Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Using SEO when building your website navigation

Here's a good article on ClickZ that explains that checking out how keywords do in Yahoo and Google can affect how well your website navigation will resonate with users. In this case using pet products was better then pet supplies as more people searched for pet products. This is another cheap way to get good advise on building a website without using full blown usability tests,

Chad H.

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Sunday, May 28, 2006

For Sony Ericsson "Anything Goes" for their e-newsletters

In a recent article in MarketingSherpa, Sony Ericsson's Agnes Gawel reveals that for their global e-newsletter campaigns, they typically don't worry about ethnically appropriate images for each of their regions:
"It's based on local feedback. You might not think, for example, we'd use an African consumer image for Asian emails, but it's not the case. We've been using everything all over the place. In the end results, we don't really see a difference."
This is a small point but an important one. Keep testing and see what works. Sometimes, you don't need to go too crazy to ensure that evrything is perfect for yourt campaigns. In this case, the copy was much more important (in terns of translation) then the having the "right" images.

Chad H.

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Top 10 Home Page Tips

Since my wedding on May 21 I haven't been basking in the glory of marriage but rather have been working my bum off catching up and planning for my future. I've also started to catch up on some of my millions of email newsletters and blog feeds that I get. While this was overwhelming at first, I make sure that I only subscribe to the what I feel is the most useful to keep my ear to the technology highway and what will help me sponge up all I need to know. Here are some home page tips that I've come across from my various reads as well as from my experience as a consultant (Ok, you can laugh now and make all of the rude remarks you want in the comment section about consultants):

Top 10 Home Page Tips:
  • What do you want to achieve?: Don't just redeisgn your web page because marketing wants to launches its new fall collection with a cool green background. Get your team together (typically consists of people from across departments) and determine your objectives in a way that can be measured. For example, increase home page traffic by 20%, increase conversions (needs to be flushed out) by 5% etc... Make sure there is buy in from all involved.
  • Examine the lay of the land: This primarily means, look at your webstats. When I say look at your webstats, that means actually examine where people are going from your home page and understand what are the most successful conversion paths. Note the things that work and that don't. For example, if you have a newsletter subscription that people are ignoring, perhaps this needs to be moved to a more prominent position.
  • What do people really want to see?: That's wonderful that Jan in marketing designed these super non-gender, non-racial cartoon heads that look really colourful and appealing. However, is that what people really want to see? Focus on your objectives which includes who your target market is. Before you get moving with the design creation, do some informal web/mail surveys and perhaps some informal interviewing. For example, if you're a pet store, I would want to know how I can get a dog. Create use cases (scenarios) based on the feedback that you get.
  • Get Shorty!: People don't have time to wade through a ton of content on your home page. Keep it to 3-4 key messages, and use point form. If you have a key offer, make it stand out by using bold, capitalized letters like "DOWNLOAD CATALOG NOW" or "LEARN ABOUT CRM". Make sure that your target audience will understand all of the acronyms that you use on your home page. Most importantly, keep the content above the fold so that your users don't have to scroll to see anything. From glancing at your home page, people should be able to explain what you're all about in 5 words and be able to relay that back to you.
  • Keep Google in Mind: As we all know, search engines are key. Images that reflect what your organization or product is about are good for the home page as long as they are not there just taking up space. The problem with images is that if you place text in an image, it typically doesn't get indexed. Therefore, make sure your home page includes text that describes what your organization does in a way that helps people find your site when using the top search engines. I'm not going to get into a discussion on SEO (search engine optimization here).
  • TEST, TEST, TEST, TEST, TEST and then TEST, TEST, TEST: Web designers, developers, and consultants don't count. Even people in your company or your clients don't count. Get some of your friends or family (excuse me Jakob Nielsen but name me an SMB that has time and/or $$ for true usability testing) an exercise in which you ask them to carry out an action such as finding all of the poodles on your pet website. You can also get them to randomly click around and record their feedback. Their are also some great forums out there such as MarketingProfs in which you can ask for feedback from the "general" public.
  • Keep Google in Mind 2: Home pages are not what they used to be. Web users used to start off at your home page and then drill in from there. Today, people use Google and other search engines to find what they're looking for and may never touch your home page. We just don't have the patience or time anymore. Make sure that you don't have some key content or features that are not available anywhere else on your site. For example, if you have an upcoming webinar, don't just have a key link on your home page, advertise this throughout your site.
  • Keep navigation simple: While it's quite tempting to squeeze your whole site map into your navigation and have this cool multi-flyout floating, flashing, scrolling, multi-colour menu system.... think again. Take a deep breathe, go back to your usage scenarios based on your target audience and ask yourself what they would want to see and not this flashing podcast button that Jill in marketing is saying is a must have. In "Keep Google in Mind 2" I mentioned that people are now finding their content via search so don't worry too much about having every single link available from the home page. If your site is content heavy, consider adding an internal search box as a standard feature on every page. Search is king over browsing so let people do what they've been taught to do.
  • Look at your competitor's sites and the proven sites: There's a reason that Amazon.com is Amazon.com. Let them spend the $$ on usability and copy some of the best practices that they use. However, don't get too caught up in copying their entire layout and design - especially when it comes to your competitors. Think about what makes your company stand out and why people either buy from you or use your services.
  • Keep in mind - Anything Goes: While I have provided some useful tips above, keep in mind that anything goes and that you need to keep testing. You never know what is going to catch your intended audiences' eyes so try out some really strange ideas that make you stand out from the rest. You never know unless you try.
I hope that you find this useful and please let me know your thoughts or if I've missed anything.

Chad H.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

To blog or not to blog, this is the question for execs

Businesses are still not getting it - people don't want to read your corporate BS. They want to get to know your company and not your marketing fluff and "salesy spin". Yet, a recent article on emarketer claims "Executives at top companies are slow to come to grips with recognizing [blogs'] importance in building a dialogue with customers and other stakeholders." Lets go people - get with it.

I see blogs every day driving increased web traffic to companies' main websites. Is that a bad thing? Yes, it requires someone to actually do the blogging and coordinate it but how much does it cost to make a sale at your company? - i.e. if it makes business sense to spend money to drive people to your website, then why not at least try it? You really don't have much to lose. Well, yes you do - you're losing business. Right now there are companies out there who can't find you becuase you have the same boring website like your competitors. There are other companies that know who you are but see this stuffy old coat full of of cocky SOBs that would make them rather stick pins in their eyes then deal with you. Ok, maybe I'm going a bit too far but you get the point (ha ha). Get blogging!

Chad H

PS - I just got married and I'm back with an attitude.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

5 Tips to Help Your Blog "Soar" in the Search Engines

Looking for some quick tips to improve your blog SEO rankings? Check out this article from Marketing Profs called 10 Tips to Help Your Blog Soar in the Search Engines. I wasn't aware of some of these so I will definitly try some of them out. It's too bad they didn't offer the first 5 tips for free. :(

Have you tried any of these? Do they actually work?

Chad H.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Bookmarklets Discovered

As always, Easton on Business Blogwire keeps me updated on some of the latest trends out there. This time I was introduced to bookmarklets which are these neat links that you can drag and drop at the top of on your Firefox browser (or into your favourites in IE). Steve Rubel has some great ones! I'm using Wikipedia look-up and Alexa this.

Try it out!

Chad H.


Do you skip TV commercials? So does everybody

I would like to know who watches TV commercials anymore and if you do, why?? What is the point? They are a waste of time.

I myself am the master of the clicker. I have now self-proclaimed myself as "Click Master". When I watch TV, I want to ensure that I'm only watching "quality" TV and not another bud commercial or a car dealership cheap ass ad. I have a few channels on the go with a few in the case of an emergency when Bush is on TV. There's always the sports ticker thank goodnes.

I wanted to show you the latest on advertising trends that demonstrate that online adverting continues to rise while TV advertising is declining. As I think about it, as Bush becomes less popular, onlive advertising becomes more popular. Wait until Bush's next public TV address and you're going to see the internet usage and adverting spending go bezerk!

As reported on e-marketer, "Nielsen Media Research reported that while online advertising spending in the US rose by 23% in 2005, network TV spending fell by 1.5%."

Bottom line: Before you waste money on your next TV ad during some crappy show (Friends reruns on TBS come to mind), remember who your target audience are and what you are trying to accomplish. If you're looking at increasing your response rate and driving people to your website, will a TV or newspaper (while we're at it) do it for you? Will it?

Chad H.

PS - I may or may not have been talking about President George W. Bush of the US.
PPS - I was in NYC last weekend and loved it. Great people there.


Wham spam, thank you maam

Why did my email not get &#$ delivered? Have you ever said that to yourself? I have and it's one of those huge topics in email marketing right now that you really need to understand before you start creating that amazing email offer that will turn your compoany into the next Google. Ok ok, maybe not Google. How about the next great paper airplane factory that you started in your parent's basement? That will do.

Before you send out that email which explains why your paper airplaines are better than your friend across the street (or your grandma's), you need to test that email out. Larry Chase has an excellent email newsletter and he provides some awesome resources for this task:
  • Bl@cklist Checker: Check to see if Grandma has had your IP blacklisted
  • Sp@mCheck Tool: Use this free resource to check if your emails will get past those nasty ass spam filters
  • Messaging News: Get all of the latest news on email deliverability here and see what's written on how well that great 3D fly-by you made in Flash for an email that was supposed to look like Top Gun but with a paper airplane. Also check out Trim Mail for more exciting news (zzzzz).
  • Also check out: Lyris, W3C Validator to test your content
This is just the tip of the iceberg so if you want to get down and dirty, good luck with that. I recommend using the Spamcheck tool to ensure that your email has been optimized and doesn't have stupid words like "Free!" and going with a good email ASP. Let them worry about deliverability for you while you worry about selling your crappy paper airplanes.

Chad H.

PS - Thanks again Larry Chase
PPS - Here's a good article from ClickZ on tips to improve deliverability


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Bad Customer Experience: Happy Ending 2

It turns out that banks do care about you (yes, banks!). If you may recall from my previous post on a bad customer experience, I had written about how I was dispensed a torn $20 bill from a Soctia Bank ATM machine. After I sent emails to both Shell and the Bank of Nova Scotia I recently heard back from Shell. I also just received an email from the Scotia Bank. Here is the letter:

Dear Mr. Horenfeldt,

We welcome the opportunity to address your concerns with respect to a torn
$20.00 bill dispensed by a Scotiabank ABM (automated banking machine) at a Shell

Upon receipt of your writing, we contacted our Electronic Banking Delivery
Channel department. They have investigated and verified that there was a
dispenser fault on April 24th, 2006. A technician was dispatched to ensure the
problem has been corrected.

If a torn bill is dispensed, you can present the torn bill to your bank or
Scotiabank with the receipt and reimbursement will be provided. The store
retailer is not responsible for exchanging the bill.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this caused. Please also be
assured that the store retailer will be notified by Scotiabank as per the
complaint you submitted.

We trust this addresses your concerns, Mr. Horenfeldt. Thank you for bringing
this issue to our attention.


Dani Tremblay
Electronic Banking Contact Centre

I would have preferred that they just mail the ^$#@ $20 to me as we all know that banks are only open between 11:00 and 11:01 AM Monday to Thursday (but are closed Tuesday and Wednesday) which makes getting to a branch almost impossible for most of us. If you do get there, you then have 1 teller for 20 people and then by the time it's your turn the bank closes. :) However, this will do and it's good to have this letter to show the bank when I go there to get my $20. I was impressed at the way that Scotia Bank investigated the problem and let me know about it. Like Shell, they have demonstrated that customers or potential customers (as I may be hunting for a good mortgage soon) is important. Thanks Scotia Bank!

Chad H.

PS - Lesson #2 from this experience. Blame everyone involved for your bad experience and get extra stuff!!
PPS - I hope I pissed the manager off at Shell.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I Made it to One Month! WOOHOO!!

Let's break out the beer! It's my one month anniversary. I think it's been a great month and I've enjoyed blogging on a consistent basis. My blog has evolved from a storage place to stash good articles that I find into a place that I can really voice my opinions on marketing.

I've even shifted my focus from general marketing to focus on e-marketing. I plan to keep working on improving my blog as well but I realized that Blogger has some restrictions that I'll have to work within for now. I also plan to get my ass out more on the blogosphere but this may be hard as I'm getting married in under 3 weeks (yikes!).

Favourite post so far: It's by far "How to lose traffic on your blog in 10 days".

Thanks all for your notes, comments, tips and well wishes.

Chad H.

PS - Sorry for my spelling. It sucks ass.

Bad Customer Experience: Happy Ending

In an earlier post on Bad Customer Experiences I told you all about my tragic experience at a Shell gas station a week ago. Well Shell responded to my email and has sent me this note:

Dear Mr. Horenfeldt,
Thank you for taking the time to forward your concerns to the Shell Helps Centre. Pleas accept my apology for the delay in responding. Customer feedback is something I take very seriously and appreciate you having taken the time to email us.

I have looked in to this matter and forwarded your complaint to several departments to get a better understanding on how to handle this situation. As you can imagine this is a unique situation, retailers don't experience this quite often. Scotia Bank was also contacted, and what they explained is, in this case they would want the customer to call the 1.800.472.6842 (located on the ATM machine) or present the torn bill and the receipt to the bank and the customer would be reimburse. Or if you are not a Scotia bank customer you could bring it to any bank and they would also reimburse you.
In regards to the retailer and the unfortunate experience you had with him, I can assure you that his behaviour is not representative of the service you can expect at our retail sites. Retailer could of taken the torn bill and replace it for you, then he would be able to go to the bank and get reimburse, or he could of called the 1.800# on the Scotia Bank ATM and gotten directions. However like I've mentioned before retailers don't experience this on a regular basis and there not quite sure how to handle it. We will take this opportunity to educate the retailer what to do in these instances, and we will also be contacting his supervisor to make sure this is handled accordingly.
I tried to look up the station with the address you provided me, but I am not finding a match. Would you know the exact the address of this location? We want to make sure that we pass the information to the right retailer. And in the interest of customer service, please allow me to send you $20.00 in gift certificates to thank you for bringing this to our attention and for the frustration you encountered. Please reply and provide your mailing address and I will send these out to you.
I regret this incident and hope you will consider giving us another opportunity to show you that Quality Service is of great importance to Shell Canada.
Again, Mr. Horenfeldt, thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.

Stephanie Changkye
Customer Service Representative
Shell Canada Limited

Here is a company that has got it right in terms of customer support. I found it easy to voice my complaint using their website and they replied to me in less then a week. I sent a reply back to Shell thanking them for their note and I will go back to Shell as a customer as they trully understand the importance of each customer and turning a negative experience into a postive one. Kudos Shell!

Chad H.

PS - I still haven't heard from Scotia Bank.
PPS - Don't let businesses (B2B or B2C) treat you like shit and get away with it.


B2B, Ya You Know Me

I need to give a shout out to Karen Gedney who has a very good article on success in the B2B marketing area. If you're into sending out email and you're a B2B company, you need to at least read the article to undertand how you can get greater visibility into what your prospects are thinking.

Chad H.

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SEO made too simple

Danny Sullivan on Click Z has "redeemed" himself in my mind. After I cut him up in an earlier post (rightly deserved I say!) he has pointed out a few key things in his recent post:
  • He has 10 years in the search biz
  • He has outlined some simple SEO tips to keep in mind in a recent Click Z article.
  • He has a written a ton of crap on search.
Thanks for your simple SEO tips that I didn't know already. Maybe a 10 year old mght not know these tips. "Pick keywords" - realy?? I also liked your comment that "If your site fails to make the top 10 lists, get together with those that do." All I have to say is good luck with that. Why would a great website with awesome SEO want a 2 bit competitor to cut into its search rankings?? If you have all of that experience, give us something that we can sink our teeth into.

Chad H

PS - I didn't like that Clizk Z post BTW if you weren't sure.


Did you find the Ex-Spot? Consumer-Generated Media

Herre's a good article on Click Z about how to create a good "consumer-generated media" campaign. What is a CGM? Have look atthe article and find out how to spread the word about your business by using your customers. This is definitely something to think about - you have customers that are really enjoying the experience with your business. How can you turn these people into advocates and help the spread the message about the great work you are doing? Besides using feedback forms on your website and search as Click Z suggested, perhaps you can use blogs, third party review sites (eg: sites that you partner with), or an email a friend feature.

Do you have any other ideas on how to do this using online means?

Chad H


Making Money Blogging?

As I delve deeper and deeper into marketing I was bound to keep stumbling on some really interesting sites that have turned me upside down. On ProBlogger, Darren Rowse discusses how he has made some pretty good coin off of his blog by partnering with an e-book publisher and using affiliate marketing. Interesting stuff but does this cross the lines of what blogging should really be? The mreo we get into ad-related blogs, aren't we taking away a key component of blogging? i.e. the credibility of content that is supposed to come from the heart? I guess that is long gone.

Chad H.


Blog Promotion: It Never Ends!

There's some good discussion going on the blog "Internet Marketing Blog" on how to promote your blog. Check it out!

Chad H.

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Seth Godin: "You are not in charge"

Seth Godin weighs in on the world of marketers with his "5 Things Every Marketer Should Realize". It's sombre, no punches pulled approach.

Do you agree that as a marketer "You are not in charge." and that "You can't bury the truth"? I don't. If you're working at Microsoft or Google, I think that as a marketer, you are in charge as most of your marketing campaigns get eaten up by their target audience and people do care what they have to say. In addition, Microsoft does a great job at burying all the flaws that their software has and then spinning the rest. Hey Seth: The weather is nice out there - lighten up and enjoy the power that marketers now have with this thing we call the internet. I hear it's giving us a lot of control and making our jobs a hell of a lot easier.

Chad H.

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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Importance of Good Subject Lines

Anne at Marketing Sherpa has pointed out yet again the importance of good email subject lines. In her most recent email, she explains the results of a study done on email subjects. In turns out that those not written in "marketingeze" (i.e. BS) did better. It alos helpoed to have the company name in them. Here's and example of good subject lines:

- Eye on Company Name Update
- Company Name Newsletter February 2006
- Invitation from Company Name
- Company Name May 2005 News Bulletin!

Here are examples of bad subject lines:

- Last Minute Gift - We Have the Answer
- Valentine's Day Salon & Spa Specials!
- Company Name Pioneers in XYZ Technology
- You asked for more...

I would add that the better you think about what your email responded would want to receive, the better your copy will be. If you think tey want to get something in the subject lien about how good your company is, think again.

Here's a good one... Anne recommends that marketers should consider "testing "boring" subject lines." These are subject lines that tell you that there is some important news that may be important to the user but not giving too much away that will result in a delete from the inbox.

Have fun testing that one out!

Chad H.

PS: Here's the full study


8 Email Marketing Tips

Need to get a refresher on best practices for email marketing? Check out the article "8 Email Marketing Tips" that includes industry "notables" such as Seth Godin. There are some useful tips here for novice emarketers. Most of these are pretty basic.

Chad H.

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