Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Which Resources Drive the Most Traffic to Your E-Commerce Website?

With all the resources available to draw traffic to an ecommerce website, it is hard to determine where to put the most effort. The obvious answer is to choose the resources that result in the most website traffic and that have high conversion rates, but, which resources are those?

Monetate did some research and provided data about where ecommerce traffic comes from and how it is converted. The data was gathered during the first quarter of 2013. The full report can be downloaded here.

When it comes to direct ecommerce traffic, the report states that:

31.43% landed on an ecommerce website from a search engine
2.82% from an email and
1.55% from social media.

When this information is compared to the first quarter of 2012, note that traffic from email has decreased from 3.72% in 2012 and so has social media traffic, which was 2.36% in 2012.

This does not mean that social media is irrelevant for ecommerce. While social media may not bring a lot of traffic to a website, it still drives purchase decisions. Research from Google showed that instead of being a last interaction, social media often acts as an assist in the purchase decisions. Consumers often use social media in the early phases of the decision making process. With that said, focus on driving traffic using search engine marketing and use other marketing strategies to entice consumers across social media and with email.

Other statistics in relation to traffic and conversion rates were also included in the report form Monetate. When it came to conversion rates:

email came in first with 3.19% 
followed by search at 1.95% and 
social media at 0.71%.

Looking at the same sources, the add-to-cart rates were as follows:

10.51% from when coming from email
6.81% from search and
3.24% from social.

And finally, average order value from each source was as follows:
$96.32 when coming from search
$83.72 from email and
$72.31 from social.

Simply having an ecommerce website is not enough. With all the inbound marketing strategies available, and many of them for free, it is important to figure out what works for your business in order to consistently drive website traffic and sales.

Vegan food truck rolling out sliders

A vegan food truck is hitting the streets to serve up vegan sliders, shakes and fries. Shimmy Shack’s official launch will be Aug. 3 at the Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market.
While other food trucks in the area offer vegetarian options, this truck offers a 100-percent vegan menu. Also, everything on the menu is gluten-free or has a gluten-free option.
Shimmy Shack’s menu includes three cooked sliders – black bean and rice burger with guacamole, a falafel burger with garlic sauce and a classic American cheese (lentil) burger – as well as a raw vegan Rueben, a delicious walnut burger on onion bread with thousand island dressing and sauerkraut. The truck also will serve up regular and sweet potato fries with special sauces and three types of vegan shakes – chocolate, strawberry and the Shimmy Original.
The eye-catching truck and the menu aren’t the only “green” things about Shimmy Shack. The truck also can be run on biodiesel fuel created from the used fryer oil. For more information, find Shimmy Shack on Facebook at swww.facebook.com/eatshimmyshack or call 321-EATVEG-0 (321-328-8340).
The Farmington Farmers & Artisans Market is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 9. The market is usually located in George F. Riley Park, at Grand River Avenue at Grove Street but due to construction, the market has been relocated to a temporary location on Orchard St. at Farmington Road, behind Fitness 19. Enter off Farmington Road.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Holiday Ecommerce Content Marketing Tips




Think Mobile First Holiday 2013


Don't be fooled. Even if your mobile numbers aren't in double digits yet your e-commerce website is being influenced by mobile devices. Email is easy to curate on mobile devices.



If your e-commerce website is like most then email marketing is among your most profitable (if not THE most profitable) channel. Friends who run a $100M e-com site report they are processing 25% top line sales via mobile (pads are the majority of their mobile sales), so $25M is being spent on their website via mobile.



In one of my most recent "Scoops" I asked if we weren't all "app builders now". This post shared 40 video tutorials on how to build apps. Today's post is about how to think "Mobile First" for success during Holiday 2013 by creating "Like Me" tribes supported with great mobile content marketing.


Mobile Is Here


Holiday 2013 is time to think like an app builder. How can your e-commerce team develop engaging, fun, viral and MOBILE content? Here are a few tips to get your "mobile thinking cap" on.



How To Think Like An App Builder Holiday 2013


  • Create several small ideas not one HUGE one. 

  • Remember contests and games are engaging especially on mobile devices. 

  • Wrap your email marketing into BIG seasonal themes. 

  • Don't forget your Save The World Marketing

  • Visuals MUST Arrest and be consistent with the content. 

  • Visually boring is greatest sin. 

  • Use mobile marketing to form "Like Me" tribes. 




Create "Like Me" Tribes


Even if your marketing can't create mayors of Starbucks like Foursquare your holiday marketing can use mobile devices to develop "like me" tribes. Not sure what "tribes" exist in your marketing mix? Create a "persona survey" and ask. 






Polls and surveys are great ways to solidify tribes. Lets say 15% of your visitors say they think of themselves as TIGERS. Ask them to create User Generated Content about what being a tiger looks and feels like. Merchandise your website to match your "tribe classification" poll. Create a special "Tiger", "Elephant" or "Monkey" section with content and products.  This example used animals, but any "like me" classification helps your online marketing.



If your site is for foodies ask who likes French, Italian or Asian cooking the most. Once you've created a tribe begin to stitch your holiday story and the story of the tribe together. You will need to lead, but remember to ask for input along the way. CURATE more than you CREATE. Curate User Generated Content (UGC) to knit your community together, drive more social shares and get your Tigers, Elephants and Monkeys to help grow their tribe.



You holiday 2013 marketing goal is advocacy.



You know you've found the right balance between OFFERS, CURATED Content and CREATED Content when tribe members recruit for you. Here are stages of "Like Me" Mobile Marketing:


  • Stage 1: Form Like Me Tribes Around Some Classification (see poll example above). 

  • Stage 2: Strengthen tribal bonds and social shares, ask for User Generated Content (UGC). 

  • Stage 3: Create merchandising based on the tribes. 

  • Stage 4: Create intrinsic motivation competition. 

  • Stage 5: Rewards and Thanks. 






Lions, Tigers and Bears (oh my)
How To Create Like Me Tribes


Once you have people sharing what tribe they see themselves in create content to support their declaration (I like to WAIT until people begin to declare to create more defining content since to do so before hand may change a visitor's first reflexive vote but this is a personal preference other Internet marketers like to define each segment and then ask for visitors to declare). Think of this kind of supportive "tribe defining" content like "Chinese Zodiac" content. Chinese Zodiac content defines characteristics of people born in year of the Rat, Rooster or Dragon.



Chinese Zodiac content is positive but not overly solicitous (they usually toss in a slight negative to create legitimacy). "Tigers have courage and are athletic but can be lazy especially when its hot and they are well fed," is an example of the kind of "personality defining" content that helps people identify with "like me" Chinese Zodiac content:





Chinese Zodiac Year of the Rooster 


PersonalityOccupying the 10th position in the Chinese Zodiac, the Rooster symbolizes such character traits as confidence, pompousness and motivation. Those born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Rooster are loyal, trustworthy individuals who are blunt when it comes to offering their opinions. Their bluntness stems not from being mean but from being honest; a trait which Roosters expect from others.





Best book I've read about the creation of personas is Managing Content Marketing by Rose and Pulizzi.


UGC Is Critical


Reward the 1% of your visitors willing to speak for others, willing to risk, share and comment. If you share a definition such as the Year of the Rooster ask for feedback. Ask for your Roosters to expand and share other traits.



Reinforce your tribes at every opportunity. Create special "Rooster of the Month" content to reward and reinforce the tribe. Once the tribe is "owned" by your customers create competition to reinforce the tribe's sense of itself. Can Roosters raise more awareness than Tigers?



Mix "Save The World" cause marketing into your persona based tribal marketing. Can Roosters raise more money to help cure cancer than Tigers? As with any game be sure to publish "rules", duration and rewards. Make your rewards more SOCIAL than material, but be sure to include some significant material rewards (read Atlantic BT's Gamification White Paper for more on how to gamify your Internet marketing).



National Public Radio is brilliant at weaving material rewards in their "Do the Right Thing" donor marketing. Many donors are included in drawings for trips. When NPR enlists their donors into a drawing for a cooking trip to France to support their Julia Childs programming they simultaneously reinforce the tribe, their brand and create User Generated Content (when the winner travels to France they are sure to tweet, post pictures to Facebook and remind their friends how they won the trip).



In our animal example create a competition to enlist the most members and then make a donation in the winning group's name to a related cause. Provide special "VIP areas" for the top 10% of your User Generated Content creators. Make sure to PUBLISH a leaderboard so everyone knows what they need to do to become an "Influential Elephant" or a "Top Tiger".



Make sure rewards and awards are plentiful and throw in a surprise or two.



Special Tiger day savings (after reaching a goal) or create a contest for your Monkeys. You can see that WHAT classifications you create isn't as important as HOW you curate and merchandise with them (with your customers' help). Your holiday stories should reinforce your tribes at every opportunity with merchandising, special content and by curating UGC from the tribe.



Rewards and awards should be plentiful and consistent.



We are NOT saying use the, "Everyone gets a trophy," system since some WORK and ACCOMPLISHMENT are needed to reinforce the tribe and make the game worth playing, but benefits should be broadly distributed. If Tigers do something great make sure Monkeys aren't excluded. Make sure Monkeys know about it and get their competitive spirit flowing.



If Tigers won the Tweet race find another game Monkeys can win (and then hope they do). Even if Monkeys don't win make sure to praise the hard work of individual Monkeys and tie your praise back to your definitions (and so reinforce the tribe).




Think Mobile Marketing First


Your marketing is "mobile" when it is engaging, inclusive and fun. Phones are game consoles. Your Internet marketing  job, if you manage an ecommerce website, is to figure out how to create a game that is responsive and fun on any device.



Your holiday 2013 merchandising must win mobile hearts and minds.



Think like a mobile app developer. If we create the animal poll will it be easy to take on an iPhone or iPad? Will our marketing look amazing on Android? Can we create Application Program Interfaces (APIs) into our Holiday game that will help the game get picked up by others?



Can we build a UGC platform that is easy to use on a phone or pad? If your game is HARD to play on a mobile device it is doomed and you are missing the point. Think Mobile First means your marketing ROCKS on mobile and builds as customer commitment grows.



"Commitment grows" means repeat mobile visits OR moving from mobile to laptops and desktops. When games, merchandising and tribes are stitched together as ONE your analytics should show great heuristic measures (time on site, pages viewed, link creation efficiency index or LEI) for mobile (as visitors play the game) AND laptops and desktops (as they purchase the supportive merchandising).



The trick is knowing how to engage one smartphones) and convert others (pads, laptops and desktops). 



You may want to TEST your ability to tease a purchase out of your game (as much as I don't like testing in 4Q the magic point between I'm here to play the game vs. I'm here to BUY something is too important and should be tested. Creating a "Top 10 Monkey Products" is sure to increase sales of those products. The cool thing is tribes are not EXCLUSIVE. Elephants will be curious about what Monkeys are buying and Vice Versa.



Remember to tie holiday merchandising to a bigger "Save The World" idea.



If you sell camping gear tie to saving the environment (in some creative way). If your e-commerce site sells bicycles you might support the "free bikes for kids" movement. When in doubt ASK your tribe what they think your website should support.



Never ask too broad a question of your tribes. Sound out key Elephants or Monkeys. Asking which 3 causes from a list of 7 or so they like best and why. Once you have a sense of the tribe's preferences CHECK IT with the tribe as a whole. Let's say Monkeys want to support field trips for kids to see animals, a Monkey Shelter and a Monkey Fund to help sick children. Now set your merchandising plan, create goals and matching donations and support your top Tigers, Monkeys or Elephants with praise, social recognition, suggestions and ideas.



I can see a great email with cross merchandising for each idea with a poll asking which of the three causes Monkeys should champion. Can you?




I'm In, You?


Here are helpful links so you know I'm not crazy, just in a hurry :).



Martin W. Smith, Director Marketing Atlantic BT



Martin Marty Smith on Facebook



Martin Marty Smith on Linkedin










Martin W. Smith on G+



Saturday, 27 July 2013

Minimum wage hasn't had a raise in 4 years

As of July 24, the federal minimum wage has not seen an increase in four years, since it was set at $7.25 an hour in 2009. The last time Michigan raised its minimum wage of $7.40 an hour was in 2008, which is higher than the federal minimum.
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage supported the last increase in the federal minimum wage and is pushing for another.
The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 would gradually raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 over three years and then provide for annual adjustments for inflation. If the minimum wage had kept pace with the cost of living since reaching its highest value in 1968, it would be an inflation-adjusted $10.74 today.
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage will be launching a sign-on statement July 24 for business people supporting an increase in the federal minimum wage.
Business for a Fair Minimum Wage is a national network of business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense. For more information, visit www.businessforafairminimumwage.org.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

How to Decrease Shopping Cart Abandonment and Increase Conversion Rates

One of the biggest elements of an ecommerce website is the checkout page. This is where conversions are finalized. So, what are some things that can be done to avoid shopping cart abandonment and to increase conversions?

An infographic created by Fifth Gear highlights some reasons why online shoppers bail on their purchases. The infographic can be viewed here. To highlight a few points:
  •  44 % thought shipping costs were too high.
  • 27 % wanted to shop around.
  • 14 % did not want to create an account with the merchant.
  • 11 % thought the checkout process was too complex.
  • 7 % said their preferred method of payment was not available.

Taking these points into consideration, there are three key elements that you should consider when it comes to your checkout page and shopping cart abandonment.

First, always offer the option of guest checkout. Consumers view creating an account as an obstacle, which may lead them to bail on their purchase. Guest checkout also makes the process of making a purchase easier for them.

The second key element is to provide consumers with incentives for shopping at your store. These incentives might include free shipping, buy one/get one specials or percentage discounts. With ecommerce, consumers rarely have to pay full price for an item. Further, since the Internet makes everything so convenient, it is easy to shop around and look for a better deal. In order to ensure your customers purchase the items they place in their shopping cart, promotions are crucial.

And finally, make sure all information is clear to customers. This includes listing prices and shipping rates, clearly displaying security icons, showing error messages when a form is missing an important piece of information and a progress bar that shows the user how many more steps need to be completed. All this should be done with a simple, organized design scheme.


Implementing these strategies will help increase your conversion rate and decrease your shopping cart abandonment rate.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Oakland County offers training and tips for small business

WATERFORD TWP. — The Oakland County Business Center offers workshops for business owners and entrepreneurs at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township. For registration, visit www.AdvantageOakland.com/expand or call 248-858-0783.
Legal & Financial Basics for Small Business is 9 a.m. to noon July 30. This workshop is free, registration is required.
Marketing Your Business is 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7. The cost is $40 per person.
This course presents practical applications of marketing concepts designed to help small businesses grow.
Team SBA Financing Roundtable is 9:30 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Aug. 8. It is a free loan orientation conducted by a business banker, a business consultant from the SBAs network of Small Business Development Centers, and an SBA representative.
CEED Microloan Orientation is 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14. The workshop is free.
Starting a Business workshop is 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14. The cost is $30.
Business Research: Feasibility to Expansion is 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8 at Novi Public Library, 45255 W. 10 Mile Road, Novi. This is for startups or existing small businesses looking to research their business idea or business plan. The workshop is free.
 Venture Forward 10-Week Series is designed for owners, CEO's and top management team members of small businesses with at least two years of operating experience, minimum of two employees, and annual revenue of at least $100,000/year. The series is held, 9 a.m. to noon, Fridays, Aug. 9-Oct. 11. The cost is $140.
Financial Management Basics is 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Aug. 15. The cost is $40. This workshop covers the basics of financial management including how to start an accounting system and how to apply the information to manage a business.
Writing a Business Plan is 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 21. The cost is $40.
Health Care Reform and Small Business is 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, Aug. 22. The workshop is free.

Your Ecommerce Sites Are Ready For Christmas When...




Why Christmas Happens Now


Christmas for e-commerce merchants is happening right now. Christmas happens now because Google is setting their index. There is usually one BIG October Google surprise (to insure PPC payments go UP), but content that is winning now will probably keep on winning right through the holidays (and Vice Versa).



Christmas is happening now because Internet marketing teams are looking hard at their numbers to figure out what is HOT and what is NOT. HOT products get special attention (and more inventory). NOT HOT products are moved to the "wait and see" or "not going to happen" areas (a lost limbo of a place).



If that sounds like e-commerce is one big GUESS you aren't far off. What is or has been HOT so far is no guarantee of hotness in October - December. There are always 4Q surprises too. 4Q Surprises are products that weren't hot but got an Oprah mention or some other huge boost and suddenly became hot. E-commerce merchants can ONLY play in the 4Q Surprise Sweeps if they have content brewing now.



Most E-commerce merchants restrict testing in the October-January sales period. They are testing everything from product mix to "Add To Cart" button location and color now with an eye toward increasing conversion in 4Q. Once Halloween is a memory most e-commerce merchants are too busy shipping to test.



In fact life gets so crazy most ecommerce plans are being drafted and put to bed right now. Answer YES to these Top 20 Holiday Ecommerce Questions and you can hit the beach. Your ecom site is READY. Answering NO, Maybe or Sort of means there is work to be done and not much time to do it so Santa may be the only one surfing.




e-commerce Content Marketing For 4Q


Is Your HOT or NOT Keyword Research Complete? (Yes / No )



Is your 4Q Content Strategy Outlined? (Yes / No)



Is Your 4Q Content Strategy Generating Related Social Marketing? (Yes / No)



Is Your 4Q Content Strategy Telling A Story Across Owned, Earned, Paid and Curated Spaces?



Does your content marketing plan have at least 25% TIME

allocated to LISTEN and RESPOND? (Yes / No)



Does your content marketing plan have at least 25% TIME

allocated to CURATE and REWARD? (Yes / No)



Tools  & Tactics - Is content you are going to create where and in what frequency defined?

(Yes / No)




e-commerce Social Marketing For 4Q


Is your Social Marketing Plan Defined? (Yes  / No)



Is Your Social Marketing Plan Consistent and supportive to other channel's marketing plans (Yes / No)



Does Your Social Marketing Plan have at least 25% TIME for LISTEN and RESPOND?




e-commerce Cause Marketing


Is Your "Save The World" Cause Defined? (Yes / No)



Is Your Save The World" Cause seamlessly integrated into all marketing channels? (Yes / No)

.


e-commerce Making or Missing Plan KPIs


Are Your 4Q Tactics Summarized With An Owned, Earned, Paid and Curated Overlay?



Is Your 4Q PPC Plan Defined with What If options for missing plan, on plan and over plan? (Yes / No)



What Are Your Top 4Q Surprise Products? Are you an organic Player on potential surprises? (Yes / No )



Is your User Generated Content (UGC) Strategy Defined and Consistent With Your Content, Social, Mobile and Cause strategies?




e-commerce 4Q Analytics


Are "On Plan", "Missing Plan" and "Over Plan" Daily & Weekly Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Set?

(Yes / No )



Is your plan tuned to what is important to YOU (i.e. profits, list growth, improve awareness)? (Yes / No)



Have you created Online Reputation Management reporting systems? (Yes / No)



Do You Have a Defined Disaster Plan and know when it should be called into effect? (Yes / No )



****

What have I forgotten? Share how your ecommerce team gets ready for the holidays and I will push a link to your site across my social net now AND in October :).










Monday, 22 July 2013

Livestrong No More




No Livestrong After Lance


In an excellent piece of reporting on CBS Sunday Morning it became clear what every cancer patient already knows - Livestrong needs to go away. As a cancer survivor Livestrong's continued existence is a lie, a lie to a community that shouldn't be lied to - the 14,000,000 people living with cancer in America, millions around the world an our friends and family.



There seem to be two kinds of cancer charities. One is primarily concerned with self perpetuation the other wants to help cure cancer. Cancer patients know all about self perpetuation. We have to fight with everything we have to survive.



The time when cancer patients need an organization whose main mission is marketing itself in an endless loop of meaningless self promotion is over. We need serious people willing to sacrifice and help cure cancer. The day we cure cancer is CLOSE. 



To scam cancer patients would seem the lowest betrayal. That Livestrong was really a means to deflect negative PR from Lance Armstrong is apparent in how little value they bring to curing cancer. When Livestrong stopped making grants to cancer research their self promotion motives were clear.



To raise so much, something like $500,000,000, and provide so little is the issue at hand. There is a single and easy to identify goal - CURE CANCER.  When we created the Story of Cancer Foundation we put in hard earned savings and wrote a bylaw about self perpetuation. The Story of Cancer Foundation must spend 80% to 90% of its money on innovative ways to help cure cancer by developing innovative technology.



We want to help cancer patients, their friends and family too, but we know the biggest help is CURING CANCER!







If the Story of Cancer Foundation runs out of money either because my savings run our or we are unable to raise more for the Tech Cure Cancer Movement then we shut our doors. The day we can't take $.80 or $.90 from every dollar and spend it in concert with our cancer research partners such as the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Cancer Center, the Duke Cancer Institute (both of whom treated my leukemia), The City of Hope, Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center is the day the Story of Cancer Foundation closes.



I can see Livestrong's trap. Cancer patients need help to THRIVE not just SURVIVE. The problem is Livestrong is dedicated to the survival of a single cancer patient whose massive ego and lie upon lies mean the fact he is willing to go out in public is an act of hubris.



I was a Lance Armstrong fan. I wouldn't have attempted Martin's Ride To Cure Cancer, my 3,300 bicycle ride across America in 2010, without Lance' inspiration. It would be easier to forgive Lance if he wasn't so LANCE-like still.



Apparently deflating a massive ego isn't so easy. The fact Lance's cancer may have come from his doping only doubles his need to ask for pardon from his most important community of supporters - cancer patients, their friends and family who have cancer by chance not design.




Livestrong Should Close


The day after Lance makes a sincere and honest apology Livestrong should take all of its war chest money and cease to exist (and Hell will probably freeze over). Cancer patients don't need Livestrong. Please DON'T wear the yellow bracelets since those bracelets are painful lies to a community who only has time for HONESTY.



Please DON'T give Livestrong money, buy their branded merchandise or advocate for them since to do so HURTS people you want to help - cancer survivors like me. I've sold my house and am trying to sell every material thing I own so that EVERYTHING I have goes to help cure cancer.



The day Livestrong and Lance make similar moves they can be forgiven. Follow the MONEY. If they are still asking for your money with $100M in the bank and programs that aren't helping cure cancer (programs that are way too little too late) please DON'T GIVE MONEY to such a group of cancer con artists.



If they make an effort to do the right thing forgive them, until then AVOID Livestrong.



Cure Cancer Starter won't get caught in the Livestrong trap. If we can't give 80% to 90% of my savings and every dollar donated to projects with a direct line to curing cancer we will close. If we run out of money we run out of money, but we will never self perpetuate with donor money since no cancer patient gets to ward off their disease with a bracelet, a windbreaker or by drinking from a Livestrong water bottle. If we sell you a water bottle trust that 100% of the profits went toward funding cancer research!



Livestrong should just STOP. There should be no Livestrong after Lance (period full stop).






Sunday, 21 July 2013

Upcoming events geared to help businesses succeed

July 23 -Take business to next level
NOVI — Farmington Hills-based MI Biz Forward, LLC will host a workshop session with a panel of experts to provide entrepreneurs with education and assistance to support and take their business to the next level. The seminar will be held at On The Border Mexican Restaurant, 21091 Haggerty Road in Novi at 6 p.m. Tuesday July 23. The cost for this session is $30 and includes a meal, Q & A session, and two open networking opportunities. “With the Michigan Biz Forward Workshop series, our presenting panel of experts will offer practical advice and assistance to support the entrepreneur’s needs to take their business to the next level, whether it is a start up or a five-year operation,” said Andrea Lee, Ph.D., C.C., one of the founders of MI Biz Forward and founder of Authentic Integrity Coaching.
To register, call 248-880-8336 or visit www.mibizforward.net.

July 25 - Speed networking
ROYAL OAK — CREW (Commercial Real Estate Women) Detroit is hosting a CREW + You speed networking event for local professionals at the new Hamlin Corner in Royal Oak, Thursday, July 25. CREW Detroit Member and Dale Carnegie Instructor Alicia Buisst will guide members and nonmembers through fast-paced networking over hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. CREW members who register are encouraged to bring a guest at no extra charge. The cost to attend is $40 for members and $45 for nonmembers. Both men and women are invited. The event begins at 5 p.m. with registration, followed by an introduction to CREW Detroit and an explanation of the format. Speed networking will run from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The event ends at 8 p.m., but post-event networking is always encouraged. Hamlin Corner is located at 386 N. Main Street in Royal Oak. Free parking is available off of University Ave. Register at www.crewdetroit.org

July 25 - Walk-In Business Start-Up Thursdays Free Business Counseling
WATERFORD TWP. — Every Thursday, the Oakland County Business Center offers Walk-In Start-Up Thursdays Free Business Counseling, 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Oakland County Executive Office Building Conference Center, 2100 Pontiac Lake Road in Waterford Township.

July 30 - Small business legal and financial workshop
WATERFORD TWP. — The Oakland County Business Center also offers workshops for business owners and entrepreneurs. Legal & Financial Basics for Small Business is 9 a.m. to noon July 30. This workshop is free, registration is required at www.AdvantageOakland.com/expand or call 248-858-0783. 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Future of Web Design Triptych





Future of Web Design Triptych

Without meaning to I created 3 Haiku Decks about the future of web design:



Future of Web Design 1: No More Boxes or Boundaries (embedded below)



Future of Web Design 2: Mobile Ubiquitous Web Changes Everything (embedded below)



Future of Web Design 3: Semantic Mobile Web Mean Brands are Context, Social is Confirmation and the only time that matters is an evolving NOW.



Here is the snippet I just wrote on GPlus explaining Future of Web Design 3:




*Future of Web Design 3: Semantic Web Is A Game* 


Didn't want to unpack today. I also had an interesting conversation with  on Thursday. So a day of productive procrastination is happening (lol).  


 Nikol reminded me of an important truth. Google doesn't index websites they index web PAGES. Subtle but important distinction to understand Web 3.0. Web 3.0 will be more WEB and less "website". Design will be a CSF (Critical Success Factor), but very different than what we think of as "web design" today.  


Instead of boxes where WE, the all knowing Oz, determine what THEY (our visitors) do, see and experience our content will float waiting for social confirmation and semantic meaning. 

Semantic web seems to confuse many. Not hard to see why. Today's web seem static and there appears to be a 1 to 1 relationship. You click and get.  


Tomorrow's web is more Google-like. Today's Google is you and I click on the same thing and we both may get very different SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Google is tailoring our experience based on predictive analytics and the social web.  


What my friends like may be different from what yours click on and spend time with. Google will shows me what my tribe has voted on. Semantic is the new SEO. Semantic web provides an important missing element. Currently if you say something is BAD and mean that it is good Google (and other engines) can't understand the human distinction. Remember when a computer tried to beat humans at crossword it failed.  


Why did a computer fail at crossword where it crushed contestants on Jeopardy? Q&A is different than crossword and semantic context is why. Language is tricky, full of double meanings and reversals humans know and computers walk right by (for now).  


When the amount of DATA becomes big enough computers can learn anything. Anyone doubt the social data is now big enough to teach computers about the rules of human semantics? Right, I join you in that belief - semantic web is around the corner. 

Ironically it is NOT the huge amounts of data that are bringing semantic web on so fast. The ubiquitous mobile web of people and things is the rocket fuel on the bonfire of semantic web. Mobile is different. 


Mobile is more "game-like". 


We expect our smart phones to have a conversation with us even if no one is calling. We expect mobile to understand context. Nikol's eight year old was MAD after visiting a store. His expectation was he could swipe, spin and apply his context to the store. When he couldn't, when the store sat there using someone else's vision of what he should consume, he got MAD.  


Nikol's son is the future of our semantic web where the lines between digital and real lives blur and everything is a GAME or we get MAD :). 







Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad






Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad




I'm In, You?


Here are helpful links so you know I'm not crazy, just in a hurry :).



Martin W. Smith, Director Marketing Atlantic BT



Martin Marty Smith on Facebook



Martin Marty Smith on Linkedin



Martin W. Smith on G+




Thursday, 18 July 2013

Book: Make Difficult People Disappear

I laughed at the title of this book, "Make Difficult People Disappear," by Monica Wofford. I thought it might have a literal solution, but that was not the case. It is a story told from a manager's perspective and how she came to realize that she was part of the reason she encountered so many difficult people. Sometimes it's all about perspective and being able to understand where the other person is "coming from" and what their needs are. Not all employees are motivated by the same things and they don't approach their jobs in the same way.
The book is a sales spiel for the CORE Multidimensional Awareness Profile and the CORE Snapshot, registered trademarks of NaviCore International. The author, Monica Wofford is a facilitator and coach for the program.
The book is based on group coaching sessions at a fictional company. It discusses the CORE principal and how people are dominant in one of four personality categories: Commander, Organizer, Relater or Entertainer. People always have characteristics of more than one category and sometimes develop traits of a category to match the work they do. Usually a person has a dominant trait that reflects in their role on the job.
For more information, visit www.MakeDifficultPeopleDisappear,com.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Are Your Social Media Strategies Helping You Drive Sales?

Social media is one of many digital marketing tools available to businesses. Further, many know that listing their business on these social sites and posting to them regularly is important; but, are you measuring your success rates to know if your efforts are worth it? A survey conducted by Vision Critical provided some statistics on how customers use Pintrest, Facebook and Twitter and how likely these customers were to make purchases either online or in-store. Some of the key points are highlighted below. For the full report, follow this link. The survey included almost 6,000 respondents.

When you look at usage of these three social networks, you will find that 15 percent of the population uses Pintrest, 73 percent uses Facebook and 24 percent users Twitter. Of those people, 29 percent of Pintrest users made a purchase after sharing or liking an item, 38 percent of Facebook users did that same and then last were 22 percent of Twitter users. Taking those statistics into consideration, it is important to discover which social media networks your customers use as different topics are popular on varying platforms.

The survey results showed that for do-it-yourself projects, recipes and fashion and beauty tips, users look to Pintrest. Facebook was most popular for human interest or funny stories and topics that fall under arts and entertainment are popular across all three platforms.

Survey results also showed that 21 percent of Pinterest users made purchases in-store, 22 percent online and 29 percent made purchases both in-store and online. When it came to Facebook, 30 percent of users made in-store purchases, 29 percent did the same online and 38 percent did both. Finally, with Twitter, 17 percent of users made in-store purchases, 18 percent made online purchases and 22 percent made both.

There is no question that consumers use social media to research products that they will either buy in-store or online.  The question to ask yourself is which platform will help your business draw the most sales. In order to figure this out, you will need to consider your industry, customer demographics and determine what it is they use social media for. Then you can work on earning your portion of social media generated sales and hopefully in time, grow that number.


In addition to detailed statistics about purchases in relation to social media usage, the report also includes questions to ask your customers that will help you determine how to make these social media networks work best for your business. To join the world of ecommerce so you are able to take full advantage of these social media platforms along with other digital marketing tools, visit our website to learn about our solutions. Azox develops ecommerce websites that integrate fully with Microsoft Dynamics GP. We also provide payment processing solutions and online bill pay.

B2C vs. B2B Marketing Myths







Time Appears To Be The Only Difference


For more than ten years I was an e-commerce guy. I built my first website, FoundObjects.com (now RIP), in 1999. Found Objects, the specialty gift company I co-founded with Janet McKean, sold specialty gifts to museum stores around the world AND to consumers online.



FoundOjects.com was one of the first B2C and B2B websites. I left ecom to work for Raleigh's leading software and web development agency Atlantic BT almost two years ago. After several years in B2B marketing I can only identify one difference in online marketing - TIME.


The TIME Difference between B2B and B2C marketers may be a difference without a distinction.




The sales cycle for most B2B websites stretches from weeks to years. Since many B2B websites are selling products or services with large price tags a longer "get to know you" phase is expected. If we were visionary about TIME even this B2B vs. B2C  difference disappears.



B2C merchants make offers via email marketing and social media to sell things today. This immediate Stimulus to Response (S to R) curve makes it appear B2C merchants operate on a faster conversion funnel. Maybe.



When I built my first website in 1999 there were few relationships. Everything was new online. The web was the wild west. If your stuff was cool, well priced and exclusive you made sales.



If your stuff was cool, exclusive but priced wrong or unsupported by social, or the User Generated Content (UGC) that passed for social at the time (reviews), you didn't make many sales.




Sales in those halcyon times were about building trust in a new idea (the web) and in your e-commerce site's (and by extension company's) ability to deliver.



Once we moved past the web's novelty phase relationships mattered most, relationships drive everything and always. How a website / company treats customers, employees and business partners over TIME creates reputation.


Reputation Forms Brands


Reputation forms the base of a "brand". Brands are contemporary shorthand. Contemporary life requires shorthand. There is too much information chasing too little attention to exist without shorthad. Investing complex meanings, feelings and thoughts into a symbol or an idea such as Nike or Coca Cola quiets the mind.



Brands are the ZEN required to navigate a modern life.



Last year I heard Amy Africa describe her research into the "buying state" consumers assume when they make an online purchase. Apparently our "dinosaur brain" is fully engaged. We straighten our backs, lean in and prepare for battle when making an online purchase.



If BUYING is stressful then brands are trusted stress relief. Our ability to walk into a McDonald's anywhere in the world and have an experience within 10% of our expectations creates comfort. Developing band "comfort zones" takes TIME and a mountain of information by an army of people.



There is no jumping the "brand development" shark, no way to hurry meaning into the "brand creation system". Marketing may go viral helping to jump over the first hurdles, but time required before TRUST is granted and secure remains a predictable constant that varies by product, service or buying need. For some business verticals such as office supplies time to trust is minimal.



Some business verticals aren't so controversial in either our use and expectations or their marketing that we spend much time thinking about them. Our "office supply" need is more than met. Challenge for office supply marketers is to stay relevant. Boring and good isn't much better than boring and bad.



Other business verticals are more "stressful" and so ripe for dramatic change such as:



* Buying A Car.

* Internet of things impact on Sears et al.

* Fashion (apparel).

* B2B Marketing




B2B Marketing Is Changing Fast


The last few paragraphs make a compelling argument for why TIME isn't different for B2B or B2C. Time just FEELS different. Every aspect of Internet marketing seems fully present in B2B / B2C tactics and approaches such as:



* Need Ever Increasing Customer Engagement & Advocacy.

* Relationship must "deepen" and become more meaningful over time.

* Relevant customer-centric communication is a CSF (Critical Success Factor).

* Listening more than talking is a CSF.

* Sculpting BIG to feel intimate, little and personal is a CSF.

* Google's algorithm doesn't distinguish between B2C vs. B2B web pages or content.



Marketing futurist Faith Popcorn famously said, "People don't BUY brands they JOIN them". Popcorn's statement was beyond prescient since the ubiquitous mobile web didn't exist when she made it.



Why does a stranger "join" a brand, company or website? Think of the emotional triggers as Me Becomes Us.




Why People Join Brands, Companies and Websites


Like Me.

For Me.

For Us.



Studies* show our most intimate friends are a bit of an echo-chamber. Our friends tell us what we want to hear and that communication creates confidence. When we want to be challenged we move further away from shore. We look to our "looser" relationships with friends of friends.



Like Me is our desire for comfort. When a website's signals such as reviews, reviewers, images or copy say "LIKE ME" we relax. We don't give ourselves freely or easily. Condition by more advertising and marketing messages we live skeptical of anyone's desire to help us without return.



When we find products, services, companies or websites that are honest and "FOR ME" by their easy shares, online reputation established by a pool of information ABOUT them and if they pass muster with our friends (if their experience confirms ours) we lower shields and allow vulnerability to increase.



Only when we've reached this middle stage of TRUST and CONFIDENCE are we willing to stretch. If our experience and signals remain strong we may move away from our comfort zone and think about the commons being created between ourselves and the brand, company, product or service.



Internet marketing, and it doesn't matter if you sell to businesses or direct to consumers, require an ever increasing and vehement army of brand advocates. Brand advocates always and only come from this third interaction - the move to FOR US (or recognition of a shared commons).






Then vs. Now


MadMen is a beautifully executed example, if somewhat exaggerated for effect, of THEN. Before the integrated circuit cut time and distance marketers didn't have to create FOR US marketing.



Consumer choices were limited. When choice is limited LIKE ME and FOR ME are sufficient. When choices is unlimited, as it is now, FOR US creates sustainable relationships. Feels like we've come a long way from, "What are the differences between B2B and B2C online marketing".



Not really. Online marketing is a MEANS to a greater end. Internet marketing is and has always been about the commons. Examine the most successful Internet marketers to confirm this truth:



Google (commons)

Amazon (content commons & distribution power)

Facebook (community commons)



When your company understands and embraces the commons to crete FOR US marketing the web becomes a giant multiplier. Little companies go viral and become BIG companies because they've created great LIKE ME, FOR ME and FOR US marketing. Dollar Shave Club is one recent favorite example of creating great LIKE ME, FOR ME and FOR US marketing. 



Core of the "new altruism" some of my favorite authors discuss (Benkler in Penguin and Leviathan, Shermer in Mind of the Market and Wright in NonZero) is the web's gasoline on an existing fire. We were always going to arrive at FOR US marketing.



The web's ability to connect, socialize and its massive repetition (how far is your smart phone from you ever) is gasoline to our Maslovian journey. Maslow believed we search for "actualization". What is actualization but the commons?



Perhaps I have an unfair advantage. Funny to think of having the Big C as an advantage, but hearing "cancer" and my name in the same sentence stripped an old belief system bare immediately and forever. Connection, service and challenge create the confidence we need to imagine a FOR US life.



My personal turn toward something bigger mirrors OUR journey. In a time when everything is available we want less and more. We want fewer THINGS and MORE from them. Things in and of themselves seem isolated and alone.



I wouldn't be so naive to believe Greed Is Good doesn't exist as a driving philosophy for many, but Greed Is Good doesn't scale online. Increasingly the right thing to do is also the most profitable. Do I care if we cure cancer because large companies want to support CureCancerStarter.org because it plays well on social media?



Not even a little bit :).



* Studies: promise to review my archive and add some specific examples before end of the day.


I'm All In, You?


Here are helpful links so you know I'm not crazy, just in a hurry :).



Martin W. Smith, Director Marketing Atlantic BT



Martin Marty Smith on Facebook



Martin Marty Smith on Linkedin



Martin W. Smith on G+











Saturday, 13 July 2013

Creative Breakthroughs to host job fair

Troy-based Creative Breakthroughs, Inc., an industry leader in network security and IT advisory services with a nationwide reach, has experienced significant growth in recent months and is looking to hire 50 new employees in 2013, which will nearly double the size of the company. To help address several immediate needs, CBI is hosting a two-day open interview career fair at their headquarters in Troy for a variety of positions, including sales, administration, project management, IT consulting and engineering. Interviews will take place in 30-minute increments from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16 and Thursday, July 18 at the company, 2075 W. Big Beaver Road, Suite 700 in Troy. To register, visit cbihome.com/careers/fair .

Friday, 12 July 2013

5 New Content Marketing KPIs




Tips From How Content Gets Shared


My friend and fellow Internet marketer Phil Buckley (@1918) paid me a nice compliment this morning:


I'm always impressed by the different ways +Martin W. Smith slices and dices his data to find the actionable nuggets.

Thought it would be interesting to share how I created the Content Marketing Social Mentions Study Phil was complimenting. As we wind our way through the journey of the post on MartinMartySmith.com we will discover some new ways of thinking about content marketing. This post is a step-by-step HOW To Create five new critical content marketing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).




Topsy not GA


Google Analytics under counts social by up tot 30%. I like Topsy.com for social analytics. Here is Topsy's graph of ScentTrail's social mentions for the last 30 days:














Content Marketing KPI #1: Daily Mentions


Your content must spring legs and walk around the social world. This chart proves that is happening for ScentTrial. I don't create or curate 30 pieces of content a day (ScentTrail's average) no matter what my friends think :). Use Topsy's free chart tool: http://analytics.topsy.com/.



If you really want to get depressed put your name or your company's name in and then load an Internet marketing luminary such as Seth Godin (ouch!). Don't get depressed. Every day is a new day online. Some mentions are better than NO mentions (always) and you are working on it.



Content exists in layers. Today's posts may get traction tomorrow. Sometimes content way out in your website's long tail of content pops back into popularity. Don't stop at knowing your daily mention number find out WHAT content led the way. Topsy helps with this too as they indicate the content that got the most attention.




Content Marketing KPI #2: Content Type


Content has segments or buckets you define to create content groups. Infographics is a common and, as it turns out very viral, bucket. SEO, ScentTrail Daily Paper.li and Content Marketing are three of my most popular segments:











I moved Topsy's data into a spreadsheet and then cut in a column to define content types. You can see a copy of that spreadsheet on Content Marketing Social Mentions Study if you are that geeky :).




Content Marketing KPI #3: Tools


In the spreadsheet I also note what tool used to produce the daily winner. Come in each day and add yesterday's Daily Mentions, Content Type and Content Tools (the one that was used to win the day) in your spreadsheet.



When you want to analyze tools sort by the Tools column, create subtotals and graph. Here is ScentTrail's tools graph:








Content Marketing KPI #4: Top 10


Not all content is equal. Some  content is more likely to generate shares than others. You NEED to know this. ScentTrail's Top 10 Content in the last 30 days generated 50% of the shares. Sort by mentions with the largest to smallest filter and then isolate your Top 10 content.








Content Marketing KPI #5: LEI


LEI stands for Link Efficiency Index. LEI judges how FAST your content is generating the all important inbound links. Go to Alexa.com and type in your URL. How many inbound links do you have? Note that number. Now head over to Google and use the site:yoururl.com (remember to test with and without www.). ScentTrail only has 87 inbound links (not good).



ScentTrail has a PageRank of 4, high for so few links. Pagespread, the number of pages in Google, may be helping since ScenTrail has 3,230. To create LEI divide inbound links (L) by PageSpread (PS) or L/PS=LEI.



ScentTrail's LEI is currently .026. Another way to think of LEI is for every page ScentTrail creates .026 of a link. As an Internet marketer my job is to increase LEI, so I should think about link intensive content such as contest and games, guest posts and Infographics.

Cool thing about LEI is you can create it for anyone with FREE tools such as Alexa and Google's site: command. I know my LEI is weak because I've looked at LEI's for many websites. Easy to create a comparison set to benchmark against too. I created LEI and I am NOT a quant (not even close), but new content marketing times require new ways to measure success, trend progress and know if you are eating the bear or he is having a feast at your expense.


5 New KPI Summary


Hope this post helps you see into HOW I "slice and dice" to find golden nuggets. Scary right? What about you? Do you have cool new content marketing KPIs? Share your discoveries in comments and I will link across my little growing social net.




You In?


Here are helpful links so you know I'm not crazy, just in a hurry :).



Martin W. Smith, Director Marketing Atlantic BT



Martin Marty Smith on Facebook



Martin Marty Smith on Linkedin



Martin W. Smith on G+








Thursday, 11 July 2013

Join Us For a Webinar in July

Our monthly webinars are next week. If you are interested in learning more about ecommerce, payment processing or online bill pay for Dynamics GP, be sure to sign up and attend! Register for webinars by following the links provided below.

Integrated ECommerce for Microsoft Dynamics GP
Tuesday, July 15
1:00 - 1:30 p.m. EST

Having an ecommerce website built on Microsoft Dynamics GP allows you to reach the global market and provides customers with the ability to shop any time, anywhere. Our solution features advanced search capabilities to help consumers find what they are looking for with ease. It also offers real time pricing and inventory information, a shipping calculator, one-page guest checkout and more. Attend this webinar to view a live demo of our solution in action.

Secure Credit Card Processing in Microsoft Dynamics GP
Wednesday, July 16
1:00 - 1:30 p.m. EST

No web store is complete without the ability to processing payments. Azox Credit Card Extension is a PA-DSS Certified solution that stores data securely offsite through the use of tokenization. This solution includes the ability to pre-authorize, post-authorize, sale, void and credit. Both credit card and ACH payments can be processed. Attend this webinar to learn more.

Advantages of Online Bill Pay for Microsoft Dynamics GP
Thursday, July 17
1:00 - 1:30 p.m. EST

Consumers are increasingly paying more and more bills online. Therefore, offering customers this option from your web store will provide them with a desirable and convenient tool. From your ecommerce website, customers will be able to log in and view, print and pay invoices 24/7/365. Attend this webinar to learn more.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Saving The News & Observer







The local newspaper is in trouble. Heck the New York Times is in trouble. Fewer people read the paper and newspaper websites are not good. I love our local paper, the Raleigh News and Observer. I look at the N&O piece about Poetryslam, the Scrabble-like magnetic word game I created a lifetime ago, daily since it hangs framed in my office. 



The News&Observer is in trouble because the web isn't the same as print. As obvious and clear as that statement is the TRUTH of it hasn't sunk in. The News&Observer is a content marketing mess. They haven't met and wouldn't know a keyword if it bit them on the butt. To say the N&O is a hot SEO mess is to be generous. Social? Not so much.



The N&O's problems stem from beating a dead horse - the editorial-centric newspaper model:









The Editorial-centric Newspaper Model assumed local news exclusivity and the old model drank from the profitable trough of classified ads and the local share of national ad buys (Sunday Free Standing Inserts with coupons for example). There was so much exclusivity for so long in so many ways local newspapers never saw the web tsunami.


Saving The News&Observer


There is a supreme irony only Internet marketers fully appreciate. Most Internet marketers work with teams that rarely exceed ten people. They may be managing tens of millions in sales and profits, but Internet marketing teams are kept half starving.



Newspapers by comparison have an ARMY of exactly the talent any great website needs:




  • Writers.

  • Graphic Artists.

  • Photographers.

  • Editors. 



The irony of one group starving while making millions while another has abundant resources and is losing millions can't be overstated.



WHY?



Internet marketers fight a daily battle in a red ocean of competition. Internet marketing teams have NEVER lived when competition wasn't fierce. Now online marketing competition has moved form "fierce" to "savage". Internet marketing "time" only has one direction - FASTER.



If a content marketing team was trained on exclusivity and assues they are the top dog the team becomes fodder for aggressive Internet and mobile marketers. The good news is NO ONE has more than 5 minutes lead online ever. Internet marketing always happens NOW. The News&Observer can be saved.




News&Observer vs. WRAL


The N&O faces tough competition from one of the best (if not the best) local CBS affiliates in America. The Goodman family's WRAL is a brilliantly executed content marketing play on TV and the web. WRAL owns Raleigh's web daily web traffic and with their video expertise may always have a lead:













One thing any Internet marketer learns early and usually the hard way is not to face off to the death on anything. Remember we are thinking strategically about how to save the News&Observer. WRAL's genius and excellence doesn't eliminate our ability to save the N&O. 










The most important information on this analysis is WRAL creates inbound links 2x as fast as the N&O. The News&Observer's powerful achieve of over 4M webpages in Google are so much less efficient than their main competitor their breadth can become a penalty.



In a post Panda and Penguin Google world more efficient wins the day. As we begin to create a prescription for the N&O MORE of the same is out of the question. More of the same would just produce a penalty and HURT not SAVE the N&O.




N&O Solution #1: Let Editorial-Centric Model Go


I worked briefly for the Durham Herald-Sun when Janet McKean and I moved to North Carolina in 1993. One day and the Herald-Sun I suggested sales work with editorial to create content our advertisers would want to buy. Amazed I lived through the stoning that happened next.



Newspaper editors were powerful people. They molded opinion and helped a thousand ships sail. Then their local exclusivity disappeared, content started coming in over the side of the canoe from all directions and the content marketing tsunami swamped the editorial-centric business model.



There will always be a role for intelligent writers and editors to share beliefs, but those beliefs will be voices in a crowd. No one needs a printing press to be heard, so the old editorial-centric model must be replaced by small "e" editorial. 












N&O Solution #2: Strategic Content Partners


Raleigh is rich in Universities (Duke, UNC, NC State) and the startups they bring. The News&Observer should harness the incredible energy, intelligence and cutting edge brillance right in their backyard. Partner with Chris Heivly's Triangle Startup Factory. Create unique content. Write about, photograph and video what's COOL and happening NOW in startup land.



By partnering with our Y-Combinator startup school the N&O artfully kills 2 birds with a single stone - they pull in cool, cutting edge technology starutps AND universities. The N&O should sponsor a college startup competition to further cement the association.



Once a few of these changes begin to take effect the N&O could do the ultimate contest - ask for help with the core issue of how to save the N&O. Don't make that contest about money since most of the Internet marketers I know have plenty of money. Make the Save The N&O, Save The World contest about saving the world one local newspaper at a time.



Think this "social not money" approach is nuts? Red Drive by Daniel Pink and note how monetary awards can reduce response with intrinsically motivated people.




N&O Solution #3: GAMIFY


Regular ScentTrail Marketing readers knew I was headed to contests and gamification. I had an interview with Laura Finaldi in the N&O yesterday (probably my last after this post :) and was amazed at how little social support most N&O content receives.



Stupid is as stupid does and social is as social does. The N&O's look and feel says, "We don't care what you think, comment upon or care about very much". Left over from the editorial-centric model the non-social friendly stance is committing a very slow online content marketing suicide.



There is ART and SCIENCE in how tools like Twitter, Facebook and G+ should be used. Currently the N&O understands little of social media marketing's ART or SCIENCE.



One social marketing truth all IMers should understand is simple - IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE, NEITHER WILL ANYONE ELSE. Sorry about screaming in all caps, but the N&O's nonverbal communication is so CLEAR and unmistakable it leaches out of every webpage pore from design to social shares.



The nonverbal message is YOU must listen to US not the other way around. 





Not so much as it turns out. Everything on the N&O needs to become part of a game eventually, but starting with a regular contest and curating content from comments and social shares (grabbing supporters tweets and posts like this) would be a great start. When in doubt create a simple contest - Write for the N&O For A Day or If You Owned The N&O What 3 Changes Would You Make etc.



Don't get hung up in the WHAT. 










Another BIG difference between newspapers and Internet marketers is working in the bazaar not painting the Sistine Chapel. My Internet marketing team would do some things JUST BECAUSE. Bet the N&O never does anything without 5 reasons.



Sometimes we were testing an idea. Other times we did things, "Even if they are the wrong things" because the cost of doing something (even the wrong thing) is lower than costs associated with doing nothing. Amazing at how many people don't understand that simple elegant Internet marketing truth.



Play, test and learn as fast as you can and stop painting the Sistine Chapel.



The slow response / curation / creation cycle is left over from an Editorial-centric model. When you think everything you print is genius you print less. I'm here to tell you everything printed, even back in the day, wasn't genius so why SLOW DOWN your web process waiting on Godot?



Speed up and make more mistakes online than you would have been comfortable making in print (just the nature of the new game). Speed up AND include others. User Generated Content is paltry at best on today's N&O. Visitors know when a website cares about what they think. Today the News&Observer.com doesn't care. Fixing that attitude fixes a lot of everything else :).




N&O Solution #4: Causes, Crowds and Cash


The Internet Marketing Triptych (published today on Atlantic BT's blog) suggests every online marketer would be wise to adopt a great cause consistent with their brand, harness the power of crowds via crowdfunding and create a store to learn things about Internet marketing only stores teach.



The N&O should align with a cause, create a crowdfunding engine and develop a store (where all the dirty packing and shipping can be done by others if needed). Think like a PLATFORM and allow OPC (Other People's Content) on NewsObserver.com. Reward contributors and care about UGC.



Create a Kickstarter to support the startup partnership idea. Most Kicktarter funded projects are in music, film, and technology. Since we have a fair amount of world class STUFF in all three of those areas create a crowdfunding platform and make serendipitous awards. Don't limit crowdfunding to startup ideas. Come on board with CureCancrStarter.org and let's cure cancer.



Adding crowdfunding and stores "cools up" the N&O fast, costs little and solves the inbound link problem overnight (currently N&O isn't efficient in generating inbound links).




Summary


There are SMART people working at the N&O who may have thought of these ideas, but bet I am one of the FEW who has actually made $30M online. Granted I ran a B2C website not a content play, but the distance between B2C and B2B isn't as great as most imagine.



Can the N&O be saved?



Absolutely. Will the N&O be saved? Hope so since it would be missed. Missed because the more the web makes it possible to shrink time and space the more LOCAL and HYPER LOCAL matter. We can't lose touch of each other or how we are connected to the greater whole of "our town". It would be easy to gain the world and lose ourselves.



Who cares why or how the N&O and most local papers got to a point where they need saving, but saving is needed. Since all Internet marketing happens NOW and no one is ever more than five minutes ahead the N&O can be an online power. 





I believe that last sentence so much I will NEVER charge for consulting services to the N&O.



I will trade 13 years and $30M in web marketing expertise FREE and the N&O's desire to help cure cancer. Easy to make an offer so unlikely to be requested, but life is about more than money. To prove my last point about life being about more than money I extend the offer to ANY local newspaper who wants to become an online power. I bet I could marshal similar promises from some very smart Internet marketing friends too should the unlikely call ever come.



Can we save the N&O? Yes. Will we save the N&O? Let's hope so :). M



You In?


Here are helpful links so you know I'm not crazy, just in a hurry :).



Martin W. Smith, Director Marketing Atlantic BT



Martin Marty Smith on Facebook



Martin Marty Smith on Linkedin



Martin W. Smith on G+