Friday, February 29, 2008

New on WMC: Marketing Webcasts and Videos


WebMarketCentral, the portal site with resources for interactive marketing professionals, continues to expand with the recent addition of marketing, sales and CRM-focused webcasts and videos powered by Insight24. This is the place to see the latest expert rich media presentations from sources like Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies; the Business Intelligence Network; HubSpot; Microsoft; Entellium; and SalesRoundup. It's a one-stop page for marketing-focused intelligence from market leaders.

A valuable resource for sales and marketing practitioners, the new webcasts and videos page is likely to join the web's most comprehensive marketing events calendar, directory of advertising and marketing trade publications, and Marketing, Advertising and Sales Career Opportunities as one of the most-visited pages on the site.

Looking for engaging content from leading sales and marketing experts? Check out the new Webcasts and Videos page on WebMarketCentral.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Best of 2007: Web 2.0 Sites


A number of new social networking, social search, social bookmarking, and other Web 2.0-related websites and tools either got their start or got traction in 2007. Here are some of the most notable new sites and tools that made it onto the radar last year.

Go2Web20.net

Billed as "the complete Web 2.0 directory," this site has cataloged more than 2,000 Web 2.0 applications and services, searchable by an extensive list of tags and sortable by date and name.


Snitter

Snitter is a small desktop application that makes it easy to keep up with those you are following on Twitter, a social networking site that lets you keep "followers" up to date on what you're up to, and stay in the loop on what they're doing.


KickApps

A hosted web-based platform that enables webmasters and site owners to create, deploy and manage a branded social media community on any website.


Socialtext

An enterprise wiki tool that enables workgroups or organizations to create secure, group-editable websites; instead of sending emails and attachments, Socialtext customers use private web pages to work together.


Ning Marketing 2.0

Like KickApps, Ning is a social networking platform. The Marketing 2.0 Ning is a social site "For passionate marketers who are out to define, explore, experiment and determine the value of B2B Social Media Marketing and Marketing 2.0," with posts and networking opportunities from forward-thinking marketers across the web, including podcasting guru Albert Maruggi.


TopNetPix

Billed as "an aggregator of the best sites, the best content and the best search results on the Web," TopNetPix brings together an extraordinary amount of news, blog and shopping content and enables you to create your own customized portal containing the web parts you find most interesting and useful.


Zanby

A social networking site focused on group collaboration, Zanby was "created on the premise that community organizing and meeting sites, by their very grassroots nature, should be available to all, not just those who can afford the fees...(Zanby provides) the richest base set of free community organization and lifestyle management tools available. The Zanby suite of tools allows groups to scale naturally from small gatherings to large businesses with enterprise organizational needs."


Social Media Today

A "moderated online business community for social media bloggers, marketers, PR and media professionals," Social Media Today provides the opportunity to network with other marketing professionals, post content, and comment on posts. The membership list includes some pretty big names among marketing bloggers, including Rohit Bhargava, Paul Dunay, and Paul Gillin, author of The New Influencers: A Marketer's Guide to the New Social Media.


BeeTooBee

BeeTooBee.com is both a social networking and bookmarking site for marketing professionals as well as a platform, like Ning or KickApps, that enables any organization to build social media functionality into an existing website. It's also one of the most effective sites for driving marketing-related blog traffic.


Web 2.0 People Search Engines

In this post from the Search is the Internet OS blog, Arnaud Fischer provides helpful reviews of 10 people-search sites, including Spock, ZoomInfo and Naymz. Worth reading just for the comment from Charles Knight.

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 2)
Best of 2007: Website Design
Best of 2007: Blogging for Business
Best of 2007: Marketing Research
Best of 2007: Interactive PR
Best of 2007: SEO Copywriting
Best of 2007: Strategy and Branding
Best of 2007: Web Analytics

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Monday, February 25, 2008

Best of 2007: Web Analytics


You've heard it a million times: "You can't manage what you can't measure." One of the most appealing aspects of online marketing is the ability to test and measure virtually anything, in detail and with great precision. But which metrics are really important? And how can you most effectively use web analytics to make productive changes?

Here are some of the best articles and blog posts from 2007 on optimizing the use of web analytics.

Practical Guide to Website Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) by Search Engine Journal

Writer Julie Mason details the key website performance indicators that "help you measure the effectiveness of your website with quantifiable and actionable results," including page views per visit, visits per lead and cost per lead.


Bloggers Ponder Google’s RSS Syndication Stats by MediaPost Online Spin

Following Google's acquisition of Feedburner, Max Kalehoff ponders the importance of the "reach" metric for bloggers. Personally, I'm skeptical. "For all the self-conscious bloggers addicted to their site and reader analytics — including those seeking to monetize through advertising — reach is sure to become one of the more scrutinized metrics." No, the only metric that really matters to "those seeking to monetize through advertising" is revenue.


How To Use Site Statistics Effectively by Performancing

Ryan Caldwell provides an interesting post advising bloggers and interactive marketers to "focus on active stats"—measures that can be directly affected—such as monitoring traffic sources, search referrals and key phrase referrals.


Does Your Web Site Need a Workout? by Search Engine Guide

The gratuitously repulsive opening paragraph aside, Kalena Jordan provides an excellent post on how to increase website traffic and revenue. After asking "Is your web site working hard enough for you?," Jordan supplies a 20-point website "fitness assessment" to help answer the question.


Outing The Heavy Clickers by MediaPost Online Spin

Dave Morgan gets to the bottom of click-through rate fascination. "Ninety-nine percent of Web users do not click on ads on a monthly basis. Of the 1% that do, most only click once a month. Less than two tenths of one percent click more often. That tiny percentage makes up the vast majority of banner ad clicks." Who are these "heavy clickers"? Read Dave's post to find out.

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 2)
Best of 2007: Website Design
Best of 2007: Blogging for Business
Best of 2007: Marketing Research
Best of 2007: Interactive PR
Best of 2007: SEO Copywriting
Best of 2007: Strategy and Branding

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Social Networking Sites and SEO: What Wikipedia Won't Tell You

Within an astonishingly short time, Wikipedia has become one of the most-visited sites on the Internet. Consequently, Wikipedians—the self-appointed guardians of what is and isn't permissible for inclusion on the site—have become very powerful in determining what you are permitted to know about any topic, and even which topics are worthy of inclusion. It's been said that with great power comes great responsibility. That responsibility isn't always handled properly.

For example, Wikipedia's list of social networking websites now contains 111 entries; an impressive list, but certainly not all-inclusive. To the credit of Wikipedians, the list is now much better than it was just a few months ago, when it contained only 43 entries, but it is still behind the curve.

Then there is the matter of commercial content. While no one wants to see Wikipedia degenerate into a collection of marketing brochures, the site's prohibition on commercial speech seems to be unclear and unevenly enforced. There are tens of thousands of small businesses with no presence on Wikipedia, yet Oracle (the database company) is listed, as are The Oracle (the shopping mall near London), as well as PeopleSoft, SAP, IBM, and many other corporate giants.

Finally, there is the accuracy of the content itself. To cite just one recent example, Debra Mastaler points out in her post Do You Link Dope or Incestuously Link? on The Link Spiel that Wikipedia's page on link-building methods contains "terminology used to describe outdated , incomplete and irrelevant link methods." She goes on to write that "And yet, when I publicly suggest knowledgeable people with good content should contribute to the Wikipedia, I'm spoken down to, told to read the conflict of interest guidelines and criticized." Ouch. And Debra is by no means alone on this.

When frustration in the user community is combined with the opportunity for astronomical site traffic, competitors are bound to emerge. One such alternative is Freebase, which is still very immature (but does have its own Wikipedia page). Of no doubt more concern to the Wikipedians is Knol, Google's still-in-beta entry into online reference. As Michael Estrin points out, "According to Hitwise, more than half of Wikipedia's traffic comes from Google. While Knol and Wikipedia may not be direct competitors in terms of style, the two do appear to be on a collision course for top billing when it comes to web queries." To put it more bluntly, Wikipedia gets high traffic because it gets great placement on Google searches; what do you suppose is going to happen to the site's search engine position once Google has a competitive offering?

Despite its flaws, Wikipedia isn't going to disappear. But the shine is off, and serious competitors are emerging. Through a combination of success and arrogance (over-zealous article rejection, the use of insidious "no follow" tags, condescension to contributors), the Wikipedians have brought this upon themselves.

*****

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Strategy and Branding


The first step in crafting a marketing plan is to determine overall strategy, and among the first questions to ask when thinking about the strategy are "What do I want my brand to stand for?" and "What are best ways to communicate my brand message?"

Here are a collection of the best online articles and blog posts to help you think about the big picture and answer the big questions about brand-building and marketing strategy.

All-in-One Guides: Marketing strategy by TechTarget

A comprehensive guide for B2B marketers with advice on everything from preparing a marketing plan and using marketing automation technology to designing and executing effective marketing campaigns.


Marketers Can Buy Buzz by MediaPost Online Spin

Max Kalehoff of Clickable presents some interesting findings on the (highly positive) correlation between media spending and word-of-mouth "buzz." While the research was focused on commercial packaged goods, the findings likely apply across a broader range of B2C and B2B products and services. The bottom line, according to Kalehoff: "traditional media strategies are not dead, and buzz tactics can’t necessarily live on their own in a vacuum. Neither is right or wrong, but they are both part of a complex communications and customer landscape."


Small Business Marketing Rules of Thumb by Smart Marketing

Blogger and author Jay Lipe offers three highly useful "rules of thumb" for small business marketers in this brief but valuable post.


Trash Talk & Delete Buttons: A Candid Letter from Your Prospective Customer by Selling to Big Companies

Jill Konrath, blogger and author of Selling to Big Companies (the book and the blog) lays it on the line here with a post written from the perspective of your target customer: "In your well-intentioned but misguided attempts turn me into a 'prospect,' you fail woefully to capture my attention. I'm going to be really blunt here: I could care less about your product, service, solution or your company." Ouch! Fortunately, she also serves up guidance on how to effectively cut through your prospective buyer's clutter of emails, phone calls and endless meetings: "Occasionally a savvy marketer or seller captures my attention, gets me to raise my hand asking for more information and even entices me to request a meeting. What are they doing? They're completely focused on my business and the impact they can have on it."


A Little Advice On Presenting and Selling by MediaPost Online Spin

In this excellent companion piece to the post above, Cory Treffiletti advises sales people and marketers to do a bit less talking and a little more listening: "The best presentations are simple; they are the ones where you talk little, listen a lot and provide solutions aimed at meeting the challenges of the person you are talking to."


Quit using Email to train your leads to ignore you by Marketing Interactions

Marketing strategist and blogger Ardath Albee lays out a detailed, step-by-step guide to creating an effective email marketing campaign, as opposed to the spam-like programs too often created even by marketing pros who should know better. "The (marketing emails) that really irritate me are the offers that get sent repeatedly with the exact same messaging. If it doesn't catch my eye the first time, why would they think I want to see the same thing 5 more times in two days?" Follow the advice in this post and you'll avoid that fate.


Rethink your brand Saturn by The Origin of Brands Blog

Best-selling author Laura Ries tells the painful story of how General Motors first successfully launched then just as successfully screwed up the Saturn brand, and how the proper marketing and product strategy could have given the tale a much happier ending. As Laura astutely diagnoses, GM's problem was on the strategic side, not the creative: "In 1994, the S series Saturn outsold the Civic by 7 percent. In 2004, the Civic outsold the S series replacement (the Ion) by 197 percent. In 2002, Saturn tapped Goodby, Silverstein for some new advertising. Sales continued falling to 212,017 in 2004, its worst performance since 1992. Despite the poor sales results, Goodby’s work won lots of advertising awards and accolades and did plenty to reaffirm the shop as one of America’s premiere creative agencies. But it did nothing for the Saturn brand." A cautionary tale for almost any company.


Selling the Benefit: Duracell by Marketing Genius from Maple Creative

Blogger Skip Lineberg praises a Duracell campaign that creatively and effectively focuses on product benefits in crucial situations—such as in heart monitors and fire alarms—to differentiate a commodity product.


Can you buy customer loyalty? by Loyalty Marketing Blog

Jonathan Treiber makes the case that customer loyalty can't be bought, only earned. Coupons, promotional pricing and discounts can help induce trial, but over the long run, superior customer service is what produces customer loyalty. "Providing active customer service is a way to listen to your customers’ needs and solve their problems (before they occur). This, in turn, will build customer loyalty over time because your customers will know that you are focused on meeting and exceeding their expectations."


Never Give Another Lead to Sales by Marketing Interactions

In another interesting post, Ardath Albee very correctly points out that "Sales doesn't need leads, they need opportunities," then goes about providing a strategy for effectively linking marketing activities to sales processes to increase revenue.


Time To Plan by THINKing

The brilliant Harry Hoover outlines a process for developing a marketing strategy for the new year, taking into account audiences, messaging, and a review of communications plans.


Search and the Pareto Principle by Search Engine People

Blogger Jeff Quipp demonstrates how the 80/20 rule applies to planning and execution for SEO and SEM, for example, "20% of content is responsible for 80% of site traffic and/or links."


Organic SEO vs. PPC? by WebProNews

A bit tactical, and somewhat elemental, this article presents a video discussion between SiteLab Executive Vice-President Dana Todd, a regular speaker at Search Engine Strategies Conferences, and Jeremy Schoemaker of Shoemoney Media Group. Dana sums it up best: "everybody can benefit from organic SEO...(each form of) Advertising has a completely different place in your media mix. We would never recommend...that you do one or the other; you always do them both wherever possible."

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 2)
Best of 2007: Website Design
Best of 2007: Blogging for Business
Best of 2007: Marketing Research
Best of 2007: Interactive PR
Best of 2007: SEO Copywriting

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Best of 2007: SEO Copywriting


The most crucial single element of SEO is the content on a website. Everything else—h1 and h2 tags, emphasizing key phrases through bolding, meta tag optimization, SEO-friendly URLs, etc.—is driven by the site's copy. It's not unusual to see horribly optimized sites still show up well across the search engines for certain terms based solely on their content.

With that in mind, here are a few of the best articles and blog posts from 2007 on optimizing website copy for SEO.

Google Guy Tips And Formula For Top Ranking by SEOmization

This short post, based on evaluating comments made by Google's Matt Cutts across various online forums, may be the single best piece written in all of 2007 about search engine optimization, and this sentence on how to use key phrases may be the single best bit of SEO guidance: "Once in the title, once in the description tag, once in the heading, once in the url, once in bold, once in italic and once high on the page."


SEO Copywriting by Shimon Sandler

Search consultant Shimon Sandler provides an excellent post on SEO copywriting strategies and techniques, target keyword density and page design.


'Search-Engine-Friendly' Copywriting Style Is Often Not Very Friendly To Humans by MediaPost Search Insider

Writer Rob Garner offers advice on how to write web copy that's friendly to both search engines and humans. His advice on how frequently a key search phrase should be used on a page: "How about once, in the first paragraph, as it relates to your main page theme. And don't forget to put the keyword theme in other search engine friendly areas of the page, like the title element, heading and alt text."


Writing For Search Engines Is Really About Writing For Your Customers by MediaPost Search Insider

In another Search Insider post, Ambar Shrivastava points out the importance of keyword research in incorporating the right search phrases on your website—the words that your customers and prospects use. "Businesses often use language to describe their products or services that is very different from the language their customers use." Only by understanding and using the language that your prospects use to describe your product or service can you assure that your copy is productively optimized.


From No to Know - How to Get Started in SEO/Marketing Copywriting by e-Marketing Performance

Michelle Montoya provides an extensive list of helpful online SEO and marketing copywriting resources.

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 2)
Best of 2007: Website Design
Best of 2007: Blogging for Business
Best of 2007: Marketing Research
Best of 2007: Interactive PR

*****



Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Friday, February 15, 2008

The Four P's of Effective Business Blogging


I was recently invited to give a presentation on the "do's and don'ts" of creating a successful business blog. In thinking about the topic, words beginning with the letter "p" kept coming to mind:

Persistence: the number one reason, by far, that blogs fail is that they aren't maintained. The blogosphere is littered with dead blogs that haven't been updated in three, six, twelve months or longer. They'll still pick the occasional search hit for an obscure phrase, but no one links, subscribes or offers comments to them.

Personality: the best blogs have a personality all their own: factual, thoughtful, helpful, smart, amusing or something else. The blogger also reveals himself or herself through a short bio, picture and contact information.

Passion: to maintain the discipline necessary to be persistent in blog posting, it helps to pick a subject one is passionate about. For example, among political blogs, there are a number of strong blogs on the both the right and the left ends of the political spectrum, but very few in the middle; it's hard to be passionate about moderation.

Promotion: if you're passionate about your topic and write about it persistently, you want the world to know your blog exists. The most important technique for blog promotion is the same as for any website—SEO. But the blogging format also provides unique promotional opportunities, such as tagging on social networking sites, submission to RSS feed aggregators, and cross-linking with other blogs in your subject area.

At that point I started creating my presentation, thinking I was done. But then, other P-words started coming to mind. What about being positive—isn't that an important attribute for a successful business blog? After all, it never pays to make enemies, and a blog post is forever. And how about prodigious (one of those wonderful, under-used words); being persistent simply means blogging a regular basis. Being prodigious speaks more to the frequency of posting.

And what about perhaps the most important term of all: patience? Unless you are already famous for some other reason, it's extremely unlikely that your blog will be an overnight success, but if done well and persistently, it will build a following over time.

Hmm, I may need to keep thinking about this. More to come.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Best of 2007: Interactive PR

Wikipedia defines interactive PR as "the practice of using Internet tools and technologies such as search engines, Web 2.0 social bookmarking, new media relations and blogging...to build awareness of and credibility for (a) message without relying solely on mainstream publications."

More directly, the techniques of interactive PR transform press releases from bland, internally-focused documents clogging up the inboxes of editors and staff writers into keyword-rich, user-oriented prose that is found by search engines, picked up by bloggers, tagged by readers, and creates a dialog with the market though comments on social media sites.

David Meerman Scott's The New Rules of Marketing & PR provides an excellent primer on the subject. Expanding beyond the scope of his book, here are some of the best articles and blog posts of 2007 on maximizing the impact of public relations activities through interactive PR.

Proof You Can Gain Additional Rankings And Build Relevant Links With Google News by 97th Floor

Blogger Matt Siltala shows how to use Google News search to increase the exposure and SEO value of a press release.


Pitching Bloggers by PR Meets Marketing

PR expert Cece Salomon-Lee provides an outstanding summary of the most useful "postings by bloggers about how to pitch bloggers" to maximize exposure for PR efforts. Her links are summarized and updated on a periodic basis.


Fresh Link Building Tips: New Search Filters = Easy Link Research by SEO Book

Techniques for building links through blogs, online forums, social networking sites, and blog comments. "Polishing your story, aggregating data in a pretty format, citing sources, and stroking egos are crucial to helping your story spread...If you leave insightful comments without looking like a link spammer you are more likely to get links from your comments."


Newsforce Press Release SEO Tools

Newsforce offers a suite of fee-based tools to identify and insert SEO keywords in press releases then track the results after distribution. All of this can be done manually, and Newsforce would likely increase its uptake by offering a free trial. Nevertheless, worth checking out.


Press Release SEO Tips by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Noting that "one channel of promotion that has steadily evolved is the practice of optimizing press releases for search engines," Lee Odden shares advice from PR pros at PR Newswire, PRWeb, Business Wire and Marketwire, as well as links to a few of his favorite blog posts on search optimizing press releases.


Search and Find - SEO Your Press Release by PR Meets Marketing

Another post from Cece Salomon-Lee, this one on how to search optimize press releases using title tags and keywords in the header, subhead and first paragraph.

Previous articles in this series:

Best of 2007: SEO Analysis Tools
Best of 2007: SEO Keyword Research Tools
Best of 2007: News Articles on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Blog Posts on Social Media Marketing
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEM
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on Google AdWords
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 1)
Best of 2007: Articles and Blog Posts on SEO (Part 2)
Best of 2007: Website Design
Best of 2007: Blogging for Business
Best of 2007: Marketing Research

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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