>> Killer Blog Ideas, p.36
Legal Lessons from Oprah, p.42
>> Technographic Segmentation >> Stress-Free Link Building >> Facebookâ€™s Open Graph and Social Plugins PLUS: Top 50 Domain
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It’s time to mobilize your marketing Does the idea of making your marketing emails “mobile-friendly” scare you so much you think it’d be easier to revert back to stone tablets and chisels? Don’t be afraid. Designing or adapting your campaigns for a mobile format isn’t that daunting at all — and the mere thought of it shouldn’t prevent marketers from traveling to the not-really-so-foreign world of mobile marketing campaigns. Mobile communications have become a key component of today’s marketing scene — don’t be left out. It’s time to enhance your email program to market to the ever-growing numbers of mobile users — introduce mobile messaging into your marketing mix by extending current promotions with mobile-only offers. Encourage mobile user interaction by emailing or broadcasting special offer access codes with a free download, or use mobile messages to drive people back to your website, generate brand awareness and promote your services all at the same time. Need a little help to get started? Yesmail has your back — our award winning Professional Services team is here to help. We can assess your current email program and identify opportunities to incorporate mobile marketing into your marketing strategy today.
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Mobile Apps: The Gold Rush is On Mobile apps have created a new marketplace for consumers and businesses. Not since the dawn of the Web has the online landscape shifted so dramatically. Learn about the new world of mobile apps and how your business can benefit.
12 The Open Graph and Facebook Social Plugins Facebook has released a slew of new tools aimed at connecting the Web. Businesses can take advantage and reach a new level of consumer interaction.
‘Net Briefs: Geo-Friendly Facebook, Marketing Machines, The Price of Video, Google Goes Shopping, Fast Times in Berkeley
Mobile Minute: Android Overtakes iPhone, HP’s New Focus, Patently Absurd
32 E-Commerce Sales Tactics Five proven methods that will get you in the game and keep you competitive in the e-commerce arena.
34 Stress-Free Link Building If you have ever felt the pressure to improve search rankings by building links to your site, you can stop worrying and read this article.
36 How to Find Killer Blog Topics Fantastic tools and tips that will make brainstorming for inspirational blog topics a whole lot easier.
38 In-Text Advertising Websites like Britannica and Squidoo are earning effective CPM measured in whole dollars, not cents. It may be time for others to reconsider in-text ads.
41 SEO as Science When it comes to search engine optimization, thinking “science first” and “marketing second” will serve you and your Web business well.
42 Legal Lessons from Oprah Internet marketers stand to learn a lot about how to avoid a lawsuit from the one Ms. Winfrey’s people have brought against 51 merchants, affiliates and sub-affiliates.
44 Technographic Segmentation for Better Conversions
When it comes to your website, a visitor’s choice of operating system, search engine and browser can help you find the right target audience and approach them accordingly.
16 Top 50: Domain and Hosting Providers 18 SEO Corner: Step-by-Step Search (A three-part series) 20 Conversion Cache: Web Design and the Pursuit of Conversion 22 Findability Makeover: Food Network Star Sweetens His Social Media 47 Website Magazine Success Corner 48 Commentary: Creating Engagement
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F R O M T H E E D I TO R
With Peter Prestipino
Inside the Online World Mobile has arrived. According to a Comscore report from March 2010, there are now 234 million mobile subscribers in the U.S. alone. And mobile content usage continues to increase. That’s good news for Web professionals.
Visit these upcoming industry trade shows: Social Networking Conference June 16-18 Los Angeles, CA snc2010.com Affiliate Convention June 21-23 Denver, CO affcon2010.com HostingCon July 19-21 Austin, TX hostingcon.com Affiliate Summit East August 15-17 New York, NY affiliatesummit.com
More than 63 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device, up 0.6 percentage points versus three months prior. Browsers were used by 30.1 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers (up 2.6 percentage points). Applications were downloaded by 28.6 percent of the mobile audience (up 2.6 percentage points). Access of social networking sites and weblogs continued to increase too, posting gains of 2.8 percentage points to include 18.7 percent of mobile subscribers. The opportunity is there. And there is much more room to grow. Website Magazine’s feature article focuses on the mobile Web and addresses how brands and businesses big and small can engage customers and prospects through mobile advertising, QR codes, mobile couponing, mobile SEO and more. This issue of Website Magazine also provides readers with several informative and actionable articles on important trends and techniques to help ensure your Web success. Our regular columns Conversion Cache, Findability Makeover and SEO Corner are must-reads but there is much more that should not be missed. This month’s editorial lineup also includes Dan Ruby on Technographic Segmentation, John Alexander on Stress-Free Link Building, Mark Rosenberg on Trademark Laws on the Web, Ken Lyons on Finding Killer Blog Ideas and even more. Enjoy this issue of Website Magazine and remember that you can share your stories of ’Net success online at WebsiteMagazine.com.
The Magazine for Website Success 999 E. Touhy Ave., Des Plaines, IL 60018 Toll Free: 1.800.817.1518 International: 1-773-628-2779 Fax: 1-773-272-0920 PUBLISHER: Susan Whitehurst email@example.com EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Peter Prestipino firstname.lastname@example.org SENIOR EDITOR: Mike Phillips email@example.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR: Linc Wonham firstname.lastname@example.org *CONTRIBUTORS: John Alexander Josh Ewin Heather Lutze Ken Lyons Mark J. Rosenberg Daniel Ruby Tomer Treves Charles Wiedenhoft Derek Vaughan ART DIRECTOR: Jesse Erbach email@example.com
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PRODUCTION MANAGER: Janet Crouch www.grafikadesign.net
Peter Prestipino — Editor-in-Chief, Website Magazine Peter@WebsiteMagazine.com
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Want more? Scan That Throughout Website Magazine, readers are able to scan two-dimensional barcodes (also known as QR — quick response — codes) and access information directly from their smartphones. To scan the 2D barcodes you encounter in the magazine, simply visit GetScanLife.com to download the barcode reader to your mobile device. You will then be able to scan the barcodes and access the resources.
Website Magazine, Volume 5, July 2010, (ISSN# 1942-0633) is published 4 times per year in February, May, August and November with 8 special issues (January, March, April, June, July, September, October and December) by Website Services, Inc., 999 E. Touhy Ave., Des Plaines, IL 60018. Periodicals Postage Paid at Bolingbrook, IL and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Website Magazine, 999 E. Touhy Ave., Des Plaines, IL 60018. Canada Post: Please send undeliverable items to: 2835 Kew Drive, Windsor ON, N8T 3B7 Copyright 2010 by Website Magazine. All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission. For reprints of any article, contact the editor.
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Geo-Friendly Facebook Mark Zuckerberg and crew are said to be moving in a more geo-friendly direction at Facebook. Users of the social networking site will be able to share their real-time locations from mobile devices by posting them to their status updates, most likely on an optional basis. The tool will be a convenient one for the site’s 425 million users, but the real winners are the businesses that are lined up to utilize locationbased marketing on Facebook. The potential losers, of course, may be other geolocation services such as Foursquare and Gowalla, as Facebook’s quest for Web domination becomes less of a joke and more of a reality.
The Great Paid (Web) Wall The two most popular online video sites, YouTube and Hulu, are both moving closer toward paid models. Hulu, as expected, will begin charging $10 per month for a premium membership that allows access to certain content. And some owners of content on YouTube will be able to charge a fee for access to their videos, according to company executives. YouTube is also said to be developing an automated rental service in which it would offer videos not already in programs with Apple’s iTunes Store and Netflix’s instant-watch menu. There definitely seems to be a trend toward subscriptions and fees in the once completely free online video category, and one that marketers should be watching closely. But fans of the over-anesthetized-kids and stupid-pet-tricks genres can safely assume that those videos will remain free — at least for the time being.
TWITTER, FACEBOOK AND SU
According to Web analytics firm StatCounter’s Global Stats report, Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon are sending a significant volume of traffic to websites. Hopefully, you have already established a presence for your brand/website/company on those channels and the report will not come as too much of a surprise. Facebook is the primary driver of traffic to global websites with nearly half (48%) of social media hits, followed by StumbleUpon (25%) and Twitter (10%). Others rounding out the list of top sources include YouTube (6%), reddit (4%), Digg (2%) and MySpace (2%).
Google’s Top Search Queries Report Now Available Google is providing a lot more detailed information in the Top Search Queries report in its Webmaster Tools solution. Previously, users of the system could only see the average position at which a site’s pages appeared in the search results for a particular query. Now, when webmasters select a specific keyword in the Top Search Queries report, it will present a breakdown of the number of impressions and the number of click-throughs for each position where a site’s pages appeared in the search results associated with the query.
Now That’s Fast! Berkeley, Calif., officially has the fastest average Internet connection speed of any city in the world, according to the recently released State of the Internet report. American college towns dominated the list of the world’s fastest cities — Chapel Hill, N.C. and Palo Alto, Calif.
GOOGLE’S BUYING SPREE;
ARE YOU NEXT?
were second and third, respectively — but, overall, the United States is only the 22nd fastest country in the world. South Korea held its
The company is on pace this year to top 2007’s
position as the fastest country in the world, followed by Hong Kong
record of 16 acquisitions, having bought more
and Japan. The state with the fastest Internet speed in the U.S.? Delaware, of course.
companies before June than in any full year since then. Execs have said to expect about a
Fastest Average Internet Connection Speeds in the World
buyout every month in 2010, and so far Google has been ahead of track. The early 2010 acquisi-
(in kilobits per second)
tions have included Plink, reMail and LabPixies 1
Chapel Hill, NC
Palo Alto, CA
opers), Aardvark (social search), Picnik (photo
editing), DocVerse (Microsoft documents) and
Episodic (video), give or take a few. The com-
pany’s first-quarter earnings were up 23 per-
Ann Arbor, MI
(apps), Agnilux (hardware), Bumptop (UI devel-
cent, giving it about $25 billion in available cash. So there’s no reason to expect the buying spree to end anytime soon, and no Web entrepreneur is out of Google’s long reach.
J U LY 2010
The iPatent Wars Lawsuits claiming patent violations continue to fly between the world’s largest makers of mobile devices. One of the most recent volleys came from Taiwanese manufacturer HTC, which alleges that Apple infringed on five of its patents and has requested that the International Trade Commission (ITC) ban the selling and import of the iPhone, iPad and iPod as a result. The complaint came two months after Apple sued HTC for at least 20 patent violations involving the same devices, so HTC’s retaliation actually pales in comparison. Apple, meanwhile, has a separate complaint before the ITC requesting the ban of sales and import of Nokia mobile products. It’s a wonder that these companies have time to develop their brilliant gadgets anymore.
More Than a
Moral Victory Second place has probably never tasted so sweet for Google. The company’s Android operating system moved into the No. 2 spot in the 2010 firstquarter Mobile Phone Track report from research firm NPD, edging Apple’s iPhone OS for the first time. RIM’s Blackberry OS retained its stronghold on the top spot with 36 percent of the market share, but Android passed the iPhone with 28 percent compared to Apple’s 21 percent. There were, however, no congratulations for Google from Apple, which responded with a statement calling the rankings “a very limited report on 150,000 U.S. consumers responding to an online survey.” Ouch.
Stormy Weather Following its $1.2 billion acquisition of Palm, Hewlett-Packard has apparently abandoned its original answer to the iPad in favor of a new tablet device that will run on Palm’s mobile operating system instead of Windows 7. According to numerous reports, the Windows-run Slate has been shelved while HP engineers are working hard to have the new tablet ready for release as soon as the third quarter of 2010. None other than Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer presented the Slate to the public back in January, but HP’s acquisition of Palm and its move toward webOS has obviously changed things. The supposed code name of the new device is, appropriately, Hurricane.
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Facebook’s Social Plugins Getting Started with the Open Graph By Peter Prestipino, Editor-in-Chief
If you are unaware of the power of Facebook and how important it is that your business have a presence on the social networking hub, it is time to start paying attention. Facebook recently announced several bold, visionary and aggressive initiatives that are weaving the social net with the existing Web. That alone might not seem so unique or innovative. But it is the scale and speed at which it is happening that makes it of great importance for Web professionals. Facebook is big — real big. So big, in fact, that it could ultimately be the one great equalizer — the “one” that could compete with Google for consumer mindshare and perhaps even revenue at some point in the future. So what is this big initiative? Full-on support of the Open Graph. The Open Graph is a set combination of publisher plugins, semantic markup and a developer API. The three aspects of this platform (the Facebook API, RDF-based markup and plugins), while seemingly minimalistic and perhaps even innocuous in their separate parts, bring together a near realized vision of a fully social, personalized and semantic Web; the likes of which ’Net professionals have not seen since the term folksonomy entered our lexicon.
Continued from page 12 publishers to say what object is on the page (e.g. a movie or book review, an event, etc.). This automatically enables semantics, the understanding that the user is not just interacting with a Web page but liking a specific kind of thing. This can lead to bucketing of objects and provides an immense amount of personalization including but not limited to detailed recommendations. Advanced The new Facebook API is both elegant and streamlined and makes it easy to access user information (with permission, of course) such as profile data, friends, etc. All of the calls are REST based and return JSON objects. For example, my profile information can be fetched like this: http://graph.facebook.com/ peteprestipino. The authentication is based on OAuth 2.0 protocol and makes it simple not only to connect, but also to prompt for permissions to access user information. This new API turns Facebook into a read/write storage of users’ tastes — and not just one user but all Facebook users. Facebook’s adoption of the Open Graph has numerous implications for users, Web publishers, Facebook competitors and the Web in general. As someone responsible for Web success, your focus should be on offering tools that increase relevancy for users and support the interaction with content — wherever users are online.
One of the most interesting aspects of this plugin is that if a user is logged into Facebook the plugin will automatically be personalized to highlight content from their friends.
Social Plugins in Focus Like Button The Like button lets users share pages from your site back to their Facebook profile with one click. The code that you will need to integrate is for an iframe and can be placed very easily. The best feature of this plugin is that webmasters can customize how the link to the Liked site appears on a user’s Facebook profile by adding meta data for title, site name and even an image. Activity Feed The Activity Feed plugin shows users what their friends are doing on your website through Likes and comments. One of the most interesting aspects of this plugin is that if a user is logged into Facebook the plugin will automatically be personalized to highlight content from their friends. The plugin is
available via a simple iframe code that can be placed on a Web page. Recommendations The Recommendations plugin gives users personalized suggestions for pages on your site that they might like. To generate the recommendations, the plugin considers all the social interactions with URLs from your site. For logged-in Facebook users, the plugin will give preference to and highlight objects their friends have interacted with. You specify a site for which to show recommendations. You cannot currently aggregate across multiple domains. Like Box The Like box enables users to Like your Facebook Page and view its stream directly on your website. In addition to giving Facebook Page owners the ability to attract and gain Likes directly from their website, users can see how many others already Like the page and which of their friends Like it, too. Users can also read recent posts from the page and Like the page without needing to visit Facebook. You are able to specify the height and width, number of connections (a sample of users that have Liked the page), and choose whether or not to display the profile stream for the public profile. Login with Faces It makes sense that users are more likely to sign up for your site if they know that their friends or colleagues have done so already. The Login with Faces plugin shows profile pictures of the user’s friends (in addition to a login button) that have already signed up for your site. Site owners can specify the maximum number of rows of faces to display, and because the plugin dynamically sizes its height, it will show as many friends as will fill the rows specified. The Facepile plugin also shows profile pictures of the user’s friends who have already signed up for your site but does not include the direct login option. Comments The Comments Box easily enables your users to comment on your site’s content — whether it’s for a Web page, article, photo, or other piece of content. Then the user can share the comment on Facebook on their Wall and in their friends’ streams. Live Stream The Live Stream plugin lets website or application visitors share activity and comments in real time. The Live Stream Box works best when you are running a real-time event; like live streaming video for concerts, speeches or webcasts, live Web chats, webinars and multiplayer games.
DOMAIN NAME & HOSTING PROVIDERS godaddy.com
It is not uncommon for Web professionals to lose sight of what is most important to both their users and their bottom line — the brand and the availability of that brand.
We’re often seduced by the promises of high placement on search engines, however, and overly intrigued by the nuances of Web design. Sometimes we simply forget about the importance of possessing quality domain names (a reflection of our brand) and the quality of the companies providing hosting for those websites (the availability for those brands). Do so at your own peril, Website Magazine readers. The vast majority of Web businesses tend to bundle domain registration with Web hosting packages and for good reason — not bundling forces you to write two checks (virtual or otherwise), remember two passwords and have your team manage two accounts. Most ’Net professionals opt for an all-in-one provider for a simple reason — it’s easy. Fortunately, many of the most well-known and respected Internet names provide domain name and Web hosting services to their clients and have done so for years. They are now established in the industry and in the minds of current and future Web professionals. Website Magazine’s Top 50 list of Domain Name Services and Web Hosting Providers offers a valuable look into these companies that are a vital part of the Internet ecosystem. While you are unlikely to make an all-out switch from provider to provider just to save a few dollars, understanding those most prominent in this landscape will serve you well should a time come when it is required. Much is happening in cyberspace these days in relation to domain names and website hosting: The introduction of internationalized domain names brings some global legitimacy to the industry and significant growth is forecasted on that front. NetCraft’s April 2010 Web Server Survey reveals that, while three of the five major Web servers lost hostnames in April compared to March, the growth of active domains continues its slow and steady growth — although not nearly as fast as years prior. Much will change in the coming year. Having confidence that your provider is one of the best will help you adapt to and not fear those changes.
ABOUT THIS RANKED DATA Website Magazine’s Top 50 Rankings is a measure of a website’s popularity. Ranks are calculated using a proprietary method that focuses on average daily unique visits and page views over a specified period of time, as reported by multiple data sources. The website with the highest combination of factors is ranked in the first position. Conducting research, making formal comparisons and talking to existing clients and users before making any purchase decision is always recommended.
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With Josh Ewin
STEP-BY-STEP SEARCH In this three-part series called “Step-by-Step
Rather than regurgitating the stale “optimize and subthrough each essential mit” dogma that lost its relaspect of a search engine evance many years ago, I’ll be interviewing the top prooptimization (SEO) project. fessionals in the field of search for their suggestions and direction through each phase of the project. In Part I — Keyword Research, Derek Vaughan gives us some helpful pointers on keyword research using Google Adwords. Part II — Site Structure provides an approach to structuring your site and your content for maximum SEO greatness, with the help of Bruce Clay, the reigning King of SEO. In Part III — Offsite Optimization, Rand Fishkin, CEO and Co-founder of SEOmoz, provides helpful pointers on maximizing your offsite SEO efforts to generate maximum PR and traffic. Search”, I’ll be guiding you
Josh Ewin is Director of Marketing for DedicatedNOW.com, a managed dedicated hosting provider and co-founder of HostingArmor.com, a website security scanning service. Throughout Mr. Ewin’s 12-year career in online marketing, he has assisted hundreds of companies with search engine optimization, creative planning, content development, market research and analytics, website optimization and affiliate program management.
Part I: Keyword Research
Every search project must start with keyword research. You need to understand how your products fit in the overall market and what that market is calling for. A great place to start is collecting all of the keywords surrounding your own products or services. For example, if you administer an online store for runners, you would probably end up with a list of keywords like “men’s running shoes, Nike Air Max, gel, pedometer”, and so forth. This is where most companies stop; going directly to the optimization stage of keywords and phrases. We will take it to the next level. Remember, your products are only one WebsiteMagazine.com portion of the market. Without thorough research you won’t know what else people You may actually find that are searching for within your industry. So, your competition is poorly let’s take that keyword list based on your optimized or taking an outproducts and add keywords that your comside-of-the-box approach petitors are using to help drive awareness of to their marketing efforts. I your company in the greater industry. There find this type of research are tools available (i.e. Traffic Travis) that (along with checking your will provide this data very quickly. However, competitors’ backlinks and you can always right-click on a competitor’s online advertising) very page and view the “page source” to reveal a helpful in defining a unique wealth of data about your competition’s apapproach to the market proach to search. Simply look at page titles, that I’m targeting. meta keywords and meta descriptions and
you will get a good picture of how the market is (or isn’t) being tackled. You should be able to derive some interesting assumptions from looking at source code. For instance, what keywords do they find most valuable? Have a look at the repetition of keywords and their placement within the page and the site as a whole. If you find that your competition has the key phrase “Nike Air Max” in the titles and meta tags of 30 percent of their pages, that’s probably an important keyword for them. Take any relevant keywords you find in page titles and meta tags and add them to your list. At this point we’ve seen search in your niche from the seller’s perspective. But we also want to look at what buyers are searching. Google’s Keyword Tool will return an expanded list of keywords relative to your own, and give the competition level and search volume for any keyword or phrase. After searching for keywords and phrases using the Keyword Tool, download the resulting file so you can sift through it locally. You will find that Google not only provides data on volume and competition, but also gives the PPC value of any keyword — the estimated dollar value for the current number one position for a particular keyword or phrase. Knowing what PPC bidders are willing to pay for a keyword gives a good understanding of how much revenue you could generate from traffic for that term. You can find some real gems if you cross-reference search competition with PPC value. In any market or niche, there are usually a few phrases that have been overlooked by the competition that have very nice PPC values. You will likely also find terms to omit from your list — those terms with zero or near-zero search volume or PPC value. Ideally, you want to target keywords that are relevant to your offering, low in competition, high in search volume and high in value. Derek Vaughan of 34SP.com explains another approach to keyword research based on PPC value. “A proven method for researching what keywords impact your business and the precise value of those keywords is to run an AdWords campaign. Use ‘exact match’ for your terms and let the campaign run for a few weeks. Also be sure to include tags that will track sales per keyword. At the conclusion of the test period you should be able to see what keywords are driving qualified traffic, the cost of those clicks and the volume of the search terms.
This makes selecting keywords for future efforts — SEO or PPC — much easier. I have recently been working together with website hosting firm 34SP.com and this technique has been very successfully applied in directing our selection of keyword terms to pursue. The results actually surprised us a bit as well.” Once you have refined your keyword list, it’s time for onsite optimization. While we will go into this in detail in the next installment of this series, it’s worth discussing the organization and grouping of your keywords first. Assuming that your company seeks the holy grail of search — specifically, a number one ranking in Google — you need to make your site as search-friendly as possible. Organizing keywords into related groups can go a long way toward maximizing on-site and off-site SEO efforts. Grouping keywords into pages and related pages with each other can help. By their relation to each other, your pages get crawled, indexed and ranked faster. Until next time…
Outsourcing your SEO Project: “My advice on selecting a quality partner to assist in SEO is to research companies and be certain to select a firm with a strong reputation. You can't go wrong by attending one of the many professional SEO conferences and listening firsthand to the experts explain their methodologies to get a sense of their perspective on SEO. Some that come immediately to mind are SES, SMX, and PubCon. Another great resource online to get a sense of what professionals are up to is Sphinn.com. This is a service similar to Digg, but with content exclusive to SEO topics.”
— Derek Vaughan
J U LY 2010
With Pete Prestipino
Web Design and the Pursuit of Conversion Web design is often
Designers and those managing them must move from qualitative insights into quanvalue in the eye of the titative ones. To do that, you beholder. Once driven must express a clear objective. The most significant misexclusively by aesthetics, take most make with website however, design is design is not having a clear now influenced by understanding of what each page should accomplish. empirical data. For example, an e-commerce merchant’s objective is to sell products; while a content publisher’s aim should be acquiring e-mail addresses. Every design product created should satisfy your business’ underlying objective. The problem is, designers often take cues from others and become content to do what everyone else is doing. Your business objectives are never exactly the same as another’s. To solve the problem you will need a deep understanding of whether your users are clear on the objective, and design websites to that end. Once you have decided on the objective of each page you must then approach each and every design project with a tactician’s mindset. You need to know who the audience is and where they are coming from in order to ultimately influence the number and amount of conversions. perceived as art; its
Peter Prestipino is the Editor-in-Chief of Website Magazine, a recognized authority on Internet business and a regular speaker at Web industry tradeshows.
Design for Audience: The industry has made significant advancements in helping business owners understand their audience; how old they are, where they are from, how much money they make each year. Quantcast is a useful service, providing relatively accurate demographic information. For example, we know that visitors to WebsiteMagazine.com tend to be more affluent and better educated. This insight influences various elements of our design and marketing. We have learned what headlines affluent and educated visitors react to and what images and content are likely to influence their return. Your existing analytics account is also useful, providing information such as the browsers consumers are using, the operating systems, etc. This is known as technographics and can be very valuable when designing pages. For example, how many of your users are using mobile browsers to access your content? If there are quite a few, why not design a mobile-friendly website (maybe even an iPhone or Android application).
Design for Channel: The goal of design is to influence conversion. But influencing conversion through site design is immensely complicated when there are so many channels from which your visitors arrive. Data to the rescue. There are an infinite number of possible user groups, so designing with everyone in mind is impossible. Design cues can be taken, however, from the source from which they originated. For example, we know that users from search engines are seeking information — so we should provide more text-friendly pages for those visitors. We know that users from social media may want to be entertained — so we might want to provide slots for video and infographics. We know that direct visitors are looking for displays of trust and confidence — so integrating trust elements will prove essential. Approaching Web design with the channel in mind provides comfort to the user. When comfortable, they are more likely to share information, buy products and tell their friends. In other words, convert. Design for Conversion: Designing for conversion or return means understanding visitor motivation. We want to provide easy access to information and push users toward the action (sales, lead, click) using incentives, if necessary, reduce anxiety and build up our credibility in that buyer’s future eyes. Again, we need to know what users want. Information from preceding sections such as understanding who our audience is and where or what channels they are coming from provides this guidance. From there we are able to include design elements that push users toward conversion. Actionable advice will differ for each website but many best practices have emerged including displaying a bold primary heading and subheading, providing lists of benefits and features, and putting information requests (sign up forms) in visible locations. Your objective influences the audience you will acquire, as your audience (and, fortunately, we know a lot more about them now) reacts to some design elements more than others. Using those elements (whatever they are) aids us in our relentless pursuit of conversion as we are able to craft not just Web pages but entire experiences — those that support our underlying business objective of selling products, acquiring information and establishing a brand.
F I N DA B I L I T Y M A K E O V E R
With Heather Lutze
THINK LOCAL, ACT SOCIAL Food Network Star Finds Social Media Not So Sweet I am crazy about the
I was recently having lunch in this very quaint restaurant just happen to love when I saw a famous face. It belonged to Keegan Gerhard, the a restaurant called host of Food Network ChalD Bar Desserts, lenge. As I found out, Keegan is located in Denver, also the proprietor of D Bar, along with his wife, Lisa Bailey. Colorado. He was diligently working on recipes behind the counter and I was fortunate enough to meet him and strike up a conversation. I took a picture of one of his dessert masterpieces to post to my Facebook profile. I went to “friend” Keegan and join his Fan Page for D Bar, but I could not find him as the “star” of his own TV show or restaurant. I asked him what was going on with his social media, and he professed his extreme frustration with trying to balance his personal, friend persona with his celebrity persona on Facebook. “I get, on average, 300 friend requests a day,” he explained. “But I only friend the people I know, so I end up neglecting a few potential personal friends and the majority of my fan base.” Keegan is caught between a rock and a hard place, as he has “friended” everyone and neglected his Fans in the process. In addition, he hasn’t combined his star power of Food Network. I also
Heather Lutze has spent the last 10 years helping business owners get their enterprises noticed on the Web by their target audiences. She is the author of “The Findability Formula: The Easy, NonTechnical Approach to Search Engine Marketing.” Visit FindabilityFormula.com for tools and resources to increase your site’s findability.
Keegan Gerhard Host of Food Network Challenge
being on the Food Network with the fact that he and his wife own a wonderful restaurant in Denver. He needs to be aggressively separating his personal and celebrity lives, while combining his TV celebrity status with his restaurant proprietorship. There are some additional ways in which to improve Keegan’s social media presence, so we recommended the following tactics: Problem 1: Keegan’s personal Facebook profile is his public profile.
Solution: Separate the Person from the Persona, Tactic 1: Develop Personal Pages not tied to brand recognition and make them private. Keegan needs to create a Facebook page under a revised name or nickname that his family and friends would know. In addition, because Keegan’s face is so well known, the Facebook main profile image should not be an image of his face. Tactic 2: Develop Business Persona Pages that are tied to brand recognition (i.e., logo, Keegan’s face, etc.). Fans will connect with Keegan’s face and the Food Network logo, so those images should be prominent on the public business persona profile. A business fan page for his and Lisa’s restaurant should be associated with Keegan’s business persona account, in order to combine the branding of both.
Problem 2: Customers don’t know what is happening with the restaurant and Keegan Gerhard. Solution: Keep them informed and the excitement high in real time to continue to drive traffic to D Bar Desserts. Tactic 1: Tweet daily (4-5 tweets per day) to give customers greater access to the restaurant’s happenings.
Great topics include: • Tweets on local events or charity work • Tweets on new menu items, recipes and tips from Keegan • Tweets on nightly specials and promo codes for that night • Tweets on media coverage for the restaurant and TV show Tactic 2: Set up time management tools. To keep Keegan in the kitchen and not on his computer, use Hootsuite.com or
Are you thinking, “But I’m not a Celebrity?”
SocialOomph.com to write a month’s worth of tweets and distribute them throughout each day. Tactic 3: Create a professional Twitter look and feel. Keegan
needs a professional Twitter background with his picture, the Food Network Challenge logo and his D Bar restaurant logo. One MUST support the other.
You may be wrong, because the celebrity of any company is the website owner. They are the face of the brand and accessible via social media sites like Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and LinkedIn — all free and full of customers waiting to become a Fan or Friend and buy your products and services. Don’t overlook these amazing marketing mediums because millions are waiting for you to join in and get active in their communities. Do you know a company that could use an Internet Facelift, or have you tried any of these suggestions on your site? Send an e-mail to email@example.com and let me know. I’m always on the lookout for my next Findability Makeover Subject!
Problem 3: People don’t realize that Keegan, a Food Network host, and Lisa own D Bar and that they cook there daily. Solution: Integrate with the Food Network community. Keegan’s celebrity and his restaurant are inextricably bound to support one another. Tactic 1: Join Food Network groups. Join the conversation and drive local awareness of Keegan’s celebrity with Food Network fans. Tactic 2: Include content about Keegan on the D Bar Fan Page. Post about upcoming events, recipes, specials from the restaurant, activities happening on the Food Network set, etc. Tactic 3: Use Food Network logos on the website, as well as social media “join me” icons. The Food Network logo is well-known, use it! Tactic 4: Start a “Keegan’s in the D Bar Kitchen” notification. Get the buzz going about the fact that Keegan is in the restaurant often. Tactic 5: On-the-set tweeting from Challenge events. Transfer the excitement from the show to the restaurant.
Problem 4: People in the local community mistakenly think that D Bar only does dessert.
Solution: Add a blog to the website and promote it on Facebook and Twitter. Let the community know that D Bar does it all; from desserts and custom cakes to lunch, dinner and wine tastings. Tactic 1: Weekly “What to expect when you come to D Bar” blog posts. Tactic 2: Weekly blog posts featuring the entrées. Nothing says “Let’s eat” like a great photo and some compelling text on the entrée options. Tactic 3: YouTube videos of restaurant happenings. Place Flip video cameras throughout the restaurant so that guests can take their own videos of the food, wine and fun happening daily. Tactic 4: Use photos everywhere. Post images of each of the entrées on the social media pages and post pictures from Challenge tapings that Keegan takes himself. It builds local excitement.
Problem 5: D Bar does not have an online brand commensurate with its positioning as the premier destination restaurant in Denver.
Solution: Get found in search engines for keyword strings associated with D Bar when people are looking for a restaurant. Tactic 1: Use a keyword tool to find good search strings to associate with D Bar. For example, we found the following keywords in the Google External Keyword Tool (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal):
• • • • • •
Best places to eat Denver (320 searches/month) Best restaurants in Denver (28 searches/month) Great places to eat in Denver (38 searches/month) Places to eat downtown Denver (140 searches/month) Good places to eat in Denver (73 searches/month) Things to do in downtown Denver (480 searches/month)
Tactic 2: Add pages optimized for the key phrases listed above, as well as use them in tweets, blog post titles and Facebook profiles. This will eventually lead to search results domination with organic, blog and social media posts in the many key positions. We can’t wait to see the floodgates open as customers start getting online access to Keegan the TV celebrity and to his and Lisa’s amazing restaurant. Social media findability is key for any business owner trying to build relationships and drive traffic to their website or place of business.
J U LY 2010
Just a few years ago, “apps” was restaurant lingo for chicken fingers and nachos. But now the word means so much more — fun and games,
The Gold Rush is On
entertainment, convenience and, most important to Web professionals, opportunity and revenue.
By Mike Phillips, Senior Editor
Apple alone claims nearly 200,000 apps available to download on more than 85 million iPhones and iPod Touches, according to The Wall Street
Journal. Apple’s Steve Jobs recently claimed that the average iPhone user spends a little over 30 minutes every day using apps — a massive, dedicated and captive audience. The iPad will open the market even more, with over one million units sold in less than 30 days — a mind-blowing 33,000-plus per day.
“Just like with websites, however, most brands will need to have a mobile presence; for which applications are a perfect way of doing so.” — Remco van den Elzen, Co-founder, Distimo
J U LY 2010
MOBILE APPS The Gold Rush is On
Distimo, a company that provides analytics for app stores, released some interesting data at CTIA Las Vegas in March, 2010. Among that data is some insight into the varied app stores, the type of apps they provide and average costs of paid apps.
f course, Apple isn’t the only game in town. Google’s Android operating system is being adopted by users and developers rapidly. Recent data from research firm NPD shows that, for the first time, the Android operating system is being used more than Apple’s iPhone. The reason is simple: Android covers a multitude of devices, not just one. Considering that smartphones are becoming widely available at affordable prices and the more than 234 million mobile subscribers in the US alone, it’s not hard to see that mobile devices and their lifeblood — apps — are poised to create a marketplace unseen since the dot-com boom. And just as frantic — in the first quarter 2010, 50,000 new apps were added to Apple’s App Store. Apps can bring opportunity to many businesses and, in some cases, big profits. There are several ways to get involved in the app gold rush — selling apps, advertising within apps and even using others’ apps to drive consumers to your products and services. Apps are here to stay, and now is the time to get involved.
Free vs. Paid Apps Apple free paid
Android free paid
BlackBerry free 24% paid Palm free paid Microsoft free paid
Earning with Paid Apps
Research firm Yankee Group estimates that apps will generate $1.6 billion in revenues in the U.S. alone this year. Certainly, companies like Apple and other app providers will earn the lion’s share. But developers, publishers and businesses will get their fair share, too. Some of the top-earning apps to date are games. The wildly-popular Doodle Jump game earned its two developers millions, logging its three-millionth iPhone download this year at $0.99 a pop. In March, 2010, eBay announced they expect to generate $1.5 billion in merchandise volume through its mobile services, including the eBay app. The newspaper industry might be reeling but The Wall Street Journal sees a way to turn it around. Spawned by the iPad’s larger screen size and looming similar devices, WSJ launched its app with a lofty fee of $17.29 per month. Within the first two weeks the app was downloaded more than 3,000 times. Streaming music service Pandora launched their mobile app to much fanfare and a flurry of downloads. While the app is free to download, premium
Average Price for Paid Apps Apple
services cost extra. No doubt, the app contributed to Pandora turning its first profit in Q4, 2009. What do all of these successful apps have in common? First, they are premium, high-performance apps. Second, they surely cost these companies tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop. Third, and most important, they each provide an experience that is unique to the app and the provider; something that cannot be found anywhere else. Pandora’s model is interesting, in that the app was designed not for immediate earnings but as a conduit to revenue. Without paying for the service, music is periodically interrupted by commercials and streaming capabilities are limited. While the app provides some value, the greatest value for Pandora is in the app’s ability to further the overarching business goals of the website and the service — consumer payments for uninterrupted music streaming, easily passed along through the app. Of course, different apps have different revenue models. And some are designed not necessarily to make money immediately but to drive the overall brand experience. “Companies like eBay drive revenue using the same business model they have for their website; game developers drive revenue by selling their applications and using in-app purchases; and companies like Nike use it more for branding purposes,” says Remco van den Elzen, Co-founder of Distimo, a mobile app store analytics provider and research firm. “Just like with websites, however, most brands will need to have a mobile presence; for which applications are a perfect way of doing so.”
Is Your Business App-worthy? With all the hype surrounding mobile apps, it’s easy to think that an app is appropriate for every business. But that might not always be the case. Considering the often high cost of development and promotion, businesses must think strategically and determine an acceptable return on investment before making the commitment. “This is not like building a website,” says Sam Gaddis, CMO for Mutual Mobile, a leading custom app agency. “To do something well could be a $200,000 investment. It depends how you monetize it and if you can justify the value.”
The iPad Effect
According to Gaddis, a successful app provides utility — something that users will actually use and benefit from, rather than a one-time download that gets deleted soon after. And to provide utility the app must have certain systems in place. Gaddis notes that apps integrating with some existing data or systems will be much easier (and more cost-effective) to produce than building data and systems from the ground up. Also to be taken into consideration is the drive and effort to support the app after development. “How much are you willing to dedicate to this?” asks Gaddis. “You can’t expect the app store itself to fulfill marketing, distribution or leads. You need a marketing plan specified from the outset.” But even if you don’t have a big budget for apps, you can still create an app presence, or even take advantage of other, more established apps. Several companies offer simple, stripped-down apps that can provide a presence for businesses, even if it is simply an updated RSS feed and a way to browse content and contact the owner. Some providers include MyAppBuilder.com, BuildAnApp.com and AppBreeder.com. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. However, even a simple app gets you in the game. It can help gauge interest with your audience and provide a critical touch point for the fastestgrowing medium on the Internet. Another way to get an app presence is to use a Web-based app as a workaround. “If you can use HTML5 and create a Web app optimized for iPhone or iPad, that’s low-hanging fruit that makes a lot of sense for your business,” says Gaddis. Yet another alternative is to piggy-back on larger apps. Gaddis suggests this tactic for some businesses. For example, local businesses can offer rewards for Foursquare users when they “check in” or become a “Mayor” of the local business. The Foursquare app claims more than 725,000 users and 22 million check-ins as of March 29, 2010. That’s a sizable audience and interesting opportunity for local businesses. Keep in mind that many popular consumer-facing websites have apps — Facebook, Yelp and Google Maps included. This is not only a way to stay connected to the app world but, in the case of an app like Yelp, could generate business or even drive business away. Stay on top of these websites
The introduction of the iPad marked a new era in mobile and provides a new venue for apps. These apps offer what traditional mobile apps cannot — a much larger workspace, gaming venue, and browsing session. This so-called “couch computing” will open new doors for many developers, businesses and consumers alike. And it’s not limited to Apple. Expect many competitors in the very near future, especially those using the Android operating system. While the devices might stand alone, the open system of Android will ensure that apps can work whether you’re operating a Google tablet, HP or any other entries to the market. As far as apps are concerned, the iPad offers a look at what consumers expect from a tablet experience. As it stands today, it’s quite different than what is expected from a mobile app experience, and a good indication of the possibilities of apps far beyond simple games, sound effects and traditional time-wasters. More utile iPad apps signify a shift toward production and utility in the mobile space. Data from Distimo’s montly report for April, 2010 shows that 80 percent of apps for the iPad are of the paid variety, and not your standard $0.99. The average price of an iPad app is higher than their iPhone counterparts, by a figure of $4.67 to $3.82, respectively.
Top Paid iPad Apps
Top Paid iPhone Apps
1. Pages Apple Inc.
1. Doodle Jump
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $9.99
2. GoodReader for iPad Good.iWare Ltd. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.99 3. Penultimate Cocoa Box Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $2.99 4. The Pinball HD OOO Gameprom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $2.99 5. Keynote Apple Inc.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . $9.99
6. Magic Piano Smule
. . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.99
7. Numbers Apple Inc.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . $9.99
8. Weather HD vimov, LLC
. . . . . . . . $0.99
9. Real Racing HD Firemint
. . . . . . . $9.99
10. Air Video InMethod
. . . . . . . . . . . . . $2.99
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.99
2. RedLaser Occipital
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.99
3. The Simpsons Arcade Electronic Arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.99 4. Angry Birds Clickgamer.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.99 5. ZombieSmash gamedoctors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.99 6. Big Button Box Pro Shaved Ham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.99 7. Skee-Ball Freeverse, Inc.
. . . . . . $0.99
8. MONOPOLY Electronic Arts 9. Diner Dash PlayFirst, Inc.
. . . . . . $0.99
10. Gun Builder Win Sheng Loh
J U LY 2010
. . . $2.99
. . . $0.99
MOBILE APPS The Gold Rush is On The approach of iAd is to build appvertisements into more immersive experiences than a simple banner ad. According to recent demonstrations by Apple, the iAds will appear as animated banners — when clicked, the ad will expand to possibly show videos, interactive store locators, exclusive offers and more, while the app continues to run in the background. In essence, the ad performs like the app itself. However, for the time being, there is a catch — Apple is in charge. They will begin by building the ads themselves to ensure functionality. Eventually a developer kit will be released, and it can be expected to be in the exclusive programming language already in use to build Apple apps. Also, Apple raised eyebrows in the industry when announcing the very hefty prices advertisers must pay to be involved in the iAd platform. To see iAd in action today, visit http://bit.ly/9S4yJo
and your company’s standing on these sites to make sure that app-minded consumers have a good experience, even if you don’t have an app or any intention of ever developing one.
Mobile Appvertising When searching for a harbinger of progress within a new industry, one need not look much farther than advertising. Whether promoting a new development in smartphone technology or the summer’s latest blockbuster movie, advertising tells consumers what to expect and, often, what to do. From billboards to radio, advertising drives economies. It’s no different in the mobile space. And one sector where mobile advertising will expand and generate billions of dollars in revenue is through mobile app advertising; or “appvertising.” These ads can come in the form of pop-up at the launch of an app, or as a small banner overlay on the entire viewing area of the app itself. Most often, these ads are distributed through ad agencies; making appvertising accessible to just about any interested advertiser. With Apple’s acquisition of mobile ad network Quattro, and Google's planned acquisition of AdMob, mobile advertising has entered the forefront of marketers’ minds. It is unclear whether these acquisitions will come into play with advertising within mobile apps, but it’s not a stretch to imagine they will. Now, the iPad and the welltimed (although overshadowed) announcement of iAd thrusts mobile advertising — and advertising within mobile apps — truly into the spotlight. “Most agencies have now realized the true potential of mobile advertising,” says Paran Johar, CMO of Jumptap, a leading mobile advertising solution. “Most advertisers now see mobile as that next frontier.” But just how expansive is this new frontier? Considering the explosion of app-ready smartphones in the market, it’s absolutely massive. And, like most things app-related these days, Apple looks to dominate the space with iAd — an advertising solution that will become the standard for iPhone and iPad apps. Naturally, iAd has its critics. “iAd is the new walled garden of mobile. You must use their
creative and measure within their platform,” says Johar. So, competitors are busy working on alternatives. On the opposite end of Apple and iAd is the variety of apps available through Android, BlackBerry and Palm, the open market of appvertising to go along with those providers and plenty of open systems for developers. More than 80 percent of mobile carriers work with Jumptap, according to Johar, indicating the vast marketplace beyond Apple. The Android operating system overtook Apple in mid-May, 2010, because of it’s interoperability across multiple devices. Typically, developers can expect to earn with appvertising through a revenue-share basis. Developers using iAd will see 60 percent of the revenue, while Apple takes the rest. And if mobile advertising in general is any indication, advertisers and developers can expect plenty of action. “In general, at its highest level, [mobile] clickthrough rates are one to two percent,” says Johar. “On a PC desktop that number is typically .01 to one percent. It [mobile click-through rates] will certainly level off at some point. However, mobile is much more pervasive and can be more relevant.” “Now is the time to test and learn, as much as possible before it becomes truly mainstream,” adds Johar. “The later you test and learn, the higher the pricing becomes. Gain some best practices now, so at the appropriate time you can scale accordingly.” Appvertising prices vary — CPMs can be as low as $2 to over $20, according to Johar. “The main two components that change the price are the property or app that is being advertised in, and how many targeting parameters are being used. Things like geo and demo targeting will increase the CPM an advertiser will pay as the audience is more specific within the app.” But how does appvertising compare with standard website advertising? “The basic ad units of text, banners and rich media are very similar,” says Johar. “However, mobile advertising offers many unique characteristics. The fact that there is less clutter and only one or two ads per page, the personal nature of the mobile device and the ability to be much more geo specific have shown engagement rates 10-100 times greater than PC Web advertising.”
I Have an App for That 5 Apps on Senior Editor Mike Phillips’ iPhone
WebsiteMagazine.com Upselling within apps is a popular way of monetizing mobile apps. Developers can offer “light” versions of apps for free, then prompt users at regular intervals to pay for a more robust experience and better features. Another popular upsell is cross-promotion of related apps within an existing app. This can be done through the developer or via paid advertisements.
Apps in Context Mobile apps are white-hot. You don’t need more statistics, me, or any app expert to tell you that. The real question is: Does your business need an app? The answer to that question depends greatly on your business model, your budget and, most importantly, your users. If you have a tech-centric consumer base, then an app makes perfect sense. But what if your users are made up mostly of technophobes or people who simply don’t “get” mobile apps at all? Consider this: Just a few short years ago, many experts the world over were calling the mobile Web a colossal bust — that it was full of nothing but empty promises. Back in May, 2008, in this very publication, we ran the cover story “Mobile Web: Hope or Hype?” We actually had the nerve to debate the usefulness of the mobile Web. It would be near impossible to find anyone (including us) questioning the legitimacy of mobile today. Go back even further to the dawning of the Web. Many believed that it was only for geek programmers and hackers — not somewhere to buy and sell goods. Ask eBay or Amazon how that worked out. There is little question that apps are changing the way we interact with brands, each other and the Internet itself. Some argue that apps will take over the Web as we know it — that surfing the Web through apps will replace the process of hunting for Web pages, even “websites” altogether. Is that possible? If you asked someone 20 years ago if it would be possible to watch live coverage of a NASA launch — on their phone — you would get mixed answers, at best. What are the possibilities for your business?
The Facebook app lets me update statuses, see what friends and colleagues are up to, manage Fan Pages, upload photos and videos, and interact with consumers on the fly. Google, of course. I can search via voice, find nearby businesses without the need to enter my location, and get quick access to Google Reader, Gmail, Calendar and more. I have yet to get the Analytics App, due to its $6.99 price tag, but that might soon change. WordPress for iPhone offers the ability to manage comments, make quick posts complete with fresh photographs, geo-tag and more. This app will be even more useful on the iPad. Wikipanion satisfies my curious streak whenever and wherever. The information is formatted well and easy to scan. I find it useful for quick, light research and settling the occasional friendly bet. Who doesn’t like to hit home runs? With Homerun Battle 3D from Com2uS, I can do just that. The free version is limited, but plenty to provide a little break. I do get prompted to upgrade to a paid version, which is fine by me considering the amount of free entertainment I’ve already received – 4,433 dingers and counting.
I Have an App for That 5 Apps on Editor-in-Chief Peter Prestipino’s Android The GoDaddy Mobile application for Android offers WhoIs information, provides the ability to register and manage domain names (including DNS controls) and includes the ability to renew and consolidate domains. DroidAnalytics is a productivity application for visualizing Google Analytics data. Daily, weekly and yearly statistics for page views, visitors, visits, bounce rate, time and pages per visit are displayed in an elegant and intuitive fashion. The eBay application for Android offers users of the site nearly full on access to the auction site. The app provides access to standard eBay account features including bidding, watching, the ability to leave feedback, and pay with PayPal directly. The Pingdroid application enables users to post updates to all of their connected social networks (including Twitter, Facebook, Brighkite, LinkedIn and more), add geographic location, offers URL shortening and full integration with other Android apps. Fishin’ 2 Go offers a little relief from the high-pressure world of the Web. This incredibly realistic game application offers the ability to cast your lure in eight locations, with 30-plus lures to catch more than 50 species. My personal record? A 300 lb. Bluefin Tuna!
J U LY 2010
your move Five E-commerce Sales Tactics to Get in the Game By Linc Wonham, Associate Editor
An e-commerce sales tactic can be defined as any business strategy, technological tool or operational procedure that is implemented to generate conversions. Exploring new sales tactics, evaluating the ones you have in place and reexamining what you may have overlooked should be a frequent exercise that will help your company prosper. Below are five tactics that are worth taking a look at, along with information on how you can make each one of them work for your own e-commerce business. Affiliate Programs Diving into the affiliate marketing pool can seem like a daunting task, especially when you consider its sheer depth. There are affiliate networks that will offer to do the legwork (such as Share-a-Sale, Commission Junction, LinkShare and Google Affiliate Network); affiliate directories to help you find partners (Affiliate Scout, Associate Programs, Affiliates Directory and Affiliate Showcase), and affiliate software designed to manage the process (iDevDirect, Has Offers, Post Affiliate Pro and Direct Track), not to mention the millions of potential affiliate partners waiting in the wings. Affiliate marketing has become its own vast industry with unlimited
resources. But many e-commerce merchants simply don’t know where to begin. “It’s been very profitable for me, but it took me 11 years to finally do it,” says Peter Novell, owner of TheOldWestGallery.com, a vintage western clothing retailer. “The good news is that I get more than 10 percent of my sales through affiliate programs, but the even better news is what the added links have done for my search results. You simply can’t buy that kind of traffic. Even if that was all I got out of it, it still would have been the best $500 I ever spent in my life.” After more than a decade of resisting what he considered exorbitant prices to join an affiliate network ($3,000 to $6,000), Novell finally found something within his budget. Now he reaps the rewards of hundreds of partners with links to his site, and he says that he wishes he’d taken the leap earlier. If joining a network is simply not a viable option for your business right now, the directories and the software mentioned above are all valuable resources to help you get started.
Loyalty and Rewards Programs Loyalty is a two-way street, and the most effective way to keep customers returning to your site is by instilling in them the same sense of loyalty that you hope to get in return. Developing rewards programs to direct shoppers back to your website can be a simple process with unlimited returns for merchants. A good example is the case of Netflix, which has built a community of millions of loyal customers who receive a variety of customized services through different levels of mem-
bership. But you don’t have to be a top 100 online retailer to make an impact through loyalty and rewards programs. The point is to let your customers know that you value their business and then to show them through quasi-personalized services. Examples may include discounts for returning shoppers or on orders of multiple items, providing coupons for referrals, reduced shipping charges for qualified customers or creating a points system to reward frequent buyers. E-commerce platform providers such as Volusion and Magento have begun to add loyalty program functions to their software packages (anywhere from $25 to $1,000 per month), but it’s also something you can implement on your own with a little creativity and follow-through. It can be a fun way to build longstanding relationships with your clientele, and customer loyalty can become one of your company’s most prized assets.
Video Video is the fastest-growing medium on the Web and on the cusp of becoming the most effective sales tactic in e-commerce. Forrester Research estimates that 65 percent of the top 50 Internet retailers use video on their sites, but it is still not uniformly accepted by consumers as a purchasing tool. This places smaller merchants in the awkward position of having to decide if, when and how to incorporate video onto their own sites, trying to walk the fine line between appearing antiquated on the one side and obnoxious on the other. The solution, then, is to give customers the option of watching a product demonstration, a media report or a testimonial on video. All are powerful sales tools that can be viewed at the customer’s choosing, but you won’t chase them off of your site if video is not their thing just yet. It is not a difficult process to implement, and companies such as Invodo, Liveclicker and Video Commerce offer multi-tiered solutions. “Using video to promote products and services online is one of the most underused e-commerce strategies today,” says Bobbi Leach, general manager of Revenue Wire. “Video has the potential to make your e-commerce campaigns incredibly successful.”
products through quality and service, but all indications are that ratings and reviews have arrived as an indispensable resource for Internet consumers.
Live Chat Over the past few years, live chat has graduated from a useful customer service tool to a highly effective e-commerce sales tactic. Numerous companies that utilize live chat during the checkout process have recorded significant reductions in shopping cart abandonment as a result. Today’s consumers are looking for as much credible product information as they can find, and live chat gives merchants the ability to share their expertise and to separate themselves from the competition at a critical juncture in the purchasing process. “Live chat enables us to really enhance the customer shopping experience, and we’ve seen increased customer satisfaction, a higher rate of conversions and higher value orders as a result,” explains Osher Karnowsky, general manager for jewelry retailer Jomashop. Bold Software is one of the leading providers of live chat platforms, and others include OnClick Solutions and LivePerson. There are also a number of websites that offer free live chat software, which would enable you to test it out on a trial basis. No e-commerce strategy, technology or procedure can guarantee absolute victory in this fiercely competitive industry, but implementing just one of these sales tactics will definitely get you in the game.
User Reviews and Product Ratings Customer reviews and ratings are becoming increasingly important criteria in the decision-making processes of online shoppers. Recent data from the 2010 Social Shopping Study revealed that two out of three Internet consumers spend a minimum of 10 minutes scouring product reviews before making an online purchase, and that one in every three shoppers spends 30 minutes or more. This is a practice that has grown dramatically in the past two years, and it is only going to become more enmeshed in the online shopping experience. Another interesting discovery from the study was the influence that negative reviews were found to have on consumers; or, more precisely, the impact that a lack of negative reviews can have. Shoppers are relying more on user-generated reviews and product ratings to make their purchasing decisions, but the absence of negative reviews raises questions about a company’s trustworthiness. Managing your user-generated reviews, then, becomes a very important part of the equation. Companies such as Bazaarvoice and PowerReviews provide a variety of different management tools. Of course, it’s up to the merchants to generate positive feedback about their
J U LY 2010
Stress-Free Link Building Have you ever felt pressure to build links to your website? I often hear this from new SEO students, as well as experienced professionals. Link building is an extremely important aspect to SEO â€” thatâ€™s true. But that does not mean you need to experience mountains of worry and stress over building effective links. What follows are proven, effective ways to build links to your website, stress-free.
By John Alexander
1. Build Unique, Helpful Content. You have likely heard this advice before, but it remains one of the most effective ways to build quality links. However, creating quality content does not mean hours of hair-pulling brainstorming and frantic, late-night blogging. This first tip will require work, but not stress. Examples: • I built a resource page for a logistics client that was simply a list of the most useful links that anyone might refer to if they had an item to ship. It listed shipping information by rail or by air as well as schedules, and information on shipping refrigerated or unrefrigerated items. The page was simply a list of good resources for anyone who makes shipments. It was not long before my client had many websites linking to the page. Keep in mind the triggers that engage visitors to get them to respond right now. Does your product or service do any of the following? • • • • • • • • •
Save time Save money Make money Improve processes Improve the customer’s appearance Appeal to a specific brand Remove doubt or settle an argument Promote some aspect of health Promote some aspect of safety
These are all sales-related triggers that you need to keep in mind when building a resource-related website. • Is there a cool tool related to your business that you could add into your website that you think people would like to use? • Could you make a tutorial or video that teaches people something unique? Recommended Tools: Camtasia is an excellent tool for creating desktop tutorial videos, and can be found at http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.asp. To convert video into Flash and a variety of other formats, check out Geovid at http://www.geovid.com/. Before and during the creation of content, keep focused on its usability, and resourcefulness. Also, any content that is entertaining, if not entirely useful will attract links to your site naturally.
2. Create News Items. Did you know that legitimate news is not considered duplicate content but rather syndicated content and 100 percent white-hat? Start writing some news stories in your industry — when you publish news with a link through a site like
PRweb.com, it can be picked up by hundreds of other media outlets. This is extremely legitimate syndicated content.
3. Write Original Articles. If you choose to publish unique articles, include your links in your bio at the bottom of the article — no matter where it is published. You will build link reputation but also get some big traffic spikes if your article is published across several websites. One place to start is with article directories, some of which are listed below. EvanCarmichael.com is a great place to start attracting new audiences focused on business entrepreneurs. GoArticles.com is a busy directory where articles can be submitted to a variety of categories — everything from “Family” to “Webmasters.” EzineArticles.com is another highly-trafficked article directory, and highly recommended. Suite101.com claims 28 million readers every month while generally carrying a Page Rank of 6-7. Other Linking Tips: • Remember the 80/20 rule for link (anchor) text. Focus 80 percent of the time on your researched keyword phrase and 20 percent using related synonyms. The technical term for this is allowing for Topic Drift so that your links are never identical. • Remember that your goal is no longer just about the number of links coming into your website, it is also about the specific text used in the link. (For example don’t use ‘Click Here’). • Links from within your own website still matter — they are just not quite as influential as the links coming in from other sites. • Links coming from authoritative websites will count more than links from sites that have little traffic. • If blogging, keep comments turned “on.” It becomes much easier to link with other bloggers due to the mind set about community conversations. Blogs can become like living, breathing entities with huge conversation trails taking place. Become part of that community and you’ll soon discover that the stigma in linking to others is not the same with blogging as it is with SEO. Link building remains vital to every SEO strategy. Only persistent work will result in large quantities of quality incoming links. Link-building will always require effort but, following these tips, it can be done in a white-hat, stress-free environment. John Alexander is co-founder and director of the Search Engine Academy, leading provider of hands-on search engine optimization training at locations across the United States, Canada and Asia.
J U LY 2010
4 ways to find
killer By Ken Lyons
As a blogger, you know it's not always easy to come up with new blog topics. Working week after week to think of fresh ideas can be daunting and frustrating. But, using the power of the Internet and its many resources at hand, I’ve discovered some fantastic and inspirational resources for killer blog topics. What follows are some tools and tips that should make brainstorming new blog topics on a consistent basis much easier. Yahoo! Answers Yahoo! Answers is a great topic discovery tool. It works because these are questions to which people want answers. Some of the most popular blog posts on the Web are those that provide real solutions to people’s pain points. To use Yahoo! Answers for blog ideas, start by running a simple query for your target topics. Then, to get more granular, refine your search with different filtering options. For example, Figure A is an advanced query for “weight loss program,” filtered by “best answers” and “resolved questions.”
Imagine a sports blogger looking for a new, trendy topic. By navigating to Google Trends and checking the home page (Figure B), you can see that the search term “NCAA bracket 2010 prediction” is the sixth-hottest search. Figure B
Google Trends allows one to drill down even deeper into that search term by clicking on the link and revealing some very interesting data — including when search activity peaked and a list of related searches, as seen in Figure C. Figure C
If I blog about exercise and fitness, seeing these actual questions might spur me to create a post about “Alternative weight loss plans” to tap the demand of people searching for answers to this popular topic.
Google Trends One proven strategy for driving traffic to your blog is to write posts about hot topics. Google Trends offers a tool that lets you discover what the world is interested in right now, this very minute. By using Google Trends for blog topic ideas, you can discover rising keyword search activity on Google for a variety of different phrases and terms.
So, Google Trends is showing a strong demand for information about “NCAA bracket predictions,” which makes sense given that, as I write this post, March Madness is about to start and people need help with their brackets. Given the trendiness and timeliness of this term, a sports blogger would want to create and publish an “NCAA Bracket
Predictions” blog post immediately and incorporate some of the related terms in the content to capitalize on search activity around the hot topic. Of course, any topic can be explored by simply entering keywords and phrases into the Google Trends search bar.
Google Wonder Wheel Google also offers a keyword research tool called Wonder Wheel, providing some fresh ideas and blogging suggestions. Use the tool to search on a general subject that you want to blog about and drill down to discover a host of related keywords and popular searches that you can turn into blog topics. Figure D shows a query for a very broad, generic topic: “dogs.” Google Wonder Wheel returns a spectrum of categories to explore. Figure D
another great way to find blog ideas is to analyze the number of links pointing to a blog post. The SEO for Firefox Plugin from SEO Book shows what blog posts have attracted the most inbound links. Now, this method is more advanced than plugging queries into Google Trends or Yahoo! Answers, so let’s take it step-by-step. 1. Install the free SEO for Firefox plugin (http://bit.ly/9uResB) and activate it. 2. Run a search in Google (for this example, ‘kayaking’), select the “show options” button (below the search box, left) and click “blogs” from the categories.
WebsiteMagazine.com Another highly-effective method for generating ideas is to use one of the many paid keyword research tools available. Learn how and discover a few of these tools at WebsiteMagazine.com, here: http://bit.ly/aqrgr4
3. Click the “100” option, which will return the top 100 search results. 4. Once that’s resolved, click the CSV (just below the search box, right) and export the results file to your computer. 5.Firefox for SEO gives plenty of great information, but for this exercise we just want the data for the column “Y! Page Links,” so delete the rest. 6. Sort the list by “Y! Page Links” from “largest to smallest.” Your CSV results should look like this: Figure F
Since I run a run a website with content for dog breeders (hypothetically), I decide to research the “dogs health” category for ideas. By clicking on the “dogs health” link, Wonder Wheel displays a portfolio of keywords related to the main category head term, as seen in Figure E. Figure E
Now I have a host of ideas around the health of dogs to tap for blog content. And all of these related keywords are based on frequent keywords and popular user queries, so it’s clear that people want information on these topics.
SEO for Firefox When a blog post is good, it usually attracts many links, as site owners feel compelled to share it with their audience. So,
From this list, you can cherry-pick posts that have attracted links, examine the content to see why it’s so compelling and get those creative juices flowing. Something like the top result, “Skyaking: Skydiving Meets Kayaking in Stunning Extreme Sport,” for instance, would interest me because of its originality and quirkiness. If I ran an outdoors or adventure blog, I could put together a feature about the extreme sport of Skyaking. Again, the beauty of link analysis for blog topic ideas is that these topics have proven to appeal to an audience by the sheer number of links they have collected. Many times, writing blogs is the easy part, while coming up with new ideas can cause serious bouts of writer’s block. Use the tools mentioned here to generate new ideas and keep on blogging.
Ken Lyons is Senior Marketing Manager at WordStream, a provider of Internet Marketing Software and The Free Keyword Tool . He is a frequent contributor to the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog.
J U LY 2010
A Website’s Hidden Treasure? By Tomer Treves
Websites like Squidoo and Britannica already monetize with in-text ads, earning effective CPM measured in whole dollars, not cents. It is time to reconsider in-text advertising. When contextual ads first appeared and were placed on early adopters’ websites, they were frowned upon. According to detractors, the delicate borders between editorial content and advertising were at stake. Several years later, Google AdSense seems to be an integral part of any website where the publisher seeks to
keep quality content available for free. Just like any advertising method before it, contextual ads have gone through the typical cycle — from absence, through protest and on to legitimacy. In-text ads (also called inline ads) are now going through the same cycle and are on the verge of becoming standard practice. In-text ads can now be found all over the Web — those double-underlined links that, upon a mouse hover, open a small bubble holding an advertisement. The leading in-text advertising networks now rank high in all relevant lists and together cover billions of page views and generate millions of dollars in revenue. Continued on page 40
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A Website’s Hidden Treasure?
In-Text Ads for Everyone! Two leading in-text providers in InfoLinks and Kontera have free plugins available for WordPress users that make implementation of ad-sponsored in-text links a simple process.
Continued from page 38
Making the Case for In-text Advertising Typically, advertisers are in a quest to win the attention of potential customers. But in a noisy world, this task has become very difficult. In the online realm, advertisers have been forced to increase the amount and level of interruptions to get the same level of attention. As a result, advertising units become louder — with Flash animation, video and sound, taking over large parts of websites and disturbing the balance between good content and advertising. The secret to the success of in-text ads is found in what Seth Godin coined a decade ago as “Permission Marketing.” In essence, in-text ads fulfill the circumstances in which potential customers willingly choose to be exposed to advertising messages. As such, they yield high return on advertising campaign investments and offer website publishers strong monetization opportunities. With in-text ads, visitors to a website are not interrupted in their reading. There are no animated banners or video characters walking across the screen. The double underline links merely signal to readers: there’s more here. But the ad will not appear unless called for. When an interested reader actively hovers over a double-underlined link, he independently decides to be exposed to an advertisement. If the permission stops there, the reader can move the mouse away and the bubble will disappear. Only if the reader is interested enough to click on the ad is he redirected to the advertiser’s landing page and a charge to the campaign is made. At this point, the website publisher also gets paid. This double-action process means that the potential customer has given his permission, twice, to pay with his attention. Advertisers find that such visitors are good candidates for their messages and many publishers have found that readers are much less frustrated with these ads over their traditional counterparts. In the last two years, online advertising and monetization experts have seen in-text ads start as a means for bloggers to cover their costs. But soon after, these ads were also placed on major publishers’ websites. Furthermore, despite initial concerns, well-established brands have incorporated in-text ads in their business models; in-
Another option for affiliate marketers looking to monetize their published content comes in the WP Marketer plugin. Downloaded just over 6,000 times, WP Marketer (wpmarketer.com) is a WordPress plugin (available for versions 2.6.2 and higher) that offers a very competitive automatic keyword linking system customizable to each publisher’s needs. Features include the ability to “dress up” external URLs, cloaking often long, ugly affiliate tracking codes to make them attractive to both users and bots. Users of the plugin can also control all text link options; including where links should appear and how often, whether they should be ‘dofollow’ or ‘nofollow’, and whether those links should open in the same or a new browser window. The downside is that you will need to manually build-out your own advertising links (which is the reason you might opt for InfoLinks or Kontera in the first place) but, aside from that, the plug-in offers a deep and rich feature set that will make it appealing for established and up-and-coming affiliate marketers regardless of their niche.
cluding traditional publishers such as Encyclopedia Britannica. Remarkably, in-text ads are now served to an estimated number of more than 500 million unique users every month — and this number is growing rapidly.
Tomer Treves is the CMO of Infolinks, an ad network that specializes in contextual in-text advertising. He also writes a blog about in-text ads at http://OnlinseSiesta.com.
SEOAS SCIENCE By Peter Prestipino, Editor-in-Chief
Those companies and individuals most proficient in the practice of search engine optimization (SEO) are scientists first and marketers second. If search engines are sophisticated algorithmic machines — and they are — why approach optimization any other way? SEO requires a scientist’s rigorous dedication to research, organization, experimentation and repetition. Understanding the challenges, making a hypothesis, testing elements and analyzing how those experiments influenced placement (either positive or negative) on competitive terms is the scientific method for SEO and provides the best opportunity for achieving the results that all Web professionals want. Marketers (and marketing) should not be left out of the scientific optimization process entirely, however. While they bring a much needed human element to the equation, marketing strategy should always be influenced by data.
15 Software Tools
So, thinking “science first” and “marketing second” will serve you and your enterprise well.
While SEO software solutions do not provide a sure-fire method to dominating the SERPs, they do offer the means to make the processes of competitor research, keyword analysis, link building and rank tracking simpler and less time consuming. The use of SEO software solutions have been helpful to many and can make a useful addition to your online marketing toolbox. Here are a few of the most noteworthy solutions on the market today:
To begin your new scientific approach to SEO, ask questions: What impact does higher key-
word density have on the placement of content pages? Do background research: How are other websites managing this element? Construct your hypothesis: If I increase the key-
word density, then this webpage will increase its placement on keyword x. Test the hypothesis, and then analyze the data. Let’s look closer at some specific steps and resources to help make the scientific theory a reality.
Keyword Research — Success on the SERPs means quite a bit of on-site optimization; including content development, internal linking strategies and proper naming conventions for the right keywords. But how do you know which are the “right” terms or phrases and, furthermore, if they lead users toward a path of potential conversion? Keyword suggestion tools provided by the search engines themselves are perhaps the best place to start when seeking terms on which to focus your optimization efforts. But that information should be used in tandem with data from services that indicate the expected complexity involved and whether the term is worth optimizing for at all. SEOMoz’s Keyword Difficulty tool (membership-based) analyzes the competitive landscape of a particular keyword and provides an indication of how much work you might have in front of you. Used with other tools like Microsoft’s adCenter Labs’ Online Commercial Intention tool and you can determine what search terms are informational or transactional in nature and be able to optimize those most meaningful to your business. Competitor Analysis — While data-driven insights have become the norm, it's not uncommon for marketers (not scientists, mind you) to make assumptions about the Web
traffic of other websites. There is no replacement for empirical research, so using services such as Compete.com or Google Trends for Websites (bit.ly/2BPQgk) will help managing expectations about your next round of SEO improvements.
Conductor.com SEOelite.com Trendmx.com WebPosition.com
Testing & Experiments — There are numerous SEO tests you can perform on your website. For example, what effect would adding a sitemap have on the volume of indexed pages? Whether you have 10 or 10,000 URLs that need indexing, tools like GSiteCrawler (gsitecrawler.com) or the Google Sitemap Generator (bit.ly/bPBaV3) are quick ways to ensure the maximum number of pages on your site make their way into the search engines’ indices.
BruteForceSEO.com SEOadministrator.com WebCEO.com LotusJump.com SheerSEO.com SEOSuite.com
Performance Tracking — If you selected all the right terms and conducted a few experiments (and of course built a few quality links in the process) you will start seeing noticeable improvements in your website’s position on the search engines. Exactly how much movement, however, depends on many factors. Tracking the performance of website movements (using any of the tools listed herein) across the major indices will offer proof that your hypotheses are right or wrong and should spur another round of scientific investigation and optimization.
J U LY 2010
TrafficTravis.com RankSense.com Link-Assistant.com SEOSamba.com
[ ] ONLINE
OPRAH By Mark J. Rosenberg
In August, 2009, Dr. Mehmet Oz (a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the host of The Dr. Oz Show), Harpo Inc. (the owner of the copyrights in The Oprah Winfrey Show and the OPRAH and O trademarks), along with the entities that own Dr. Oz’s trademarks and Oprah Winfrey’s right of publicity, brought a lawsuit against 51 merchants, affiliates and sub-affiliates. That action, which is still pending in a federal court in New York City, holds a number of lessons for Internet marketers. The Case As detailed in the 53-page complaint, the case concerns the violation of the plaintiffs’ intellectual property rights through the defendants’ marketing of a variety of products on the Internet. These products include dietary supplements, antiaging products, cellulite and anti-wrinkle creams and tooth whitening products. This is not the typical infringement case involving the use of a competitor’s intellectual property. Instead, it involves the unauthorized use of the plaintiffs’ intellectual property to promote products with which the plaintiffs had little or no connection. In other words, the defendants allegedly used the plaintiffs’ names, images and trademarks in order to create false endorsements and increase the marketability of their products.
The complaint alleges that the defendants used, without authorization, photographs of Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Oz and video clips from The Oprah Winfrey Show, audio endorsements employing impersonated voices of Ms. Winfrey and Dr. Oz, websites that created the false impression that they belonged to or were operated by Dr. Oz, ficticious written quotes from Ms. Winfrey and Dr. Oz, false statements that these products were featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the use of websites with domain names containing Ms. Winfrey’s and Dr. Oz’s names. The defendants’ alleged actions constitute nearly every type of intellectual property violation imaginable including trademark infringement, copyright infringement, unfair competition, cybersquatting and violations of an individual’s right of publicity.
Amy Sussman/Stringer/Getty Images Publicity/Getty Images
Merchants must ensure that their affiliates comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations as well as the merchant’s own advertising standards. However, this may not be possible when a merchant uses a network’s unidentified affiliates and sub-affiliates.
According to the complaint, the plaintiffs and the Better Business Bureau each received thousands of complaints regarding the products, their marketing and unauthorized credit card charges. And, Columbia University, Dr. Oz’s employer, received a complaint regarding the defendants’ false claims that Dr. Oz conducted studies on some of the defendants’ products and endorsed particular brands. What makes this case noteworthy from an Internet marketing perspective is its impact on the merchants and affiliates who were sued. Many of the merchants and affiliates were completely blindsided by their affiliates’ and sub-affiliates’ conduct. Many of these merchants used affiliate networks and, as a result, did not know the identity of their affiliates. Because they used unknown affiliates, these merchants were unaware of what their affiliates were doing to promote the merchant’s products. Compounding matters, the networks employed by the merchants undertook little, if any, affiliate compliance. As a result, the affiliates were acting on their own, using selfcreated content, almost none of which was authorized by or known to the merchants. The ramifications of this business model became apparent soon after the action commenced. Many of the affiliates and sub-affiliates closed up shop and disappeared once they learned that they had been sued. This left the merchants holding the bag for their affiliates’ conduct. Because the merchants derived revenues and profits from their affiliates’ conduct, they faced significant exposure based on the legal doctrine of vicarious liability. Under this doctrine, a person who benefits from the wrongdoing of another can be liable for the wrongdoing. Making matters worse, many of the merchants’ network contracts exempted the networks from indemnification obligations arising from the wrongful conduct of the networks’ stable of affiliates. This, combined with the vanishing of affiliates and sub-affiliates, left a number of merchants without recourse. Given the potentially large financial exposures and the high costs of litigation, many of the merchants settled; often making significant payments to the plaintiffs. The Takeaways This lawsuit holds a number of lessons for Internet marketers. The most obvious is the need to comply with intellectual property and false advertising laws. With very limited exceptions, it is impermissible to use another’s trademark for advertising purposes or in a domain name. Similarly, copyrighted materials belonging to another — such as photographs, video clips and music — cannot be used for commercial pur-
poses without the consent of the copyright owner. The same applies when using another’s voice or videos and photographs containing the image or likeness of a person. This use invokes a person’s right of publicity which gives individuals the right to control where and in what manner their image, likeness and voice are commercially used. Unless the person’s written consent is obtained — and this applies to both images obtained from the Internet and actors appearing in videos created by a video marketer — the image should not be used. And, of course, the case highlights the need to avoid false product claims and other deceptive advertising practices. Yet, the most significant lesson involves the need to rethink the merchant-network-affiliate relationship. This lawsuit highlighted how exposed merchants can be when they rely on a network’s anonymous affiliates and how a network’s exemption from indemnification obligations compounds a merchant’s problems. In order to reduce this risk, a compliance element must be introduced into the equation. Merchants must ensure that their affiliates comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations as well as the merchant’s own advertising standards. However, this may not be possible when a merchant uses a network’s unidentified affiliates and sub-affiliates. In those cases, merchants should require that their networks perform the compliance function. If a network refuses to accept this responsibility or does not take it seriously, merchants need to think twice about using that network. Even then, there remains the difficulty of policing sub-affiliates who may be unknown to the network. All of this becomes even more important as the nature of affiliate marketing evolves. Affiliates no longer just drive traffic to a merchant’s website. Affiliates are becoming more involved in lead generation and continuity programs. This raises new concerns regarding billing and subscription disclosures, the use of credit card information and consumer fraud. Unless the merchant-network-affiliate relationship is adapted to better prevent affiliate misconduct and insulate merchants when it does occur, the legal and financial damage to merchants from such conduct will greatly increase, potentially jeopardizing the entire business model.
Mark J. Rosenberg is Of Counsel to Sills Cummis & Gross P.C.’s Intellectual Property Practice Group and is resident in the firm’s New York office. A significant part of his practice focuses on legal issues pertaining to Internet marketing and e-commerce.
J U LY 2010
Technographic Segmentation for Better Conversions By Daniel Ruby
Who comes to your website? Are they male or female? What is the average age and income level? Are they married, single, or parents? Chances are, you have no idea what the answers to any of these questions are. That’s the nature of the anonymous Internet in the privacy-driven current day — demographics as marketers once knew them are dead (with the notable exception of location). Enter Technographic Segmentation. Coined and primarily used by Forrester Research, Technographics refers to the practice of segmenting people by the choices they make in using technology. When it comes to your website, a visitor’s choice of operating system, search engine, and browser are all technographic indicators. Each one says something significant about the visitor; all you have to do is figure out what it says and how to take advantage of that information. For example, one of our earliest research studies at Chitika showed users who arrive at a website via Bing converted 50% better than those who arrive via Google. Why is this? The theory goes that people who are using Bing are most likely using it because it’s the path of least resistance, the default search engine in the default Internet browser in the default operating system. One can infer from their choice of search engine that they are less concerned with doing indepth research into alternative methods of browsing the Internet and, therefore, are less concerned than their choosier
counterparts with information overload and more concerned with an easy, quick solution to their problem. On the other side of the coin, those who take the time and effort to research and choose a non-standard or non-default piece of technology for their daily Internet usage would seem to be more interested in making an informed decision than a fast one. Their lower conversion rate points to a harder sell, and the effort they are willing to put in to their Internet experience points to a more informed and critical consumer. What’s to be done with this information? For starters, take it to heart — the technographic profile of a visitor can help give you direct insight into what they want, so give it to them. No matter what a conversion is to you — be it an advertising click, e-commerce sale, white paper download, etc. — you can and should tailor the messaging and density of your call-to-action to the different tech choices of your visitors. If someone comes to your site from Google, using the Firefox browser and running a Linux build, chances are they’re going to be very difficult to sell. For a visitor like this, you can tailor their experience to be more informational and less sales-oriented. A heavy focus on data, comparisons to competitive products or services, and testimonials should produce the best results with this type of consumer. If, however, your visitor is running Windows, using Internet Explorer (particularly an older version, IE7 or IE6), and found your site via Bing, more focus should be placed on your call to action, with the comparative data available but not necessarily the focus. This particular group of visitors isn’t necessarily an easy sell per se, but given the technological choices they’ve made, a quick decision may be the best decision in their mind. Allow them to very quickly decide that your product or service is one that will fulfill their need, and you should see a boost in conversions. Of course, these are fairly general examples, and every webmaster can find their own variations of what technographic segments perform at what levels. Luckily, even as simple a tool as Google Analytics will allow you to determine for yourself what site visitors’ choices apply to what degree to your own conversions. The key, as with everything, is a combination of logic and incessant testing: use the general examples here, along with research from Forrester, Chitika and others; apply them to your site, and see what happens. Chances are very high that you will not only find a sweet spot of people with particular technographic tastes who are drawn to your particular CTA, but that you’ll find others are particularly opposed to completing whatever process you have in place. That’s the time when you can start tweaking your messaging to their intent, using technographic segment’s intent to create a converting group of visitors out of a group of completely disinterested people, simply by speaking directly to what you know about how they operate.
As Research Director at online advertising network Chitika, Daniel Ruby has his fingers firmly on the pulse of the Internet. A proponent of Technographic Segmentation, his research focuses on Internet consumption habits, and how marketers can target their messaging effectively in the anonymous online world. Daniel holds an MBA from Brandeis University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia.
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Website Magazine Success Corner Throughout each month, the editors at Website Magazine write and report on technologies, trends and techniques that readers need to succeed on the Web. Here are five of the most popular that you might have missed at WebsiteMagazine.com. Five Mega-Inspiring Website Designs Included in the 2010 Webby Award winners and nominees were several categories related to Web design and development. Website Magazine toured many of these sites and picked out a few of our favorites. Not all were winners, ultimately, but each was a stunning example of how design can be used to educate, promote, entertain and brand. Each of the sites covers a different topic, but they all have a few important characteristics in common. http://bit.ly/d4826A WordPress 3. Oh My! WordPress, one of the Web’s most popular open-source blogging platforms, is slated to receive another update in the coming months. And this one is significant. The update will push the platform closer to a full-blown CMS. Website Magazine highlights some of the most important new features for Web professionals to know about. http://bit.ly/bLan6d Buying Websites vs. Building Links How much time did you spend over the past year building links to your website? If you are serious about SEO, then chances are high that it was quite a few hours. For some, link building is the sole focus of their business life. But is there a better way? Instead of spending hours, could you spend dollars for the same effect? Straight from Website Magazine’s Weekend Warrior Series, discover why buying websites is the new link building. http://bit.ly/bDOy0V Facebook Social Plugins on WordPress — LIKE IT Web marketers looking to further their businesses’ social media presence are turning in droves to the social plugins recently offered by social networking powerhouse Facebook. The groups many predict will have the most immediate rates of adoption are site owners using WordPress. So how do you add Facebook Social Plugins to your self-hosted installation of WordPress? The best way to get started is to add the Facebook “Like” button — and we’re going to show you how and you’re going to be very surprised at how easy it is. http://bit.ly/bLx5Eb LinkedIn Upgrades: A New Appeal for Businesses When the conversation turns to social networking, Facebook and Twitter are the two most discussed. For some reason, LinkedIn is often left out of the discussion. That might be due, in part, to its past lack of focus on sharing content. Sure, LinkedIn has positioned itself as a place to connect with other professionals and industries, but few have considered it a “social” experience on par with Facebook. That’s about to change. And LinkedIn’s prior reputation could actually be a great benefit to the company and users alike. http://bit.ly/bLdatR
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J U LY 2010
W E B C O M M E N TA R Y
With Charles Wiedenhoft
Take a moment to imagine what your customers are doing online, right now. Like you, they are engaged in digital experiences performing everyday tasks; such as checking e-mail, managing finances, booking flights, downloading music or connecting with friends. In late April, 2010, Nielsen reported on March 2010 data for average Internet usage across the top Web brands in the United States. The report states: “The data indicates that 62.3 million home and work Internet users visited at least one of the Wikimedia Foundation-owned sites or launched a Wikimedia Foundation-owned application during the month, and each person spent, on average, a total of 15 minutes and 21 seconds at one or more of their sites or applications.” The data for Facebook is much different. The same report shows that users spent an average of just under seven hours on the site during the month of March. The difference between the two is the level of engagement — creating emotional imprints that can elevate brands. Or, if not done properly, removing equity from them. Brands that deliver engaging digital experiences build and sustain long-term competitive advantages. Therefore, getting the experience right must be a priority. At Red Door, we’ve learned that engaging experiences all have the following characteristics. Consider them when evaluating how well your organization is serving its customers online: • Engaging experiences create value. Whether through efficiencies that help us get more done in a busy day, stay connected with friends and family, provide entertainment or solve problems, good experiences keep us coming back for more. They encourage us to take action and give us something back in return. • Engaging experiences don’t make us work too hard. A helpful experience is one that guides us toward a solution. Simple inputs produce remarkable results that can not be replicated anywhere else. These experiences make our lives easier. They instill a sense of accomplishment, empowerment and satisfaction leaving us feeling energized, not depleted.
• Engaging experiences touch our emotions. Usability and utility are fundamental to a good experience; however, those attributes alone won’t differentiate brands from one another. An emotional component must also be considered. Dull experiences will always be swapped with ones that have likable personalities. • Engaging experiences are always available. Experiences that create value are needed at home and on the go. We expect them to be with us anywhere and available all the time. Mobile compatibility and portability to desktops and social profiles ensure that, when we need an experience, it will be ready and waiting for us. • Engaging experiences are easy to share. When we discover a valuable experience it’s increasingly important that we can share it with others. Experiences that prevent us from sharing products of interest or engaging in dialogue around compelling messages detach us from those people (and brands) we value most. We hear time and again that experience is the message. As consumers shift more of their attention online it becomes increasingly important for brands to deliver engaging digital experiences. Luckily, a common-sense approach is often all it takes. Matching the goals of customers with business objectives is the winning combination.
Charles Wiedenhoft is the Director of Business Planning & Optimization at Red Door Interactive, an Internet Presence Management firm with offices in San Diego and Denver that helps organizations profit from their Web initiatives. Clients include Petco, Qualcomm, Overstock.com, Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill and Cricket Communications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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