Sunday, July 30, 2006

10 Reasons why I like Blogger - Part I

Thinking about switching your blog platform? You'll need to consider many factors such as your blogging goals as well as your technical abilities.

When I first started blogging I wanted to jump in with both feet and not look back. Now I've started to look over my shoulder at the rest of the blogosphere and want to decide if it's time to switch blog platforms. Besides Blogger, I've used and MSN Spaces (my fun blog). I'm also getting questions from people as to which blogging platform they should use. This is the first in a series in which I will look at:

1. What I like about Blogger
2. What I don't like about Blogger
3. Should I move blog platforms to Wordpress or Typepad

For now, I will look at why I like Blogger:
  • It's free - no sign up fees or hosting fees (for now).
  • It's owned by Google I - This means that Google is indexing your blog and promoting it as it's part of their overall offerings and to their advantage - especially if you use adsense.
  • Easy to get up and running - It took me 5 minutes to get my blog up and running.
  • Great support - there's a whole support group out there to help you out
  • It's owned by Google II - This means that you don't need to worry about your blog disappearing as I don't expect Google to go out of business any time soon
  • I don't host it - I don't need to worry about a database or bandwith etc... as Blogger hosts it
  • Good Add-ons - There are actually some good ones like the poll add-on below as well as some Blogger hacks. I use the "XBlog This" feature which helps me create Technorati tags.
  • Available templates - There are many templates to choose from when you're getting started. I'll leave it at that.
  • Adsense integration - Blogger makes adding adsense very easy. This doesn't mean you'll make money, it just means it's easy to setup.
  • Interesting features - There really isn't anything that other blog platforms don't have but you have the basics and hey, it's free. If you know HTML you can also add new features pretty easily like a blogroll and co-comment. Any features that I missed (probably not)?

If you're a small company looking to get a blog up and running quickly or someone who justs wants to record their daily rants about George Bush, Blogger may be right for you. Before you go and choose blogger, stay tuned for my next post in which I will discuss why I don't like Blogger (It should be a long post).


PS - Let me know if there are any advantages I missed
PS - please fill out my poll below.

Which blog platform are you using?
Typepad (hosted)
Movable Type
MSN Spaces
Free polls from

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Linking blogs and newsletters together Part II (Lead Nurturing)

As a business blogger, one thing that probably won't work too well is to include in every post some sort of call to action to buy your products or services. If you don't believe me, I challenge you or Microsoft or IBM to include a post with the title "BUY NOW! BUY NOW! BUY NOW!". At least it will generate a few comments. :)

However, this is not what the blogging community wants to hear about. This type of mentality is what really pissed me off when I found Nike's Basketball blog. However, this is perhaps what male teenagers (their target audience) want to see.

While knowing what products and services you offer is important, it's even more significant that customers and prospects know what the business challenge is that is affecting them that would cause them to consider your company. For example, a large business that has a tough time amalgamating all of it's customer data may not realize that there are people out there that can help them. What they don't want to hear is "Call us now for a quote on how we can help you fix your CRM". Some may not know what they want to hear or know that they actually have a CRM (I'm serious). This is where marketing comes in. A blog post that demonstrates that 60% of companies are losing money as they can't manage their customer data properly may be a good start. A follow up article demonstrating the ROI success of a clean database would be another great approach. A even better one is "Are you staying late at night fixing your customer data?" It's all about building yourself up as the trusted advisor as described by Brian Carrol in his B2B Lead Generation blog

This whole concept dawned on me as I was reading through a B2B Online article by Karen J. Bannan regarding "Keeping Newsletter Readers Engaged". Blogs are not that much different from newsletters in many ways. Instead of using your e-newsletter as a selling piece, use it as a nurturing or matuation channel to ensure that your readers know about what problems are out there and that they are not alone. Blogs can be used in conjunction for this purpose. The difference? There are many.

The main differences are timing and style. B2B Newsletters ussually come out once a month or quarter as you don't want to push too much content at a prospect or customer for fear of the nasty "unsbubscribe". With blogs, people who are subscribing to your feeds are they're saying "I like what you're blogging about". The tone is different too as newsletters are mostly sappy marketing crap (no offense offense). Blogs can be more creative and personal.

Remember to use blogs as another piece of the marketing pie to keep your prospects and customers engaged and keep the name of your company at the top of their mind.

Chad H


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Don't blog too close to home

Blogging is fun and informative but watch what you blog about, when you blog and who you blog about. It may come back to bite your bloggy ass. For personal blogs, this could mean not to blog about your family (or at least mention their names), friends, coworkers or the company you work for. This has resulted in countless examples of people being fired from their jobs, and family problems.

The same goes for business blogs. Write respectively about your competitors and fellow bloggers as they will see what you write. If you're mean and degrading to others, you will probably cause a firestorm. This includes including derogatory images, podcasts and interviews. For example, you may even offend customers by interviewing one of their competitors. Your best bet is to have a clearly laid out blog blue print and policy that you are your team can easily follow. It should clearly state what you can cannot blog about.

The power of blogs can work against you as easily as it can work for you. While you may get some short term gain by "stirring the shit", you will tarnish your name, your company and lose all respect in the eyes of your customers. Remember that you have the power of the mouse - use it wisely.

Chad H.

PS - That post was a bunch of BS (except for having a basic blog plan). Write about everything and anything that appeals to you and generate the most web traffic that you can. How else are you going to get noticed if you don't push the envelope? Be creative and keep having fun!
PPS - McDonalds food is shit. Don't you agree?
PPPS - What are your thoughts on blogger ethics?

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Monday, July 24, 2006

10 Business blog ideas

If you're looking for some ideas on what to blog about on your business blog, check out Mike Sieger's post: 10 Post Ideas For Businesses That Blog.

This includes, case studies, reviews, interviews (I need to try that), how to's?, attacks, trends, research etc...

Do you have any good ideas? I prefer presenting new information (at least that I think is new). Attacking is also fun.

Chad H.

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Can you digg it?

As part of my goal to get "down" with the social networks, I thought I would sign up for the service Digg and even submit a few of my blog posts.

If you're not sure what Digg is all about, go check it out. It's a repository of informatuion in which you can submit articles and posts that you find. "Diggers" read these articles and rate them. If it's a good article it will get a higher rating. If it's not relevant or poorly written, it will get buried. Digg like the other social networking sites is another method that bloggers can use to get their story out there to the rest of the world and drive "trafog" (traffic on blogs - another Chad original word).

To back up how much this works, check out the webstats on my blog after I submitted a few stories to Digg (see image). This is backed up by looking at which sites provided the highest referrals and this was by far Digg.

So, if you're reading this post, please give me a hand and pull me up to the top of Digg!

Do you have any good Digg stories or other social network successes?

Chad H.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Linking blogs and newsletters together

While blogs and newsletters seem different, Mark White over at Better Buisness Blogging points out ways that you can leverage both newsletters and blogs in your marketing efforts. His ideas include:

  • Advertising yoiur newsletter on your blog
  • Use content that was created in your blog on your newsletter (this one was brilliant). You could even re-purpose blog content for other purposes.
I would also recommend:
  • Driving people to your blog to discuss an article in your e-newsletter
  • Forshadow newsletter articles on your blog by using cliffhangers. For example "Google is headed for its downfall... Tune into September's upcoming newsletter - subscribe now!"
This is just the beginning! Do you have any ideas?

Chad H.


11 ways to drive web traffic

If you're looking for new and innovative ways to drive traffic to your website, check out the post on SEOMoz's blog 10 Remarkably Effective Strategies for Driving Traffic. I've used a few of these strategies including Top 10 lists, Creating Controversy. and blog commenting in the past.

I learned a few new tricks including some SEO and paid search techniques as well as how to increase traffic with social networks. For example, I've added a new link to the bottom of each blog post that allows you to submit my post to the popular social networks like Digg. Please feel free to!

Are there any additional techniques that you have found that have worked (besides the typical email, direct mail etc...)?

Chad H.

The worst Fortune 500 blogs - Part I

Have you come across a business blog and said "This is pure shit?" Between what I do for a living and blogging in my spare time, I've started to really take note of what I feel is a good blog and what isn't. I've evaluated a bunch of corporate blogs from fortune 500 companies and I've listed out the bottom 5 that I've found and why.

My criteria for a good blog is based on the following: appearance, content, purpose, frequency of posts, and traffic. I plan to revisit this subject over time so please don't consider this list as permanent. Here they are (in no particular order):

EDS' Next Big Thing Blog - I see very little traffic, boring content (hey, I'm a techie by nature) of the what is there, and almost no comments. The worst part is that seems just a part of EDS' regular website. This is a blog no no for industry. If it's suppopsed to be the "Next Big Thing Blog" then get someone who will write more then 2 sentences per post on average.

Nike Basketball Blog - I really hated this site. I needed trifocals to see the content as it was so small (and I'm 30!!) and there's an enormous picture of a Nike shoe for each post. Again, this is a BS blog (bull shit blog) and I'm glad that it has a very low traffic rating. Shame on Nike for its blatant advertising. You just reinforce the sterotype that Americans don't need to read - just look at pictures and play X-box.

Sprint - Things That Make You go Wireless
- It's more like "Things That Make You go hit the back button" when you land on this piece of crap blog. I don't know too much about Spront these days but if they pay as much attention to their blog as their business then it's in for some serious trouble. Blogs are suppossed to be interactive but could you leave comments? no. Has there been many posts? no. I don't care if the principal writer is too busy - then shut the blog down. It looks disgraceful and unprofessional. PS - Try clicking on the title of a blog post.

Cox Communications: Digital Straight Talk - I actually feel sorry for you guys as you've been around since October 2005 and you seem to have written some great material but you don't know what the word SEO means (it means search engine optimization. Go to the major blog search sites such as Technorati and see what happens - nothing!!! If you post on your blog but do nothing else no one will come to your blog. I also saw almost no comments which backs up what I'm seeing in your traffic stats. Keep wasting your time or get someone to help you (I'm available).

Although I didn't want to rate these bottom-feeder blogs I found possibly the worst blog ever:

Motorola - Kazuhiro's blog - The concept is very good but the execution is horrible. I like the idea of profiling someone who is part of your target audience but 1 post every three months doesn't work and the blatant product placement is terrible. Shut this blog down ASAP as it's tarnishing your image. This is pure puke.


Business blogs are about content and ratings that drive regular site traffic, brand awareness and sales. If you have great content but low traffic that you're doing somesthing wrong and need assistance on improving your blog. If you have poor and little content and low traffic then shut your blog down, refocus and then relaunch. As I previously blogged about, blogs take commitment from the enture organization and a require a strategy that rolls up into the overall marketing plan. If you don't have that then stop wasting your time.

Chad H.

PS: Have you noticed any other poor business blogs out there?


Spice up your emails - Link to your video demos

One of the best practices that I preach for email marketers is to reuse content that you have on your site already. Why re-invent the wheel each time? I mostly talk about whitepapers, PR articles and archived webinars. What about flash demos that you may have created? Most people believe that a flash demo is great if you get someone to your site but you really need something like a whitepaper or a webinar to get them interested. A recent MarketinsgSherpa webinar has demonstrated that when trying to book meetings, including a link to a video demo about your products payed off big time. Grip On Tools, a company that imports tools, created and used a flash video as a link within their emails to major tool distributors. The result was a number of meetings from companies that ignored them in the past.

If you have a brand, product or company that people have a hard time getting consider reusing a flash demo that marketing may already have created for your website or consider investing in a new one. Here are some simple ways to use or re-use your demos: Include the link to the demo in all employee signatures, on all confirmation pages, on your newsletter, on your company blog (if applicable), on all printed and online material (even business cards), and on all landing pages - everywhere! Therefore, don't just stick the video under a section called "demo" on your website. If your company has more then one demo (which most do), either tailor the demo link to apply to a specific email or person (perhaps using dynamic email content) or include a link to a main demo page (eg:

Have a great product? Make sure that others understand what makes it so great by publicizing your video demo. This will make sure that you are maximizing your marketing and development dollars.

Chad H.

PS - Thanks Sherpa for reminding me about video demos


Thursday, July 20, 2006

What are people saying about you on the 'ole internet?

Ever wonder what other people are saying about you? I mentioned in an earlier post how you need to "face the music" and start listening to what is being written about your company. Easton over at BusinessBlogWire (who you should all subscribe to) has written a series of blog posts on how to easily monitor the buzz that is out there on you and your company in the "bloggy universe". Check it out!

Chad H.

PS - Easton for president


Sealing the Deal: Your Landing Page

Not getting a great conversion rate from your landing pages? Here's a good article from e-consultancy called "A 10-point checklist for landing page design".

This article also describes how to improve your Google Adword "quality score". Essentially, the more relevant your Adword keywords and text ad copy are to your landing page content, the less costly your keywords will be as it lowers the minimum bid price.

Nothing too new in the article but it's well written and an easy read. Bottom line: Keep your landing page brief and to the point.

Chad H.


Starting up a new blog? Check this out!

If you just started a regular "I want to tell you about myself" blog or a corporate business blog, check out this article on BusinessBlogWire that tells you which sites to submit your blog to in order to improve your search rankings. Thanks Easton!

Chad H.

PS - My tips is to start off at Technorati and then go to Blogpulse. I also go to PingGoat and Pingomatic but will try these other ones that Easton suggested.

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What not to write - Stop wasting our time!

I have to admit that I was a bit excited when I saw this article on Imedia written by Wendy Roth with the headline "Email Marketing: What to Measure" as I just went through some internal discussions on this same topic. I was vastly dissapointed to read a "filler" article with great lines like
"Remember: Your customers can’t act on your email campaign if they never receive it."
Hey Wendy - Are you sure about that? I never though that email should actually be delivered.

I'll admit that some of her comments were OK but she makes some fundemental mistakes by basing opens on just the subject line and the from line. You mention the preview pane in your article but you don't put two and two together that in a preview pane, you can typically see the content and call to action (if there is one). Depending on the tracking software, this quick glance at the email and may not count as an open. Therefore, if the message is off and/or the offer is bad, the receiver may not open the email. In addition, with Outlook, you can typically see the first few lines of text before opening the email. Don't forget about the content!

Here are some other choice lines that scream out OBVIOUS!!!:
  • remove those dead addresses from your list.
If they are dead, I think they've removed themselves

  • And when the emails are paid subscriptions, open rates can skyrocket to 70 percent. Notice that even when recipients pay money to get the email messages the open rate doesn’t hit 100 percent.
Oh, yes 70% is not 100% - thanks for pointing that out!

  • Unfortunately, not all recipients will respond positively to your campaign.
They don't? But I work so hard on them! ah, maybe that explains why 70% is not 100%

This article was good for those who may be just getting themselves familar with e-marketing but for the most part, I found this a bit too obvious without any new information.

Chad H

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Website Conversions - What are they good for?

Lets face it, website conversions (form submissions) are good for everyone because it's typically someone out there who is browsing your website and saying "I want something more from you guys". A web conversion, could be a request for some additional information, someone sending you feedback or an online purchase. Instead of focusing on how to get people to your site (like every good marketere should focus on), I want to share a tidbit I readin a recent MarketingSherpa (I love this site) case study that inspired me to write this blog post instead of going to bed (how is that for feedback!). While the conversion is crucial, it's also important to focus on the post-conversion website clickpath of your recent form submittor.

Georgia Aquariam did something very simple that was brilliant. Once a form was submitted, they used a plain generic confirmation page without any links for the first 24 hours after the site was launched. They then tracked to see where people visisted from this confirmation page. They then added the most popular links to the confirmation page - simple, yet brilliant. The goal of this is to keep people on your website, help them find the information that they're looking for and to make this whole process very easy. They could even have taken this a step further by using an autoresponder email that countained these same links popular links so that a user could easily visit these pages at a later date. Lets throw another idea out there: After 3 months, take out these links on the confirmation page and assess where the user click to all over again. Testing never ends when your a marketer and if you have the tools to easily track this data, it makes it a whole lot easier.

To sum up, it's great that not only did you get the person to your website, and even got them to submit a form (maybe even buy something!). Now what? Remember to think about how you can keep them on your website so that they can perhaps view some additional information, sign up for an event or maybe even buy another product.

Chad H.

PS - Now that you read this post, leave me a comment if you've tried something like this (or will now try this). I'll definitely pass this tip on to my clients.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Better show up on the first page or go home

As I finally get through all of my old email, I found this study on eMarketer in May that basically demonstrates that you better be on the first page of search results or you will probably not be seen. It seems that the number of people that get past the first few pages of search results is less and less since 2002. While this may mean that search engines are able to provide more and more relevant data in teh first few pages or that users don't have the patience to keep searching, it probably means the following:
  1. Google AdWords sponsored this study
  2. SEO firms sponsored this study
  3. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation sponsored this study.
  4. Americans are becoming lazier and lazier
  5. George Bush is using Google
  6. Less and less people know how to click "next" to get more search results
  7. There are no search results after 3 pages becuase of parental screening software.
  8. The internet is collapsing into a black hole
  9. Everybody is over at YouTube and they don't really care about the major search engines anymore
  10. Britney Spears is no longer popular.
Pick your choice! Bottom line is that you better get that SEO hat out and ensure that you are high in the search rankings for your industry. Good luck!

Chad H.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

I'm a SOB! I'm a SOB! (Successful and Outstanding Blog)

My blog won an award as a S.O.B. or Succesful and Outstanding Blog! I was just talking about handing out my own award (The AGM Award to Coke and Mentos) and I did a search on the ole' Technorati and there it was!! ME "Liz" Strauss from Successful Blog awarded me for my blog post "Blogs let the rest of us take back the night" in which I discussed some of the positives of blogging and the need for thw company worker bees to have their say on the corporate blog. Here is a tidbit from my post: with blogs "employees know that their CEO is not just drinking cocktails in the business lounge when they're stuck in an airport."

Liz Strauss writes:

This is a funny one!

That says it all. I will do my best to make Liz and all the other S.O.Bs proud. Thanks so much everyone for this award and for reading my blog.

Chad H.


Coke and Mentos - Anything Goes Marketing (AGM) Winner!

If I ever thought about creating an "Anything Goes Marketing" (AGM) award, the Coke and Mentos explosion videos that are all over the web would get it hands down. These types of videos are part of the reason why I created this blog (not just to bore you with unintersting SEO tips). This unofficial campaign is brilliant. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the videos on the ever popular You Tube. Basically, you have teenage boys placing Mentos into a 2L Coke bottle and then slamming the bottle on the ground which creates an awesome rocket effect. The other thing they're doing is creating a Coke volcano where they drop the Mentos into the Coke bottle and watch the gyser of Coke soar into the air.

As quoted in an Imedia article, Coke is taking this amazing masterpiece of marketing in stride:
We think people are enjoying this video because it's underground-- we have no marketing plans for it. We're just sitting and watching it with everyone else.
Susan McDermott, director, communications, Coca-Cola North America

I really doubt that Coke is just "sitting and watching" though. Why is it just Coke - why are there no videos of people using Pepsi (maybe there are and I never looked!). You can decide whether or not that statement is true but the reality is that Coke is attempting to portray itself as "fun" to its target market and what better way then to have these crazy videos of teenagers firing off Coke-branded rockets that anyone can make. It's perfect!

Kudos Coke (and Mentos)! You've inspired me to create and award you both as the first "AGM" award winners! If you leave a comment on my blog to claim your award, I'll even create a banner-ad that you can use to advertise this great acheivement, send you an official certificate, and we can also talk about creating a joint press release.

Chad H.

PS - The short form for AGM is "Aggie". Congrads again to Coke and Mentos for winning your Aggies.


Saturday, July 15, 2006

Protect your brand: Face the music

In my last post I focused on writing blog posts. The other half of your job is to listen to what people are writing about your company. Robert Moskowitz writes about user generated mdeia (UGM) in his article "Don't Get Burned by User Generated Media". He focuses in on why you should read about what others are writing on the net. Here is a summary:
  • You learn about trends, what your competitors are up to and what people like and dislike
  • Listen to what others are saying about you - good and bad. Even if it's bad, buzz is usually good for your company (like Chevy's Tahoe). The difference is in how you respond. Don't just hide your head like Dell did when faced with adversity but respond accordingly and protect your brand!
  • If there is negative content written about you, like the Dell Gripes site, plan a strategy to counter it. This may mean educating consumers about what Dell does to support its products or how it benefits the community. Remember - there is a conversation going on out there and it may be about you. If it is, be prepared and act. Other things that Robert suggests are: thanking your adocates who are writing good things about you, train your team on how to respond to these types of issues before they get out of hand, get your marketing team involved to think more about these issues. For example, how can you involve consumers more? How can you make customers who are your advocates get the message out there about your company?
It's important to remember that having your CEO update his or her blog each month is great but that is only half the battle. Remeber to listen to what people are saying about you and respond accordingly.

Chad H.

How are business blogs making out?

Working for a marketing software company that focuses on B2B, I find myself more and more talking about blogs. It just sort of slips out when clients ask me how can I generate more leads and keep people coming back to their websites.

It's not surprising though that adoption for blogs is slow for businesses as indicated in a recent eMarketer article. Just like I've found, it takes a strong commitment to keep writing interesting and informative blog posts. Besides having a purpose and objective for having a blog a company needs to dedicate resources and encourage the blog. This is the only way that it will be successful.

Here are some options for companies who want to blog:

  • If an executive says "I want to blog" make sure that they understand what they're getting into. This may mean setting up a document that outlines what they can and cannot talk about as well as the frequency in which the blog should be updated (eg: once a month). Making this consistent (eg: first week of each month) works best as bloggers will know when your next post will come out. In addition, ensure that you have a few topics lined up for your exec to help them out. An executive assistant or someone from marketing can help gather ideas on topics to write about.
  • If someone in marketing says "I want to blog" make sure you set similar guidelines. In addition, ensure that they don't use too much marketing and sales terminology. As we see, the succesful blogs are those that tell stories such as those by GM and Sun. They've gone away from the idea of using blogs as a straight up sales tool. Bloggers are not those types of people. We want to learn and be heard so think about your audience and not soley about your bottom line.
  • If someone in your manufacturing or software development section says "I want to blog" I would give that person a raise! It's great to see people that are so passionate about what they do that they would want to blog about their work. However, they also need guidelines as you don't want to give away any trade secrets. However, they can write about some of the latest technology that is being used which makes your company look great. You may also find some new employees this way as well as some ideas. It's also important to ensure that they can write well becuase if they don't it will be a waste of time.
  • If nobody comes forward and says "I want to blog" you have a few options. You can use RSS feeds to pull in data on the business field that you're in, you can have someone write your copy for you or you can ask a certain blogger who writes articles in your field to become the voice of your organization. These all work but they take a company that sees the benefits of blogging and is willing to invest in it. I wouldn't encourage a VP to say to one of their employees "I want you to blog". The people who blog have to want to do it. If they don't, it won't work. Putting a gun to someone's head just doesn't cut it. Another option is to send out an email to your executive team and ask them if anyone wants to blog. You can even do this for the entire company. You can have a contest for the best blog posts, have a different writer each week. Your company probably has more talent then you really realize - expose that talent with blogs and give everyone a voice!
To sum up, it's easy to start a blog but most companies realize the commitment to keep one going and for this reason they either keep to their core activities or have had a "blog-out" (my term for a blogging shutting down). To prevent this make sure you set a plan in place for who will update the blog and get blogging!!

Chad H.

PS - Ok, I'm really back this time. I had a wonderful time on my honeymoon and am back with a vengence.

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