Archive for December, 2010

Thank you for reading over the past few months.


I wish you all a happy and safe Christmas with your friends and family.


Here’s a video from The Snowman; one of my favourite Christmas tunes, I always feel Christmas has arrived once I hear it.






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Content is King.


This fact is often touted by those in marketing, especially those in the online marketing world. Producing content online will get you found by potential clients.


And if Content is King, we are told, then Consistency is Queen.


It is not just about producing the Content, it is about producing new content consistently so that (1) you train your followers to look for your newly published content every day / week and (2) so that the search engines keep coming back and crawling more and more pages of your website, giving you more and more chances to show up in results.


I completely agree with the King and Queen. But now I would like to add a third, the Prince.


If Content is King, and Consistency is Queen, then I believe Timing is Prince. If you publish your Content at the right time you have an even greater chance of being found online, because you have published at a time when people are searching your terms, and so are tapping into an even deeper well.


For example, I previously wrote a post comparing being a Social Media Marketeer to being Harry Potter. I published the week the new Harry Potter film was released in cinemas and, as more people were searching the term “Harry Potter”, I ended up with visitors to my blog I wouldn’t have had previously.


However, Harry was in the ha’penny place compared to Jimmy Wales.


It is Jimmy Wales and my recent post on A/B testing that has brought the importance of Timing home hard for me. Those of you who read the recent post will know that I was discussing the Wikipedia banner ads, which are showing Jimmy Wales’s face and asking for donations. These banners have been running for several weeks, but it seems to be only in the last week or so that people have really started to get fed up with Jimmy staring out at them from the computer.


And my proof?


Below is a list of the top searches that have been sending people to my blog over the last week:


  • jimmy wales annoying
  • jimmy wales is annoying
  • jimmy wales annoying face
  • jimmy wales banner
  • wikipedia annoying donation
  • wikipedia jimmy annoying
  • jimmy wales annoyning wiki ad
  • jimmy wales irritating
  • wales wikipedia a/b testing
  • wikipedia annoying jimmy wales
  • jimmy wales annoying wiki
  • wikipedia jimmy wales annoying


So I appear to have tapped into these extra visitors by blogging about Jimmy Wales exactly when people were talking about him. Sure, my post may have shown up in the search results if these terms were being searched for a few months down the line, but would my new visitors have found a several-month-old blog post as interesting as a freshly published one?


Thank you Jimmy, for teaching me the importance of Timing!



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Bad Cop


Bad Cop Threatening Man

The New York Times recently published the article A Bully Finds A Pulpit On The Web. In it the journalist tells of the bullying tactics used by the owner of an online store for designer glasses. The owner is deliberately and inexcusably horrible to his customers, and has gone so far as to threaten them physically. And incredibly, he claims this is all part of his SEO plan. The owner says that when unhappy customers take to the web to rant about him, they name both him and the company, with lots of relevant keywords, which increases his search engine rankings.


“I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works. No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”


I am not going to name either the owner or the company as I don’t wish to add any fuel to this fire, but you can read the NY Times article.


Many of those in the industry will have heard of ‘Black Hat SEO’, that is to say SEO which employs unethical tactics to hit the top of search engine rankings. Tactics which include invisible text (white text on white background that the user won’t see but a search engine will) and keyword stuffing (a long list of keywords on a page that mean nothing to the user but that might attract the search engine spiders).


These tactics are frown on and if Google finds out they can ban you from the search results, as happened BMW previously, and let’s face it, if you aren’t on Google you may as well not exist.


But the tactics employed by this particular individual take black hat to a level I would never have dreamed people would stoop to.


Threatening people and getting arrested all so you can sell some more units? That’s no way to live your life and you are ruining other people’s.


Good Cop

Good Cop Smiling


And then you have the companies that are just so lovely and treat customers so incredibly well . . .


I recently bought a present for a friend’s baby from Threadless, a little babygro in pink. Unfortunately when the package arrived they had sent the babygro in blue.


I went online and opened a ticket with the customer service to report the problem.


I received an almost immediate response which:

1) apologised for the error;

2) advised that the correct item was being shipping straight away;

3) offered a coupon code for $5 off;


4) said I was to keep the incorrect item as a further apology.


Threadless Card

Card From Threadless

Now if that wasn’t impressive enough, when the package arrived with the correct item, there was a handwritten card inside apologising again!


As a result I think I love Threadless even more now – and I’m obviously talking about the experience on my blog – which will also be tweeted – talk about turning a negative experience into a positive one!


Which Camp?


Some people might feel that the negative experience is going to get talked about more online, and maybe this particular incidence will, given the extreme nature of it. But as mentioned in a previous post people online want to read positive comments and stories, and your followers actual decrease the more you post negatively.


Also, while Google and others might not use sentiment analysis at the moment, you can hedge your bets that they will start integrating customer reviews soon enough (some already have) and then . . . well people using the negative tactics will tumble to the bottom of the heap never to return.


It pays to be nice . . . plus . . . what would your mother think!

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Most of you will be aware that Jimmy Wales is co-founder and promoter of Wikipedia. Those of you who use Wikipedia will probably have noticed Jimmy staring at you a lot of late . . .


Jimmy Wales Banner


On 15th November 2010 Wikipedia launched their annual fundraising drive, with a goal of $16 million.


To reach their target they have been using banners on the Wikipedia site to appeal to users to donate.


Now several people I have spoken to seem to find Jimmy’s gazes pretty annoying.




Those smarties at Wikipedia did their homework.


They didn’t just slap Jimmy’s face on a banner and stick it on the site. They did, and are still doing, some very extensive A/B testing of various banners to find out which ones are performing the best.


They discovered that graphical banners performed 100% better and so decided to use those instead of plain text.


They have been using Jimmy’s photo as well as photos of other editors on the banners.


And the data doesn’t lie . . .


Even where some of the other editors’ photos were getting a higher click-through-rate, Jimmy’s photo was outperforming all other faces in terms of the amount of revenue generated. His banner donation rate was not only consistently beating the others, but by a significant margin.


Until 7th December that is.


For the first time Jimmy’s banner was overtaken  by the Lilaroja banner.


Lilaroja Banner


This is interesting as it highlights the importance of continuous A/B testing.


A lot of companies don’t A/B test landing pages at all, and those that do generally do it once or twice and give themselves a pat on the back for a job well done.


However, what Wikipedia shows us is that while one version, in this case Jimmy’s banner, outperformed all the others consistently for the first few weeks of the testing, other banners are starting to outperform his now.


This is possibly becuase people are becoming annoyed by Jimmy’s face, and seeing the new faces are drawing their eyes afresh to the appeal, whereas they had started to tune Jimmy’s banner out. A fact Wikipedia would have missed if they had stopped their A/B testing a week ago.


Take home message?

Test. Test. Test. and Keep Testing. What worked in the beginning might not work forever.


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This morning I listened in on Dan Zarrella’s great webinar the Science of Blogging


Dan Zarrella Webinar: The Science of Blogging


Dan had conducted a survey of 1,400 people with regards Blogging and Social Media, and presented the data in his webinar.


There was some really interesting, and useful, tips so I’ve put together some of my favourites for you:


1.     Why Blog

  • 51% of people read blogs daily.
  • Almost 50% of people read more than one blog daily.
  • 71% of people said blogs affected their purchasing decisions to some extent.


2.     When To Blog

  • Best time to publish is in the morning (although 40% still read blogs at night).
  • Blogs shared on social media in the afternoon, circa 4pm, are retweeted more often.
  • Posts published on Mondays, Tuesday and Wednesdays get more views and links.
  • Posts published at the weekends get more comments, especially on Saturday.


3.     Know Your Audience

  • Men read blogs more frequently.
  • Women read blogs via email.
  • Men read blogs in the evening and at night.
  • Women read blogs during the day.


4. Identify Yourself Officially

Identifying yourself as a guru might get you 100 more followers than average on Twitter. But identifying yourself with the words expert, speaker, founder or official will get you up to 200 more followers.


5. Relevance

Relevance is the top reason people share your content, both on a one-to-one level and a one-to-many level.


6. Grammar Matters

I was pleasantly surprise by this. But, content with good grammar is shared more often.


7. Don’t Be Negative

The number of followers decreases in direct relation to the increase in negative comments.

So think about that the next time you want to sound off about a bad experience in a restaurant.


8. Don’t Talk About Yourself

The number of followers decreases in direct relation to the increase in self-references.

This point is brought home in the next two points when you look at the most, and least, retweetable words.


9. Top 10 Retweetable words

  • You
  • Twitter
  • Please
  • Retweet
  • Post
  • Blog
  • Social
  • Free
  • Media
  • Help


10. Top 10 Least Retweetable Words

  • Game
  • Going
  • Haha
  • Lol
  • But
  • Watching
  • Work
  • Home
  • Night
  • Bed


11. If It Doesn’t Make Dollars, It Doesn’t Make Sense

A favourite quote of Dan’s, I’ve heard him use it in other webinars.

You need to track and measure everything. The data given above was taken from a survey of 1,400 across all industries; it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be correct for your industry.

Measure, measure, measure and if it makes dollars for you, then it makes sense for you.


12. Some Final Quick Tips

Dan finished off the webinar with a live review of some blogs. The most frequent recommendations he doled out were:

  • Include the post authors name.
  • Include the time and date the post was published.
  • Include Facebook ‘like’ and Twitter ‘retweet’ buttons.
  • Host your blog on your own domain.

And the last surprise tip  . . .

  • If you know what you want to blog about, but are having a hard time getting started . . . have one glass of wine or beer to get the juices flowing!


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Excellence Road SignAt the weekend myself and my husband decided to take advantage of being so close to LA and took a trip to Disneyland. We had looked online a couple of weeks ago to try and see if we could get a reasonable deal, although we weren’t sure we would be able to during the holiday season, but we were delighted to find Southwest Vacations and booked a great package that included flights, hotel, shuttle bus tickets and park passes. The website was easy to navigate and book through, and the tickets arrived in the post within the week.


Being from Ireland we had never flown with Southwest before, but had heard that they were a low fares airline similar to Ryanair, an Irish budget airline. We discovered that like Ryanair, Southwest had free seating onboard, however that seems to be where the similarities ended. The staff were unbelievably friendly from check in – which took a grand total of about 2 minutes – to onboard service – the air steward whispered over my sleeping husband’s head, so as not to wake him, when asking me for my drink order. Our flight arrived on time and our bag came out quickly. All in all a pleasant experience.


But it was nothing compared to our return journey . . .


In order to get a full day in the park, we had booked a 9.40pm return flight on Sunday, however flights were being delayed due to bad weather on the west coast that evening and our flight was going to be delayed by a minimum of 1 hour, with a high likelihood of it being delayed further. However, an earlier flight which had been delayed was now due to leave a 9.45pm, so we went up to the desk to see if there was any availability on that flight. The woman at the desk was extremely friendly and said she’d put us on the standby list. About 10 minutes later her colleague handed us new boarding passes and we boarded the flight, arriving into San Francisco without any fuss . . . and (!) . . . our bag was waiting for us on the conveyor belt in SFO . . . we were unbelievably impressed given how little time the baggage handlers must have had to move our bag.


Overall we were extremely impressed by the service, especially given the ‘low fares airline’ tag, as we had been expecting a ‘low fares airline’ service. We will without question fly with Southwest again.


It goes to show that just because you are offering an economy service, doesn’t mean you can’t provide first class customer service. And, if all your employees work together to provide a consistently good experience for your customers, then you can’t fail to make a good impression.


All businesses should put customer service at the top of their 2011 priority list. Making your customers your number one priority will help keep your business going through the hard times.


Have you had a great customer service experience? Are you providing a great customer service experience? Please share your stories in the comments section below.


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stack of booksI just finished watching last week’s episode of HubspotTV, during which Karen Rubin and Mike Volpe were discussing Joel Comm.

Joel ran an experiment for his new book KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays.

First Joel created a professional commercial and paid to have it run 230 times during a 10-day period in October, during shows such as The Daily Show and Mad Men. At the end of the ad was a url where people could go to download the first two chapters of his book for free.

The TV ad resulted in 8.3 million impressions but only 112 websites visits and, even more disappointingly, only half of the visits converted to download the book chapters.

Next, Joel posted the ad to YouTube for free.

The YouTube video resulted in 5,000 views, 1,375 visits and a conversion rate of almost 33%.

Obviously the YouTube video was a much bigger success and although the commercial cost money to make, the YouTube posting was free, versus buying expensive TV air time.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

This experiment proves of course that one size does not fit all; not all mediums are suitable for all products / services, in this case TV ads did not translate into online hits.

Which brought me back to something I had been thinking about recently regarding books.

I have been wondering if printing physical books is appropriate for all industries.

Personally I love books, and would still rather read a ‘real’ book than read an ebook on my iPad, however I am also a big fan of audiobooks, ever since an eye operation a few years ago that meant I couldn’t read or watch TV for a couple of months. I listen to audiobooks all the time and find them great to have on when I’m tidying the house or going for a walk or commuting – that way I feel I’m making use of ‘dead’ time.

Last week I finished listening to Gary Vaynerchuck’s Crush It! A great audiobook full of advice on social media and inbound marketing, based on Gary’s own experiences. Gary actually reads the audiobook himself (which is fantastic as he is such a passionate person that I can’t imagine a voice actor ever living up to the real thing). During the audiobook Gary breaks off several times to elaborate on something he wrote in the book, or to discuss something that has appeared or changed since the book was published, for example Gary doesn’t talk about LinkedIn in the published version but mentions it in the audiobook as an important way to build your personal brand.

This got me thinking . . . are physical books simply not appropriate for certain industries?

Clearly the audiobook version of Crush It! is more current and given how quickly the world of social media is changing (every day) perhaps more authors should focus on audiobooks . . . or even better ebooks, that the author could then make updates available for, which could be downloaded by the customer onto their ebook reader . . . now that might convince me to read more on my iPad.

What do you think? Do we need to think more about tailoring? Move away from TV ads for certain products and move away from physical books for certain subjects?

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