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Blogs I like

Apparently, there are over 2 million blogs out in 'cyberspace'. Here are 2 that I particularly like and which are also good Internet Marketing examples.

What's Your Brand Mantra?
This blog is written and developed by Jennifer Rice of Mantra Brand Solutions. Jennifer is a brand strategy consultant and uses the blog to discuss a wide range of issues related to branding. The site is simple, clean and focused and rarely wanders away from the subject of branding. From the comments on the site and references to other brand consultants, you can work out that Jennifer has built up quite a nice community. In fact, as a result of the blog she is working on a business project with another branding consultant. Like many business people who maintain their own blogs, she is not out to directly promote her own business, Mantra Brand Communications, yet anyone who has bought into what she says will undoubtedly make their way to her corporate site.

The Food Section
This is a fabulous site. Josh Friedland is passionate about his food and writes with passion about it. The Food Section includes articles on recipes, trips to food establishments and news on food events and practically every article invites comments from loyal FoodSection readers. Visitors to his Web site come in through a number of different routes, from links on other sites to food articles and obviously the search engines. The site has won praise from a number of food magazines and has got in to the well-known Yahoo! Picks Hall of Fame.

Search Engine users a huge variety of keywords to come in to the site, using words as varied as 'new york oyster festival' to 'soup dumplings', with Google listing 1,050 links to the Food Section and Yahoo! Listing 19,400 (Admittedly, both of these will include multiple links from the same blogs). However, through some searching you can see that a huge amount of ‘food bloggers’ have links to this site.

The key ingredients (oops!) to both these sites are:
1. A passion for what they write
2. A high-level of knowledge of the subject matter
3. An engaging writing style.


Email marketing – some easy-to-implement tips

Heidi Cohen in an article entitled Found Money: Eight "Quick Hits" offers 8 quick fix tips for generating untapped revenue for you business. I like tip number 4 - putting links at the bottom of all your employees' outgoing e-mail. Given the number of employees who send emails to friends and families, outgoing email messages offer an ideal opportunity to place links to a company's products.

See also:
Setting up Email Signatures


£50 voucher for Google AdWords (UK Only)

If you're based in the UK, you may be interested in a Google AdWords incentive which gives new companies who sign up for the service £50 worth of Google AdWords for FREE. The offer lasts until the 15th August. You simply need to type in your company name and address and wait for a voucher to come through by post.

Update
For a limited period (in November 2007) Google is now offering a £30 AdWords Voucher 

Related Article

Pay-per-click Advertising

Google AdWords - Useful Tutorials



Survey Monkey – Allowing you to get closer to your customers

Today, I received an email from Six Apart, the people who provide the technology for this TypePad blog, inviting me to take part in an on-line survey. The email took me to the website of Survey Monkey, the people who provide the on-line survey technology. The survey took a very short time, had a nice look and feel and was easy to use. The objective of the survey was to ask me questions on how I found the TypePad service, what improvements I would like to see and what new features I would like to see to the service.

One of the keys to a successful website is the ability to collect timely information on your website's performance. For all those with websites, this is a neat tool to help you work out what users think about your site, whether you are addressing their needs, identifying issues with functionality and asking them how you can improve the service. The pricing appears to be very good, too:

Professional Subscription - $19.95/month for up to 1,000 responses.
Basic - maximum of 10 questions and 100 responses per survey.


Identifying Keywords via Yahoo!

Following a link from Seth Godin's site, Stick with me kid, I came across this interesting article on the Rugles blog regarding how Google can help people come up with appropriate search terms. The author explains how they were given a list of suggested/related words when looking for the word 'shoes'. The resulting suggestions included 'dc shoes', 'running shoes' and 'rockport shoes'; by further clicking on 'running shoes', they were presented with 'nike running shoes', 'brooks running shoes', etc.

The author noted that when they tried it out a second time, the results couldn't be replicated. I have just taken a look at Yahoo! and they do offer a similar option:

This tool could be quite useful in helping companies come up with suggestions on new keywords, for meta tags, page titles and for their site content. I would assume that the related words are generated from queries already carried out on Yahoo!

Related Article
Overture's Suggestion Tool for search keywords


Beware! – Scam from ‘Domain Name Registry of America’

I returned home from work yesterday to find a letter from the 'Domain Name Registry of America' advising me that my domain name, Marketingtom.com, was about to expire and that I should renew it for the price of £18 with the Domain them. With a name like the Domain Name Registry of America I thought that they must be some official body for the registration of domain names but no, they are some scam merchant looking for people to TRANSFER domain names away from their existing supplier to them for an inflated price. I pay GoDaddy something like $7 per year (£4) and my domain doesn't even expire until September of 2005. I did a quick search on the Internet last night and found the following articles relating to this company:

Register.com Wins Stay Against Domain Registry of America
Court bars Canadian domain slammer
Boycot Domain Registry of America
Domain Registry of America, again.
Domain Registry of America (at it again??)

Please inform your business colleagues and friends of this scam and feel free to link back in to this article.


Further use of the Google Toolbar

The Google Toolbar offers Internet Marketers a number of very useful tools. One of these is the ‘cached snapshot of page’ which can be found under the ‘page info’ button. This displays the page that Google has cached of your site on their database – not necessarily your current page - and it could help to inform you of why you’re not being picked up for certain words. By clicking on ‘backward links’ on the same menu, Google will tell you the number of links in to your Web site – don’t forget it is likely that many of these will be multiple links from the same Web site.


A9 – Amazon’s new Search Engine – Awesome!

Amazon has just launched the latest search engine, called A9, which provides users with search engine results and results from Amazon's 'Search Inside the Book™' technology. This technology provides users with results from Amazon itself and in some cases displays results from a given page in a book. The search engine results come from Google, which also provides sponsorhip links and Google Adwords. Much like Google and Yahoo! users can download the A9 toolbar:

The search toolbar features some nifty tools:
1. Search facility (Google and Amazon products)
2. The standard pop-up box blocker
3. Diary - so that you can leave notes on sites you have visited
4. Site history

One of the best tools is the site info button (a possible must-have toy) for Internet Marketers, which gives you information on where people who have visited the site you are viewing have also gone to (it uses Alexa technology) and some basic site stats. On viewing the Seth Godin blog, I was able to pick up the following site information:

At first glance this looks like a wonderful tool - anything that can utilise Google's search technology with enhanced features such as books and 'site info' can't be bad at all.


Message Boards and adverts

In a previous posting I spoke about the importance of using bulletin boards as a means of driving traffic to a Web site - Bulletin boards, newsgroups - a good source for targeted leads.

Tessa Wegert in an article on Clickz, titled On the Cheap: Message Board Ads, writes about how to use bulletin boards effectively for advertising, using the case of a business her brother developed a few years back as an example:

To assess their target market and determine how best to reach it through online advertising (without investing a bundle), the three partners spent hours surfing the Web daily. They spent much of their time on message boards and in online forums. There, automotive enthusiasts discuss their passion and compare notes on parts they'd appraised. The sites helped the group identify the demand for their products.

The great thing about message boards is that they can help you identify the right language to reach your target market, due to the fact that people on a particular forum will be talking about like-minded things. This article also describes how companies with lower budgets or those looking for channels to drive the main advertising push can use forums extremely effectively. She says that of the 20-odd message boards that they advertised on, only 1 failed to generate any sales for them.