Thursday, October 30, 2008

Economic Uncertainty? Grow Out Of It!

Depressed along with the markets? Don’t be—it’s time to grow out of this crisis and into your next opportunity.

At a
recent conference in Seoul, Richard Branson said, “There are enormous opportunities when there is a crisis. In a situation like this, it’s absolutely essential to conserve cash. I think companies that do have cash owe it to their country and the people in the company to actually invest that cash in order to grow out of the crisis.”

Obviously our entrepreneurial solutions of the past 8 years got us to this point, so why wouldn’t the same tricks turn things around? The cowardly response is to cut: cut staff, cut training, cut marketing or anything else that would allow only the bare bones of an operation to continue.

The creative mind looks for opportunity.

Internet marketing offers a creative way to thrive in a crisis: 

Search engine marketing allows you to say exactly what you want to say to whom you would like. You reach a highly motivated person looking for your solution. and can additionally measure every result and change mid-stream if it fails to show results. If they don’t play, you don’t pay.

Invest in your website’s content management system (CMS): By creating a CMS you take control of your content. No delay at the marketing department, the designer, the printer or publisher. You say what you need to say immediately. The cost? Only your time.

Online video has become the tool of the masses. Created with any variety of technology—a cell phone, a pocket camera or, if you like, a high definition camcorder with studio lights— and edited on the fly. Continue the brand conversation with your audience in the social web-o-sphere – on your website, YouTube, Facebook, Google Video. The opportunities are endless.

If you're worried about rivals poaching your clientele, you have an advantage: you already know your customer. Continue the conversation online through e-marketing. You control this distribution channel and the cost is minimal.

All these online marketing endeavours are measurable, they are flexible, lean and nimble.

Still asking ‘why?’ Maybe you should try asking ‘Why not?’

In tough economic times, you’ll see some of your competition disappear. That’s only natural: in Branson’s words, the best always survive in a crisis. It is time to find the ‘E’ in creative, and outlast them all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Three Interrelated Pillars of Web Development

Structure is (x)html - we use html, a structural mark-up language, to add semantically correct structure to our documents. A page heading, a sub heading, a paragraph, a list, a hyper link are all defined structurally by html.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) - we use CSS to implement all the attractive design aspects that our designers create. We use CSS to bring in color, images, typography and layout.

Behaviour (dynamic stuff) - we use the appropriate programming language and database language to store data and to bring in dynamic and interactive aspects of a web page. For example, changing content, forms, actions rotating images and much more. We use django, JavaScript, .net and more to bring behaviour to our websites. Keeping these three pillars strong and separate means we have a balanced, future compatible product that is attractive, accessible and standards- compliant at the end of the web development life cycle.

Writing in Upside Down Pyramids

Write for a Quick Grab
The best way to write for the web is to understand how your readers read. Most web users don’t want to be blasted with information, facts and figures. Chances are, they want to quickly grab their information and keep moving.

Lead with Most Important
A great trick to start doing this—learned from schools of journalism—is the inverted pyramid style. Using this, you lead with the most important information, and only then do you increase the level of detail and history. The rationale behind this is that the largest percentage of readership is in the top of the article; the smallest is in the bottom. This way, your readers can decide exactly how much information they want to take in.

This is easily adaptable to web writing, as it makes sure your reader takes away what YOU feel is most important—which is the whole point of web writing to begin with.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Only the tip of the Iceberg

Three weeks ago I was lucky enough to have my camera rolling when a giant iceberg disintegrated right in front of my eyes in a spectacle of nature that words fail to describe.

This digital display was to initiate me into the gospel of viral. From Twillingate to YouTube - and the rest is history...

Within the next week I received an email from local TV station NTV to establish its authenticity. Next, the evening news and from here the morning show on Canada's CTV.

Now, three weeks and more than 1400 unsolicited views later I understand: Viral just happens (if you are in the right place at the right time).

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The lame blog post

It is June 1 and today my May blog posts shrink themselves into a single link and provide me with an expectant blank canvas for June. Oh dear!

That brings me to the pivotal question: What makes a good blogger?

Blogger is now an accepted career or hobby label and I am starting to understand why. As I am packing for a 2 week European trip, I realize I fall in the category of lame bloggers.


A good blogger would have:
  • had two weeks' posts prepared and post-dated for release
  • found something relevant to blog about the state of Internet marketing in Europe
  • had mobile blogging down pat
  • a blogging buddy begging for the honour of substitute blogging during my absence.

My conclusion:
I am an aspiring-to-be-good blogger. But for very much the same reason that I don't get to the gym, this blog will likely remain untouched for two weeks: bad planning, lack of discipline and waning enthusiasm!

To all you stellar bloggers: Here is a toast to you!

Friday, May 30, 2008

When is Social Marketing Wrong for You?

From Doug's list, the following:
  • You have something to hide
  • You are a control freak and need to control your message
  • Your product or service sucks
  • Your product or service requires a hard sell and pressure
  • You can dish it out but cannot take it
  • You are not willing to improve
If you answered yes to one or more of the above, then social marketing is DEFINITELY not for you!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Refuse to Blog

This is what a client said to me today.

"If I start a blog, I have no control over what they write about me in my blog."

Yes, that is correct, but why should you care? If they like what you do or if they are upset by your business, they'll write anyway. And they'll write anywhere. Like you'll ever control it!

User-generated content belongs to no one and cannot be controlled. But in your blog, you have control over what you write and can use it to speak to your potential customers in their language.

When you get negative comments - what an opportunity to learn! (Cheaper than market research!) And if you show that you are listening and respond, imagine the response you'll get.
You can use your blog to:
  • Ask for feedback
  • Compliment your competitors (where it is due), and
  • Admit when you are wrong.
And then, if you listen and show that you make it better, what are the chances that you'll now have a loyal follower? No guarantees, but what can you lose?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Don't use that tone with me!

How often were we reprimanded growing up about not using that certain "tone" of voice! Social marketing challenges us to the same today.

Social networks have a language of their own and you gotta fit right in... or you'll stand out like a sore thumb! For those who have grown up BSN (before social networks), the lingo just does not come all that naturally.

As Doug Walker (the brain behind the International Society of Rock, Paper, Scissors) said, it is like being at a giant cocktail party. You gotta talk like a socialite, fit in with the conversation that is going on and find the gap to tell your story.

Doug's tips:
  • Shut up and listen
  • Ask, don't tell
  • Use conversational tone (like at the cocktail party!)
  • Treat the first people who join your group like gold because they decide whether your group will grow or die.

I am getting it right in my blog? Why don't you tell me...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Feed the Beasts: Submit to Search Engines.

When a new site is launched, manually submit the URL to these search engines for potentially expediated listings:

Google (feeds 3 other search engines)
Yahoo! (feeds three other search engines)
MSN (receives pay per click results from Yahoo! but feeds no one)
DMOZ (feeds 6 other search engines as well as thousands of small specialty search engines)

If there are other trade secrets around listing new sites on search engines, feel free so share it on this blog.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Search and SEO Opportunities

Search engine optimization is going beyond the optimization of text content. Other content that can and should be optimized, includes:
  • Comments on Blogs and other user-generated content
  • Titles and captions of photographs on web albums (Flickr, Picasa, Facebook etc.)
  • Descriptions of video clips on video sites (YouTube, Google Video etc.)
  • Entries in online guest books (if you can still find one!)
  • Directory listings (such as membership or Yellow Pages listings)
  • Content added to maps (Google Maps, Google Earth, Map Quest etc.)
  • Online reviews (such as Amazon or Tripadvisor)
  • Personal profiles (on sites such as Facebook, Linkedin)
Online content is read by robots that interpret all text as letter patterns to be indexed and this includes all the above content. Push your keyword sets consistently on all these spaces.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Biggest Mistakes in Social Marketing

Social Marketing is the latest buzz but there are common mistakes to be aware of.

Whether it is a blog, a social network page or group or other user generated content, beware of these mistakes as presented by Doug Walker of Venture Communications.

Social marketing requires an investment in time and effort.

Seven Big Mistakes

1. Build it and forget it
2. Let it run itself
3. No policy for what user-generated content is acceptable
4. Too strict a policy
5. No maintenance budget
6. No objective (actually, this is number one!)
7. No metrics (there must be some way of measuring results)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Online with WestJet

WestJet has an interesting approach to its Internet marketing. Its progressive use of the Internet certainly contributes to its claim to be North America's most profitable airlines - it is certainly one of the least stressful ones to fly with!

The strategy focuses on a progression - from reaching the mass online market through Search Engine Marketing and Advertising, to individualized desktop service to subscribers.
  • Get Set (Personalized desktop travel offers)
  • Jet Reminder (Emailed Flight Reminders)
  • Jet Mail (E-news)
  • Online Publishing
  • Online Advertising / SEM / SEO

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Break Up ... between the Consumer and the Advertiser

A neat You Tube video that depicts the change in consumers and how it changes the relationship between advertiser and the consumer. Fun to watch!

Pennies and Pounds with Project Management

Project Management Essential
Careful project management makes the difference between a web project that leads or bleeds. This was the punchline of a workshop on project management at the Online Revealed e-marketing conference. Save money, time and a good marriage by following these steps:

Upfront Planning
In a session on web project management, Carson Pierce reiterated the importance of prior planning and spending the needed resources in this all-important phase of the project. This prior planning should flow into a contract between client and web marketer:

  • Objective of the site or project
  • Measurements to determine success or failure
  • Project Scope (including the number and nature of project iterations)
  • Budget
  • Timeline
  • Who is Responsible for what
  • Communications plan: Who talks to whom, when and how?

When the pre-nup is signed and agreed upon, it is shoulder to the wheel to make the project happen:"

1. Discovery
- Goals and objectives for the site/project
- Set success criteria for the site/project (set up Google Analytics at the beginning)
- Define the audience (create a personification of the target audience members)
- Competitive analysis

2. Content
- Development of content plan (who, what, when)
- After receipt of content, modification for usability (SEO and presentation of content).

3. Navigation
Here Carson and I may differ - I develop my navigational structure before I touch content.
He proposes a "card sort" method of post-it notes that a test audience intuitively sort on the wall.

4. Design
He made the sensible suggestion of developing only one design (only one will be used anyway) but to make it GOOD! Do a mood board with colour schemes, imagery and other liked sites.
Do a "wire frame" that indicates to the designer where objects need to be placed.

5. Building the site
This is the web developers work and responsibility to work to web and accessibility standards.

6. Testing
- Test navigation with users upfront.
- Developer testing: does it work and meet the specifications of the project brief?
- Proofread all text!
- User testing: Are goals met? Does it work they way you wanted it?
Carson's comment reinforces what experience has taught me too: Leave enough time for testing.

7. Marketing

Create launch plan upfront (SEO, Media, online promotion, check statistics)

8. Maintenance
Hopefully the site has a Content Management System (CMS) and will simplify ongoing maintenance. The site needs ongoing maintenance: plan for it and work at it.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Thinking like a search engine

Search engine algorithms are as secret as the recipe for Coca Cola. We can kind of figure it out, but if we do, the competitive advantage disintegrates.

After years of work with natural search engine optimization, here is my understanding of how a search engine thinks and how crawler evaluate page content:
  1. If the same word appears in the title, meta description, meta tags alt-tags and
    between 5 – 10% of the body content, then this is probably what this site is about.
  2. If this information appears in the headers of pages and paragraphs, it is probably an indication of important content.
  3. If this same word or phrase occupies more than 11% of the content, the web site is perhaps using suspect means to trick the search engine into higher page ranking and therefore the site should be “demoted”.
  4. If the content contains synonyms that relate to the most frequently used keyword or phrase, this page most likely deserves a higher ranking.
  5. The most frequently used words or phrases on the front page of the web site are probably the strongest indicator what this site is about.
  6. If this site gets a lot of traffic, it is probably a more important site that deserves a higher ranking.
  7. If other highly ranked sites link to this site, it is likely a site that also deserves a higher ranking.
  8. If some of the content changes regularly, it is probably a more important site.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What's the Buzz with Keywords?

I sometimes wonder if all the new tools that analyses online behaviour do not just give us too much information.... We know which keyword searches are hot today, what's the buzz on Facebook walls and what are the hot news keywords of the day.

Frankly, online marketing decisions, the content from the online writer's pen and behavioural targeting all depend on those keywords we choose. My mother used to say, "Choose your words with care. Make them sweet because you never know when you'll have to eat them."

Same truth today.

Having said all that, here are some of the new tools of the trade:
Facebook lexicon - search how often a keyword is used on the walls of the world's largest social network.
Google Trends - search how often a word or phrase is searched for in Google or see how often it is used in news articles indexed by Google.

And as always, the spikes and dips tell the bigger story.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good font use on a web site

…Still a "work in progress," the site applies Bringhurst's typographic principles to the Internet in practical ways... worth a read for those wishing to raise the bar for online typography.

Topics covered:

2 Rhythm & Proportion

2.1 Horizontal Motion
Define the word space to suit the size and natural letterfit of the font
Choose a comfortable measure
Set ragged if ragged setting suits the text and page
Use a single word space between sentences
Add little or no space within strings of initials
Letterspace all strings of capitals and small caps, and all long strings of digits
Don't letterspace the lower case without a reason
Kern consistently and modestly or not at all
Don't alter the widths or shapes or letters without cause
Don't stretch the space until it breaks

2.2 Vertical Motion
Choose a basic leading that suits the typeface, text and measure
Add and delete vertical space in measured intervals

2.3 Blocks & Paragraphs
Set opening paragraphs flush left
In continuous text mark all paragraphs after the first with an indent of at least one en
Add extra lead before and after block quotations
Indent or center verse quotations

2.4 Etiquette of Hypenation & Pagination
At hyphenated line-ends, leave at least two characters behind and take at least three forward
Avoid more than three consecutive hyphenated lines
Hyphenate according to the conventions of the language
Line short numerical and mathematical expressions with hard spaces
Never begin a page with the last line of a multi-line paragraph

3 Harmony & Counterpoint

3.1 Size
Don't compose without a scale

3.2 Numerals, Capitals & Small Caps
Use titling figures with full caps, and text figures in all other circumstances
3.2.1 Use titling figures with full caps, and text figures in all other circumstances

4 Tips for Good SEO

There are four SEO essentials to keep in mind when planning a site redesign:
  • the information architecture,
  • the URL structure and page design,
  • the content and of course,
  • the launch itself.

Tie the site's overall architecture to keyword research. The marketing department may have some ideas on which keywords attract which consumers, but "make sure you're building a Web site that actually has pages devoted to the keywords," Jackson says in this article

The content management system (CMS) in place needs to jive with SEO, as sometimes these platforms can create long, non-search friendly URLs and page titles.

Also, try to avoid what Jackson calls "Flashturbation"--or the usage of Flash for no reason. The ideal design would be a site that's heavy on textual content and light on code.

For the actual text, Jackson says to shoot for about 400 words on the homepage and 250 on internal pages. And for the big day--"Don't launch your Web site until you've checked to make sure your entire legacy (old) pages/URLs are redirected to the new URLs," Jackson says.
- Read the whole story...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yeah! Google, Boo Yahoo!

Google's Brand Value Surges, Yahoo's Wanes
by Joe Mandese, Monday, Apr 21, 2008 7:00 AM ET

Shares of Google may be languishing in their stock market value, but the underlying financial value of the Google brand continues to be the world's strongest. Despite the fact that Google shares are trading nearly 28% off their 52-week high, the estimated value of its brand rose 30% over the past year to $86.1 billion, making it the most valuable of the top 100 brands analyzed in a new study by WPP Group's Millward Brown unit.

At that rate, Google surpassed the brand value of the No. 2 corporate brand - GE ($71.4 billion) - by $14.7 billion. Google's brand value currently is estimated to be worth $15.2 billion more than the third most valuable corporate brand: Microsoft ($70.9 billion).

Quick to Peek, Slow to Share

Apparently North Americans and Europeans are quick to peek but slower to share than their counterparts in the East:

U.S. Lags in Social Media Creation, per Survey
Consumers in the U.S. and Western Europe are more likely to be passive participants, while those in emerging markets often create content
April 18, 2008
-By Brian Morrissey

UM survey finds that domestic consumers 'love to watch.'NEW YORK A new global study of social media use reveals that the U.S. severely lags behind Asian and South American countries in participation rates. Consumers in the U.S. and Western Europe are more likely to be passive social-media participants -- sharing videos and reading blogs -- while those in emerging markets often create content through blogging, social networks and video and photo sharing sites."By and large, in the U.S. we're a country of voyeurs," said David Cohen, U.S. director of digital communications at Universal McCann, which conducted the study. "We love to watch and consume content created by others, but there's a fairly small group that are doing that creation -- unlike China, which is a country of creators."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Challenging the Development and Hosting Paradigm

We've seen politicians do it masterfully: dodge the answer by challenging the underlying assumption in the question. In a world of accelerated growth rates and market domination of big fish that swallow small fish, the same holds true.

Search engine wars for example: Google widened the gap by giving stuff away for free. Social marketing: open source coding and user generated content. And the latest paradigm shift: websites are developed by web developers and hosted through self-managed hosting. No longer.

In an article today, Kevin Yank writes in his SitePoint Blog about the changing face of web hosting:

"Earlier this week, Google announced the preview release of Google App Engine, a service that lets you build and run web applications (in Python only for now) on Google’s own server infrastructure. This latest move continues a trend away from self-managed hosting and extends it by offering a fully managed application environment... "


Shifting Sands of Search Advertising

An article from BBC Business this morning discusses how Yahoo! is seemingly struggling to decide what it wants to be when it grows up - if it gets there, that is. In a floundering tale of mergers, takeovers and alliances we see how volatile the emerging world of search engine marketing really is. My prediction is that the biggest innovator will be declared the ultimate winner:

"After weeks of first fighting talk and then stony silence, Yahoo has at long last made a move to escape the takeover clutches of Microsoft.
The company has announced a two-week experiment during which it will show search-driven Google adverts alongside the search results of Yahoo's website.
At the same time Yahoo! is reportedly talking to rival internet portal AOL about a merger. "
Read the full report>>

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Copy Curse of SEO

Search engine fanaticism has given birth to a new and unbearable phenomenon: keyword diarrhea.

This obsession with keyword-rich content loses sight of the most important entity in the equasion: the reader. A preferred position on a Google listing and high page rank become meaningless when faced with a repulsed reader who is horrified by your key-word rich, text-dense optimized web page.
Remember me? The reader? Give me just-enough, just-in-time, relevant information. I love pictures. I scan read, so make it easy: pie charts, bullet lists, tables, diagrams, captions, headers, short paragraphs and short pages.

Your strategy for optimization may stroke the search engine bots for a while, but you're losing me.... the person who has the credit card! Next time you plaster the word patterns all over your page, make it pretty for me. Make it pleasant. Make it easy. And make it fun.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

From the SEO Wrapper

The best SEO advice in a song!

And the lyrics if you want to sing along (thanks Jason):

Your site design is the first thing people see
it should be reflective of you and the industry
easy to look at with a nice navigation
when you can't find what you want it causes frustration
a clear Call to action to increase the temptation
use appealing graphics they create motivation
if you have animation use with moderation
cause search engines can't index the information
display the logos of all your associations
highlight your contact info that's an obligation
create a clean design you can use some decoration
but to try to prevent any client hesitation every page that
they click should provide and explanation
should be easy to understand like having a conversation
when you design the style go ahead and use your imagination
but make sure you use correct color combinations
do some investigation, look at other organizations
but don't duplicate or you might face a litigation
design done, congratulations but it's time to start construction
follow these instructions when you move into production
your photoshop functions then slice that design
do your layout with divs make sure that it's aligned
please don't use tables even though they work fine
when it come to indexing they give searches a hard time
make it easy for the spiders to crawl what you provide
remove font type, font color and font size
no background colors, keep your coding real neat,
tag your look and feel on a separate style sheet
better results with xml and css now you making progress,
a lil closer to success
describe your doctype so the browser can relate
make sure you do it great or it won't validate
check in all browsers, I do it directly
gotta make sure that it renders correctly
some use IE, some others use Flock
some use AOL, I use Firefox
title everything including links and images
don't use italics, use emphasis
don't use bold, please use strong
if you use bold that's old and wrong
when you use CSS, you page will load quicker
client satisfied like they eating on a snicker
they stuck on your page like you made it with a sticker
and then they convert now that's the real kicker
make you a lil richer, your site a lil slicker
design and code right man I hope you get the picture
what I'm telling you is true man it should be a scripture
if it's built right you'll be the pick of the litter
everyone will want to follow you like twitter
competition will get bitter and you'll shine like glitter
if you trying to grow your company will get bigger
design and code right man can you get with it

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Techniques for Building Traffic

Web Marketing for Dummies, a valuable resource that touches on all aspects of internet marketing, has this list of techniques for building traffic to your site:

Free info tools:
Signature blocks, blurbs, FAQs, Yahoo! Groups

Onsite techniques:
Chat rooms, message boards, wikis, contents, games, coupons, surveys, free samples, event announcements, Tell a Friend

Word of Web online techniques:
Blogs, What's New, hot sites, award sites, online press releases, search engine optimization, inbound link campaigns, e-newsletters

Paid online advertising:
PPC campaigns, newsletter sponsorships, banner ads

Offline advertising:
Literature, stationery, packaging, promotional items, community events, direct mail, coordinated ads in other media

Monday, March 31, 2008

Is Social Marketing Slowing Down?

A recent BBC news report discusses the decline in new subscribers to social networking sites Facebook and MySpace. Are users getting fed up with being "poked" or having "sheep thrown at them"? it asks.

It continues to comment:

Social usefulness
This could mean that social networking sites start to evolve, taking on new characteristics, and perform new roles.

After all the power of a social network lies in the sheer number of users accessing that site.
Rather than acting as a glorified friend finder, social networking could provide more practical help. The recent addition of a blood group application to Facebook that tracks down blood donors with specific blood types, ably demonstrates this.

Social network sites are starting to make more of their audiences"The idea of social networking on the socially useful sites is all around consumer to consumer content," says Mr Burmaster.
"So rather than a publisher providing information and content, it's all about consumer to consumer. They are providing information to each other.

For the full article on the state of social marketing, visit

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

From Long Tail to Free

Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine and digital visionary published an article called Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business.

In this fascinating article Chris explains why cost to the consumer will drop to zero with a third party picking up the tab. What this will do to the economy as we know it, is mind-blowing. In fact, there is already a word for it: "freeconomy".

Here is an excerpt with the full article well worth the time on the Wired magazine site:

"As much as we complain about how expensive things are getting, we're surrounded by forces that are making them cheaper. Forty years ago, the principal nutritional problem in America was hunger; now it's obesity, for which we have the Green Revolution to thank. Forty years ago, charity was dominated by clothing drives for the poor. Now you can get a T-shirt for less than the price of a cup of coffee, thanks to China and global sourcing. So too for toys, gadgets, and commodities of every sort. Even cocaine has pretty much never been cheaper (globalization works in mysterious ways)."

"What does this mean for the notion of free? Well, just take one example. Last year, Yahoo announced that Yahoo Mail, its free webmail service, would provide unlimited storage. Just in case that wasn't totally clear, that's "unlimited" as in "infinite." So the market price of online storage, at least for email, has now fallen to zero (see "Webmail Windfall"). And the stunning thing is that nobody was surprised; many had assumed infinite free storage was already the case."

"The most common of the economies built around free is the three-party system. Here a third party pays to participate in a market created by a free exchange between the first two parties. Sound complicated? You're probably experiencing it right now. It's the basis of virtually all media." >>

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

4 Digital Customers: Ana, Andi, D.J. and Syndi

Herman Gyr and partner Lisa Friedman, developers of the Enterprise Development Framework, talk about the the "Changing Audience in the Digital Era – Implications for the Contemporary Media Enterprise" in an article authored by Alex Gyr. For more about their work, visit the Enterprise Development website. Here is an exerpt from Alex's paper.

The Four Digital Customers
As we studied how customers were changing in the digital era, we identified four major mindsets that were emerging that we will call the “Four Digital Customers:”

* Ana (for analog),
* Andi (for analog-digital),
* D.J. (for Digital Joe or Digital Jane),
* Syndi (for synthesizing).

Each of these customers symbolizes a different set of consumer values that must be addressed by the successful contemporary media company. While imagining these four customers as four individuals helps to illustrate the concept of differing consumer mindsets, in reality every media customer exhibits all four of these mindsets at one time or another, usually many times a day, sometimes even in parallel.

Humans exhibit a natural capacity for multi-dimensional states of mind. There are times when we want to be passive, when we want to sit back and be entertained(=Ana). There are times when we want to be playful or interactive(=Andi). And there are also times we want to express ourselves creatively (=D.J.) and when we want to feel part of a community(=Syndi).

New Technology to Meet Divers Customer Mindsets
Traditionally, the media has done an excellent job of providing for the analog, passive mindset. But now, this is no longer enough. Through new technology, the media can and must provide for a range of mindsets and human expression.

Thanks to the exponential growth reflected in Moore’s Law and the emergence of a new era, media technology can now satisfy all four of the “Digital Customers.” This was not possible even five years ago. Understanding what motivates and excites the four mindsets or digital customers can help companies understand their marketplace on a much deeper and more meaningful level.

The Future (which may be right now)
So what is the future of the “Four Digital Customers?” The answer is that no one really knows. Ana, Andi, D.J. and Syndi, and thus every media consumer, will discover new products and services that appeal to them and some that don’t. However, by understanding the four digital customer mindsets, media companies can take some of the mystery out of what makes their consumers tick. By grasping the multi-dimensional nature of the needs and emotions that drive every customer, it becomes easier to evaluate why certain creations work and why others don’t.

Ana, Andi, DJ, & Syndi help explain why the modern media consumer is no longer satisfied with only passive-reflective, one-way content. With the exponential growth of digital technology, it is possible for the media to connect with all four of its customers’ habits— and that is what people want. Basic human behavior isn’t changing, but the way that consumers can act on their desires is.

What we see today is only the beginning, but Ana, Andi, D.J. and Syndi point the way to what is coming tomorrow. See more here.

Monday, March 24, 2008

In-flight Internet

Here is a service that will change the world! "For the better?" you ask.
"Not sure there is definite answer," I reply.

The weary executive assistant counting on the valuable in-flight break to catch up on the office filing and administration will not catch the break once in-flight internet is available.

On the positive side, the internet will be available to start tracking your missing luggage even before you land!

Whichever side of the coin you're on, this will bring about an impact almost as big as the invention of flight itself.

In an article in today, New York Times reports as follows:
Starting next week and over the next few months, several United States airlines will test Internet service on their planes.

On Tuesday, JetBlue Airways will begin offering a free e-mail and instant messaging service on one of its planes, while American Airlines, Virgin America and Alaska Airlines plan to offer broader Web access in coming months, probably at a cost around $10 a flight.

“I think 2008 is the year when we will finally start to see in-flight Internet access become available,” said Henry Harteveldt, an analyst with Forrester Research, “but I suspect the rollout domestically will take place in a very measured way.” “In a few years time,” he added, “if you get on a flight that doesn’t have Internet access, it will be like walking into a hotel room that doesn’t have TV.”

The airlines’ goal is to turn their planes into the equivalent of wireless hot spots once they reach cruising altitude. These services will not be available on takeoff or landing.
If you want to know when you can start tracking your lost luggage in flight, read the rest of this article...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thinking Like A Search Engine

Search engine optimizers try to understand search engine algorithms in an aim for the much coveted top spot on the search page. Not many humans think like a search engine crawler, but here are some suggested tips that may help in natural optimization.

Each page of online content that gets created should be preceded by:
"What is the objective of this page?"

The creative process then continues with the interactive marketing mantra:

Keywords. Calls to Action. Conversion.
What are the most important keywords a searcher will use to find this page as an answer to their need? Secondly, what action would I like to encourage? And lastly, for this page to be successful, what is the converted response from the user?

The next step in content planning for optimized web pages will follow crawler logic:
  • If the same word appears in the title, meta description, meta tags alt-tags and between 5 – 10% of the body content, then this is probably what this site is about.

  • If this information appears in the headers of pages and paragraphs, it is probably an indication of important content.

  • If this same word or phrase occupies more than 11% of the content, the web site is perhaps using suspect means to trick the search engine into higher page ranking and therefore the site should be “demoted”.

  • If the content contains synonyms that relate to the most frequently used keyword or phrase, this page most likely deserves a higher ranking.

  • The most frequently used words or phrases on the front page of the web site are probably the strongest indicator what this site is about.

  • If other highly ranked sites link to this site, it is likely a site that also deserves a higher ranking.

  • If some of the content changes regularly, it is probably a more important site.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Email campaigns that hit home

Opt-in and double opt-in to email subscription lists have become standard practice. Once a recipient is on the list, it is still a long road to driving the message home.

Here are a few tips:
  • Build your list carefully (opt-in and double opt-in)

  • Segment your list so that you can target market

  • Add new email address to the correct lists on a regular basis

  • Make reading the email a good experience (layout, content)

  • Give something (discount, coupon, information, special offer…)

  • Be honest: give what you promise

  • Keep it short (subject line and content)

  • Entice with your subject line (e.g. the Weigh Watchers newsletter with "Stop Self-Sabotage)

  • Provide a reason to click through to a landing page on your site

  • Provide relevant content

  • Use small, consistently sized photos

  • Remember the branding (top left on the page is a good spot)

  • Timing (consistent, not too often)

  • Take HTML and non HTML browsers into account (it has to be readable in text format)

  • Make sure you add the “Subscribe” function to your web site and blog.

  • Use E-mail software such as

Why use Email software?

  • It makes it easy to manage (build, segment and edit) your distribution lists

  • It limits your email being seen as SPAM

  • It allows you to track the results of your distribution such as open rates, unsubscribe rates, click-through rates and bounce rates.

  • It is set up to prompt you for all the necessary elements, such as unsubscribe message and e-mail address, contact information.

  • It manages your distribution lists for you and notifies you when someone subscribes or un-subscribes.

  • It keeps an archive of your newsletters online.

  • If offers features such as a visitor sign-up box to use on your web site; a "Send Page to Friend" link for your web site and a special feature that allows your subscribers to forward your email and add a personal note to their friends

Saturday, March 15, 2008

To Blog or not to Blog

The blogosphere exploded with a myriad of pent up contributions from experts and wannabes - a source of ideas, opinions, information and sometimes, just alphabetized noise.

There is no doubt that bloggers have become a democratic online force to be reckoned with.

For the webmaster-less, it is an opportunity to craft an online space and mouse off in democratic digital glory. However, on some mornings it can become a heavy commitment to fulfill.

The importance of a good domain name (URL)

My colleague John confirmed for me today why a domain name requires careful thought. Hilarious, but it gets the point across!

Rule number one: check for ambiguity. Look at the list below and decide for yourself:

Top 10 Worst Company URLs

The top 10 unintentionally worst company URLS

Everyone knows that if you are going to operate a business in today’s world you need a domain name. It is advisable to look at the domain name selected as other see it and not just as you think it looks. Failure to do this may result in situations such as the following (legitimate) companies who deal in everyday humdrum products and services but clearly didn’t give their domain names enough consideration:

1. A site called ‘Who Represents’ where you can find the name of the agent that represents a celebrity. Their domain name… wait for it… is

2. Experts Exchange, a knowledge base where programmers can exchange advice and views at

3. Looking for a pen? Look no further than Pen Island at

4. Need a therapist? Try Therapist Finder at

5. Then of course, there’s the Italian Power Generator company…

6. And now, we have the Mole Station Native Nursery, based in New SouthWales:

7. If you’re looking for computer software, there’s always

8. Welcome to the First Cumming Methodist Church. Their website is

9. Then, of course, there’s these brainless art designers, and their whacky website:

10. Want to holiday in Lake Tahoe? Try their brochure website at