growth throughout 2009 and the beginning of 2010, Facebook and YouTube continued to capture the highest volume of social web traffic. Twitter also garnered a ton of mainstream attention, helping the company increase the number of visitors to its site by fivefold over the course of the year.

Taking a look at the unique visitors charts, we see the widespread migration from MySpace to Facebook even more clearly. As of March 2010, Facebook traffic made up 41% of all traffic on a list of popular social destinations. MySpace was in second place, capturing around 24% of traffic. Gmail had 15%, and Twitter had 8%. However, during the same period in 2009, MySpace was in the lead with 38% of site visits over Facebook’s 33%.

While Gmail continues to show slow year-over-year growth and sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter experienced exponential gains over the course of the past 12 months, MySpace’s traffic has been completely stagnant. Facebook, on the other hand, has exhibited strong growth and high volumes of traffic. Take a look at the difference between site traffic in March 2009 and March 2010 for these social sites:

comScore is an acknowledged leader in digital analytics and intelligence. comScore’s data for this post are based on a hybrid of site analytics and audience measurement for U.S. users at home, work and school.”

Adding Group SMS text messages to your marketing or communications plans

 Finding ways to leverage SMS or Text marketing is always a challenge on how to do carefully selected text messages to targeted audiences.  Messages like getting a key message out to your sales force or you need to change a location or time for an event and to grow customer engagement. Broadcasting text alerts to your subscribers and have it also push to your Twitter, Facebook and website visitors in one stroke is a valuable tool to consider. Mashable recently covered this subject.

” Christina Warren  from Mashable blog has done a very good outline of a way to easily do this.

This post is part of Mashable’s Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark.
 

Name: TextMarks

 Quick Pitch: TextMarks group text messaging services turn any mobile phone into a powerful marketing tool.

 Genius Idea: TextMarks makes it easy to create SMS marketing campaigns by letting users send a text message with a custom keyword of your choice to 41411. You can also use TextMarks auto-post service to send out SMS messages to subscribers and also update Facebook() and Twitter().

As the Red Cross’s efforts in raising money for Haiti proved, text messages can be a powerful way to engage others and to spread information. It’s not just about joke-of-the-day subscriptions or other nonsense that you see at 2AM on TV — real money and real causes can be publicized through text.

 

TextMarks is a service that makes it really easy to set-up a mobile campaign to broadcast messages or updates to users that opt-in to your service by first texting a keyword. 

What we like about TextMarks is that the service is easy to set-up and affordable. You can try out the service for free and send unlimited ad-supported messages each month, and ad-free plans start at $9.95 a month. For small businesses or small groups like churches or clubs, that’s a really nice option. 

We also like that you can update Twitter and Facebook with the same messages you send out to other users. That way, if you’re using messages to keep people updated with scheduling information or other time-sensitive info, the message can go out across all of your social channels.”

Jing is free software that adds visuals to your online conversations

Jing by Techsmith, is a tool that has captured my attention. It is a simple to use tool for instant sharing. It can be used for screen shots, videos, call outs and to show people what you are seeing on your screen with a click of a button with a linking URL.  Much better than the process of screen shot, save to word ect.  It sits on your desk top as a yellow half-moon ready for when you want to screen shot with three choices of capture, history and more.

Their website says it is to add visuals to your online conversation. There is a free version and a paid version for adding video. With the free version you also get 2 mg on Screencast which is a nice benefit.

Here is a few ways they suggest using Jing

  • collaborateCollaborate on a design project
  • share snapshotShare a snapshot of a document
  • speechNarrate your vacation photos
  • bugCapture that pesky bug in action
  • family tech supportShow Dad how to use iTunes
  • homeworkComment verbally on students’ homework
  • tidbitsPost tidbits from your life on Twitter or Facebook

What I also like is that is integrated with their other programs, that are more complex.

Screencast.com Screencast.  It not only provides free storage and instant sharing of your Jing content…it’s also a super place to share your high-quality videos, images, presentations, and all manner of digital content.

 

Snagit Snag-It . This Swiss-army knife of screen capture picks up where Jing leaves off.  Powerful image editing, scrolling window capture, cursor capture, tagging, search, and rugged good looks.

Camtasia Studio Camtasia Studio.  Jing’s big brother on the video side—and the ideal choice for creating longer, more polished screen videos. Camtasia Studio can edit your Jing videos, too.