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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.

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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.”

WordPress adds Sitemap ping to blogs.

 The WordPress email newsletter had the following information on WordPress adding sitemap pings.  That is very good news since Google Caffeine launched and has changes the way your pages are now searched and ranked and you may be seeing a fall in your blog traffic.  The pings will help this fall off in readers and help to regain your blog traffic.  Be sure you are adding new blogs and keeping the content fresh. 

  

Reach Out and Ping Someone

Niall Kennedy | February 11, 2010 at 12:12 am | Tags: search, sitemap | Categories: search | URL: http://wp.me/pf2B5-Yj
” Publishing your blog on WordPress.com lets you focus on your content while we sweat the technical stuff, including helping your content reach a larger audience.

 We just turned on sitemap pings for all WordPress.com blogs. Now, immediately after you publish or delete a page or post, your WordPress.com blog sends a ping to Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Ask*. These immediate notifications help the major search engines receive your new content as quickly as possible (often within seconds), so your blog can show up in search results faster.  

Tools to make your content findable
Sitemap pings are just one of the ways WordPress.com helps your content reach a large audience moments after you hit “Publish.” Every blog includes support for webmaster validation through Google, Bing and Yahoo! webmaster portals. Post updates are sent through Ping-o-Matic!, a ping relay tool owned by the WordPress Foundation, to major feed reader and blog search engines. Our Publicize feature updates your Yahoo! and Twitter accounts with a short summary and a link back to your blog content. These are just some of the ways WordPress.com helps you find your audience. 

* Note: We only expose content to search engines for public blogs on WordPress.com.”

RSS Ranking tool to see how effective your RSS feed is?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a way for those who wish to get a feed of your information sent to them everytime you add content.  If you  have set up an RRS feed, you now should be asking  how effective the feed is?  This tool will help check: http://www.rssmicro.com/feedsubmit.web

What I really like about this tool is that the FeedRank algorithm checks 16 different areas and
measures the quality of the content on your feed.  This is critical to a successful RSS feed from your website, blog or other forms that you are using for RSS.  Here is what they ask you for to get your ranking:

Submit Your RSS/Atom Feed

New! Check your site FeedRank only on RSSMicro

No registration is required, instant results tailored to your feed(FeedRank algorithm checks 16 different areas and
measures the quality of the content on your feed)

What is your FeedRank?!

RSSMicro FeedRank
Learn more

First Name: (optional) Last Name: (optional)

Email: (optional)
Get updated information on your feed by email. We respect your privacy, we do not use your email for any purpose other than your feed submission to RSSMicro.

Feed URL: (required) (Sample URL: http://www.mysite.com/myfeed)
We support RSS Feed Auto-Discovery

Category: (optional)
RSS feed category element (if specified) will take over
Select OneAdultsArtsAutomotiveBlogs (Personal)Blogs (Professional)Books/MagazinesBusiness/FinanceCareersComputers/InternetEducationEditorialElectronicsEntertainmentEnvironmentFood & WineGamesHealthHumor & FunKids & TeensLawLifestyle/ReligionMoviesMusicNewsParentingPeoplePetsPodcastPoliticsScience/TechnologyShoppingSportsReal EstateReviewsTravelTVVideoWeatherOther

 Submitting your RSS/Atom feed URL does not guarantee that the feed will be indexed by RSSMicro.

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Trend Watch: Channels – SlideShare adds Content Channels.

SlideShare is adding Content Channels and is a trend to get on board with now.  SlideShare is an online Powerpoint /slide show program that you can use for presentations, conference calls, feed to your blogs, to LinkedIn or is available for organic search from the search engines.   This is sort of pod casting made easy for static presentations.  SlideShare is also a great place to do research on a subject, since many speakers put their presentations on Slide share and you are allowed to download them.

Here is the info on thier new launch and an explaination of how some are using it from their newsletter.

“Today we added Channels – the newest kid on the SlideShare block. Channels are branded spaces on SlideShare for companies and brands. They provide an extra bit of oomph for companies with great content. 

  • If you are looking for interesting content, then go to the Channels section to find interesting channels to browse. We will feature those with the most interesting content. Some of the early channels are
    Microsoft Office has setup a channel focused on parenting topic (project done in collaboration with our partners, Federated Media)
    Ogilvy has setup a concept channel for Pharma
    Razorfish Marketing uploads about interactive marketing & technology
  • Pew Internet has shared a lot of their research reports about the internet & internet usage
  • Whitehouse is sharing almost 1000 presentations and documents
    We’re also rolling out topical Channels that are curated by our content team. For example, channels on Cloud Computing and Social Media. You’ll more of them in the coming months as we roll out new topics.

If your company or organization is interested in channels, then get in touch by going here.

Design Matters: To drive results, consider the effectiveness of design.

Guest blogger: Eileen Burick from Burick Communications Design.

On occasion, I invite guest bloggers to share a subject they have expertise in.  Eileen Burick and her husband Bob are the dynamic duo for high-end visual communications, print and web, and I value  their insight and expertise.  We spoke about the shift away from good original design focus to templates and what it means.  Here is her blog on the subject to help the CMO’s and Marketing Directors across the country bring focus in this area with their agencies and teams.

Design Matters

While there is understandably much focus on Search Engine Optimization, when a web viewer is delivered from a link they’ve found on organic, paid or linked search to their desired destination — even if the content is high quality — and the resulting web site’s visual presentation is average, cluttered or unprofessionally executed and the viewer has to work too hard to find the information they are searching for, the page view has a high likely hood of being quickly abandoned.

Research confirms that users make aesthetic decisions about the overall visual impression of web pages in as little as 50 milliseconds (1/20th of a second).* If the look and feel of a site doesn’t deliver on the brand promise, conversions are lost. SEO functions like the yellow pages which may get a viewer to the landing page but if expectations are unmet because of poor visual impact, the SEO effort loses its effectiveness.
If image is important then SEO alone is not enough to propel sales. Employing a basket of visually distinctive technologies and tactics with multiple touch-points and telling a relevant “story” as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy, will over the long-term prove most effective.
There is so much competition among Web sites that in order to truly “stand out from the crowd” it is critical that all three components — search optimization, quality content and effective, aesthetically pleasing visual impact — be addressed and developed with maximum care.

User Interface (UI) Designer, Hitesh Puri writes that “Attractive things work better.” The visual aesthetics that frame and define content are much more than simply a “skin” that we can apply or discard without consequence. Users react in fast, profound, and lasting ways to the aesthetics of what they see and use, and research shows that the sophisticated visual content presentation influences user perceptions of usability, trust, and confidence in the web content they view. Those user judgments begin within 50 milliseconds of seeing the first page of your site.

Smart graphic design is always some balance of current expressive trends, information architecture, classical layout aesthetics, and detailed research on user preferences and motivations. You should never ignore solid user experience data, but mountains of data won’t auto-magically build you a successful site. Design is a synthetic activity. It can be informed by the results of analysis, but the tools of analysis don’t create beautiful designs. Douglas Bowman’s recent experience as a graphic designer among Google’s engineers who want “data” behind every aesthetic decision is instructive: data and user feedback are always important components of good design, but they are never its sole ingredients.”

The Stanford Web Credibility Project (http://credibility.stanford.edu/) found that “…nearly half of all consumers (or 46.1%) in the study assessed the credibility of sites based in part on the appeal of the overall visual design of a site, including layout, typography, font size and color schemes.

Participants seemed to make their credibility-based decisions about the people or organization behind the site based upon the site’s overall visual appeal.”

As search commoditizes its results the way to differentiate a company or a brand is through design. When there are so many template, “me-too” sites competing for attention, defining a unique ambiance and “voice” is critical to conversion.

Dr. Ralph F. Wilson describes it this way: “Ambience is defined as “a feeling or mood associated with a particular place, person, or thing. Atmosphere. Web developers call it ‘look-and-feel.’ Though it’s hard to define, you know it when you see it. In a website, ambience is produced by a pleasing combination of logo, style, layout, typography, white space, color, types of photos used, and the “voice” of the copy. All these and more define the business’s “brand.”

You can learn a great deal about a business in the first five seconds that you’re on its site. Is it older and conservative, or young and edgy? Is it “all business” or is there fun peeking around the corner? Is it rather pompous and self-possessed, or does it seem care about the customer? At first glance, does it look like it can meet your need, or not? Is it bland and faceless, or does it have personality?

I hope that you now understand the difference between a standard template business site and a custom approach that communicates your business personality in a memorable way. While you can communicate your unique voice in a bland site, you won’t be visually memorable.”

So, to be memorable and to drive results, consider the relevance and effectiveness of design.
Tiny URL:  http://tinyurl.com/ybxaxw6

http://hiteshpuri.blogspot.com/2009/11/visual-decision-making.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive1&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTHLY-1254335400000&toggleopen=MONTHLY-1257013800000

Eileen Burick, President, Burick Communication Design
eileen@burick.com  602-866-3305 
Please visit  http://www.burick.com/briefcase_henkel/
HIGH-END MARKETING COLLATERAL MATERIALS  |  VISUALLY DISTINCTIVE DESIGN FOR THE WEB