Archive for the ‘Small Business Web Strategies’ Category

Jun
21

Better Advertising’s “Power Eye” lets users opt-out of targeting

Small Business Web Strategies No comments

When advertising on the web, targeting is everything. There’s lots of data out there – and for marketers, it only makes sense to use that data to target ads that appeal to users who are more likely to buy.

Targeting has been going on for years – from the manual targeting of PPC campaigns to the recent introduction of Google retargeting, it’s become increasingly easy for small businesses and enterprise-level companies to deliver their messages to consumers who are more likely to buy.

But there’s an element of ‘creepiness’ to targeting, too, that revolves around privacy. In the U.S., we’re particularly aware of privacy concerns – as evidenced  by the recent Facebook privacy policy uproar. In many people, the idea of targeted ads evokes images of the hyper-intrusive world seen in movies like Minority Report, where every wall in a city can be turned into an ad to specifically appeal to your preferences.

Based on these concerns (and the fact that Congress now appears interested in the matter), Better Advertising has developed an ad delivery system that will let users see exactly which of their behaviors led to that ad’s display. What’s more, consumers can opt-out of targeted ads using the system.

Now, the merits of a consumer opting out of a targeted ad system are debatable – for instance, is it better to have random ads, or ads that should in some way interest you? But whether it makes sense for a consumer or not, it appears this change in internet advertising is coming.

For anyone in the internet marketing world, this shift towards transparency and opt-out ads will be a big thing. This system isn’t readily available yet, but if similar systems become the norm, you could easily lose the ability to advertise by serving up irrelevant ads that add no value to a user’s experience.

Your best defense against this is to make your ads timely, appealing, and relevant to your target market. Unfortunately, there’s a thin line to walk – you also need to make sure your ads don’t appear too involved, as no one wants to think they’re being watched by Big Brother. Ultimately, however, if you provide a good user experience, your target market is more likely to let your ads through.

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Apr
17

Find the RIGHT people on Twitter

Hot New Tech Products, Trends and Tools, Small Business Web Strategies No comments

You would literally have to live under a rock not to notice the impact that social media is having on the world. It’s a marketing revolution out there!  Twitter, for some, is used mainly for entertainment. This is clear, as top “tweets” of the day are typically witty and make readers crack a smile.  For example, “Did you ever realize that lol also looks like a small man drowning?” was one that I read and chuckled at today. But for many, Twitter also can be used for business. In fact, for many who know how to use it correctly, Twitter can be a very powerful sales and marketing vehicle.

If you’re using Twitter for business, your level of know-how and commitment may be high, or low — and there are a lot of you who fall somewhere in the middle. And people like you are most likely desperately searching for efficient ways to find the RIGHT people to follow on twitter.  You’re in luck because I recently read a great article on just that:  How To Find The Right People To Follow On Twitter

Not even quite at the finding-the-right-people level yet?

If you don’t really know how to use Twitter to benefit your business but really want to learn more about it, then you’re in luck. Twitter recently released their “Twitter 101 for Business Special” for people just like you. Click here to read up on it and learn more.

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Mar
13

Get Satisfaction + Facebook = Customer Service Goodness

Hot New Tech Products, Trends and Tools, Small Business Web Strategies No comments

If you regularly surf the web, you’ve likely stumbled onto Get Satisfaction by now. Marker by the little ‘Feedback’ tags that show up on the sides of pages across the internet, Get Satisfaction is a customer feedback engine that allows companies to hear concerns directly from their customers.

And let’s be clear: it’s not just limited to internet companies. Anyone can sign up for a page and begin taking suggestions online. You don’t even have to be affiliated with the company to create or manage a Get Satisfaction page (although it obviously helps) – company devotees can easily create pages for their favorite brands and try to build awareness of customer concerns.

In short, for any business that actively focuses on customer service, it’s a great tool that’s worth checking out.

And now Get Satisfaction has taken it to the next level. Got a Facebook fan page? You can now turn it into a fully-featured customer support engine, thanks to the newly-released Get Satisfaction Facebook Social Engagement Hub. This plug-in allows your company Facebook page to seamlessly integrate with Get Satisfaction’s main site.

How does it work? Here’s a key example: if someone posts a question, it will automatically search GetSatisfaction.com and discover whether it already exists, then either display the appropriate response or create a new question on your Get Satisfaction page. (There are other features, too, but adding this functionality to Facebook is obviously the biggest story here).

Get Satisfaction Facebook

ReadWriteWeb lists a number of other advantages to the service in their review – most notably, the fact that Facebook users tend to be very active on Fan pages. As a result, this service gives you more ways to interact with and get feedback from your strongest supporters. Not to mention the fact that it allows you to leverage some of your Facebook content from outside of Facebook’s ‘walled garden.’

We think Get Satisfaction is an excellent service – one that’s only enhanced by this new offering. It’s definitely worth a closer look for any small business in search of a more direct link to customer feedback.

Kipp

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Jan
06

Panic: Email Marketing List Maintenance Done Right

Small Business Web Strategies No comments

If you’re engaged in email marketing, you already know: your company’s email marketing list is an important business asset.

A good subscriber list takes time to build. But the work doesn’t just stop there – if you go to the effort to build a subscriber list, you should also be taking the time to maintain it.

You should already have a mechanism to weed out hard-bouncing email addresses – this helps you stay on the good side of spam filters, and (as your list grows) lessens your server load. But equally as important is making sure you’re keeping the subscribers who are interested, and getting rid of those who will likely never convert. You can do this by sending out a reconfirmation email.

What is a reconfirmation email?

It’s a simple email that asks you to reconfirm that you want to keep receiving emails. As Derek Harding explains, there are two types of reconfirmation emails: opt-in (which requires subscribers to take a specific action to stay subscribed) and opt-out (which asks the subscriber to take specific action in order to unsubscribe). Naturally, opt-out is the most attractive to marketers, as it loses fewer subscribers.

My reason for writing this post was a reconfirmation email I recently received from Panic, a company that makes great software for the Mac. Here’s a screenshot (click to view the full-sized image):

Panic_Email

This is a reconfirmation email done right. It’s simple and to the point, reminding me that they’re there and offering me the opportunity to opt-out, should I desire.

What does it really accomplish?

For Panic, it lets them re-focus their list on the subscribers who are likely to convert to sales. By cleaning their list, they can better segment it and make messages more relevant to subscribers…and as Douglas Karr points out, “smaller email lists and targeted content always outperform mass media.“ They can expect to see their email marketing success metrics improve, just by eliminating the people who aren’t interested and focusing on those who are.

(If nothing else, it also gives them some subscriber face-time to build their brand.)

For me (the subscriber), it reminds me that they’re there (& that I haven’t visited their awesome blog lately)…and it builds trust. The simple act of them sending this email assures me that they’re not the type of company that will spam me. That’s huge. It’s good customer service, internet marketing-style, and makes me want to stay on the list because I know my time won’t be wasted.

By occasionally pruning your list, you can focus your list on quality over quantity, and get a much more accurate representation of how successful your marketing efforts are. Depending on your email marketing software, you can even target the email to those who haven’t opened the last X emails you’ve sent. I’d recommend only sending it out once a year (twice at most) – but if you’re not doing occasional list maintenance like this, you should definitely consider it.

It’s the new year, after all – a great time to do some cleaning.

Kipp Chambers
Sr. Internet Marketing Specialist

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Dec
29

Mozilla users must wait longer for 3.6 release

Small Business Web Strategies No comments

It looks like Mozilla fans are stuck with version 3.5 for the time being, as Firefox recently stated they are planning on falling short of their 2009 deadline of 3.6’s release.  In addition, Firefox 4.0 which had been due in 2010 is now looking at a release date of late 2010 to even early 2011. This push back is not unusual, as scheduled delays are very commonplace in the software and hardware world.

The arrival of Google’s Chrome has specifically made browser development more stressful and crazy than usual, as the competition is literally up day and night trying to keep up with Google’s advancements. Mike Shaver, Mozilla’s VP of Engineering states ” We’ve always been more quality-driven than time-driven, but we understand timing in the market matters to our users and our competitiveness.”

There is an exciting future for Firefox on the horizon; the new big feature in its 3.6 version is incorporation of the Personas plug-in that will allow people to customize their browser’s appearance.  Other enhanced features will bring improved security and faster browser time to Firefox, along with other improvements.

Version 3.7 will bring even more development to Mozilla. This version will introduce even more changes in overall performance.  A development called “Electrolysis” will separate computing processes into individual compartments for better stability, among other benefits. Another expected addition will be more enhancements to the “Weave” a plug in that synchronizes bookmarks, passwords, plug-ins, and open tabs across different instances in Firefox.

Version 4.0 you ask? Well the list of changes this rollout will bring keeps growing. In all honestly, it’s release is too far in the distance to get into detail about. For the time being, it’s safe to say you can definitely expect significant user interface changes and a new way to replace the standard “menu” bar.

Until then, it’s still version 3.5 for Mozilla addicts.  Feel free to keep on top of Firefox’s development progress here.

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