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TrueTwit marketing is evil genius

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Why does every story have to have an evil genius? TrueTwit has done something visionary, but you’ll have to get past my rant first.

I am impressed by something TrueTwit is doing these days, and has been for the past month, in the field of marketing. For those who know what I think of TrueTwit, this might come as a surprise. For those who have never had the pleasure to hear me rant on this topic, now’s your chance.

What makes this marketing visionary?TrueTwit is a service the forces people fill in a captcha field before they can follow you. Here is how TrueTwit works:

  1. You follow somebody.
  2. Truetwit sends you an automated direct message (DM) with a link: “To validate click here“.
  3. You click the link, and land on a TrueTwit page
  4. You successfully complete the captcha on that page, and now you are finally following the person that you had actually followed three steps ago.

Honestly, this is a make-work project that only the government could have come up with. Here is what TrueTwit does in its own words:

Twitter spam is a drag. What if you could know for sure that your followers are truly human, and not some bot? TrueTwit is designed to help you:

Verify people from robots
Avoid Twitter spam
Save time managing your followers

Why do I not normally have a whole bunch of really nice things to say about TrueTwit. For starters, there is the whole principle of it. My job on social media is to manage what I do, not what somebody else does. I manage whom I follow, not who follows me. Who cares if one robot or a million robots follow me, as long as I don’t follow any robots.

It’s the bots that I follow that can plug up my tweet stream. It’s the bots that I follow that can DM me. I don’t want to follow any bots.

The bots that follow me can’t touch me, so why would I care about them? People using TrueTwit are a little confused on this point; good thing there is somebody eager and willing to exploit that confusion.

  • Does TrueTwit verify people from robots, as it claims? Yes, but not the right people, and well, I’ll get to the accuracy in just a moment.
  • Does it avoid Twitter spam, as it claims? No! Spam can come only from the people you follow. And from TrueTwit on their behalf, by the way.
  • Does it save time managing your followers, as it claims? No, because you don’t manage your followers; they manage themselves. You manger your own actions, not those of other people.
  • Does it even work at all?  Uh, well… OK, I’ll get to that in a minute.

If TrueTwit was just benignly useless, why bother ranting?

Unfortunately, TrueTwit create problems. I hinted at issues of accuracy a moment ago. TrueTwit not only prevents bots from following you, but it prevents real people from following you, too.

  1. First, some people do not look at their DMs. They never even know that they need to go through an extra step of bureaucracy to do what they thought they had already done – follow you.  Thanks to TrueTwit, those people will never be your followers. Or will they?
  2. Second, some people see the DM that TrueTwit sends them, but ignore it without even reading it along with the rest of the automated DM spam that too many people send to new followers. Oh, boy! Do you see the irony there? This service that inaccurately claims to “avoid Twitter spam” is possibly the biggest spammer on Twitter, sending out automated DMs to everybody who follows anybody using the service.
  3. Third, some people see the DM that TrueTwit sends them, but ignore it because, as Brad Knutson puts it, “there are so many email and social media scams out there today, most people have been convinced that any suspicious link that is sent to them will lead them to a site that will steal their credit card information and first born son.”
  4. Fourth.  It turns out that TrueTwit validation doesn’t actually stop anyone from following you.  Not even bots.  It even says so in the FAQ: “If someone doesn’t complete the validation request, they can still follow you.”  And it says it again: “Twitter allows anyone to follow anyone else, and there isn’t much TrueTwit can do about it.” It makes everybody get “validated”, sends people tons of spam, and doesn’t do anything.  Nothing.  It doesn’t even stop one bot.

Not only do you gain nothing by using TrueTwit, but you lose followers and become a DM spammer.

If you really want to know just how bad TrueTwit is, you can read Mary C. Long’s post from a couple years ago. It goes into the kind of detail I will never have the patience to suffer through.

TrueTwit , clever marketing

Yes, that’s quite a rant, but now TrueTwit has caught my eye for a very different reason and I am very, very impressed with their marketing.  It’s not so much “their” marketing in the sense that it is not their services being marketed.  But they have begun selling what might just be the cleverest advertising on the Net. In fact, I would call it visionary.

The first sample of this I saw was from British Airways:

British Airways Brand Marketing

That is the captcha you have to fill in to follow the person whom you thought you had already followed three steps ago.  You no longer have to type in some illegible combination of characters three times in an attempt to get it right.  Instead, you just have to type in “British Airways”.  Unlike advertising that you just read or watch, this is advertising you have to type in.  You have to mentally engage with the brand.  If you follow a lot of people, you’ll have British Airways etched into your mind the next time you want to fly somewhere.

That is clever marketing.

The next sample I saw was for Best Buy, a store whose branding actually obscures what it does. In case you don’t know, it sells electronics.  When it first came to Canada, I just assumed it was a grocery or pharmacy chain, because hitherto those were the only verticals that used pricing words in their names: PriceChopper, Save-on Foods, Pharmasave, Pharmaprix, PirceSmart Foods, No Frills, Value Drug Mart, Familiprix, Lucky Dollar Foods, Valu-Mart, SaveEasy, Lucky Dollar Foods, Thrifty Foods, Uniprix…and that’s enough, because I am running out of breath!

Best Buy predictably took a different approach from British Airways.  Rather than type in the company name, it wants us to type in “lowest price”.  Just in case we don’t understand what “Best Buy” means, we get to stare at the logo while typing in “lowest price”.  After doing this a few dozen times, do you think we’ll get the message?  Obviously Best Buy is banking that we will, and I suspect they are right.

Best Buy Brand Marketing

Then I saw this Club House ad, and clearly they are trying to introduce Twitter users to their Club House Skillet Sauce.  In fact, we have to type out those four words just to follow the person whom we thought we had already followed three steps ago.

This might be effective, or it might actually make people upset with Club House for making them type so many letters. British Airways make us type just two words.  Best Buy makes us type just two words, wisely sticking to “lowest price” and dropping the longer spelling trap “guarantee” to avoid people cursing their name.

Club House Brand Marketing

Then I saw this American Express ad, and they seam to figure people can handle four words, too.  I am sure the folks at American Express and Club House are a lot smarter than me when it comes to these things, but I know how much people hate filling in captchas, and how quickly they’ll forget that this is better than typing some illegible combination of characters and how soon they’ll start grumbling about it being easier to type “lowest price” than “The Gold rewards Card”.  Just sayin’.

American Express Brand Marketing

Advertising sucks. Either it is disruptive to the target market, forcing people away from what they were trying to pay attention to, or it is useless to the advertiser because it fails to force people away from what they were to paying attention to.

But this is advertising that engages the target market. It’s no more disruptive than typing some illegible combination of characters into the captcha box, and it arguably saves people some headaches. Thank you British Airways. Thank you best Buy. Er…I’ll get back to you, Club House and Amex.

[Tweet “Visionary #branding: Branded captchas are ads that engages the target market, even arguably saving people some headaches.]

The best part of this is that TrueTwit can serve up this visionary advertising to a captive audience of suckers they spam every day through other people’s accounts with the message that they have to get “validated”.

Wait, no.  That’s not the best part, come to think of it.  Actually, that really sucks.  But would this idea not be amazing and visionary if applied to a real website that people actually wanted to go to and had a valid reason for making people fill in their captchas?


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Four ways to get your retail business online

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

It’s almost comical to imagine it, but there are still a ton of businesses that are not online.  I know, right?  That includes retailers.  But it is never too late to get online and discover how the Internet can make your business take off, as Brian Young discovered.  He got punched in the face, but you don’t have to take it that far to see why getting online makes good business sense.

Here are a few ways to quickly get online.  There is so much more than this that you can do, of course, if you want to be serious about it.  But this is a start.

Get your retail store online (more…)


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Infographics as business tools

Monday, June 15th, 2015

People think of Infographics as a viral Web tool, but they have a much wider application and a richer history.  Recently, we have been creating Infographics for use in a variety of exciting offline applications, some of which I will be sharing today.

Even as a child, I recall Infographics in newspapers and magazines.  Often they would be maps of unstable areas of the world, trying to explain to us North Americans what was going on visually (because so many of the place names meant nothing to us without the map).  I recall Infographics that helped explain economic trends, because numbers would be confusing without a visual display.

USA Today Infographics

Infographics really came into their own when USA Today was first published. That publication built a lot of its brand on quick and easy-to-digest news, which included visual representations of key take-aways.

To this day, Infographics are an integral part of newspapers and news magazines.  In fact, there is even a blog dedicated to newspaper Infographics.

But for some reason, we talk about Infographics almost exclusively as a viral tool on the Internet. (more…)


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What if Google doesn’t rule the world?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

While getting your site burnt to the ground in Google search is undeniably a huge setback, it is not the end of the world. Before abandoning your website, consider the alternatives to Google search traffic.

When most people think of the word “search engine”, they think about Google. Just “Google it” is even considered a verb by most people. While Google is the number one search engine, and mighty convenient much of the time, it is not the only search option. That is really good news for bloggers and small business owners who have been devastated by the recent Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird blitzes.

In fact, when done right, you can find the other search engines so useful to your business that you might not have to rely on Google search for your business ever again.

Alternatives to Google search

First, Google is not the only search engine. Surprisingly enough, other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Ask, Blekko and DuckDuckGo exist to help you find whatever you are looking for online. These smaller search engines make up approximately 26 percent of searches around the world.

While nowhere near Google’s dominance, over the past year Google has slipped to 67 percent of searches. What that means is that Google’s lead while strong is not infallible to a disruptive search technology – remember when Alta Vista ruled search and Netscape ruled browsers?

Where else do people search?

Second, you could also start searching through directories.  Remember how directories like DMOZ , Aviva and JoeAnt used to be how people found things before search engines took over? In fact, that’s how Google used to find websites.

Niche directories can still be more useful than search engines, such as local city directories (I’ve used Ottawa Start for certain searches.)  You can sometimes find more detailed and categorized information in these directories, and you don’t have to wade through irrelevant results from similar-sounding searches.

Niche directories like Aviva and Technocrati even have blog directories, where you can search for peer bloggers in your niche. This is a superb resource for blog research and blogger outreach.

Third, you might find what you want in video format. Have you ever considered that video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo are just large video search engines? Video is not just for music and old TV shows anymore.  You can find almost any information you want on YouTube.

While YouTube is a Google product, they have their own search engine on the site specifically for videos. Also, Vimeo is a great place to find specific channels with quality information, since they have standards on who is allowed to post content.

Fourth, use Amazon search for your product needs. Amazon can help you find almost any book, electronic, MP3, or product on the planet. With millions of their own products, plus Amazon stores with millions upon millions of additional products, this truly is the search engine of shopping.  Oh, and eBay.  And Kijiji here in Canada.  And Craigslist.  Lots of great places to look for products, new and used.

If you are a retailer, setting up an Amazon store and getting found on their search engine could be more important than being found on Google. Think about this for a second? Would you rather have your clients searching on Google, going from site to site, or on Amazon where they have one click processing for registered users?

Fifth, welcome to the era of social search. Sites like Facebook and Twitter have very dynamic search features. Twitter invented hashtag searches, which are now standard also on Facebook, Pinterest and Google Plus.

Facebook has recently been updating its search recently to try and compete actively with Google search. Its graph search not only takes in the words you are looking for, but also incorporates your own social network in the results. That way, you can search for information that people in your network already provide.

Think about this example for a moment. You write a blog post about “Real Estate Investing.” While that might be a crowded term on Google, you know that a number of your friends on Facebook regularly search for this keyword to build connections.  The next time they do a search on Facebook for real estate investing, you have an increased chance of showing up in their search. What we are talking about here is targeted prospects learning about what you do, and coming to see your content.  So it matters who you know on Facebook.

Google Plus is beginning to use this approach, but it is too early to tell if it will catch on.

Twitter search, while a bit more limited, works in a similar fashion if you want to see who has spoken about specific topics. You can do twitter searches for specific keywords, and find out who is talking about your product and/or industry. This is a great way to prospect for new followers and blog subscribers – much better than using a search engine.

Sixth, industry search engines are also used for business to business searches.  You have to pay for your place in Thomasnet, but it can bring in  a lot of business.  Many companies search for suppliers in busines-to-business search engines. Even if you cannot be found in Google, your listing in a niche search engine can be found when people search Google.

More than one way to be found

As you can see, while Google might rule traditional search, there are still a lot of ways for people to be found via other social networks. The key is to figure out where your target market is, and how they search. Then you can augment your strategy to be found on multiple search engines. My question for you is where do you want to be found online?



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How to instantly establish trust and authority with your website

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Trust is something you have to earn, but impatient customers are ready to let you earn it easily. Here are a few ways to quickly earn their trust.

Understanding your customers and how they buy is critical to how you set about establishing trust and authority in their eyes. My caveat: whatever you read here is valid only to the point that you test it out and decide that it works for you … or that it does not work for you.

In my previous post, I showed how most people shopping for a service from an individual will not seek out articles to determine their level of expertise. They will look for other things. In the case of designers, they will look for visual samples. But for lawyers and accountants and many medical services and others, they will look for other signs of expertise and trust.

And for people shopping for physical products, I mentioned that customers don’t generally look for expertise.  But there are two key trust factors people look for:

1. The manufacturer of a product – that the product is made well.
2. The retailer – that money handed over will result in the product being delivered.

Questions customers askIn many cases, the  website is run by a retailer selling some other company’s products. In other cases, you are both retailer and manufacturer – you sell your own product.

Whether it’s a physical product or a service, people will come to your site and have the following (often unspoken) questions:

  • Is this product any good?
  • Will it deliver what it promises?
  • Will it break or is it durable?
  • Am I getting a good deal?
  • Is it easy to order?
  • Can I trust my money with these guys?
  • Will the product arrive as ordered, unbroken, on time?
  • Can I get it serviced?

Some of these questions will apply to your website, depending on whether you sell a product or a service, whether it is your own or you are just a retailer.

Read Also: Make a Winning eCommerce Shopping Experience

There are many ways to establish trust with your visitors and give them the confidence to order from you. Here are some good ones, but certainly not an exhaustive list. Which ones apply to you, depends on which of the questions above people are asking.

“See it in use” are magic words. If people can see a video of a product actually being used, it is easier to believe that the product will work well. That’s why TV advertising is so effective for physical products. Ideally, show it doing exactly what the text on your website says it can do. Show smiling faces of people pleased with its performance.

Words of praise. Testimonials are very powerful. That is why so many websites feature a testimonials page. This is a good first start; a testimonials page helps you gain trust of people proactively seeking confidence. Unfortunately, it does nothing for those people whose doubts are unspoken.

Words of praise where it counts. For those people whose doubts are unspoken, testimonials need to be right on the sales page. Ideally, each product page should have a testimonial specific to that product. That helps instill confidence in both the product and the seller, and just when it is most needed – at the point where the buyer is ready to decide. This is exactly what I do, as you can see here.

Words of praise that can actually be believed. It is increasingly common knowledge that most online testimonials and reviews are fake. It is a sad commentary on our society, but I don‘t trust online testimonials. However, there are some ways to make them more believable:

  • Add a photo of the person so that it is clear that the testimonial comes from a real person.
  • Even better, a photo of the person with the product.
  • Even better, a photo of the person using the product.
  • Be specific about who the person is, with name and town, if possible.
  • A video testimonial is even more powerful, especially if it is specific.

Offsite reviews. Put to use offsite reviews. Again, these are not always believable, witness the current crisis surrounding Yelp reviews and the widespread marketplace for fake reviews, but if you get positive reviews (real ones), you might as well quote from them and/or link to them on your website.

You have to earn your customers' trustShow its durability. If possible, take a sledge hammer to the product to show its durability. This might not work with crystal glassware; please use discretion. But remember how Tilley built its hat empire on the powerful testimonial of how the hat went through an elephant’s entire digestive system unharmed.

“Elephant trainer Michael Hackenberger of the Bowmanville (Ontario) Zoo, had his Tilley Hat snatched from his head and eaten by an elephant. Three times. Michael later would find and pick up his Hat, wash it thoroughly, and wear it. He had declined to accept a new Tilley Hat in order that we may have his well-traveled Tilley for our museum. (We were secretly pleased!)” Alex Tilley, Ontario.

Unless you are selling a service or a consumable, durability will be an unspoken concern for your visitors.

Offer a guarantee. People trust someone better who is willing to offer a guarantee.  A money-back guarantee works best. In my experience, people never ask for a money back guarantee for a physical product unless it really is broken or doesn’t work. However, for services, I have found there to be a lot of scam clients. Here is an example:

The client wanted her resume edited and cover letter written (not something we normally do), pleaded poverty for a discount (we should never have given the discount – lesson learned?) then needed two versions of the letter prepared (which we did at no extra charge). When it was delivered, she went straight to the Better Business Bureau seeking 100% refund of her discounted price because she found a missing comma and a run-on sentence. The comma she could have just inserted, and the run-on sentence actually read quite well (and we are always happy to edit anyway as part of our standard service, anyway).

Fortunately, these don’t happen every day, but they do happen sometimes, and there is often a lot of money involved (we don’t sell $10 items). So we can not offer a money-back guarantee, but we do offer a no-questions-asked escape clause in all our contracts. If you are not happy with how a writing project is proceeding, just call it off and we will settle based on how much of the work has been completed.  This is something we have never promoted; maybe we should.

Trust logos. Speaking of Better Business Bureau, displaying their logo is a symbol of trust. A professional accreditation logo works well, too. There are also trust logos related to security of payments that are worth adding. Proper placement of these can make a huge difference in conversions.  Customers need to trust you, your product, your payments and your delivery.

Read Also: 12 ways to brag without bragging online

“As seen in” logos. People trust the media. They say the media can’t be trusted, but they lie. If they see something in the newspaper or on TV, they generally believe it.  (Here is why, in case you are interested.) That’s why “As seen on TV” products sell so well. So it is worth adding as-seen-in logos to your website. You can see how this is done at www.PlantingMoneySeeds.com.

Introduce yourself. Add a video of yourself welcoming people to your website. This is common for consultants to do, but it can help any website. When people can see who they are doing business with, they are more likely to trust them than if they are just dealing with an anonymous website.  People like the convenience of shopping online, but they still like to know whom they are dealing with.  This is particularly worthwhile if you are an unknown brand.

Craft details. Describe in meticulous detail with text, diagrams, pictures and video all the care that has gone into crafting the product. It doesn’t matter what the product is, even if “craft” is not a word you would associate with it.  Show the love, the care, the attention to detail.  This will increase people’s trust in the product and in the manufacturer – and the likelihood that they will buy.

Online chat. Just having the chat available, even if it isn’t used, gives customers peace of mind.  They know that you are there if they need you. That alone can be enough to convince them to trust you with their money. Posting full contact details (address, phone and email) helps them trust also that you won’t be here today, gone tomorrow when they need help.  This is especially true if the product seems complicated and people worry that they might need help assembling or setting it up.

You don’t have to take all of these measures. Many won’t apply to your specific product or service. But the more of them you include, the more comfortable people will be trusting you with their money and making a purchase from your website.


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Content marketing is not king of trust

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Content marketing is very useful, but rarely for establishing trust and clinching a sale.

“Content is king.” Who could have guessed that those prophetic words by Bill Gates would today be such a well-worn phrase as to be taken for Gospel truth by pretty much everyone in 2014?

And who could have guessed that those same words would have taken on the misguided meaning that content marketing is king, with the 2014 gold rush to anything that can be labeled “content marketing”.

Content marketing can draw customers inDon’t get me wrong – content marketing is a very powerful tool for many businesses in a number of different circumstances. But the mass migration to the “content marketing” buzzword in 2014 will undoubtedly lead many, many businesses to take up something that is of little value to them, and use it for the wring reasons with predictably unsatisfactory results.

The context for the content marketing craze is the realization that authority is what people and now search engines are looking for.

Well, yes, that is true. It always has been. Google always measured website authority and trust; that’s what PageRank was (still is?) all about, as well as numerous measures of topical relevance, the longevity of a domain and how trustworthy are the websites that link to it. The difference now is that Google seems to have come up with a means of measuring an individual’s authority and trust.

Of course, the expertise of an individual is important when judging the value of his or her advice. However, no algorithm can do anything but make a rough guess on that point.

How does “authority” translate into marketing your business? Is content the marketing king? I recently found myself in a discussion with someone who insisted that content marketing is crucial because you have to build trust to make a sale, and expertise is the basis for trust.

The premise of his argument is that:

A) People read articles as part of the sales process.
B) People follow writers until eventually deciding to buy.

I disagreed, at least for most businesses.

Before going any further, let’s agree – and I think we can – that there are many types of businesses and there are many types of customers. One size does not fit all. The question for each business to determine is what methods fit its sales process and target market.

Let’s also put aside the usefulness of content marketing in the funnel, and content that is actually part of the buying process (demos, product descriptions, etc.), well expressed by Tom Shivers. Those are fairly widely useful, and not at all about building a reputation in the hopes that eventually readers will buy.

When you are the product, such as if you are a consultant or a writer or a designer, your expertise is crucial – no question about that. Trust in you as an individual and in your expertise (authority?) is your main selling point.

When the product is ball bearings or sandals, nobody cares about you as an individual. Yes, trust is crucial, but authority is not. What do they care about?

1. The manufacturer of a product – that the product is made well.
2. The retailer – that money handed over will result in the product being delivered.

Read Also: Make a Winning eCommerce Shopping Experience

In Part II of this discussion (next blog post) we will look at how to build the trust and confidence for a product (hint, it’s not by writing articles or designing Infographics) and for a retailer, too.  For now, let’s look at when the product is you – when authority can be part of the trust equation.

Nobody chooses a web designer for their articles.The number of purchases people make that are in fact expertise purchases is substantial. Consider the following services:

  • Legal help.
  • Accounting.
  • Web design.
  • Marketing.
  • Pest control.
  • Real estate agent.
  • Financial adviser.
  • Healthcare practitioner.
  • Trainer or educator.
  • Pet groomer.
  • Home renovator.

In all these cases, the individual’s expertise is crucial to the value one gets from buying, so authority on a subject matter could have a direct link to consumer trust.

One of the premises of the importance of content marketing as a means of building trust and using expertise to make sales is that people will follow you (and perhaps several competitors) for a while before deciding that you are the person to hire.

This might be the case with financial advisers, marketing help and web design. And maybe if you are planning a move in advance, you would do the same thing for a real estate agent. These are services that you might know about well in advance and might start shopping around before you are ready to make the purchase. And you might very well read their articles to get an idea of what their approach is, if you feel qualified to make some kind of judgment.

Or you might just read their sales pages and look at other trust indicators – ones that take less time and attention that reading through articles – that we’ll be discussing in my follow-up post, and maybe fill in a query form and engage in a few questions.

In fact, for web design, marketing and so many other services, a visual gallery of past projects is more likely what customers want to look at. They don’t usually have the patience to read through reams of words that they know they are unqualified to judge. But most people do feel comfortable looking at pictures and deciding if that looks professional and trustworthy.

I am not saying that articles on a website are useless. I am saying to think carefully about what a prospective customer will look for, on what basis they will decide that you have the expertise to deliver, and create the content that will be most effective – and often it is not articles or Infographics.

Who chooses a real estate agent for their articles?What about a lawyer? Chances are that you won’t even look for a lawyer until suddenly you need to hire one. You won’t read their articles for months before deciding to hire one. The same thing with accounting. And with pest control. People will not read tons of articles to decide if you are trustworthy; they will make a very quick decision – they need to find help fast!

In fact, I’ll take this argument one step further. Even if you are a financial planner or a real estate agent or a marketing consultant, what percentage of your prospects do research months in advance, and what percentage wait until the last minute, search on Google or Bing (maybe comparing a few websites), ask friends for recommendations and make a flash decision whom to contact and most likely end up hiring?

Of course, if you are shopping for car parts, clothing, gadgets, etc, no individual’s expertise will factor into the buying process.

The reality is that for the vast majority of businesses – even those based upon the expertise of an individual – informative articles on a topic will not be a major factor in converting visitors into customers.  There are more effective ways to establish trust, as we will discuss in the follow-up article.

That does not mean articles are useless, just not a priority in establishing trust within the sales conversion process.

Nor does that mean that article marketing, video marketing and Infographics are useless, just not as a means of establishing trust with visitors to most websites.

What content marketing does very well is to draw in people who are not yet shopping, people who are gathering information and might not yet know that they need your services – top of the funnel. They seek information, in so doing they find your article, they read, they learn, they realize that maybe they need professional help, they visit your website…and then hopefully you can make the sale.

In my next post I will discuss what, rather than articles and “content marketing”, will establish trust with potential customers once they are on your website.


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A social media monitoring success story

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Smart brands are monitoring social media to track their reputation and following up with action. This is the story of one such smart brand.

So here I am, working remotely once again from my favourite office away from home – the Ottawa Public Library. I wrote about this set-up on my lifestyle blog, not from a marketing perspective, but focusing instead on the flexibility that working remotely allows me to have with family life.

I mentioned the service I use to access my desktop computer, back at my home office, remotely from the library: LogMeIn.com. I did not really do a review of the service, as I have nothing to compare it to. And I was very frank about the advantages of the service as well as the weaknesses. But all in all, it was a positive experience, and I reported it as such.

And I tweeted it. Here is the tweet (It’s a good one; don’t be shy to retweet it.):



And that’s where the branding fun began. Interestingly, I did not tweet #LogMeIn or @LogMeIn. But the folks at LogMeIn were obviously paying attention, because they messaged me via Twitter for my address. A few days later, a courier arrived with a care package from LogmeIn. Look at all the promotional items they sent me in appreciation for having blogged about their service.

We can always use new water bottles around here. And pens, of course. And I know my daughters will love the little iPod speaker port when I release it to them, as well as the ear plugs. Nice sticker, too, although perhaps less useful. The playing cards will be a hit when one of our current decks burns out, and we need another deck for Dame de Pique or Sequence. And who doesn’t need more pens? (The hats were already on the mantle.)

Tweet this: “Look what brand really ‘gets’ social media.”

Why was it smart to send these promotional items to me? Well, for starters, I am a user of their services and it will build loyalty. Yes, I do feel more positive about LogMeIn because of the gesture.

Perhaps they thought I would be likely to share a pic of these items on Instagram or on Pinterest, and as a blogger who is at least somewhat connected, that would be good promotion for them. (Answer: yes to Pinterest, no to Instagram).

Perhaps they are trying to build brand ambassadors.

They might hope this will inspire me to upgrade to “pro”.

Perhaps they figured I might write about them again, and it never hurts to show your appreciation. After all, in any networking situation the two most important words are “Thank you” – even more important that “How can I help you?” If that was the case, they were right, because here I am writing about them.

Read Also: Case Study on how NOT to do reputation management

Of course, as a social media strategist myself, I am more keenly aware than many people of how a brand is using social media. But I suspect that most bloggers would also sit up and take notice.

Are you monitoring your brand on social media? Are you taking advantage of positive opportunities as much as trying to fix negative situations? Any time your brand is mentioned, you should know about it and take action. And that action should be…

  • Turn a disgruntled customer into an advocate.
  • Consolidate an advocate
  • Provide more fuel for advocates to use

I have no idea how consistent LogMeIn’s social media monitoring and follow-up are; I can base my opinions only on how they followed up with me. And for that, they get an A+ in social media marketing.


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Why DIY videos are poised to take the marketing world by storm

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

I’ll be the first to admit that I prefer text over video for most things.  I can quickly scan text to see if I am interested.  Even if presented with a video, I prefer to skim the transcript before investing ten minutes – or even one minute – watching a video.

But the reality is that there are just as many people – perhaps even more – who find reading to be more work than watching a video.

And study after study shows that conversions rise with media variety.  So text is good.  Text and images are better.  Text, images and video are better still.

But video is costly and time-consuming to produce. Or is it?

DIY video to the rescue

The old-fashioned way of doing video was to hire a videographer – essentially film a movie, with all the multiple cameras and personnel and scripting and staging that is involved.  But in recent years, people have been producing their own videos online.

Still, these videos generally take time to produce, so automated solutions are becoming more and more common.  In fact, three new DIY video services have  been announced so far in 2013.  The most advanced of these by far is Tawki, which just launched its crowdfunding campaign on IndieGogo: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/new-fun-social-video-channel

Tawki: One Click, Animate

Fair disclosure: I am a partner in the Tawki project, and very excited to be pushing technology in two unique ways.

The first way that Tawki is pushing the envelope is one that relates directly to the focus of this article.  Namely, that by making DIY video creation even simpler and faster and less work, it will become an increasingly integral part of marketing campaigns even at the low end of the marketing spectrum.

Consider the renovations contractor at the end of a job (or picture any other small business you know ).  He goes to Tawki and uploads a series of snapshots he took during the job, adds a couple keywords and hits “Mix!”  Instantly, the Tawki mixer algorithm goes to work.  By the time he returns from the washroom, he has a complete professional video with transitions and appropriate music on his desktop.

He can add his website URL, company name, phone number – whatever he wishes – and with a click of a button share it on social media accounts or upload to his website.

Or, to really stand out from the crowd, one more click can add animation – but that’s another exciting story for another blog post.  😉

DIY video for bloggers

Adding video to blogs - quoteBloggers, pay attention.  You know how much more effective your posts are with images, right?  And finding good images you can legally use is a time-consuming pain right?  So video surely must take longer, right?


Let’s say you run a renovations blog, just to keep to the same theme as earlier.  You go to Tawki with no photos in hand, no video clips, nothing but keywords.  You punch in those keywords: granite, kitchen counters, sink, faucet,… then one click and when you return from the washroom, you have a complete professional video with transitions and appropriate music on your desktop.

Adding video to your blog, your online store, your marketing emails, your social media campaigns has just become quicker and easier than adding images.  That is a watershed that will vastly change the nature of marketing over the next couple years.

Tawki is not the only player that will make this happen.  Several others are making it pretty easy, but none of them have quite as simple a one-click environment as Tawki.  We know that if we want to jump into a hot niche like DIY videos, we had better offer something that leaves the others in the dust.

I invite you to join Tawki on IndieGogo and help us make digital history. Yes, even a small donation helps in a big way!  Here are three of the easier-to-afford perks we are offering.  Just click on any one to join this campaign.


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“There can be only one” Highlander and SEO

Friday, April 5th, 2013

I’ve written about how content marketing is cooperative. I’ve written about blogger collaboration and why it’s important to partner with fellow web marketers.

But there is one part of web marketing that is pure bloodsport: SEO. Ranking is search engines is a cut-throat fight to the death. So draw your sword and prepare for battle.

It’s just like the 1986 classic movie, Highlander. Just like immortal swordsmen, walking the earth, we all meet at the Gathering of the search results page. Hundreds of millions of times each day, Google is showing top 10 lists. And there’s only one spot at the top of Google for a given phrase. There can be only one…

Ranking high matters. A lot…

There’s more to life than marketing and more to marketing than search, but ranking high makes a big difference. just ask anyone who has ranked low and climbed or ranked high and fallen.

The top ranked site gets a lot more traffic than number two, and number two gets a lot more than number three. The correlation between rank and clicks is logarithmic. In other words, high ranking pages get exponentially more traffic than lower ranking pages.

Yes, before you decapitate me in the comments, I’ll agree that there are many other factors in clickthrough rates on search results pages, such as branding, relevance, rich snippets and Google Authorship. But generally speaking, higher rank means more clicks.

Source: Optify

Here are some tips that Ramirez might have taught Conner McCleod had they been search marketers:

  • Pick your battles. Don’t rush out and pick a fight with the Kurgen right away. Work your way up through smaller battles and less competitive keyphrases. It would be wonderful to rank for that high volume phrase, but the competition would skewer you.
  • Don’t get too attached. She might be pretty, but you shouldn’t get too hooked on one phrase, one social network, one tracking tool, one writer, one partner site. Someday you’ll have to say goodbye.
  • Never give up. Even if you’re not immortal, you need to be patient. Ranking high for a good phrase can be the work of years. But keep fighting. Trust, with search engines and humans, takes time to build.

Finally, here’s a top-rank tip that everyone can use:

Make sure you rank #1 for something…
Even if it’s a low-volume keyphrase that doesn’t drive much traffic, even if it’s a four-word phrase that people rarely search for, it’s good to rank first for something. It builds credibility off-line when you tell people you rank first in Google for “samurai sword identification expert.”

This is about thought leadership and personal branding. To make it work, focus efforts on one page with a highly relevant (but low search volume) phrase. Pay close attention to keyword researchand on-page SEO. If the phrase isn’t competitive, you’ll soon see yourself at the top of search results. If you add the two links that make Google Authorship possible, you’ll see your face right there in search results.

Now, when you talk about your business, use the phrase, smile and suggest that the listener search for it.

Ramirez: Patience, Highlander. You have done well. But it’ll take time. You are generations being born and dying. You are at one with all living things. Each man’s thoughts and dreams are yours to know. You have power beyond imagination. Use it well, my friend.

See you at the Gathering…

This post is the third in series of movie-themed web marketing posts. Check out Die Hard SEO and Coffee is for Bloggers.


Guest blogger Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. He’s also the author of Content Chemistry, An Illustrated Guide to Content Marketing You can find Andy on and Twitter.


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Free Blog Planner to make blogging easier

Monday, February 11th, 2013

This is a guest post by Sicorra of Tackling Our Debt.

It is has been 2 months since I created this Blog Planner on Excel and it has made a huge difference to the way I do things when it comes to working on Tackling Our Debt.

I created this blog planner on the spur of the moment. I was tired of having post-it notes all over my desk to remind me about things, as well as other notes randomly thrown into a spreadsheet.

Prior to using the Blog Planner I would stumble through each day doing what I thought I needed to do but never really having a specific plan of what needed to be done to achieve my ultimate goals.

Daily Checklist

Now the first thing I do after logging on to my laptop is open my copy of the Blog Planner and head straight to the Daily Checklist page.

Each week of the year is setup so that I can see the exact tasks that need to be done on a day by day basis. The task list reminds me to do everything I need to do when publishing a new blog post.

Below that is a section of reminders for blog hopping, social media and dealing with emails.

There may be days in the week that I don’t publish a new post but I still follow the task list to do all of the other things necessary to network with others and to market my blog.


Once all of the tasks on the daily checklist are done it is easy to move on and see what else is scheduled to be done that day. The weekly-to-do-list makes this part quite easy. If it’s on the list for that particular day, then it needs to get done. If it isn’t, then I don’t even worry about it.

Now that doesn’t mean that everything always goes as planned and that every single task gets done on time, but now at least I have a clear indication of what did and didn’t get done each day.

For the tasks that didn’t get done I can easily use the weekly calendar to quickly find another free day to reschedule those tasks on.

But the bigger advantage is the sense of accomplishment you feel when you are able to check off all of the tasks that did in fact get done each day and each week.

That is a big part of what motivates me to keep going. The second part of what keeps me motivated to keep going is the amazing results. Sometimes they are instant and sometimes they appear months down the road. But they are always very important.

Editorial Calendar

I know many people use a hand written Editorial Calendar or one that they find in WordPress.

My blog isn’t on WordPress so I didn’t have that.

So for most of last year I was just writing blog posts and publishing them with no specific plan. I still managed to get posts uploaded for up to 2 sometimes 3 weeks in advance, which was nice, but there was no plan around any of them.

Now, using the Editorial Calendar, I can add in topics of posts, specific titles, giveaways, sponsored posts, and so on, weeks and months in advance. And if something changes at the last minute I can easily re-arrange my schedule to fit the changes in nicely.

Another advantage of using the Editorial Calendar is that if you decide to write a series of posts on a specific topic you can easily setup your schedule for that and fit in your other posts accordingly.

You can create blog posts based on specific themes. This is best done if you setup your schedule for several months in advance. For example, you can use it to create a weekly or monthly theme, such as small business week, or work from home week. And then all of the posts that you write on that topic can be published and post-dated for that week or month.

Importance of SEO

If you are in this for the long haul and enjoy watching your traffic stats rise then you need to begin paying attention to SEO as you work on your blog. Why? Because of the residual benefits.

You see many people will visit your blog and read the most current post and typically leave without looking at what else you have written.

But you don’t want that to always be the case.

You want the blog posts that you write today to be found online tomorrow, next week and for many years to come, should you continue to blog that long.

You want the search engines to index your blog posts and you want your blog posts to show up when someone searches for something that you have written about.

This is often referred to as “organic traffic”, and when you look at your Google Analytics under traffic sources you should see a line with that says “google / organic”.

Organic traffic is the best traffic you can receive!

It happens because your blog posts were found by someone that was specifically looking for a topic that you wrote about. And chances are very good that once they click on your link, in amongst all of the other links listed, they will have a strong interest in reading your work.

How Does SEO Fit In With The Blog Planner?

As you begin jotting down your thoughts for a new post or series of posts in the Editorial Calendar you want to make sure that each post is based around a specific keyword phrase.

Once your post is written the next step is to come up with an attention grabbing title that includes your keywords.

Your title shouldn’t include more than 10 words and it should give people a reason to click on it.

Instead of your title just meaning something to you, it needs to mean something to everyone else.

For example, “Save Money”, is far too generic, as is “Blogger Roundup”.

“25 Incredible Ways to Immediately Reduce Your Living Expenses”, will attract more readers.

As well, by focusing on the keyword phrase “reduce your living expenses” in your blog post you stand a much better chance of showing up in Google when someone does a search on that phrase. You may have an SEO plug-in installed that you can use as you publish new posts, but do not rely on that 100%. Take some time to do a few extra steps as part of your SEO strategy for every blog post you publish.

Now we all know that there is more to SEO then a good title and a specific keyword phrase, but focusing on those two items is a very good start.

Download the Blog Planner

If you love blogging and feel that you could be more organized then you already are, please feel free to click on Blog Planner and download a copy of my digital based Blog Planner and get it setup to meet your needs. You will find that it also includes separate pages for you to keep track of your blog stats, conferences, renewal dates, a contact list, blog expenses, advertisers, interviews, special projects and giveaways.

Sicorra is a freelance writer that is figuring out how to tackle debt as she blogs about topics such as Personal Finance, Health, Travel, Work From Home, Food & Drink, and more. You can also find her at her personal blog Tackling Our Debt.




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