Monday, March 31, 2008

Which Social Networking Sites Really Drive Business Traffic?


Harry Hoover at the THINKing blog recently asked his readers this question and posted some of the responses. While clearly not a statistical sampling, LinkedIn and Facebook were mentioned prominently by nearly all respondents. StumbleUpon and del.icio.us were common second choices.

I've written previously about which social networking/tagging/bookmarking sites seemed to work well at driving B2B traffic, but have collected significantly more data since then. Here's the detail behind my response to Harry. This is based on the past 12 months worth of traffic data for this blog and for the WebMarketCentral marketing portal site.

For WebMarketCentral, note first all referring sites combined accounted for just 10.5% of total site traffic in the last year (search drove 78% of visits; the two are related as SMO can help drive SEO results to an extent). Second, the site drew traffic from nearly 400 different referring sites, and the traffic was highly fragmented.

WebMarketCentral - Top SMO Sources of Referral Traffic

StumbleUpon - 15.30%
Wikipedia - 6.79%
Bibsonomy, Mister Wong, BeeTooBee.com, del.icio.us and ma.gnolia—about 1% each.

The WebMarketCentral blog: referring sites had far more impact, drawing 27.4% of all visits, though again this traffic was highly fragmented with more than 400 sites each drawing a very small share individually.

The WebMarketCentral Blog - Top SMO Sources of Referral Traffic

Technorati - 6.05%
StumbleUpon - 2.15%
Searchles - 1.75%
Facebook - 1.07%
Digg, del.icio.us and Zimbio—about 1% each.

The three key takeaways seem to be that SMO can be a valuable source of traffic for both corporate sites and blogs; different social networking sites work best for different purposes; and StumbleUpon is the most valuable single social media network overall for driving B2B web traffic.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Takin' A Short Break

After being part of a team launching a company this week and four new website design projects, plus my "regular" work of helping clients achieve superior online and offline marketing results, I need a short vacation getaway for some family time. So, the blog will take a brief time out.

I'll be back to writing about social networking, interactive PR, SEO and SEM, and the usual stuff as soon as I make sure my clients are well taken care of for the moment.

Speaking of that company launch, however—if your role has anything to do with business intelligence, data mining, analytics or database marketing—you're going to be hearing a lot about this company in the coming weeks and months:



Back soon.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Do Agencies Get Social Media?

Late last week, MediaPost's Cathy Taylor wrote about the shortcomings of marketing agencies (large ones at least) when it comes to really understanding and utilizing social media on their clients' behalf—or even their own—in Blogger's Block - And Other Ways Agencies Aren't Walking The Walk Of Social Media.

"
As for blogs, the number of agencies that have them is growing, but overall they're still pretty spotty in terms of technical chops and raison d'etre, and there's at times an embarrassing level of "Gee whiz! We're blogging!" to some posts. Haven't you people learned the art of pretending that you know what you're doing? Interpublic Group's Hill, Holliday, which made quite a few headlines a while back when it turned its Web site into a blog, isn't exactly transforming the medium as we know it with its posting prolific-ness. Since October, the agency has posted a dozen times."

She also comes down on DDB for the lack of permalinks on its blog; not exactly techno-savvy for a big agency.

To be sure, there are agencies (smaller ones at least) that clearly "get" social media and use it extensively, such as Skip Lineberg of Maple Creative with his Marketing Genius blog; Albert Maruggi at Provident Partners, guru of the Marketing Edge podcast; Harry Hoover at My Creative Team with THINKing; and possibly this blog, informally associated with KC Associates.

Cathy Taylor's post appears to have gotten very little attention from agency bloggers, perhaps because not only are they not writing blog posts, they aren't even monitoring what's written about them. But there was Selling tickets to the ball? Better learn to dance on the Fluent Simplicity blog: "Agencies promoting blogs and social media suffer from execution problems. Client projects either miss the whole point of blogging and/or (the agencies) don’t offer any in-house examples."

Perhaps big agencies don't get social media because of their still-prevailing TV mindset. Television advertising is fundamentally one-way, interruption-based messaging. Social media is about creating two-way conversations. Smaller agencies, who do little if any TV ad work, are better positioned to take advantage of blogging, podcasting, interactive PR, social networking and other techniques of conversational marketing.

On the other hand, Matt Dickman, director of digital practice at Fleishman-Hillard and author of the highly popular Techno//Marketer blog, shows that some big agencies do indeed get social media. He'll be speaking at The Fine Line in Minneapolis on Monday.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Best of 2007: Amusing and Creative Marketing Stuff


Sell your soul on eBay. Buy trash at Target. "404 Error" pages that are actually entertaining. A bedtime story about search engines. A rap about link building. What's going on here?

It's the final—and best—installment of WebMarketCentral's Best of 2007 series. Here are some of the most humorous, creative, and just plain odd, yet strangely relevant to interactive marketing, blog posts and articles from 2007. I hope you have as much fun reading these as I had writing about them!

A Bedtime Story (or The Future of Search) by Alt Search Engines

The delightful story of a grandfather and his amazingly-tuned-in-to-search grandson talking about the "future" of search engines, when they will be able to show a virtually unlimited number of results on a single page (NoFoodHere), display search results as two-dimensional maps (KartOO), search within a tag cloud (Quintura), and do other cool things.


Hitchhikers Guide to Linkless SEO by SEOish

How to improve your Google PageRank, create link bait, use social media optimization, and other SEO advice presented as Douglas Adams would have written it, if he were an SEO guy. A must-read for fans of the Hitchhiker's Guide who also need to drive web traffic.


404 Pages - Funny, Geeky, Disturbing by Squareoak

404 error pages don't have to bland. Here are a collection of some of the most creative and imaginative ways to tell site visitors they've mistyped a URL or reached a page that no longer exists on your site. Want even more interesting ideas for your 404 error page? Smashing Magazine provides an extended collection.


The GoogleBalt's Great American Road Trip: Five Street-View Optimization Tips by MediaPost Search Insider

With Google driving the country gathering scenes for its Street View maps, Rob Garner outlines five things you may want to do (e.g., dress for success, keep your blinds closed) and not do (grow pot on your windowsill) lest the Googlebalt's cameras snap you.


Does Sex Sell? by The Origin of Brands Blog

Sure it does, says best-selling author Laura Ries in this entertaining and insightful blog post, for products like " perfume, condoms or erectile dysfunction drugs," but...hamburgers?!


Behind the Scenes of Branding by Marketing Genius from Maple Creative

Skip Lineberg provides a rare glimpse inside the branding discussions at a major advertising agency, as the assembled marketing team works through crucial concepts such as a product's Brandapalooza Index and Brangelina Factor.


The 6 Most Overhyped Technologies by Cracked

Writer Chris Bucholz reviews six technologies that some people decided were so cool they had to be developed and hyped without wasting time on silly things like market research, including eBooks and the Internet on your TV.


Funny Adwords Contest: Round 2 by Google Analytics Blog

Mark Curtis supplies a very funny yet cautionary post on the dangers of using variable keyword insertion in Google and Yahoo SEM ads.


Link Rap w/da Moserious by The Link Spiel

No one is sure why we really needed this, but Moserious does a rap here about link building. So bad it's actually kind of good.


The complete Best of 2007 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
Best of 2007: Web 2.0 Sites
Best of 2007: Cool Online Tools
Best of 2007: Miscellaneous Marketing Stuff
Best of 2007: Amusing and Creative Marketing Stuff

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Friday, March 07, 2008

WMC Interviews: Laura Ries


I recently had the honor and pleasure of talking with best-selling author Laura Ries about her experiences and advice for marketers today. Between TV appearances and speaking engagements on the west coast, Laura shared a bit about her start in marketing, writing with her dad, blogging, things brand marketers do that drive her nuts, and more. Here's the interview.

WebMarketCentral (WMC): Hordes of marketing professionals know you from the books you’ve co-authored with your father, Al Ries, such as The Origin of Brands and The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding. What did you do before you became a bestselling author? What’s your background?

Laura Ries (LR): Before I was a bestselling author, I was in diapers. Just kidding, sort of. Growing up the daughter of Al Ries allowed me to get an early start in marketing. Since I was a little girl I was obsessed with advertising, products and commercials. I loved visiting my father’s advertising agency in Manhattan. We used to ride the train in from Long Island, take the subway uptown, I would draw my own ads with the art directors magic markers, make copies on the Xerox machine, have lunch at Burger King, come home and look forward to doing it again.

Well now I do it every day. Working with my dad is a dream come true. I did go to school though. I attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where I majored in radio/tv/film and graduated in the top 2% of my class. From there I got a job at TBWA Advertising where I was on the account management team for the Woolite and Evian accounts.

In 1994, Al and I made it official, became partners and opened Ries & Ries in New York. In 1997, with my new husband Scott Brown in tow we all moved down to Atlanta, Georgia.

Since then Al and I have worked with companies like Microsoft, Ford, Disney and Frito-Lay, have authored four books together and have toured the world giving speeches.


WMC: What made you decide to start writing?

LR: Well, when you have a partner that has already written 6 successful books you kind of fall into it. It is part of the job and part of the fun. When you feel you have something interesting to say, putting it down on paper is very cathartic. And having it well received is exhilarating. I am just thankful that by the time I joined the business we had computers. Al’s first book was written by hand and typed by a secretary on an IBM typewriter. No spell check, no cut & paste! What a nightmare.


WMC: How has blogging affected your other pursuits?

LR: I started blogging in 2004 and have been at it on a regular weekly basis basically ever since. It is a great exercise to write so often and allows me to immediately comment on breaking news items. With a book it can be two years before your typed word makes it from my computer to your eyes. With a blog it is almost immediate.


WMC: What do you see marketers doing today that really drives you nuts?

LR: Where do I begin? There are so many things that drive us nuts. And so many companies that we would run differently. The worst things are line-extensions and convergence products. Introducing things like C2 (mid-calorie cola), G2 (mid-calorie Gatorade), Special K protein water, combination refrigerators/televisions and the like.


WMC: What’s the one piece of marketing advice you’d give to someone just starting out in the field today?

LR: Build your own brand from day one. Find a focus and own a word in the mind. What sells toothpaste also builds a successful career. Too many people want to be well-rounded when the real advantage is being a specialist.


WMC: What’s the biggest or most important marketing lesson you’ve learned since you got started in all this?

LR: Nobody cares what you say about yourself. The only thing that matters is what other people say about you.

Therefore the key to branding is not what you say; it is what you can get others to say that really counts.

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Best of 2007: Miscellaneous Marketing Stuff


From advertising to white paper syndication to voicemail, here are a few of the best marketing-related newsletter articles and blog posts from 2007 that simply didn't fit into any other category. Check out these stories from the penultimate entry in WebMarketCentral's Best of 2007 series.

AdBlock Plus Threatens the Online Revenue Model by The International Herald Tribune

What could have been the story of the year in interactive marketing turned out instead to be pretty much of a dud. Noam Cohen wrote here about AdBlock Plus, a free Firefox plug-in that "makes all commercial communication disappear. No flashing whack-a-mole banners. No highly targeted Google ads based on the search terms you've entered." It's not clear whether the idea fizzled because the program didn't always work properly or because online advertising simply isn't that all that annoying to people, but the whole short-lived uproar seemed to just disappear.


"Right or wrong, do something" by iMedia Connection

Michael Estrin writes in praise of marketing experimentation—trying out non-traditional tactics in order to break through the clutter of advertising and create positive impact for brands. Pointing out that "With average job durations of 18 months or less, chief marketing officers at major brands don't last all that long these days," Estrin argues that marketers need to break out of traditional thinking and try new approaches, such as corporate blogging, which is making "the shift from talking to consumers to speaking with customers." Quoting Tim Mapes, CMO of Delta Airlines, Estrin notes that such approaches do entail risk: "big ideas often require big failures. If you have 10 big ideas, eight of them are probably going to be absolute failures. But that's actually good. You want those failures. Only the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world actually do it. We need a lot more crazy people."


Get Your Meta On with One Dozen Metasearch Engines by SEO Scoop

DazzlinDonna reviews 12 metasearch engines—sites that compile search query results from several major search engines and combine them in one place. Her list includes established metasearch sites such as Dogpile, Excite, HotBot and Mamma as well as lesser-known but interesting entrants like Clusty, Kartoo and Myriad.


What’s the Deal with All the Boring Voicemail Greetings? by Marketing Genius

In this short but thought-provoking post, blogger Emily Bennington asks why almost everyone uses the same, obvious, boring voicemail greeting, when this could be used an opportunity for differentiation. Good question!


The ultimate guide to advanced searching within Yahoo, Google and MSN by HybridSEM

In this must-bookmark post, John Satter details advanced the advanced search qualifiers available from the major search engines, such as Google's allintext (confines the search results to pages including all the query terms you have specified in the text of your page), allintitle (shows all results containing all the query terms you specify in the title) and location (pulls only articles from the location you specified) operators. Using these qualifiers can make searching much less frustrating and more productive.


4,000 Ads a Day, And Counting by Search Insider

After establishing the problem: "the average urban dweller is exposed to between 3,000 and 5,000 advertising messages every day. That means...you’re presented with an ad every 14.4 seconds. That’s every 14.4 seconds, every minute of every day you’re alive," Gord Hotchkiss suggests a solution—cut out the middle man and have advertisers pay consumers directly for their attention. Interesting concept.


The Five Biggest White Paper Mistakes by The Content Factor

Paul McKeon details the most common mistakes made in authoring white papers, including overselling, poor formatting and lack of illustrations. A short but useful reminder, particularly for B2B technology marketers.

Previous posts 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
Best of 2007: Web 2.0 Sites
Best of 2007: Cool Online Tools

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Best of 2007: Cool Online Tools


Here's a list of interesting and useful tools to help you convert files, find content, promote your blog, and add content to your website, among other activities.

File conversion tools

Still running Office 2003, but need to convert the new XML-based formats from Office 2007 so you can read and work with them? Zamzar offers a free online service to convert files with no need to download software. Microsoft also offers its own downloadable conversion utility, which I've found to be the easier option.

If you have more extensive file conversion requirements, such as the need to view AutoCad, Corel and other file types in addition to MS Office, Avantstar's Quick View Plus an inexpensive utility to automatically view email attachments and other files from more than 250 formats. A free trial of the software is available here.


My Search Engines

Blogger David Berkowitz provides an excellent list of specialized search engines to help monitor buzz, find content within blogs, research websites, and find images, video clips and people. This is a "must bookmark" post for anyone conducting online research.


TypePad Widget Gallery

An extensive list of widgets that can be added to TypePad blogs to help promote content through sites like Bloglines, Digg and del.icio.us, as well as add cool features, collect email signups, embed a chat box, monitor traffic, create online polls and more.


Nabbit

Ever hear a song on the radio and wish you could "tag" it to learn more about the artist or possibly even download the song later? Or hear an ad that's compelling but can't stop to write down the phone number? Nabbit is a simple, free online utility that lets you easily "tag" songs and ads from your favorite radio station using your cell phone, then get the details later from a personalized web page. Very cool.


SitePal: Avatars and Animated Characters

A hosted service that enables you to add speaking animated avatars to any website. The company offers a free trial, and you can see an interesting application of the tool on the American TESOL website.


Firefox Extensions That Make Me A Better Marketer

Blogger Mitch Joel of Twist Image provides his short list of favorite Fire Fox plugins for tasks such as checking site popularity, downloading video and tagging content on del.icio.us.


10 Places to Find Free Images Online and Make Your Content More Linkable

Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal details sites where you can download images for use in blogs, websites and other applications, ranging from totally free to partially rights-protected.

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
Best of 2007: Web 2.0 Sites

*****


Contact Tom Pick: tomATwebmarketcentralDOTcom

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