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Posts from November 2006

November 29, 2006

Link Building Strategy – "SEO’s Holy Grail" (Part 2)

In the first part of this post, I discussed the importance of link relevancy and consistency to a link building campaign. In this part, I will discuss the type of sites that search engines tend to like the most, the importance of link anchor text and establishing natural linking patterns.

Hubs and Authorities

Hubs are sites that contain a large number of outbound links to relevant, high-quality sites. Authorities, on the other hand, are sites that contain a large number of inbound links from high-quality, relevant sites. These are the two types of sites that modern search engines consider to be the most important. You can position your site as one or the other, but it is best to try to become both.

If your site already has a large number of relevant outbound links, your strategy could involve building more inbound links – preferably from other hubs or authorities. A good place to start would be the sites that you are linking to. Whenever possible, try to have all of your outbound links reciprocated. On the other hand, if your site already has a large number of relevant inbound links, your strategy could involve building more outbound links. For example, creating a links/resources page on your site, containing links to an assortment of related sites that you feel your users would find valuable.

Remember, you don’t always have to point to another site’s homepage. Likewise, you shouldn’t have all of your inbound links pointing to your homepage. To strengthen the relevancy of your link profile, always direct your links (outbound and inbound) to the most specific page possible.

The importance of anchor text and natural linking patterns

Evaluating link anchor text (or link text) is a major component of how search engines determine link relevance, and will likely become even more significant in the future. Oftentimes, inbound links simply contain a company name or url. Whenever possible, try to have your targeted keyword phrases included in all links pointing to your site and make sure that each link points to the most appropriate page.

It is often a good idea to supply a potential link partner with the actual HTML markup that you would like them to use. You may even want to suggest the most appropriate spot for them to place the link on their site.

Search engine representatives have specifically stated that they want linking to occur naturally. Without going in to too much detail, they use different types of language processing technologies to determine the relationship between the content found on different sites. If a search engine identifies (what it believes to be) an unnatural looking link pattern, it will likely consider it to be spam.

A good way to avoid this problem is to vary your link anchor text – make it look natural. Use different keyword variations and synonyms in the links that point to your site. But, make sure that the keywords you use are specific to the content that the link is pointing to. Don’t use the same anchor text in all of your links (or even the majority). If all of your links appear identical they may be flagged by the search engines.

Additional tip: Varying your link anchor text can also help you capture the long tail of search. Sometimes you will be able to target keyword variations in your links that you aren’t able to include in your on-page content.

Stay tuned for the third installment to David’s Link Building Strategy – “SEO’s Holy Grail”

November 28, 2006

Robin Whalen On The CMA's Direct Marketing Conference

Robin Whalen, conference chair at the CMA’s Direct Marketing Conference and Group Account Director at MacLaren McCann, shares her impressions after the conference.

In this 1:44 video clip Robin talks about how the CMA tried new formats at the conference, such as concurrent lectures and unconferences, to bring a new twist to this annual event.

Five Questions For Mark Goodman, CEO Twist Image

Mark Goodman is the CEO of Twist Image. Twist Image is an award-winning digital marketing agency that connects today’s channels to tomorrow’s world by applying technology at every marketing stage and all consumer touch points. Mark was the Founder and President of FCB Direct which he helped build into one of Canada’s largest Direct Marketing agencies. He is a Board Member of the Canadian Marketing Association and is a recipient of the prestigious “Top 40 Under 40” Award from the Globe & Mail Report on Business Magazine.

One Degree: FCB to Twist Image is a big leap. What do you expect the major difference to be from your traditional agency experience and what you’ll find at Twist Image?

Not as big of a leap as one might think. At the foundation, marketing strategy development practices are similar between direct and digital. We create communications programs that revolve around creativity, targeting, offer structure, testing and measuring every step of the way. Of course, there is such a strong history of knowledge in the database marketing world to draw from, whereas in digital, the road is still being paved. So we need to balance the two strategies; in direct, we can almost guarantee a certain result, in digital, it takes a few more iterations to find the sweet spot.

The big difference is in the philosophy of the Agency and the team. Marketing in the interactive space is evolving so quickly. Twist Image has been successful by knowing where the space, and consumers, are heading. It is pretty much a full time job for us to stay at this leading edge to ensure our clients continue to win in marketing. Oh yes, one more thing. Speed of business is much faster online. We start and finish projects in hours, not weeks.

One Degree: You’ve got a solid direct marketing background. How do you think Direct Marketers have done when it comes to leveraging their experience when moving to the Internet?

I think direct marketers are a natural for online marketing. Both share a science for their disciplines, and both understand the importance of measuring results from prospecting right through to the final sale and continuing on to evaluate lifetime value of customers. Another core strength of direct marketing is in the rigour of testing. That has translated seamlessly to the online world. One other aspect comes to mind as well. Direct has always made interactivity with the communication a significant part of the creative because it generates more engagement with the offer and a better response. I have seen some great examples of online marketers using this practice with great success.

Continue reading "Five Questions For Mark Goodman, CEO Twist Image" »

QotD: Can A Video Card Have Friends?

A while ago Matt Williams sent me this…

    I was just downloading the latest nVidia drivers for my new GFX card and guess what? nVidia has their own MySpace page. Is this a new, serious marketing medium? I always thought of MySpace to be a social networking site, but how do you socialize with a corporation that manufactures graphics cards? Are they just out there to get people who use their cards to be “friends” to advertise the strength of their product? Are they hoping that the friends of these people will see their buddies using the nVidia cards and follow suit?

So, let’s help Matt out here folks. What do you think of the nVidia Myspace page and the concept of companies engaging in social networks this way. Comment below and share your wisdom…

November 27, 2006

Five Questions For James Sherrett, AdHack

James Sherrett is the man behind AdHack, a new "Do It Yourself Advertising Community”.  Hailing originally from Winnipeg, he moved to Vancouver in 1998, and began working in large companies, at the intersection point between technology, culture, creativity, and communications. In addition to creating AdHack, James is a published author, an amateur photographer, and runs his own consulting firm; Work Industries.

One Degree: You describe Adhack as a “Do It Yourself Advertising Community”.  What the heck does that mean?

First of all, ‘do-it-yourself.’ To me, do-it-yourself means:

  • The masses (all of us) have seized the tools required to make professional ads
  • We’re voicing our opinions in public spaces: blogs, review sites, word of mouth
  • We’re connecting with each other in innovative ways
  • We’re looking at existing ads and thinking, “I can do better than that.”

AdHack is the manifestation of our collective conversations about the things we buy. What does that mean? Here’s a real-world scenario. My brother Scott and I do triathlons together. We’re beginners but we’re keen. He’s just earned his annual bonus at work and wants to buy a bike. He asks me about my bike, a Trek 1200. I tell him it rocks my socks: I love riding it, it was the right price for me, I can upgrade the components when I want, it’s light and sturdy and I feel like I can fly when I’m on it.

That quick conversation with me about the bike is the way my brother and I, and most people, make many of our purchase decisions. We ask people we know, people we trust about their experiences. It’s also how lots of us love to share our experiences. By adding my story to AdHack I can help other people who are also looking for a bike.

Enter the ‘advertising community’ part of AdHack. I love the bike so much that I add my story of the Trek 1200 to AdHack – as a video, a written note, photos, audio. It doesn’t matter, AdHack accepts all media. My story is credible, my other opinions and offerings to the site make me a trusted source, other members of the AdHack community back up my claims regarding the bike, and my story gains a certain popularity. AdHack can then approach Trek and show them the community and excitement around this particular bike, and basically sell the ad or ad concepts to Trek. AdHack splits that payment with the community member(s) who contributed the ad.

Or, my story of buying a Trek 1200 could have been scathing. The gears stick, the frame rivets are starting to rust and I feel nervous descending hills because the bike feels like it’s coming apart at the seams. I tell that story on AdHack and it resonates, building a momentum, because it’s the real deal. AdHack takes that feedback to Trek and helps them drive product innovation from it, delivering the real-world feedback on their product. All kinds of other opportunities can then present themselves. Companies can commission ads from the AdHack community. Companies can test ads in the AdHack community. We can make t-shirts. The possibilities become pretty endless as long as keep it authentic for the community.

One Degree: What’s wrong with the way we make ads now?

There are plenty of folks doing great thinking and writing about what’s wrong with the way we make ads now (Russell Davies, Umair Haque, Scott Karp, the folks at Leo Burnett Toronto, Joseph Jaffe) so I’ll defer to their expertise on that question. My focus with AdHack is on how to get better ads – ads that mean something to the people who make them and ads that mean something to the people who watch / read / see / listen to them. Today almost every single ad I see has no value to me. I don’t know the person or people who made it. I don’t trust the message and I frankly don’t care. I think that AdHack can change that and invert the current structure so that we get ads that mean something.

Continue reading "Five Questions For James Sherrett, AdHack" »

4 Internet Marketing Lessons From My Mexican Holiday

Gentle ocean breeze, white powder sand, Mai Tais hand delivered to an umbrella protected beach chair – yes indeed, there’s nothing like a week’s vacation in the Mexican Riviera. I’ve included a picture of my hotel here just to help those of you currently struck at your desks to find the motivation to take your own trip sometime soon.


But what, you might be asking, does any of this vacation boasting have to do with internet marketing (the philosophical foundation of our special onedegree.ca). Lots, it seems. To outline this point, I have included here “Michael’s 4 Internet Marketing Lessons from my Mexican holiday”.

Lesson 1: Travel Review sites are really just fancy words for “Blogs” about travel.

I use www.tripadvisor.com and I love it. Do you remember when your only source of online information on a hotel came from the hotel chain itself? It was the sound of one hand’s thunderous self-applause. Well, now there is a real-time forum for discussion on virtually any hotel or resort in the world, along with rankings and pictures and real people to ask questions to who just got back from where you are thinking of going. The consumer value of user generated content in the travel industry has turned 60 year old grandmothers from Wichita into blogging machines without them even knowing it. Move over Paul Theroux!

Lesson 2: The traditional travel industry still hasn’t realized that the Internet has changed its business model forever.

My wife (who is also an Internet professional) really wanted to use the local travel agent. She argued that she was really nice and helpful and close to our house. My wife even started the search for our holiday with her and got prices and availability options. But what came apparent very quickly is that as we wanted more information over a period of days, the restrictions on the agent’s working hours and availability became a huge bottleneck in our search, and eventually we turned to the Internet to get all of the information we needed in real time (in this case using www.selloffvacations.com). Even still, my wife was committed to booking with the local person. Unfortunately, we made our final decision to book a special available deal on Saturday morning and she didn’t work on the weekends. We had no choice but to book our holiday through the “always open, always on”, Internet travel service. That industry will not survive without changing.

Continue reading "4 Internet Marketing Lessons From My Mexican Holiday" »

What's a Domain Name Really Worth?

I'm often asked by people who own, or want to own, a domain name to give my opinion on what the "fair market value" of a particular domain name is.

I usually begin my reply by mentioning that the vast majority of domain names sold on the re-sale market go for less than $1,000. This is greeted by sighs of relief from the folks who want to buy a domain name, and gasps of incredulity from the folks who own a domain name: "Well, my domain name is worth much more than that..."

I then outline some (but not all) of the criteria that, in my opinion, make a domain name more valuable than others:

Continue reading "What's a Domain Name Really Worth?" »

Ron Kunitzky on SMS Direct Marketing

Ron Kunitzky, president of Geyser Consulting, presented how companies can create strategic partnerships to better grow their business at the Canadian Marketing Association’s Direct Marketing Conference.

Speaking to a portion of  attendees, while others went to a different concurrent presentation, Ron shared multiple case studies on how strategic partnerships can allow businesses to tap into a companies’ customer base without sourcing them out themselves. Throughout his presentation Ron stresses how partnerships are everywhere, and picking the best medium and method for partnering is where companies can really see their market share, and profits, grow.

In this 3:44 video clip Ron shares his insight on how he feels emergent and up-and-coming mobile phone technologies will allow companies with large member/customer bases to optimize new revenue streams.  Ron shares examples and insight into how such a scenario can be realized.

Link Building Strategy - "SEO's Holy Grail" (Part 1)

The importance of links to a Web site’s search engine position is no longer a secret. As search engines have evolved, link building has become critical to search visibility. Today’s search engines are looking for new ways to provide searchers with the most appropriate content possible and link analysis is currently the method of choice. Simply put – without paying attention to link building, your site will never meet its ranking potential. But, before you run off to find as many links to your site as possible, keep in mind that there are good ways to build links and there are bad ways.

Link building must be tied to your overall Web site strategy. It is the most tedious and time consuming component of the SEO process – but it is well worth the effort. Because link building is such a broad (and important) topic, I decided to split this post up in to a series of installments. For this part, I will discuss the importance of link relevancy and consistency.

The difference between link popularity and link relevance

Link popularity refers to the number of other sites/pages that link to your site/pages. This used to be the focus of link building, but with the evolution of modern “theme-based” search engines, and the amount of link spamming that has taken place over the past years, it has now become much less important. Link relevancy is determined by the context of a site that is linking to you and the content found on that site. If a search engine is able to identify a common theme between your site and the sites that are linking to you, it will consider your site to be much more relevant to related search terms.

Think of inbound links as endorsements for your site. When other site owners choose to link to you, they are basically telling the search engines (and their users of course) that they feel your site is valuable. This is exactly what search engines are looking for. One well-positioned, highly relevant link from a quality/authoritative source is worth hundreds of low quality links from unrelated sites.

Continue reading "Link Building Strategy - "SEO's Holy Grail" (Part 1)" »

November 23, 2006

"Uncle" Marcus Evans On CRM Initiatives

Marcus_evans_cma Marcus Evans, president at Proximity Canada, presented a cheeky but informative presentation on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiatives at the Canadian Marketing Association’s Direct Marketing Conference.
Throughout his presentation he emphasized the long-term nature of CRM’s, and how their initial financial loss is offset by long-term customer appreciation and loyalty.

Marcus’ presentation, laden with practical real-world CRM examples, is a presentation all audience members could learn something from.  What should have been taken from the presentation is that a CRM relationship has to be a strong bond between brand and consumer. Marcus likened a CRM to the relationship a woman has with her hairdresser – an extremely personal one.  In order for a CRM to be a success, companies need to think as if their “CRM is a whole new way of doing business.”

In his presentation Marcus outlined 6 elements that can torpedo CRM initiatives:

  1. Not starting with a clear destination in mind
  2. Straying from the path
  3. Short-termism
  4. Not embracing the paradigm
  5. Tactical rational vs. strategic emotional
  6. Getting cheap

These 6 pet peeves were elaborated on, with examples of brands with excellent CRM models – oddly enough, Air Canada was one of them. In this 3:33 video clip Marcus shares with One Degree a successful story of how offline relationships were merged with online branding experiences to yield positive results. (Please excuse the video’s darkness)

November 22, 2006

Illumination 2006 - A Direct Marketing Recap

I had the privilege of attending yesterday’s Canadian Marketing Associations Direct Marketing Conference in downtown Toronto. The conference was filled with dynamic presentations with both American and Canadian perspectives, as well as the option for attendees to chose between two simultaneous presentations, each with different topics. Presenters highlighted the many different facets of direct marketing, and really exemplified the media neutral nature the conference.

The most important concept marketers should have drawn from the presentations and discussions is to think outside of notions of conventional direct marketing, and really expand your horizons. The multitude of successful real-world marketing strategies presented at the conference illustrated how to marry mediums like direct mail with online video, or partnering with other companies to share like-minded customer bases. Innovative techniques illustrated positive ROI, and showed how to successfully integrate a multitude of mediums to yield positive results.

This week One Degree will feature profiles of some of the presenters, as well as interviews and discussions on new direct marketing strategies. In the meantime, check out photos from the event on our Flickr Set.

My Christmas Wishlist: Make Wishlists Better

It’s the 2006 Holidays, and Canadian retailers still keep their stores and website at arms length from each other.  Each side is guilty of hording their data, offering promos that only work with the Line of Business (LOB), and generally pretending the other doesn’t exist. It’s time to stop this trend and have the two realms work together not against each other.

Let me give you an example of what’s wrong with today’s world of bricks and clicks. You go into your local store, and remember that you had added to your wishlist this fab item on the store’s website but can’t remember what it is. “Hey” you think to yourself,  “I’ll just go to a kiosk and look it up”. Fat chance. Unless you registered for a wedding, there is no such machine. So you give up that quest. Strike One.

Perusing the store, you find a couple of items you are interested in, but it’s over your budget. So you decide to purchase two of them and put the rest back on the shelf. However, you don’t want to forget what they were. After all, you did just spend half an hour finding them. You look for that great machine, where you could scan you loyalty card, and scan the items to your online wishlist.  Not to upset you, as it is so close to the holidays and all, but this machine doesn’t exist, so you and the retailer miss out. Strike Two.

So you head to the cash, give them your loyalty card, and purchase your items happily. Woot, stuff for me! Later that night, you login to the store’s website, and realize that the items you bought today aren’t in your profile. All those “fancy” recommendation engines and web 2.0 tools designed to assist you are misfiring. It’s recommending books that you just bought at the store, which is Strike Three.

It’s time for retail stores to stop thinking of their websites as other LOB’s, get serious and link the two worlds together. Consider the amount of consumer/market research that these retailers are missing out on, and the ability to strengthen their customer relationships. Pause for a second, and really think about it. It’s time to act.

Five Questions For Alex de Bold, ChickAdvisor.com

ChickAdvisor is about helping you make better purchasing decisions on everything from electronics to electrolysis. The Chicks determine the hottest trends, the best local services, and the coolest products, and we deliver the location and purchase information to make getting what you want and need easier, faster, and more affordable.

Co-Founder Ali de Bold is a third-generation entrepreneur with a life-long passion for media since her appearance on Global TV’s KidsNews at age 11. She is a former property and casualty claims adjuster who escaped the world of insurance shortly after meeting Alex, who convinced her to quit her job and go back to school. In 2004, she began Ryerson’s Radio & Television Arts program, and is currently doing very well in her 3rd year.

Co-Founder Alex de Bold is a serial entrepreneur who, like Ali, launched his first company, ProfessorJones, while in his 3rd year of University. In 1996, Alex launched Canada’s most successful online student portal and magazine, ProfessorJones.com . He continued building online communities and CRM strategy for companies such as Labatt Breweries North America, Centrica, and Butterfield & Robinson. He has also worked as an advisor for other startups such as RedFlagDeals, Bubbleshare and AmbientVector. It was meant to be: Ali also worked as the regional manager for a field marketing company which promoted ProfessorJones on Campus at the University of Manitoba several years ago, but didn’t know her future husband, Alex was the founder.

One Degree: What is Chick Advisor?

ChickAdvisor is a social network for women to share advice and recommendations on a range of products and services for women. ChickAdvisor was launched after Ali and I got married. Ali’s and I aren’t native to Toronto so we were always talking to our friends looking for recommendations. I had no idea how frustrating or expensive it could be for her to find the right facial cleanser or a salon that she really liked. Our bathroom is a testament to that fact. We took around (online that is) and we came up with the idea of creating a website where other women who shared Ali’s frustration could come together and share advice.

One Degree: Are you targeting the Canadian marketing, or are you shooting for a broader audience?

Both. We realized that magazines like Cosmo, Elle or Fashion can be found in salons in most major cities and they’re largely driven by products with very little local information. We did some informal focus groups with friends and they liked the idea of getting product advice but also wanted local information. We serve women across North America and drill down in specific cities like Craigslist or DailyCandy/SweetSpot. Toronto is our first city as part of our launch.

Continue reading "Five Questions For Alex de Bold, ChickAdvisor.com" »

November 21, 2006

Improve Your Bottom Line With Search Marketing - Toronto

Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, has become a marketing necessity for an increasing number of businesses worldwide. What makes it different from other marketing campaigns? The terms Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click are used frequently by marketing professionals everywhere, but what do they really mean, and more importantly, how does SEM affect your bottom line?

Join non-linear creations as we look at SEM from the business executive perspective. Together, we will explore the direct impacts Search Marketing has on lead generation, brand exposure and ROI.

Where: Downtown Toronto

When: November 29, 2006 at 3:30 PM

Please pre-register for this event

November 20, 2006

Mesh Is Coming

Mesh_logo I managed to drop by the Irish Embassy pub for a little pre-mesh get together the other night. In case you haven’t heard, Mesh was this little ‘unconference’ that a bunch of guys organized with zero advertising but still sold out the joint through word of mouth marketing (read: blogs). For a recap of the last Mesh conference, check it out this article.

Despite it being a weekday, there was a full complement of Toronto’s digerati. Whether it was bloggers, podcasters, journalists, students, pr consultants, agency side or client side folks, all the major groups were in the house. I met some pretty cool folks.

One conversation that stuck out in my mind was with Chris Clarke aka. Magnum PR and Matthew Ingram, who is one of the MESH organizers and writer for some newspaper. It was interesting speaking to Matthew and getting his perspective on things. Rather than being a pure capitalist and driving up the cost of this next conference, the organizers are deliberately trying to keep the costs reasonable so the next Mesh is still accessible to everyone rather than just some middle-management retreads who couldn’t give a fig about the web, much less web 2.0. Although that wasn’t an issue last year as they actually turned away people at the door because they didn’t want to violate fire code regulations.

I was also impressed with Matthew’s perspective that they wanted to make Mesh 2.1 accessible to as many students as possible again because they are the future of this online industry. Makes sense as we are experiencing an acute shortage of qualified people that doesn’t appear to be getting better anytime soon.

So you could say it was quite the lovely evening. What was also very cool was that it was the open-invitation. None of the snotty, you need to RSVP or be some big shot. The only possible downside of the night was Stuart MacDonald taking some good natured shots at my company. But as he’s one of the organizers and more importantly a friend, I’m willing to take the grief. Since Mesh tickets will probably be a very hot commodity in May 2007, I might even buy them en masse and start selling them for a premium on eBay. Call it Scalping 2.0 perhaps.

5 Questions for Gregory Galant - RadioTail

Gregory Galant is the CEO of RadioTail. RadioTail’s podcast ad network, advanced metrics and dynamic ad serving technology are used by media companies, ad agencies and advertisers to ensure that advertising in podcasts reaches the right audience and delivers a great return on investment. Greg first entered the world of podcasting when he founded Venture Voice, the leading podcast about entrepreneurship.

Greg has worked at Newlight Associates, a $120M technology venture capital firm, sourcing investments and managing deal flow. Greg was an associate producer at CNN.com where he analyzed the latest trends in citizens’ media. In 1996 at age 14, Greg started Halenet, Inc., an award-winning Internet strategy firm. Greg founded the Young Professionals Chamber of Commerce in 2000 to engage students in the business world. He’s been the teacher of its entrepreneurship workshop for high school and college students for the past six years. Greg graduated Emory University with a degree in philosophy. He has been featured in The New York Times, the Venture Capital Journal, The New York Daily News, MarketWatch, Catherine Crier’s WOR radio show and News 12. The Suffolk Nassau Chamber of Commerce named him the 2003 “Entrepreneur of the Year”.

One Degree: Your new venture, RadioTail is focused on using podcasting as a new medium for advertisers. What are some of the issues marketers face when they want to market on other people’s podcasts?

Advertising in podcasts is an unprecedented opportunity for marketers to reach a targeted and highly engaged audience. The largest issue for marketers in podcast advertising is making sure they understand the medium they’re advertising in. Advertisers were able to get away with long and obnoxious ads in TV and radio for years. Podcasting is changing the game overnight. Effective podcast advertising demands short creative that speaks intelligently to a sophisticated user base.

One Degree: I worry a bit about social media as a marketing tool. So many marketers are looking for ROI and accountability in general and marketing in social media seems to go against the trend. How do you reconcile the drive for ROI driven marketing with social media?

Marketers looking for ROI would be well advised to embrace social media. In addition to all the metrics online advertising has always offered (e.g. reach, frequency, impressions), social media can be measured on engagement based on factors such as reverse links, comments, subscribers and outbound clicks. Prior to the rise of podcasting and other forms of rich media on the web, the only way rich media advertisers could reach consumers was by buying ads in TV or broadcast radio. Both use surveys or diaries to measure audience. That’s not a very accountable medium. Podcasting on the other hand offers so many metrics since each download can be tracked, that the largest challenge is to know what metrics to pay attention to. That’s a much better problem to have if you’re a business focused on ROI.

Continue reading "5 Questions for Gregory Galant - RadioTail" »

Web Analytics Hiring….

I am definitely no June Li – I don’t claim to be an expert in Web Analytics either. However, when I first set out to find an Online Analytics Consultant I didn’t realize how much mis-perception there is about what this role is and what skills are required – both by interested candidates as well as recruiters.

I started looking almost 4 months ago, and have got many resumes from candidates skilled in various analytics disciplines – but no experience in how to improve business online. The candidates, who I’m sure are talented in their disciplines, felt that they would just need to learn a new tool – after all numbers are numbers right? Wrong! Measuring your marketing effectiveness and online usability is so much more than numbers.

I came across two articles at clickz.com which I feel did an excellent job of summarizing what the role is really about, and what to look for when you are hiring. Check out the link and let me know your thoughts. Hopefully these articles will help you the way it helped me!

Now that you are armed with this info, the lack of available talent in this field and finding candidates in Toronto is cause for a whole other post!

November 17, 2006

Web 2.0 Game - Now With Real Prizes!

Things are so much more fun the second time around. Personally, I’ve been having fun with the internet (again) since 2003.  Google was named "Brand of the Year in 2003": and with a mantra cry of “Don’t be evil”, we were off and running. By July 2003, when the "Mozilla Foundation": launched, it was clear that things were going to get interesting. Today, this whole Web 2.0 love-in has me thoroughly charmed.  And out of that spirit of being charmed -- a game!

Game: Spot the Web 2.0 logo and identify the company or organization to which it belongs.

Note: Some logos have been cropped so as not to make this entirely too easy for you… and other logos are included to test your level of tech-cred … (staying in the same lexicon)… mad-props to Joey Katzen and "The Retail Alphabet Game":http://www.joeykatzen.com/alpha for being the inspiration.  Likewise, Ken’s recent QotD series on Social Media ought to help.

Freeprizeinsidethumb Email your guesses to - web2.0game [at] onedegree [dot] ca - and we will post a winner here on One Degree (fame and glory could be yours)! As a prize, Ken has graciously offered the first two entrants, who correctly identify *as many* of the 27 different logos, a copy of Seth Godin's "Free Prize Inside" in the limited edition collector's version in a cereal box. (This is a total score by the way!) On to the game.  Good luck, and enjoy! (click for a larger image)


Paper & Digital - The CMA's Direct Marketing Conference

Tuesday November 21st the CMA will be hosting the 7th annual Direct Marketing Conference in Toronto.  I had the opportunity to speak with event organizer Robin Whalen, and got an understanding of what the conference is all about. With roots in direct mail, the CMA’s Direct Marketing Conference has shifted to a new model.  This year's conference brings a real commitment to direct marketing in a media-neutral environment, focusing on newer and more unique ways to drive results. New digital technologies such as SMS messaging or RFID tags are being presented alongside analog tools such as direct mail, in an effort to display how varied direct marketing actually is.

Robin touts the conference as a blend of traditional direct marketing and newer methods, in an attempt to cater to the traditional direct marketer who needs to look at more cost effective ways to direct market.  With a day packed with speakers, including Mark Renshaw, SVP, One-To-One Marketing Solutions, Arc Worldwide, Chicago, and Marcus Evans, President, Proximity Canada, the conference’s sessions are bound to foster an open dialogue on both national and international topics.

When I asked Robin why someone would sign up, she noted how the conference was designed to enlighten you on new ways of thinking and planning with “a bottom line focus on the bottom line.”  With the varied tools that will be presented throughout the day, direct marketers will be able to realize their goals through a variety of mediums.

If you haven’t signed up already, head over to the registration page and sign yourself up, this is going to be a great conference. Check back with One Degree next week when highlights from the show and exclusive video interviews will be posted.

Brand Champions - Tim Hortons

What makes your brand the number one brand in Canada for the third consecutive year? Nick Javor, Sr. Vice President – Corporate Affairs, at Tim Hortons was kind enough to share his thoughts on why Tim’s has been so successful. The main tenants of his presentation noted that the key to the brands success was its ability to communicate its relationships with both its franchisees and customers, while at the same time staying true to its roots.  The audience should have taken away that these positive relationships are in fact ongoing dialogues which began when the company was created in 1964.

Throughout Nick’s presentation he stressed the brands partnership with the community, but it is this dialogue which has kept Tim’s as Canada’s number one brand three years in a row, and has  rooted itself firmly in the Canadian identity.  Nick’s message was loud and clear; Positive and engaging conversations with customers and franchisees are a key factor to the company’s success, and crucial in continuing to command the number one spot amongst Canada’s Brand Champions.

  • The core issues Nick outlined in his presentation noted how Tim Horton’s:
  • Communicates that it is an unpretentious, friendly, honest, and dependable brand
  • Has a strong relationship with its franchise partners
  • Creates innovative products
  • Has a price value proposition

He continues in the video below that Tim Hortons has begun utilizing the web as an information outlet for the company.  More than just your basic corporate website, Tim’s has utilized the site to  disseminate messages which they cannot deliver at the store level.  Watch the video to hear how the response has been.

November 16, 2006

A CaseCamp Invitation & Second Life Top-10 List

I have never logged into Second Life.  And as much as I consider myself part of the social media revolution, Second Life has always seemed too fringe for me.  But I’m very excited to try something new, and I invite the OneDegree community to join Bryan, Kate, CC & I in Second Life on December 14th for a virtual CaseCamp on Crayonville Island.

CaseCamp (background) has always been about experiential learning for marketers – case studies about what others have done, how it’s worked, and how learnings can be applied in other situations. CaseCampSecondLife will take this learning to the next level because the environment itself, the interactions, and the community will be something entirely new for many. I encourage anyone out there who has ever been interested in testing this world out to sign-up.  And contact me (Eli – 416-566-2322), or any of the event organizers, if you have questions.  I’m a newbie at this too, we can work it out together.

To put all the recent developments, announcements and hype about Second Life in context, I present:

The 10 Oldest BoingBoing Second Life Posts

  1. I’ll be at a virtual book-club meeting in gamespace this Sunday (Sept. 03)
  2. Virtual ‘Burning Man’ realm in online world of Second Life (Sept. 03)
  3. Real property rights to virtual game objects (Nov. 03)
  4. What happens when you give gamers intellectual property rights? (Dec. 03)
  5. Body language and facial expressions in MMOs (July 04)
  6. Virtual Oz theme-park created in online game (July 04)
  7. Universities offering classes inside of MMOs (Sept. 04)
  8. Virtual schizophrenia comes to Second Life (Sept. 04)
  9. MMO character run by nine profoundly disabled players (Dec. 04)
  10. Preserving tribal heritage with online games (Feb. 05)
  11. Bonus for Cory: Contest to produce in-game book based on Cory’s next novel (Mar. 05)

10 B to B Recommendations

We have all experienced it. You visit a BtoB website hoping that they can solve your organization’s pain, but instead find a convoluted, outdated digital mess. To ensure your site is not guilty of this offense, here are 10 recommendations to consider.

  1. Assume nothing: Call me crazy, but let's just assume the person visiting your site has no idea what a”SEO-PPC Optimizer” does. Presume your audience is starting at square one, and knows nothing.
  2. Aim for the Pain: Stop shoving your new X4001 model in their face. Change your messaging to first focus on their pain. There is a reason people are coming to your site; they are looking for a solution to overcome a challenge they are facing. Start there. Define what pain your organization is trying to alieve (Drive Sales Results?)
  3. Kirk/Spock Model: BtoB Solutions are typically purchased and considered by more than one individual. Ensure your marketing works for different personalities. For the emotional (Kirk) side, pitch how your solution will revolutionize their business, for the intellectual folks (Spock) show off your facts and ROI calculations.
  4. Educate them: You have defined their pain, and grabbed their attention, so now explain how your solution solves that pain. Keep the message simple, with links to more indepth info. Show them that you are the industry expert. Use blogs, webinars, white papers to build this respect and your lead generation. Never assume they understand your industry or tools.
  5. Create the checklist: If the site is designed correctly, you should have an interested and newly educated person browsing your site. Now, you need to focus that energy and convince them that your solution is the best. Create a checklist on what features are needed in the ideal solution. Match your product features with your education. For example – “poor channel education can be improved by personalized messaging which is delivered by our X4000”.
  6. Personalize: Have the user’s online actions such as white paper downloads, or webinar enrollment, personalize the site for them in real-time. Have the site promote items (events, documents) that the client appears to be leaning towards.
  7. Continuing the conversation: Take the time to develop a strategy on how you want to build your relationship. Where do you want to ask for key contact information? When in the lead cycle do you want to the person to be contacted by your sales team? How do you want to handle this conversion? Many sites lose leads, as they are never followed up on, or they fail to ask the right questions at the right time.
  8. Sound Bytes: Show customer testimonials and reduce the number of case studies. Case studies are typically so whitewashed that they have lost all value. Short blurbs from clients can be extremely valuable in helping build trust.
  9. Visuals: Show me exactly what it is you are selling. Don’t make me book a demo just to see a couple of screenshots. I need visuals to help vet out your solution from the 500 other sites that came back when I googled “CRM”. Think of it as a teaser; just make sure its dead simple to get to it.
  10. Pull the Email links: Pull every single Mailto link off your site and replace them with online forms. Ensure the information posted by a client is A) sent to a distribution list and B) stored in an accessible database. Build an admin tool to view the postings or export it into your CRM, but absolutely do not rely on email to manage these leads. Check the postings frequently.

Big Problems with Third-Party Measurement

There have been several articles around getting your site ranked in search engines and a whole economy has developed around SEO. While this is critical in getting users to your site, the advertising value of your site is also tied to its relative position with competitors. Calculating your competitive positions is difficult at best and in most cases the only the solution are third-party measurement companies. In the US there are a variety of third-party measurement sources but in Canada the leading provider is comScore.

For those not familiar with third-party measurement services, they measure a sample of internet users and create an estimated traffic report based on the sample’s behaviour. The sample of internet users is normally in the form of a group of users who volunteer to run tracking software on their computer. With a large enough panel these estimates are generally considered accurate enough to rank competitive sites and provide a good indication of relative value between sites.

The nature of websites makes automatically tracking users web browsing somewhat complicated, especially when web sites share links across multiple domains. Its easier for the tracking software to ignore links to certain file types such as images or movie files. It's more complicated when it comes to frames since the tracking software doesn’t know the details of the frame. The whole website could be contained within the frame link so it can’t easily be ignored. As a result when a site with a frame link is loaded it will normally create a separate user visit for the frame linked domain.

For example a user visiting www.domain.com that loads a linked image from www.differentdomain.com would not trigger a visit for the differentdomain.com. However this seems this is different with frames. If the users visits www.domain.com and loads a frame linked from www.differentdomain.com, the tracking software normally tracks this as a separate visit to www.differentdomain.com.

Continue reading "Big Problems with Third-Party Measurement" »

November 15, 2006

6 Tips For Better Blogger Outreach

With the rise of bloggers as key influencers a growing number of smart marketers are looking at blogs as a way to seed products and develop word-of-mouth while building web traffic and in-bound links. Most marketers approach seeding products to influential bloggers in an ad hoc manner - they'll pick a few blogs, send them a sample and see what happens. 

Interestingly, there have been some very controversial attempts to formalize this concept be companies like PayPerPost and ReviewMe. All this had been a rather abstract concept for me until very recently when I got an email from Andrew Milligan, owner of Sumo Urban Lounge Gear, based here in Toronto.

To: Ken Schafer
From: Andrew Milligan
Subject: Contact Form from onedegree.ca
Hi Ken, My name is Andrew and I have a company named Sumo which makes modern, funky and high-quality bean bag chairs. I could simply say, our Omni chair is the most comfortable chair in the world and truly enhances one's life! I am a fan of your site and was wondering if you would be interested in taking a sample of our Omni chair and posting a review on it.

After taking a look at the Sumo Lounge site and checking out the Omni chair he was offering, I sent back a hearty "you're on - as long as I can blog about you asking me to blog about it".

Continue reading "6 Tips For Better Blogger Outreach" »

November 14, 2006

Brand Champions - Molson Canadian

Rob Assimakopoulos, Vice President Marketing at Molson Canada, presented new marketing strategies involving mobile phone technologies, and their integration with brand contests.  His interesting presentation on a Canadian brand recognized by its marketing and branding strategies yielded an important thought the audience should take note of.  Rob’s most important comment was acknowledging that in order for a website to be a success it must create a conversation which customers really want to be a part of.

In his video interview, Rob notes how “the online medium is really a conduit for collaboration with the beer drinker and the brand.”  This theme is concurrent with other professionals, and specifically with David Weinberger’s lecture at the CMA’s DMC last month, where he noted that the web has begun to be a content-creation utility, and not just a resource.  For a website to be successful it must create a valuable experience in which customers use the provided tools to create content or dialogue.

In his presentation Rob outlined the difference at Molson, noting how the company:

  • Practices good housekeeping
  • Is socially responsible
  • Manages its talent to remain within the company

Further to this, Rob discussed three attributes that Molson is dedicated to.

  1. Inventory pipeline – Quality and service through the entire process
  2. Recyclable bottles, charity, and community events
  3. Growing talent within the company

In the video below Rob discusses how Molson has used cellular technologies in their marketing mix, and integrated it with the Molson Canadian website.  He concludes by discussing the good and bad of website content, and how his company, like many others, struggle to find the best mix to drive traffic. Keep up the great work, and Cheers!

(If you’re reading this in your feedreader you won’t see the video, but you can catch it by clicking here.)

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