Archive for October, 2009

Researching Autoresponders

There are many autoresponder services available to you. Autoresponders are classified into three main types: locally hosted, remote hosted and desktop hosted. Each type has pros and cons, depending on your needs. Locally and desktop hosted programs will give you complete control over the program, as you run them through your own server or website, but you will need to install and maintain the script on your server yourself. Remote hosted, on the other hand, is run through a third-party service provider who is skilled in getting your email delivered. Remote programs cost you a monthly fee, while desktop and locally hosted programs cost one fee – the price of the script.

Before you decide to purchase an autoresponder, you should always compare and see what each one has to offer. If you are interested in running one from your server or website, then you will need to look at desktop and locally hosted autoresponders. There are free programs available online, although they will normally come with strings attached, such as ads in your emails. This can be a bad thing, as ads in your email will confuse your customers and may give them the wrong impression. Purchasing a script may help you avoid having extra advertising in your emails, but you will have to install and maintain it on your server. You should also know that all spam complaints will come back to your domain which will hurt your email deliverability and your reputation.

With a remotely hosted autoresponder, you will be dealing with a company that does nothing but work to make sure that your emails get delivered to your list of recipients; that is the main service for which you pay the monthly fees. The company has control over the address of the autoresponder, meaning that your domain name won’t appear in the return email address. Although you may prefer to have the messages come from your domain, having the company in control means that spam complaints are handled by the company and don’t come back to your domain. Of course, if your email messages become a recurring spam problem, you will lose your autoresponder account. A good autoresponder service, however, will work with you to avoid having your messages trigger spam filters.

Know your options when you are ready to add an autoresponder to your business. If you take the time and research what each one has to offer, you will end up with an autoresponder that is invaluable, no matter what it cost.

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Top 5 Inbound Marketing Stories of the Week: Give Away Free Content


Free HugsAt HubSpot, we’re huge proponents of giving away quality content for free.  Why?  For the same reasons any business should.  Whether it be in the form of webinars, videos, eBooks or blog posts, creating useful, valuable content establishes your company as a thought leader in its industry and – yes – most importantly, it helps generate leads and sales that your business thrives on.  

Our top article featured on InboundMarketing.com this week explains yet another reason why it might be a good idea to start getting a little more generous … 

1. Why you should give away a lot of free stuff

Author: Andy Sernovitz of Damn! I Wish I’d Thought of That!

No – Andy’s not exactly talking about giving away free hugs (though who couldn’t use one every once in a while?).  In this brief article, he shares an anecdote about how giving away some of his free stuff landed him a nice little product placement on Ze Frank’s show on Time.com.

In this case, Andy had given away copies of his Word of Mouth Marketing book, but he’s really referring to anything — samples, handouts, shirts, stickers, toys, content — you name it!  Who knows – maybe the free eBook you created might just be interesting to that Wall Street Journal writer who stumbles upon it on Twitter!

Lesson: Free content really does have business value.

2. 10 of the Best Social Media Tools for Entrepreneurs

Author: Barb Dybwad of Mashable

Launching a new business, eh?  Barb’s article gives entrepreneurs a nice little overview of some useful social media tools to help manage company communication, product and brand promotions, and business development.  

Among her recommendations are social media staples like Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook, but also included are customer support tools such as UserVoice and Get Satisfaction in addition to project management tools like Basecamp.  Her top-listed tool?  Google Apps for Domains.

Lesson: Social media offers a variety of tools to help you reach your business goals.

3. Social Media Accounts for 18% of Information Search Market

Author: Brian Solis of PR 2.0

Where do you go on the Web for information to help you make purchasing decisions?  Chances are, the majority if you are using search engines like Google.  However, Brian summarizes a recent study conducted by Nielsen, which reports that 18% of us are actually using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Wikipedia to help us decide.

Interestingly enough, these social media sites actually outperform sites dedicated to publishing information specifically to help individuals find deeper analysis and details.  As Nielsen summarizes, “social Media is becoming a core product research channel.”  All the more reason to start vamping up your business’s social media efforts.

Lesson: Your customers are researching you via social media.  Are you there, too?  (You should be.)

4. Your Company May Own Your Tweets, Pokes, and YouTube Videos

Author: Jeremiah Owyang of Web Strategy

Who legally owns the content you create? Jeremiah explores this interesting and thought-provoking topic, enlisting the help of an attorney to investigate the issue of employer/employee content ownership.

One of Jeremiah’s main takeaways: “both personal and work lives are mixing online and off, creating blurry lines between ownership of content.”

Lesson: (in Jeremiah’s own words) “Understand the boundaries, risks and liability for [your] online activity.”

5. 9 Marketing Lessons From the Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Campaign

Author: Rohit Bhargava of Influential Marketing Blog

The pink ribbon breast cancer campaign is probably the most recognizable cause marketing campaign since the RED campaign to fight AIDS.  For a campaign to be so successful, it must be doing things right.

Rohit’s article features a self-made slideshow that highlights several useful takeaways for marketers.  My favorites: focus on influencers of your target, make it easy for people to act, and be everywhere at once.

Lesson: Learn from others’ successes (and don’t repeat others’ failures either).  

Photo by Jesslee Cuizon 

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Whiteboard Friday – Future-Proofing Your SEO

Posted by great scott!

When individuals or companies are new to SEO they often wonder if SEO is a one-time thing, or if it’s an ongoing process.  In order to stay on top of your game, you need to keep an eye on your rankings over time and adjust accordingly; but there is a lot of core SEO strategy that doesn’t change much and paying attention to these fundamentals (along with a little upkeep) can go a long way toward future-proofing your SEO strategy.

In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand goes over the key components of three major areas of any SEO strategy–Technical, Content, and Marketing–to show you where and how you can plan your efforts so they won’t be obsolete next month or next year.  Whether you’re just setting out to optimize your site, or you’re already working with an SEO strategy, this video will help you find places to tie-up loose ends and avoid potential frustration down the road.

PS – In the video Rand uses Hitwise as an example of a company that uses unique content effectively, referencing this post about Twitter traffic by Bill "Hold Me Closer Tiny" Tancer.

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Social Media Makes No Sense For My Company


social media applicationsAfter working in internet marketing for the last 4 years, I have seen several trends come and go—from that silly dancing baby to paid email services like AOL,  but for those of you who think social media is among these trends you might want to think again.

I talk to business owners from hundreds of different industries each month and I’ve observed that a wide variety of companies have begun to take interest in social media. According to a study done by Cone Business, sixty percent of Americans use social media, and of those, 59 percent interact with companies on social media Web sites. One in four interacts more than once per week.

This means that regardless of who your audience is, chances are at least some of them are on Facebook or Linkedin or on another social media site. Don’t believe me? Why not try a simple little test….

  1. Go to answers.yahoo.com
  2. Type in a keyword phrase that represents what you do or a product you sell.

I work mainly with B2B customers, so here are a couple extremely niche examples that you may be shocked to see on social media:

Concrete Vapor Barrier (56 questions on Yahoo Answers)

Clock Oscillator (22 questions in Yahoo Answers)

As you can see conversations about your industry are happening in social media whether you’re participating in them or not. So why not join in?

According to the 2009 Marketing Sherpa Report on Social Media Marketing & PR  76% of marketing and PR professionals “agree” or “strongly agree” that social media marketing is changing the way their organizations communicate. This data signifies a strong interest in social media but it does not necessarily mean every industry has started participating. The two most significant barriers cited to social media adoption were “lack of knowledgeable staff” and “inability to measure ROI.” Fortunately, there are social media consultants who have emerged over the last few years to fill the knowledge gap, and many tools (such as Hubspot’s social media monitoring tools) are available that help to easily monitor social media accounts and join in on the conversation.

Remember if you are an expert in your field, your expertise is very valuable to your audience. Just by performing the Yahoo Answers test above, you probably unearthed several opportunities to reach out to your audience even if you belong to an extremely niche industry. Whether you are a sales consultant, a real estate agent, software Company, or in the manufacturing industry, you really have nothing to lose and everything to gain from at least getting started in social media.

Why You Should Start Using Social Media Today: The First Mover’s Advantage

The old adage “The Early Bird Gets The Worm” took on new meaning when the internet age came to be. That bird got a name (Twitter) and the Worm became known as “The First Mover’s Advantage.”

If you were one of the early adopters to have a website, or if your company among the first companies to register their domain name, then you are probably reaping the benefits today. These benefits include higher Google Page Rank, a secured domain name, and likely some valuable links you have gained to the site overtime. Just registering a domain has made some people millionaires. Below are a few of the most expensive domain names sold in history:

Business.com- 1999 for $7.5 million
Fund.com – $9,999,950 – Sold in 2008
CreditCards.com – $2.75 million

Why should this matter to you? Let’s use twitter as an example. Have you registered your company twitter name? What about your own name on twitter? Even if you are not using twitter today, having this registered could potentially save you money, and a lot of hassle. It would take you less than 5 minutes to register both….that is if it’s not too late. (Especially if your competitors read the same Cone Business in Social Media Study I did.)

According to the survey, 93 percent of social media users surveyed believe a company should have a presence in social media, while an overwhelming 85 percent believe a company should not only be present but also interact with its consumers via social media. In fact, 56 percent of users feel both a stronger connection with and better served by companies when they can interact with them in a social media environment.

Internet marketing moves quickly, and the longer you wait the more difficult it is to catch up.

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This Week in Search for 10/28/09

Posted by Sam Niccolls

 

Five Thumbs

  • Eric Schmidt – What the Internet Will Look Like in 5 Years:
    Google’s CEO takes a look into the future and talks about some of the ways the internet will change, such as Chinese language sites outnumbering English language sites, an increase in the number of digital natives in the tech workforce, and the difficulties search engines have around ranking real-time search.
  • Retailers Going Too Far Tracking Web Habits:
    I’m probably the only person on earth who puts items into his shopping cart and intentionally abandons sites in order to get product discount e-mails a week or two later, but the USA TODAY discusses two issues that are hot button topics for more normal consumers: Cookie usage and behavioral targeting.
  • Grammatically Incorrect Keywords:
    In her Search Engine Journal Post, Susanna Speier talks about how even though grammatically incorrect keywords aren’t going to win you any spelling bees, they might be the ones that’ll make you the most honey, er-um money.

Four Thumbs

  • Halloween E-mails:
    Campaign Monitor’s Halloween E-mail Roundup shows some creative, brand specific examples of Halloween e-mails that’ll give you some last minute idea fodder for this year or things to think about for next year.     
  • Update on Google Rich Snippets:
    Google has been working on better using structured data and expanding rich snippets for a while, but this week’s post on the GWC blog calls attention to improved documentation and tips around their rich snippet testing tool.
  • WSJ – Why E-mail No Longer Rules:
    You may have caught the Wall Street Journal post earlier this month, but if you didn’t, it’s worth a read. The negative backlash across the e-mail industry continues several weeks later.

Three Thumbs  

  • Integrating E-mail with Other Marketing:
    A well executed e-mail is no different from a fine wine… it’s good on it’s own, but it’s better when given the right pairing. In a useful post centered around e-mail marketing, Joel Book addresses how the most successful e-mail initiatives integrate with other marketing efforts.
  • Google Analytics Qualification Test:
    GA has had a more heavyweight certification for agencies for some time, but now available to individual marketers is a test that gives web analytics users personal certifications.
  • Creating a Multi-Cultural Website:
    If you’ve ever tried to market a product internationally, Forrester’s post about the importance of market research when creating a multi-cultural website might strike a nerve. 
  • Google Website Optimizer API Released:
    GWO rolled out a new API, which, depending on your CMS provider, can allow you to create and launch tests without touching any of your website’s code. Pretty useful stuff. Although a major limitation is that the API currently only integrates with two CMS providers.

Two Thumbs

  • Seth Godin – Some People Are Better Than Others:
    The short post about customer types earns a spot in this weeks roundup for one reason: The use of the word sneezers, which Godin uses to refer to the customers and brand evangelizers who are best at spreading your company’s word.
  • Bing It On:
    Google is still going strong, but Bing’s share of the search market continues to grow.
  • How SEO and Sex Are the Same:
    In a post with gratuitous use of the word ‘sex,’  Joel Leydon’s parody highlighting the similarities between sex and SEO is an entertaining read. Both sex and SEO are basic needs, they’re both organic, and yes, as Leydon points out, you can also pay for each, too.

Rocking on YOUmoz

Top YOUmoz entries:

  1. *Third-Party Affiliate Programs: Roll Your Own Instead by MichaelC 

  2. Case Study: How Building a Site for Users Improved Rankings by csaliba

  3. Web Analytics and Segmentation for Better Conversion by philou2803

* Indicates blog post was promoted to the SEOmoz Blog

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Copy and paste is your friend

Sometimes we overlook the simplest things.

We get an idea for a product or service. We need a new web site! We hire designers, copywriters, and programmers. Pour over bonuses to offer. Fret over price points. Fight with FTP to get everything uploaded. Make sure the site looks just so. Then, just when everything is exactly the way we want it, we mistype the url in the ads. THUD. That will put a crimp in your traffic flow.

Try keeping a text file of all of your important urls handy on your desktop. Then all you have to do is copy and paste the url. That way, you never mistype the url, and you won’t lose any traffic to your web site.

Just a thought.

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