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    May 2008

    Mouse-less technology gives visitors a hand…literally.

    Posted by / in Marketing / Link

    What I sawImage by Bettina Tizzy via Flickr

    Well, a free hand. New technology which is hitting the web these days allows site visitors to navigate using hand gestures and movements only. No fine motor skills or tedious clicking required.

    Users with a webcam will be able to navigate through redesigned websites with the help of a screen on the bottom right hand corner which will register hand gestures and movements. Web pages will be divided into quadrants and read the user’s motions allowing for smooth navigation. If you’ve seen the movie Minority Report, you know what I am getting at. If you’ve used an EyeToy with your PS2 or PSP, you’re already familiar with how this works.

    Adding a whole new level of interaction to web browsing, this mouse-less technology will open doors (or new browser windows) to the physically disabled, those with RSI, gamers, and guys that would rather wave their hands than type (like myself). It will also become a great marketing device.

    This tool should create many new and interesting opportunities for engaging with customers online. Creating or restoring accessibility for the disabled or those with RSI will allow companies and businesses to target a whole new market segment. New games can be created that will keep customers at your website. You don’t have to ask for certain demographic info, the camera never lies! Imagine conducting a sales pitch online and the viewer looks away. Program the system to respond with a Hey buddy, pay attention or for an instant 20% off, click here. Pretty soon your webinar attendees’ eyes will be glued to the screen.

    What are the advantages of this mouse-less technology?

    1. It’s cool.
      If nothing else this new technology will draw users to mouse-less sites in order to try it out. Therefore, show your creativity and give them a reason to come to your site like the digital design agency Clusta has done for Publicis & Hal Riney!
    2. It’s captivating.
      Creating interaction with your audience means a stronger brand. Nothing is more appropriate for interactive marketing than giving your audience the ability to physically control the user experience. No more splash pages to go through and lots of visual feedback.
    3. It’s new.
      Opportunities with budding technology like this is boundless. Spin it to target your audience. Be creative and use it to your advantage.

    Things to consider:

    1. Some assembly required (on both the user and presenters’ part).
      A web cam is needed by the user and a complete site redesign is necessary in order for the wireless technology to be compatible. Most users don’t want to buy new equipment in order to visit a website.
    2. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
      Learning new technology can be frustrating and overwhelming. Make sure your target demographic will be willing to delve into the world of mouse-less navigation with ease.
    3. You may be recorded.
      Seeing a message stating that you may be recorded kinda weirded me out! After fooling around with it for a while I yanked my camera out just in case there was some vestigial recording going on.

    If you do have a webcam (come on seriously, if you’re reading this you MUST), and want to check out a website that is already using the technology visit Publicis & Hal Riney . Yes, that’s right! Your mouse is still required to click on the link.


    May 2008

    Getting traffic to your site? Guest Blog Postings

    Posted by / in Marketing, Tips and Tricks / Link

    The latest rage these days for traffic and search engine rankings is to get postings on blogs. And one of the easiest ways to get those blog posts is to pay for them. In fact there are now numerous services that act as blog advertising aggregators ? advertisers can visit a site like Blogsvertise and simply pick and choose the blogs they want to get a paid review from.

    There’s some problems with this approach however. The first one is that these blog posts are the victim of their own success. Paid blog links work so well in getting site’s ranking in the search engines that the search engines are actively seeking to prevent this from working. They have not managed to stop this yet, and may never do so, but it’s a risk. The second problem is that the very best grassroots websites that have both traffic and that will help your search engine rankings will not generally accept paid postings to their blog.

    So what’s an online marketer to do? The solution is easy and works far better than paid blog postings. Offer to write a guest blog post! Grassroots and high traffic blogs love these offers. It makes them look better because they are big enough to have ‘guest bloggers’ they can feature and provides them with free content they can publish in between their own postings. Anyone who runs a blog knows how burdensome it is to keep fresh content all the time.

    Problem: Finding the blogs.

    Solution: Try Google 🙂

    Three easy ways to find good blogs to offer your ‘guest posting’ services to.

    1. Google ‘your industry’ plus the term ‘blog’. That’ll give you a great list of blogs that we already know Google likes since they’re ranking. Have a look at the first 50 or so.
    2. Look at their blogroll. Good blogs typically have a list of other blogs that they like in the same industry. Have a look at those blogs, and the blog rolls on those blogs…and so on.
    3. See who links to the blogs you’ve found so far. The following search done in Yahoo! will tell you who links to the blog: linkdomain:thebloggerswebsite.com ? site:thebloggerswebsite.com

    Problem: Convincing the blogger

    Solution: Tell them why it’s good for them, not you.

    We all have our best interests at heart. Nobody’s going to let you publish a blog post on their site for your benefit. They’ll do it if it’s good for them. So why would they publish your post? Tell them why it’s good for them. Let me go back to the salesjob I did on Bhupesh 🙂 (the blog owner of this site, who agreed to let me do this guest blog post) to illustrate why he would let a life insurance agent post on his marketing site.

    1. It will provide some additional content they can use in between their current blog posts.
    2. Their visitors will find it interesting. I’ll write an on topic blog post that’s informative and authoritative. And I won’t market products or services, this will be an informational post.
    3. Give them some ideas as to what you might right on and let them pick one. That gives them a list of things they can look at and increases the chances there will be a subject that piques their interest.

    Problem: The implementation of the article

    Solution: No need to write an article until they accept.

    Once the blogger has accepted and you’ve decided on an article subject, go ahead and write the article. Make sure you offer the blog owner the ability to have final approval on the article prior to publishing. That will set their mind at ease so they know they won’t be publishing a commercial solicitation.

    Within the article, link out to relevant sites. And give yourself credit at the bottom of the article including a link to your website. See? That’s not spammy at all.

    The benefit to you:

    There are multiple benefits to doing this. First, search engines love links pointing to your website. They love even more links from strong authoritative websites that are on topic. Secondly, you will find you can get links from websites that simply wouldn’t link to you (or your competitors!) ever, ever, ever. No money is changing hands which keeps them happy. And finally the strong blogs will actually send you traffic and visitors from your guest blog post.

    And finally, have fun with it. There’s something to be said for getting your articles published on other’s blogs. It’ll help your rankings, send you traffic, and help you become perceived as an expert in your field.

    About the guest poster: Glenn Cooke is a Life Insurance Broker in Canada. You can read his blog about
    life insurance for consumers at TheTermGuy.com.

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    Mar 2008

    Dell Direct Mail Offer Challenges

    Posted by / in Marketing, Tips and Tricks / Link

    A lesson in marketing and consistency.

    I was recently selected to save up to 75% off VOSTRO systems from Dell.  Pretty exciting eh? The glossy enviro-green and white direct mail piece was personalized and they even got the spelling of my name right! The headline had two footnotes. One said that I was selected based on factors such as historical purchases but I never bought a Dell through my company name so I wonder what other factors it could be.  The second footnote said that it was a promotional offer valid between March 21, 2008 and April 3, 2008 etc…good thing my business does not have to put laptops into a capital budget first! The strong call to action was duly noted.

    If you are one of Dell’s target business customers, as I apparently am, you are probably too busy to muck around a website getting educated on the various systems and configurations that Dell offers. So this offer was particularly enticing. In 3 simple steps, I could find out if my business was selected to save 25%, 50% or 75%. Here is what I had to do:

    1. Visit their website or call their toll free number.

    2. Enter my personal access code to find out how much I’d save.

    3. Choose my technology and enter the access code (again) to purchase it.

    Sounds simple enough so I decide to give it a try as one can always use another laptop right?

    Step 1 – No problem getting to the Dell site that immediately redirects to a tracking page with “mystery coupon” in the URL. First thing I see is the header Direct Mailer Offers. Now I wonder if I got the best offer. Second thing I see is a text box header with the question “Did you receive a Coupon Code”. Umm…I don’t know…I received a personal access code. Is that the same thing? I check the fine print on the direct mail flyer and it calls the personal access code an E-Value code so maybe I don’t have a Coupon Code? Figuring that Dell would not waste their money sending this to me only to have it fail on Step 1, I decide to try using my personal access code. That’s gotta be the same thing. As a potential customer, I’m not feeling too comfortable right now. I think I’m on a legit Dell site with the blue corporate colour in the navigation buttons. But the flyer was all green so now I’m not too sure – something phishy going on? Oh wait, there are green buttons lower on the page so all is good.

    Step 2 – The personal access code is 14 alphanumeric characters long. Dell will know exactly who came to the site, when they came and how far along the sales funnel they went by simply using this tracking code. I unfortunately got stumped at this step. The personal access code…oops, I mean Coupon Code, did not work. I try again – still no luck. I realized I keyed in an I instead of a 1 and probably an O instead of a 0. I can’t tell the difference since they used ALL CAPS in the code. Woohoo….I can save a whopping 25%! Good thing I did not call the toll free number. I can’t imagine repeating a 14 letter and number combo over the phone. What if I had to key them in and ended up at a remote call centre? On to Step 3 now.

    Step 3 – I look at the laptop solutions and desktop solutions, wondering why they are called solutions and not just business computers. Must be some marketing jargon. Does anyone google “laptop solutions” when looking for a computer? Google “laptop” and you get all the smart retailers that know what keywords are relevant ranking high on the search page. Hmmm…just made a mental note to contact Dell about helping them optimize their website 🙂

    Ok not interested in a solution at this point and also not very impressed.

    What are the lessons learned?

    Be consistent.

    The personal access code was referred to as the E-Value code in the fine print on the flyer. It was also referred to as the Coupon Code on the website. One of these is the appropriate and relevant term from a marketing and legal standpoint. That term should be used consistently.

    The layout of the flyer was similar to what one would expect to see on a tech oriented website. However, the Dell website is blue, with an orange and black graphic but the flyer is various shades of green. Not disconcerting but it would be nice for some design elements to be consistent across various marketing media.

    Make it easy for the customer.

    Don’t have a title that suggests better offers might be available. I was feeling special when I received the direct marketing piece but after reading Direct Mailer Offers, I’m not too certain that I was specially “selected” for this amazing limited time offer. Why does a customer even need to see this – it’s more for the marketing folks at Dell that say “go to the Direct Mailer Offers page” when describing their latest promotional offer to internal people. I would recommend calling it VOSTRO system special offer instead. A unique landing page for each customer could be created to really personalize the experience but that involves a bit more work. Hmmm….ANOTHER mental note to contact Dell and offer my consulting services!

    The 14 character personal access code was not very user-friendly. Instead of ALL CAPS, they should have made it all lower case so there would not be any opportunity for confusion with i’s, 1’s, o’s or 0’s.

    If I made a purchase I would have to key in the 14 character personal access code again. I can think of a solution here – capture the personal access code from Step 2. Better yet, knowing that I had keyed it in already, don’t ask for it again. Instead, personalize Step 3 by including my company name in the window. That would make it really easy for me and I’d feel oh so special too.

    Have you received any direct mail marketing pieces that made you feel special? Did you end up acting on the offer? Please share.

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