Month: March 2012

What is with the number 7 in marketing? The secret to more sales on the Internet.

seven
seven
What's with seven?

It seems many marketers, particularly those of the spammy inclination, are pricing everything to end with the number 7. “Get my system for $47,” “Buy this software for $197.” It’s like everybody is trying to become Wal-mart all of a sudden. Wassup with that? Apparently this is the secret to more sales on the Internet.

I admit I haven’t researched why this is, but some guru probably bragged about the fabulous results he was getting with it and everyone jumped on it. That is all fine and dandy, but I have a revolutionary new idea: price everything with a 6! That means it’s cheaper! What would you rather buy…a $47 e-Book on “The 7 Secrets to World Peace, Curing Cancer, and Making Money Through Article Marketing” or a $46 e-Book on “The 7 Secrets to World Peace, Curing Cancer, and Making Money Through Article Marketing.” The choice is clear!

I immediately suspect anyone charging $47 for anything to be an spammer through guilt by association. I would prefer they charge $48.13 or $50, but that is just me.

Enterprise Content Curation – How Pinterest and Other Models Can Lead to Greater Engagement and Profits

pinterest logo

pinterest logoSocial content curation on the Internet is a relatively new concept, prevalent only for the past few years and perfectly illustrated by the skyrocketing use of Pinterest. The idea is that humans provide the best filtration of the enormous amount of information spawned on the Web, and that value of these filters and of the information they curate rises in proportion to the social relevance of the source to the end user. Hence, content shared by close friends and associates on social media sites such as Pinterest, Facebook and StumbleUpon carry a lot of weight, as these sources have a direct connection and relevance to us personally.

Businesses can adopt content curation on their social intranets. This allows them to present valuable data to stakeholders without having to produce it all in-house, saving time and money. While caution against bombarding with too much information in a short span of time should be adopted, enterprise curation allows a larger body of data to be introduced in a more rapid manner when compared with reliance solely on self-produced content, thereby increasing the value of the company intranet to its users.

What are the benefits of social curation in the enterprise?

Beyond the obvious cost savings and speed benefits, there is business-building value in sharing information through the enterprise curation model. Primarily, this comes in the form of increased engagement with all stakeholders, including employees, vendors and customers. Increased engagement means a greater ability to send your marketing message to ride along unobtrusively with content, and also to gain insight into the current mindset of those different audience types in order to better communicate and plan.

Targeting specific groups within an intranet management platform, such as SharePoint, could be helpful in spurring ideas through crowdsourcing from particular audiences, data mining, and analytics of the content they are sharing and the conversations being had as a result. Enterprise curation provides a window into buttons – the cues that people respond to and compel the decision to purchase or otherwise engage with a brand — simply by monitoring how your audience interacts with the data you have selected for them, and what they choose to curate themselves. Groups can also be directly invited to share ideas on new products by posting designs and themes they wish to see on your platform.

Two different audiences.

Internally, examining the analytics on curated content can help illuminate the values of employees and therefore increase productivity when those values and interests are targeted. Conversely, curated content helps employees understand the forces at play in their industry, and if annotations are attached expressing clear viewpoints from management, will help them process what the company’s stance is regarding these forces.

Externally, an outward-facing portal can increase a brand’s thought leadership position and make it the “go-to” place for industry insights through aggregating valuable content. This aggregation can spur interaction, and therefore foster a continuous conversation with customers, making any investment of time in building it well worth it.

As new media sources, including social media users and digital publishers generate more information in a single day than can be processed in a lifetime, it becomes more and more important to provide a way to separate the wheat from the chaff and direct the information to the appropriate users that will benefit the most from it. Administrators would be wise to implement the social curation model to their intranets.

3 Things Web Marketers Can Learn from Gene Simmons & KISS Dissing Rihanna.

Gene Simmons Rihanna
http://williepena.com
Be Fearless

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley recently dissed Rihanna and her ilk while speaking to the press about their new tour with Motley Crue. Now, I am not a huge fan of KISS or Motley Crue, but after reading this article, I WANT TO GO SEE THIS FREAKIN’ CONCERT! It was refreshing to see some actual marketing going on by bonafide experts. You see, I think too many marketers, especially the corporate ones, have gone a bit New-agey and soft, trying to “curate” and “engage” and solve “disconnects,” whatever the hell that is. The only disconnects I ever tried to solve were when my lights or phone got cut off. But, I digress.

I am about to make my point right here: Having great content is good, BUT SELLING IT IS MORE IMPORTANT. From reading blogs all over the place, it seems many well-intentioned marketers have lost the plot completely and are spinning their wheels, thinking that by being an encyclopedia of blandness, they will convince people to buy stuff. While this whole business of “just type something inoffensive based on keywords, and they will come” sounds nice in practice, web marketers have to realize they are selling to HUMANS, and the way you make most people do the things you want to is through STIMULATING AND MANIPULATING HUMAN EMOTIONS, not by writing the 100 millionth article about how to optimize a blog for maximum user engagement. Chances are that Darren Rowse has already written it anyway, so write something else. (Note: I plan to write my own “optimize your blog” thingy, but it will be epic — so there.)

I have learned this lesson the hard way with a couple of failures related to making great content (music, movies, books, etc.) but failing to make a huge dent with sales. I had adopted the viewpoint shared by many people trying to make money on the web: just make something good and nice people will pay you lots of money for it. Guess what: IT DON’T WORK, BUB!

Here are some lessons we can learn from Gene Simmons and KISS, masters of marketing:

  1. You need a hook, bro. KISS is unmistakable, No one else on the planet looks like them, talks like them, rocks like them. Contrast that with the 10 million goobers, I mean bloggers, that all write the same 400 to 600 words of bland crap just like the next dude in a mock turtleneck and Moby glasses. Lesson: Figure out what your unique identity is, and milk it. I bet you could call yourself “The Booger-Eatin’ Blogger” and as long as you rock that style like you own the world, you will probably attract a fan base and be able to sell them stuff. Darn it, come to think of it, I should have called my blog something else. Like “The I Am Not John Chow Blog.” Just kidding, I like John Chow’s blog very much, he is one of the few bloggers that actually provides useful information, with some humor to boot.
  2. Life is too short to play it safe. Do you really think Gene Simmons needs a personal beef with Rihanna, who is backed by scary former crack dealer Jay-Z? Wouldn’t it have been easier to for Gene to say “We are quite proud of the fact that we have solved our disconnects and come together as a band once more to interface with our loyal fans who have supported us through the years.” Instead, he comes out of nowhere and says “No karaoke singers allowed. No fake bullsh*t…Leave that to Rihanna-Schmianna and everybody else whose name ends with an ‘a.'” What did he achieve with this comment? He got coverage on CNN, this little blog of mine, and now has infected you, my dear reader’s brain with his message: KISS IS THE REAL DEAL AND IF YOU WANT AUTHENTIC ROCK AND ROLL, GO TO THIS SHOW. Brilliant.
  3. Sell, dammit. What was the point of all of this controversy? To sell tickets to the show. They did not beat around the bush: Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley pretty much tell you straight up that this is the greatest rock show ever and you’d better go see it. How refreshing to see someone actually use some showmanship to get a message across and directly entice me to want to spend money on something I never in a million years would have wanted previously, simply because they are so COOL.

I could write a bunch more, but I will stop right here as I have a deadline to meet on a project and have to get back to work. The point I am making with this post is that is you should commit fully to what your brand is, and don’t back off or apologize for being yourself. To hell with the politically-correct idiots that will never achieve anything while trying to keep everyone docile and pleased…this is a tough business environment and only the tigers, like Gene Simmons and KISS, survive for the long haul.

Peace out.

The Rise and Rise of Article PR – What are the Implications?

Look, we're making money on da Internets!
Look, we're making money on da Internets!
Look, we're making money on the Internets!

Here is an article I am republishing with permission, of interest to web marketers as some of it is contrary to what some gurus say. Being a contrarian myself, I like it. Many gurus say article marketing hurts your PR due to duplicate content, but Glenn doesn’t seem to think so:

The Rise and Rise of Article PR – What are the Implications?

By Glenn Murray | Advertising Copywriter, Website Copywriter, Article PR Specialist *

Already a very popular method of achieving a high search engine ranking, article PR (aka article submission) has now entered the mainstream. As such, its popularity is increasing at a dramatic rate. While this is great for SEO copywriters like myself, there are some side-effects that need to be addressed if article PR is going to remain a viable search engine ranking technique. This article discusses some of those side-effects, along with how they might be addressed.

But first, a little on article PR

Article PR is the process of writing ‘free reprint articles’ and submitting them to the 250+ established article submission sites on the Internet. An article submission site is simply a repository of free reprint articles – a place where authors can submit their articles free of charge, and where webmasters can find articles to use on their websites free of charge. In return for free use of your article, the webmaster includes your author bio and its links to your site. Every time your article is published, you get another link to your site and a boost to your ranking. If the quality of your article is high, it can be published hundreds of times. (See How to Top Google with Article PR for further details on this method.)

The rise and rise of article PR

Because article PR is such an effective way of generating a high search engine ranking, it has now entered the mainstream. As an SEO copywriter, I get several requests each week for quotes to write articles. These requests come almost exclusively from business owners and marketing managers who know little (if anything) about SEO. They obviously didn’t go looking for article PR; article PR found them…

As a result of its newfound mainstream popularity, the number of articles being written and submitted has increased by between 100% – 600% in the past year! Christopher Knight, owner of the biggest article submission site, EzineArticles, tells me that the number of article submissions to his site increased by a staggering 600% from 2004 to 2005. In 2004, EzineArticles was averaging only 1416 article submissions per month. In 2005, it was averaging 8482 article submissions per month!

Similarly, at the end of 2005, when I spoke with Mel Strocen, owner of GoArticles, he reported a doubling of article submissions in the second half of the year. “In the last 6 months article submissions have increased by 100%, going from about 1,000 submissions per week to 2,000+ per week,” he said.

Jason Lynch, owner of ArticleBlast, reported similar increases; between April ’05 and January ’06, submissions to ArticleBlast increased by over 300%.

The web traffic to these sites tells the same story. According to Alexa statistics, at the end of 2004, EzineArticles had a reach of approx 100 users per million Internet users per day. Just over a year later, the site is reaching over ten times that many Internet users. (If we take the total number of Internet users worldwide to be 964 million, EzineArticles traffic has increased from around 96,000 per day to over 1 million visitors per day.)

Alexa stats for GoArticles report similar increases in traffic. At the end of 2004, it had a reach of approx 50 users per million Internet users per day. Just over a year later, it’s reaching approx 10 times that number of users. (Again assuming 964 million Internet users worldwide, GoArticles traffic has increased from around 48,000 per day to around half a million visitors per day.)

Figures for ArticleBlast are more difficult to ascertain as the site is younger and has lower overall traffic.

Even if Alexa’s figures are a little inflated (as I think they tend to be), they still provide a consistent measure for the period. As such, the percentage increases should be relatively accurate.

The side-effects of the rise of article PR

A number of writers have voiced the fear that article PR will die through ‘over-use’, just as keyword stuffing and link farms died. But I don’t agree. Why? Because article PR isn’t just useful to authors and SEO copywriters. The success of article PR is based on the premise that our articles are also useful to READERS. So long as the majority of articles remain useful (i.e. helpful, informative, and easy to read), readers will still want to read them, publishers will still want to publish them, and article PR will remain a viable link building method.

This is true no matter how many people are writing and publishing free reprint articles. Frequent use of a tool doesn’t make the tool ineffective. (Just look at traditional forms of advertising – millions of businesses engage in radio, print, and TV advertising, and those methods remain very effective. The fierce competition simply encourages advertisers to improve the quality of their ads in order to stand out.)

No, in my opinion, there’s no such thing as too many articles. However, there is such a thing as too many BAD articles. Readers want helpful, credible information; they don’t want badly written articles or empty words (‘article spam’) which simply carry a link.

Just as importantly, webmasters don’t want to spend hours trying to find the right article to publish. At the moment, there are literally hundreds of article submission sites out there. Most of them are generic, fully automated affairs that involve no human moderation. They don’t distinguish between good writing and bad, they don’t cull article spam, and they don’t categorize their articles very well. As a result, publishers have to wade through a sea of poor quality to find a handful of useful articles.

These issues are the real hurdles that need to be overcome if article PR is to survive.

Overcoming the problems

The article submission sites will overcome the problems. Here’s how…

As mentioned above, readers aren’t interested in bad articles or article spam. This means that, in the long run, there’s no real value in publishing such articles (either for webmasters or article submission sites); readers will frequent the sites that publish useful articles and ignore those that don’t. Likewise, publishers will frequent the article submission sites that post useful, easy-to-find articles and ignore those that don’t.

This means we’ll see an increase in the number of human-moderated article submission sites. And once this happens, the article PR landscape will change forever:

  1. Human moderated article submission sites will offer a higher percentage of quality articles, and those articles will be easier to find;
  2. Human moderated article submission sites will attract more publishing webmasters, and, as a result, more authors;
  3. We’ll see a decrease in the number of un-moderated article submission sites because they won’t generate enough traffic to make AdSense profitable;
  4. We’ll see a decrease in the overall number of article submission sites (anyone can launch an automated article submission site, but it takes real commitment, business sense, and a dedicated budget to run a human-moderated article submission site);
  5. The spoils will be greater for the surviving article submission sites, so they’ll go to greater lengths to ensure the high quality of their articles; and
  6. We’ll witness the decline of article spam and poor quality articles simply because they won’t be accepted at the good article submission sites.

All in all, it’s a positive outlook for authors and publishers of quality articles.

TIP: For a list of approximately 250 article submission sites and article distribution lists, as well as some useful tips and templates, please visit Article PR.

Happy writing, publishing, and posting!

* Glenn Murray is an advertising copywriter, website copywriter, SEO copywriter, and article submission and article PR specialist. He heads copywriting studio, Divine Write, and is a director of article PR company, Article PR. He can be contacted on Sydney +612 4334 6222 or at glenn@divinewrite.com. Visit http://www.DivineWrite.com or http://www.ArticlePR.com for further details, a FREE SEO eBook, or more FREE reprint articles.

How to Quickly Make Many Pictures Smaller/Reduce File Size in Adobe Photoshop CS5

batch reduce file size in photoshop
batch reduce file size in photoshop
Small size equals speedy page loading.

One of the best ways to get people to read your blog posts, apart from having something interesting to say, of course,  is by incorporating pictures into each one. Visitors can become quite put off by large blocks of uninterrupted  text, so getting royalty-free pictures from sites such as iStockphoto or PhotoXpress.com to spice things up a bit is worth it.

The problem is, these pictures are huge, so they will eat up your bandwidth and cause your pages to load slowly. You have to make them smaller–much smaller. One could open each one individually in a photoediting program and manually resize them, but when you are dealing with a bunch of pictures, this can get tedious.

So, being lazy, I like to use the Image Processor in Adobe Photoshop CS5 to batch reduce the file size of a bunch of pictures at once.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Put all of the pictures you want to make smaller in ONE folder on your computer. The Image Processor processes all of the files within a single folder, it does not allow you to pick and choose from all over the place.

2. In Adobe PhotoShop, go to File–>Scripts–>Image Processor.

3. Click on “Select Folder” in the top section.

4. Select the folder your pictures are in, then hit “OK”

5. Choose where you want to save the new images. I usually pick “Save in Same Location.”

6. Choose your quality. I pick “1” for lowest file size, and the images still come out great. Alternately, you can choose to resize to a specific length and width if you want to go through the trouble. I don’t.

7. Hit “Run.” Photoshop will open up each image and process it automatically. Sit back and relax.

8. When you are done, your images will be placed in a subfolder called “JPEG” in the folder you selected in step 3.

Check out the file reductions in this side by side comparison of before and after processing:

Much better, right? I hope this tip saves you some time.