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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.

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.”

5 Best Printer Friendly WordPress Plugins

Have you had trouble printing out information from a blog article?  I have and so when I saw this article on top Wordpress plug ins for printer friendly documents, I was all over it.   Take a look at the: Quick online tips blog.  They had great info for the options for printer friendly wordpress plug ins for your blog.

5 Best Printer Friendly WordPress Plugins
Posted: 22 Mar 2010 06:55 AM PDT
Guest post by Tom Walker.
“Do you know which are the best printer friendly WordPress plugins? When you are in the process of creating a WordPress blog, trying to get your head around all of the jargon and available plugins can seem quite daunting. To put it simply, a plugin is designed to help you achieve more with your blog and can make many tasks a whole lot simpler.

When you have visitors to your blog it is often the case that they would like to print out information to use either immediately or in the future. This could involve details about your company, contact numbers or email addresses, or general information that they have found useful and would like to keep as a reference.
If you have tried to print information from a blog before, then you will know how many pages end up coming out of the printer, many of which are useless, and sometimes even the full width of the page doesn’t print out. However, there are some extremely useful plugins that you can get that will help to make your blog printer friendly.
Best Printer Friendly WordPress Plugins
Most plugins can be used immediately to help improve the success and look of your site. Here are some of the best plugins available and we have outlined some of the features to give you a better understanding and to help you decide if they would be useful on your blog.
1. PrintWhatYouLike
This plugin is a great way to ensure that your blog prints out in a print-friendly manner for your customers or potential clients. It works by automatically formatting your blog for printing, but it also has some additional benefits as well. It will allow you to save a blog page as a PDF file, individually customise a page, and create your own layout for printing.
2. VoucherPress
If you would like to be able to offer discount vouchers or special deals to your customers and visitors, this plugin will allow you to customise your own individual vouchers that can then be downloaded and printed. One of the advantages of this plugin for those wishing to create a potential client base for email marketing purposes is that you can set the parameters to require email addresses and individual logins. This could very well set your WordPress blog up to be far more successful in the long run.
Another advantage of using the voucher or token system is that once downloaded, a specific voucher cannot be downloaded again. You could also place limits on the number of offers available, once the limit has been reached the offer will cease. This allows you greater control over specials and promotions, if you so choose.
3. PrintFriendly
This plugin is exactly as its name suggests, a button that can be added to your WordPress blog to enable potential customers and clients to easily print your pages in a friendly manner. Visitors familiar with the web will appreciate this add on, as they know they will be able to print exactly what they want, without multiple sheets of paper being used and wasting ink. This plugin will also allow you the ability to remove any imposing pictures when printing leaving you with a printout of information only.
4. Blog2Print
If you are extremely pleased with your blog and think it would have some value as a book, it is now possible to turn all of your blog posts that you have made into a book. It is up to you whether you would like to actually hold this book in your hands physically, or download and save it as a PDF document. If you would like it in a hardcopy, then it will cost you money, however the PDF version is free. If you wish to print the PDF, it is important to note that it is currently formatted to an A5 paper size only, and this could be a disadvantage for some.
5. Cleanprint
The use of this plugin will provide your readers with many advantages and will promote your blog as one that is thoughtful and professional. Having pages that have been optimised for printing, and showing readers that this is the case, could set your blog apart in terms of convenience and repeat visitors. This plug in will also enable you to customise the logo that will appear at the top of each printed page and will omit useless on-screen details that the reader doesn’t need on their printed page. Imagine your blog post coming out of the printer looking like a page straight out of a magazine, advertising your product or service. If this appeals to you, then this plugin is a must for your blog.”
This guest post was written by Tom Walker for Quickonline tips, a blogger who writes for a UK based specialist in ink, toners, paper and other supplies for the creative industry called Cartridge Save. You can subscribe to their blog to keep up with his posts on art, design and technology. You can also share WordPress tips and write a guest article here.

What other blogs are saying about you and your products.

Blogs and monitoring of blogs and what is being said about you is a hot topic these days.  How do you monitor? Do you pay to monitor? What tools are available to you to monitor blogs and what is being said about you or your company is all the discussion in the CMO’s mind.

Social Mouths blog had some good ideas of free listening posts for your products and services, beyond the paid services for social media monitoring such as Radian 6 and CrimsonHexagon. 

Here is the short list URLs and Free blog listening tools:

IceRocket

Blog Pluse

Blog line search

Google blog search

Paid Services:

Radian 6

Crimsonhexagon.

Here is the blog I was reading on the subject.

Social Mouths blog 

Do You Know What Other Blogs Are Saying About You?

listeningDo you know if you are being mentioned on other blogs? Did you know there are ways of tracking this? And, why is this important anyways?

In this post, I’ll explain why paying attention to what other blogs say is important and how to be aware of these mentions.

So let’s get started…

Why You Should Care

SEO

When you get mentioned by another blog, the author usually links back to your blog/site and as you know, getting backlinks is one of the most important things you can do to your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as they can improve your page ranking. The search engines want to know if your site is relevant.

Sentiment

The next thing you need to worry about is sentiment. Is the comment positive or negative? Of course you don’t want people saying something negative about you or your services. When you track these mentions at least you have the opportunity to participate, maybe try to do something to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. Damage control.

If it’s a positive mention, it is also a good opportunity to engage in the conversation.

Reciprocity

Be human. Be thankful and participate by leaving a comment or giving the post a tweet. Not to make you feel obligated but return the favor if you can, there is a good chance the other blog is somehow related to your topic.

Don’t ignore it, keep this blog in mind.

Let’s Look At An Example

Herbert from Penn State | Outreach Marketing did a very, very nice piece sharing a post from SocialMouths on his “Why Is Social Media Not Working For You” (Thanks Herbert).

Outreach Marketing

OK, so this is an extreme example and it’s not always like this, the mention can be a simple link to your blog or to a specific post. The point here is how to find this, right?

Tools

There are many tools you can use to track these mentions, feel free to share your favorite ones in the comment section of this post. Here a couple you can try:

Go to these sites and do a search based on your blog’s name or URL.

IceRocket

icerocket

BlogPulse (From Nielsen)

blogpulse

Other tools you can use are Bloglines Search or Google’s Blog Search.

Get Alerts

rss readerAll these services and most of them out there allow you to get the search results on RSS. You should subscribe and organize them on your RSS Reader. The point is to get alerts and be able to react as soon as possible, there is no point if you come back a month after the post was published.

Final Tought

The social web gives you the opportunity to engage in ways traditional media can’t but if you don’t pay attention, those opportunities are wasted.

One more thing, when you mention somebody or share a post from somebody else on your blog, make sure you do it properly so you give credit and the other end is aware of it.

Happy Listening!”