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Monday, November 24, 2008

Twitter for Business: 10 Things to Consider Before You Get Started


Thinking about starting up a Twitter account for your business? Or considering allowing employees to use Twitter? Here are 10 tips to consider before getting started.

  1. Decide before you join how you want to use Twitter. Will it be used for Customer Support (like Comcast does via @ComcastCares) or will it be used to offer promotional deals (like Zappos the on-line shoe site via @Zappos) or will it be to socially network to build up business?
  2. If using a business name be sure to use something like "Name_Business Name" (Jane_ABCCompany). That way more than one employee can use Twitter and represent the company. Zappos does a great job with this one.
  3. Be sure to use a photo (and not a logo), fill out the description (tell folks why they should be interested in following) and include a link to the company's website.
  4. Let everyone be authentic. Twitter isn't about just tweeting news about your company or promotional deals. It's about developing relationships. If you or an employee loves music, let that come through too.
  5. Realize that it will take time to develop a following.
  6. Don't follow hundreds or thousands of people just because you can. Try to find those people in your target market or that have common interests. (Following too many people at once can make you look like a potential spammer)
  7. So just how do you find people to follow then? Read Mack Collier's great post on this. He suggests using TweetScan and a few other interesting ways.
  8. Have something relevant to say. For example, if you have your marketer's on Twitter, make sure they understand the industry well enough to have a conversation with people who just might be potential customers (and not fluff, deep industry knowledge).
  9. Don't just take, share valuable information as well.
  10. Have fun! Twitter can be a lot of fun from a business perspective. When people are real, it shows and that leads to a lot of great help and insightful conversations.
These are my 10 tips, what else can you add to help businesses feel more comfortable with using Twitter?

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Statistical Analysis of a Blog’s Traffic


Today blogger and MBA student Eric Rosenberg fromThe Israel Situation and Narrow Bridge Adventures talks us through some statistical analysis of the traffic to his blog.

As a hobby blogger trying to increase readers to my Israel blog, The Israel Situation, I have always been glued to my site traffic. What does a spike mean? How can I bring more readers? Is there anything I can do to help my blog grow?

I am currently an MBA student, and I took a statistics class this past quarter. For a class project, I tried to use statistics to prove what you can do to help your blog grow. I used a lot of technical tests including regression, chi-squared, and correlations to prove my theories. Darren gave me the opportunity to share my findings with all of you, and I have translated the findings into plain English to help you grow your blog readership.

I first tested to find a relationship between posts per day and site visitors. I started my blogging believing that the key to more visitors was more posts. Not true! A two sample test comparing site visitors to page loads proved that there is no association between the two. If you are working your tail off to post ten times a day, it might be better to focus your efforts on fewer, better quality posts.

Next up I tried to find a way to drive subscriber growth. I tested the relationship between page views and subscriber count. A two sample t-test (statistics talk for two variable relationship test) proved that again, there is no relationship. At this point, it seemed that no numbers could predict a successful blogger, but I continued my testing.


Next, I used a test called chi-squared to find if day of the week had any big impact in visitors. The test is designed to test if proportions are equal across periods. I did find a difference here. I found that there were constantly more visitors on Sunday and fewer on Friday and Saturday. This, I believe, is specific to my target audience. Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, is from Friday night to Saturday night. As a blog that focuses on Israel, many of my visitors are Jewish. This explains the difference. If you have a blog with a niche audience, you might find this variation as well. A business blog, for example, may have a spike in readers on Monday morning at the beginning of the week and less visits on the weekend.


My next test is the one that applies to virtually every blogger. I tested page views against time. I found that time since starting the blog does correlate to an increase in page views. At first I had trouble substantiating this data. I removed outliers, or non-regular data, and was able to then prove my hypothesis. As you can see from my chart, I was able to demonstrate that days since blog inception closely related to an increase in regular visits. My spikes in traffic, caused by Reddit and hosting the Haveil Havalim blog carnival, did not cause an increase in traffic. Just to reiterate, social bookmarking and other spikes in traffic did not cause a statistically significant increase in blog viewers. You can see the five dots that stick out in the chart below. Those are my big days of social bookmarking and blog carnival hosting.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spot On! This Week's Best Marketing Advice


Here are some of the week's best small business marketing blog posts. They are categorized by the four spots of The Marketing Circle of Life. Enjoy and be educated.


Promotion: Blogs versus Websites: What's the Difference? by James Chartrand at Men With Pens. There’s a misconception surrounding blogs and websites. Many people still believe these two types of Internet presence are different. Well, they are different, but only in how you use them and not how you build them.

Branding: Tell Me Why It's Better by Jonathan Salem Baskin at Dim Bulb. Cutting prices is not a good way to attract more customers. Price is the bugaboo of any brand communication, and usually the tool of last resort. Maybe your strategy shouldn't be lower prices whatsoever.

Conversation: Customers Are Your Most Effective Sales Force by John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing. Happy, educated, results oriented customers are the greatest sales force you can employ. Here are four primary steps involved to raise the level of customer participation. What are you doing to involve your customers.

Experience: Proof of Micro-Interactions by Davide Armano on Logic + Emotion. How a $4 cinnamon roll turned a Disney World customer into a customer evangelist. One magic spot added to one customer interaction can go a long way. Do the little things really matter?

Now Build Your Own Marketing Plan
Our nine-part series Build Your Marketing Plan is available for free on The Marketing Spot blog. Each installment includes a slidecast presentation and downloadable worksheets. Spend the weekend building your marketing plan.

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New Tool: Website Optimization ROI Calculator


How can you estimate the return on investment for optimizing your Web site?

he Website Optimization ROI Calculator, a new interactive tool, was developed by interactive agency ZAAZ. It helps digital marketers estimate return based on anticipated outcomes such as increasing site traffic.

Plug in the numbers, for instance, to evaluate how an investment can change the present and future value of your business.

For more details behind the calculator, read the column by Jason Burby, ZAAZ's chief analytics and optimization officer. Jason and his team at ZAAZ developed this tool.

The ROI calculator joins other invaluable digital advertising resources on ClickZ.

A new addition, the ClickZ Flashback Widget, provides historical perspective on today's news.

And the CPM Calculator, an old standby.

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The Viral Garden's Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs


Here's the standings for Week 128:

1 - Duct Tape Marketing - 249,000 (+2,000)(LW - 1)
2 - Church of the Customer - 238,000 (+3,000)(LW - 2)
3 - CopyBlogger - 44,982 (-117)(LW - 3)
4 - Web Strategy by Jeremiah - 16,782 (+214)(LW - 4)
5 - Search Engine Guide - 12,985 (+27)LW - 5)
6 - Chris Brogan - 12,495 (+608)(LW - 6)
7 - Logic + Emotion - 10,808 (-125)(LW - 7)
8 - Influential Marketing - 7,117 (-289)(LW - 8)
9 - Daily Fix - 6,452 (+145)(LW - 9)
10 - Jaffe Juice - 5,003 (+75)(LW - 10)
11 - Drew's Marketing Minute - 3,484 (+47)(LW - 11)
12 - What's Next - 3,350 (+47)(LW - 12)
13 - Converstations - 3,309 (+172)(LW - 14)
14 - The Viral Garden - 3,290 (+82)(LW - 13)
15 - Conversation Agent - 3,132 (+88)(LW - 15)
16 - Techipedia - 2,483 (+76)(LW - 16)
17 - The Social Media Marketing Blog - 2,417 (+119)(LW - 17)
18 - Being Peter Kim - 2,261 (+137)(LW - 18)
19 - Social Media Explorer - 1,900 (+146)(LW - 20)
20 - Emergence Marketing - 1,893 (+35)(LW - 19)
21 - Greg Verdino's Marketing Blog - 1,756 (+35)(LW - 22)
22 - The Social Customer Manifesto - 1,742 (-9)(LW - 21)
23 - Techno Marketer - 1,600 (+64)(LW - 23)
24 - Spare Change - 1,365 (+23)(LW - 25)
25 - Movie Marketing Madness - 1,329 (-24)(LW - 24)

The Top 25 Marketing & Social Media Blogs are ranked according to the number of subscribers, according to FeedBurner. The number you see after the blog name is how many subscribers accessed the blog's feed, according to FeedBurner. FeedBurner (and I had to look it up to make sure) tracks the number of times your blog's feed is accessed, and matches it against the IP address of the computer making the request, to approximate the number of subscribers that access your feed, and report this as the number used in the Top 25. After that number is a positive or negative number, and this represents how many readers the blog gained or lost from last week's Top 25. The final stat tells you what position the blog held in the Top 25 Last Week (LW). If you see this; (LW - UR), it means the blog wasn't ranked last week.

Another solid week for the Top 25, with 20 of the 25 blogs gaining subscribers last week. Not as many blogs were up as last week, but 9 of the 20 up blogs gained over 100 subscribers, with Chris Brogan's 608-subscriber gain being the biggest. Social Media Explorer had another big week and moved up another notch this week.

Servant of Chaos and Customers Rock! just missed the cut this week. Remember if you want to have your blog be considered for inclusion in the Top 25, make sure you add the Feedburner feed count chicklet to your blog.

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Planning an SEO Campaign


SEO Success Pyramid

Did You Know: In 2002, Habitat for Humanity set a world record when it built a 3-bedroom, 2-bath home in Alabama in only 3 hours, 26 minutes, 34 seconds? It’s true. (official YouTube video) Guess how long it took to plan such an amazing feat….

3 years, 9 months

Nothing great really happens by chance. As the saying goes, luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. Real success, real accomplishment is always the result of careful planning and preparation — of creating a plan and then executing it. That’s certainly the case with great SEO and online marketing campaigns, and that’s why planning is one of the foundational elements of the SEO Success Pyramid.

How to Plan a Successful SEO Campaign

I love working with clients who bring energy and enthusiasm to an SEO campaign. It’s great to want to jump in and get started on new content development, link building, blogging, and so forth. But first, that energy and enthusiasm has to be channeled into creating a plan that outlines the strategies and tactics that’ll be used.

Step 1: Set Goals

The first step in an SEO plan is to set goals. What problems do you hope the SEO project will solve? You might need more organic traffic, more sales of your red widgets, more sign-ups to your newsletter or community, or more contacts via a lead generation form.

The question I like to ask at this early stage is, How will we measure success? Answer that question and you have your goals.

Step 2: Establish Your SEO Team

This is easy if you’re a one-man-band or a company with only a few employees. But if you’re a small business with multiple departments in your organization, it’s imperative to establish at the start who will be the primary drivers of your SEO campaign. A typical SEO project will touch your Marketing, Product, PR, and IT/Tech departments. And it’ll obviously need sign-off at the executive level.

This is also a good time to discuss other resources that will be needed. For example, do you have an analytics program tracking web site traffic, or do you need to choose one? If you plan to launch a blog, do you have a good writer with a blogger’s personality? Know what you have and what you need in terms of people and resources.

Step 3: Identify Your Audience

Chances are you get a variety of people visiting your web site, but do you know which type of person tends to become a customer most often? You might have a product that appeals mainly to men/husbands, but studies suggest that major purchases are usually decided by women/wives. Know your audience and you’ll be able to tailor your copy for better SEO success.

Step 4: Choose Appropriate Strategies/Tactics

There’s no fixed solution here. Every company is unique, and every SEO campaign has to be unique, too. Knowing your goals, your available resources, and your intended audience will help you choose the right strategies and tactics for your SEO campaign. Be careful not to try too much at the start. I believe it’s better to move slowly and do a few things very well than to spread your company so thin that the campaign as a whole suffers from lack of accomplishment.

Step 5: Measure Your Results

Plan on tracking your results closely, but realize that SEO is not about overnight success. Like many other search marketers, I tell most clients it usually takes 3-6 months to see any tangible results from most SEO tactics. The actual time depends on the competitiveness of your industry and a host of other factors that are out of your control.

Step 6: Adjust and Repeat

SEO is an ongoing process, not a one-time effort that can be turned off like a TV when the show is over. After a few months you should have a good idea of what worked and what didn’t. Plan on using the data you have to eliminate the underperforming strategies and tactics. Go back to Step 1 — do you need to re-examine your goals? Go back to Step 2 — did you put together the right team? Continual evaluation of your success and failures should be part of every SEO plan.

Final Thoughts

This has been an attempt to simplify what can sometimes be a complex process. I’ve purposely left out the discussion on doing SEO yourself vs. hiring an SEO consultant, and I’ve also ignored any mention of budgeting. Both of these are important parts of planning an SEO campaign; this article assumes you’ve made those decisions already.

The main point I hope to make here is that you must devote time to planning. “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail” is a truism that fits small business SEO campaigns. Be enthusiastic, but first channel that enthusiasm into developing a winning plan for your online marketing efforts.

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A Very Brief History of Micro-Media