Monday, May 19, 2008

What Every Tech Company Should Know About Trading White Papers for Leads

Just read a great article that addresses lead generation and white papers. Roger Warner makes a great case for ditching the carrot method of trading email addresses or login info for white papers.

I’ve clipped some of the insightful tid-bits below. Thanks Roger!

Insight #1: “For B2B web sites, the content that really matters in terms of positioning and prospecting isn’t your ‘markitecture’ pages - your product and services descriptions, corporate histories and such…. it’s your ‘thought leadership’ pages - the places where you express opinions and ideas rather than features and benefits.”

Insight #2: “Furthermore, what of the people that you lose along the way? To me, a commitment to form-filling is no great measurement of the quality of a sales lead. A far better tactic is to set your thought leadership content free and give people more ‘opportunities to engage‘ with who you are and what you stand for.”

Warner continues, “Let’s face it, most of us are commitment-phobes when it comes to the web anyway. Why not just accept this fact and move on?”

Here are Warner’s review questions for evaluating your own white paper exchange process:

“Ask yourself:

  • What’s your most valuable and engaging content?
  • Do you make you accessible enough?
  • What’s the upside of providing more opportunities to engage with it?
  • What’s the downside of removing a subscription line?
  • How scientific is your answer to the previous question? (Gut feeling, conventional wisdom, or based on small side-show experiment and validated by stats?)”

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Marketing to Gen Y - The Big Boomer Byproduct

How do you market to Generation Y - a class of texters, Twitterers, and Facebook/MySpace junkies?

Sarah Perez does a great job uncovering the issues and delving deep into the behavioral trend that typifies this elusive demographic in her article titled: Why Gen Y Is Going to Change the Web

To me, it's difficult to imagine how to reach an audience with an important message in 144 characters or less (a la Twitter). However, with a link, a tweet can be treated just like an AdWords ad with a landing page.

It's a lot like the headline->deck copy->subhead->body copy "hook and entice" practice that's dominated journalism and direct mail for decades. Some people refer to it as the "bucket brigade" method. Same general idea - hook, press on, hook again. Movies work this way, too. Those in the biz say you need a new hook (intense drama, action, comedy, intrigue) every 5 minutes or so. I read somewhere recently that screenplay teachers instruct their students to watch the Lethal Weapon movies to understand the concept in action (literally). I think I read this in either John Forde's newsletter or Psychotactics (Sean D'Souza).

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fear, Marketing and Jack Canfield

I read the following Jack Canfield article this morning. It’s a good general piece, but it’s also particularly useful for marketing folks that need new ways to test ideas, create intriguing copy, make money, test products, open new markets and innovate. Creativity is, after all, a leap of faith. It requires boldness and a healthy approach to fears. The article offers useful strategies for moving past fear and/or using it to guide your decisions and creations. I especially like the “taking a 2-year-old to the market” analogy.

Putting Fear in Its Place
by Jack Canfield

As you move forward on your journey from where you are to where you want to be, you are going to have to confront some of your fears. Fear is a just a natural part of living.

Whenever you start a new project, take on a new venture, or put yourself out there, there's usually some fear involved. Unfortunately, most people let fear stop them from taking the necessary steps to achieve their dreams.

Confronting your fears is a very necessary step in achieving success.

There is simply no other way.

Fear can be a helpful emotion, as it tells you when you need to be extra careful, keenly aware, and cautious. Fear is not an emotion that is telling you to stop. In fact, it's telling you just the opposite!

Acknowledging your feelings of fear helps you know when you are stepping out of your comfort zone. It points your awareness to areas where you could improve and grow.

Successful people also feel fear. Yet they don't let it get in the way of anything they want to do--or have to do. They understand that fear is something to be acknowledged, experienced, and taken along for the ride. They have learned, as author Susan Jeffers suggests in her must-read book, to "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway®."

(Susan Jeffers has been a friend of mine for twenty years now, and her work, which is very powerful and transformational, has helped millions of people overcome their fears and move forward to create success in their lives. I highly recommend her as a resource.)

You see, fear is more of a signal that we should stay alert and cautious. We can feel fear, but we can still move forward anyway.

Think of fear as a 2-year-old child who doesn't want to go grocery shopping with you. Because you must buy groceries, you'll just have to take the two year old with you. Fear is no different. In other words, acknowledge that fear exists but don't let it keep you from doing important tasks.

Also realize that so many of our fears are self-created. We might frighten ourselves by fantasizing negative outcomes to any activity we might peruse or experience. Luckily, because we are the ones doing the fantasizing, we are also the ones who can stop the fear and bring ourselves into a state of clarity and peace by facing the actual facts, rather than giving in to our imaginations.

If a fear is too great for you to overcome, try breaking it down into smaller challenges.

Try starting out doing the parts of the project that don't scare you so much. You need to give a speech in front of a large group? Try giving your speech in front of a small group of people who care for you. Work your way up until you are able to feel the fear but still move forward. As you do, you will build your confidence and eventually you won't feel fear surrounding those issues because you'll have done them enough to count it as a skill.

As you move toward your goal, don't attach yourself so much to the outcomes.

Keep moving toward your dream doing everything you can to create what you want, then let it go and see what shows up. Sometimes the universe will have a better idea in mind for you and present a better opportunity when you were expecting something completely different. Don't let fear keep you from moving forward. Even if the horrible outcome that you imagined happens, the universe will always provide for you another way to succeed. So be on the look out!

Trust that no matter what occurs, you are smart enough and strong enough to keep looking for, and attracting, opportunities.

If you are willing to try new experiences in spite of your fears, then more new experiences will present themselves for you to try. And the more you try, the more you are likely to succeed!

For even MORE inspiration about overcoming your fears, you can learn from this Video Clip of Me on YouTube discussing some tactics you can use right away!

© 2008 Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield, America's Success Coach, is the founder and co-creator of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul and a leading authority on Peak Performance. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

When to Blog: What Everyone Should Know

Most progressive companies are now blogging to drive thought leadership, manage public relations, sell products and provide customer service. Most simply post when they can.

A new study discovered that there are advantageous and disadvantageous times during the day and week to blog.

Ah data analysis. I love it.

In a nutshell (hey, I’m in a nutshell get me out of here)… here’s what they found:

After lunch, between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM (PST – Pacific Standard Time) is the best time to post on any given week day. Between 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM is also good (after work). Thursday is the best day.

What’s the worst time to post? Between 3:00 PM and 5:00 PM PST on the weekends. Everybody’s out doing something else. That makes weekends a good time to get posts together and then schedule them for posting on weekdays in the optimal time slots.

Now get out there and post.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Conversational Writing and eBay Descriptions - Marketing Mojo

We talk a lot about conversational voice and tone in these pages. Conversational style engages and persuades people. That's the gist of it.

A lot of businesses still shy away from this type of writing in their Web sites, eBay listings and marketing collateral.

I came across validation for the conversational approach in another book (which is great, by the way). It's called Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas On Presentation Design and Delivery and it's written by Garr Reynolds.

Here's a quote from the book (p. 83):

"When you are in a conversation with someone you are naturally more engaged because you have an obligation to participate. You are involved. Formal speech and formal writing devoid of any emotion whatsoever is extremely difficult to stay with for more than a few minutes. Your conscious mind has to remind you to "stay away, this is important!" But someone who speaks in a natural, human, conversational style is far easier to stay engaged with."

I urge you, as always, to write with conversational tone and style. That means speaking as if in a one-on-one conversation, adding emotion, using imagery, and communicating as you would with a friend.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Me Blogging About RSS Photo Feeds -- Are You Blogging about Your Products?

If you’re interested in technology trends, I wrote an article for D-Link about RSS photo feeds. This kind of application is simple, like ring tones – hence the title of the article. Yet it’s so much more clever and elaborate.

I write blog posts for D-Link from time to time, and this is the latest one. Which reminds me… are you blogging about your products and services? It’s a great way to communicate with consumers, explore new ideas and uses for your products, and learn from your user/consumer community.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Downright Fascinating Social Media and Web Commerce Trends

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee wrote a great article on Web trends in the November 26, 2007 issue of InformationWeek. There is so much going on in this market.. the mind reels. Here’s a taste from the lead:

“The old days of companies tightly controlling a marketing message are gone…The interactive forces of the Internet - including social networking sites, online discussion boards, and blogs - are arming consumers with tools that can quickly and exponentially spread the word to other would-be customers if a product stinks or a company blunders... Companies such as Charles Schwab and OnStar are creating Internet platforms to literally read the minds of consumers, seeking out insights that directly drive their new product strategies.” [my emphasis]

This reminded me of AdWords, of course. AdWords is great for driving business or clicks to your site via general advertising techniques. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that AdWords is a great tool for testing promos, floating new ideas, and reading the minds of consumers. And it’s cheap!.. given the right niched-out keywords.

The article details various ways companies like FedEx, eBay, Schwab and others are using the social connectivity of Web 2.0 (I hate saying Web 2.0, but I did, shame) to their advantage. FedEx’s CIO Rob Carter says, (paraphrased from the article) “The explosive growth of this connectivity has been ‘completely underestimated’ in how it will affect society and markets.” I concur.

The article also talks about some fascinating new trends, like having your Second Life avatar or character purchase things for you or book reservations for you online. I know, that sounds crazy. But think about it. Why the heck not? If you build the right character, with all your tastes, desires, wish lists and so forth, why not set him free on a shopping spree? I’ve never played Second Life, but I assume there are vendors in there, like Amazon.com. (If you know how this works, please comment below and enlighten us.) FedEx’s Carter comments in the article, “Second Life has enough momentum to make us wonder: What if this identity I’ve built could spill over into my daily life and get things done for me?” Your avatar would be like an information robot – tuned to all your preferences and guided by “business rules” that determine decisions.

Carter extends the concepts further, saying, “The greatest opportunities lie in socially networking corporations together – horizontally, across business processes, which don’t necessarily live within your four walls anymore.” Great example = Gaming like Second Life supporting commerce like FedEx and Amazon.com.

The article describes how some companies like OnStar use Nielsen BuzzMetrics to analyze how they’re performing in “consumer-generated media.” This is another hot topic, worthy of another post, probably.

There’s a cool story about Dell’s celebrity advertising campaigns, too. I’ll blog more on that later, too.

In the mean time, read the article. It’s a mind bender.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Product Reviews, Social Media and New Online Buying Trends

The following comes from the Online Marketer Blog:

“Not only are 1 in 4 internet users consulting reviews before purchasing offline, but they are willing to pay more if the service is ranked as excellent. It seem that after the year of exuberance that was all about Facebook and twitter, business is finally getting around to answering the question of how social media effects ROI.

“..Users that [sic] sort the list of products by customer ratings spend 41% more than users who search with other methods like popularity or price… Emails that feature customer review content receive 50% higher clickthrough rates.”

Here’s the main article, titled Good For Consumers (And Businesses): Social Media Gets A Glimpse Of Measurable ROI.

So.. for online marketers, it’s now more critical than ever to be building review/social functions into your Web sites and product pages. Customer service performance counts bigtime, too, of course.

And, as consumers, we have to make sure we maintain clear, critical thinking when checking product reviews. I’d like to see some some numbers about the veracity and integrity of online reviews. How much of it is “bro” reviews? How much of it is genuine? Are really nasty reviews the result of competitor campaigns? That would be interesting, yet difficult to quantify.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Target Niche Audiences with Facebook Advertising

If you haven't tried advertising in Facebook yet, it might be worth a shot. Facebook is the social network site that brings friends together according to interests, existing connections, networks and groups.

You can place ads and display them to anyone on Facebook based on demographics, interests, hobbies and so forth. It's a good way to reach very targeted audiences. User information is current, updated often, and accurate.. unlike a lot of direct mail lists, which can be outdated, inaccurate and expensive.

Since Facebook doesn't tie results to exact searches, your ads are not as granularly exact as something like Google AdWords. However, you can reach really targeted audiences for very little money. If you're selling archery gear on eBay, for example, you can run ads that only display to people who list archery in their profiles.

Barbara Boser writes more about Facebook advertising pros and cons here.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Clothing as Technology - UnderArmor Store in Irvine

Under Armour store disses cotton to get you thinking about their materials and benefits.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Driving Traffic with Link Tagging and Urchin Tracker Scripts in Google Analytics

This is an advanced tip that concerns Google Analytics and link tracking. If you don't know what those are, I'd suggest taking some time exploring Mark McLaren's site, McBuzz.com (you can ask him questions, too, of course). McBuzz has a good mix of resources concerning SEO, SEM and Google Analytics. He offers video tutorials, articles and so on.

Ok - so link tracking.. or more specifically, Urchin Tracker scripts for Google Analytics. First the why: As an online business, you want to figure out exactly where your traffic is coming from and which links on your pages are getting clicked. You can do these kinds of things with regular Web pages and Google Analytics. This is especially useful in situations where you educate customers and prospects about your particular products and industry then drive them to your product listings.

There are several ways to analyze traffic. This post covers just a couple (and links to an article that shows you exactly how). Google Analytics is very robust and does more than what's covered here. With GA, you can set up goal pages, track conversion success, and figure out exactly what's working on your sites.

Let's say you want to figure out who's clicking on what links in your site. Google Analytics works if you set up pages within your site as conversion goals/targets. However, if the links are external, you can't place the Urchin Tracker code into someone else's page. If that's something you'd like to track (which is often the case), then take a look at the following link for the solution. This is from Sulli's Google Analytics Tips and Tricks by SkiSulli. He shows you the right script to place into your pages and recommends some ways to set it up. As you'll see, he also shows you how to make this work for email or "mailto:" links. If you want to figure out how many people are clicking on your email address link (and when, how fast, etc), then this is a great solution.

You can then track all of this activity automatically from within Google Analytics. As you get a better sense for what's driving traffic to your listings, you can then tweak your pages to get better conversion rates and more business to your product purchase Web pages and sites.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Simple, Timeless Marketing Techniques

Whether you're writing SEO copy for your Web site or writing SEM copy for a Google AdWords landing page or just writing a new brochure (or even an eBay listing), there are always some very simple, timeless things you need to do. Here they are in stripped down, bare bones bullets:

* Write strong headlines

* Describe benefits before features

* Use specific subheads

* Write about the reader (not about yourself or your company)

This is simple marketing copywriting 101, but sometimes we need to remind ourselves what the basic techniques are.

Strong headlines contain delicious offers, benefits and intrigue. Benefits sell the dream before the hardware that produces the dream (and the relationship between the two). Specific subheads are key because many readers scan the page and follow subhead stories before diving into specific sections of your body text. Finally, when you use the word "you" and talk directly to and about the reader, you make better connections and sell more effectively. Nobody wants to hear about the genius behind the product. They want to know how it's going to help them specifically.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

Trust, Marketing, Search Engines and Branding

I read an interesting article this morning about how trust is really what you're after when marketing on the Web.

We talk about this quite a bit in the eBay Marketing book.

Everything is moving in this direction. Google and social networking sites are getting smarter. It will be more and more difficult to game them in the future.

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