BOSTON -- With all the tools available on the Internet, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But with all the competition swarming onto the Internet, it’s imperaitive that you don't hide your head in the sand. In a presentation at the Affiliate Summit East here this week, the head of an Internet marketing company offered attendees a game plan for actively improving a Web site.
The executive, Jay Berkowitz, the chief executive of Ten Golden Rules, not only articulated the top 10 online trends, but proffered examples of services -- both old and new -- that can help you monetize your site.
- Microcommunications: People are moving fast -- and so they want their information the same way -- fast. Microblogging site Twitter, for example, gives users 140 characters to spit out what they want to say. Especially as people are increasingly relying on a mobile device as the primary source of communication, it’s critical to convey information succinctly.
Check out: Twitter, Google's YouTube, blogs, Qik, Seesmic
- Reviews and recommendations: When it comes to shopping online, customers are following what Berkowitz refers to as “SO-SO-RO-BO” – search online, search offline, research online, buy online. As customers move online, they’re still skeptical of vendors, relying instead on the words of other customers they can relate to.
Check out: Bazaarvoice, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon.com
- Customer service is the new marketing department: There’s no way to stop customers from talking about you online. The best way to remedy the potential repercussions of an upset customer is to address it head on. Find out what’s being said about you and be transparent. When a viral video about a 300-page AT&T phone bill got onto YouTube, for example, the mobile-phone-service provider was chastised for wasting paper. The company soon did away with detailed bills and encouraged customers to sign up for e-billing.
Check out: Google Alerts, Technorati, blogs
- Personal branding: Using a personal example, Berkowitz said that his company focuses on “ten” and “gold” -- aptly exemplified by the gold tie he wore during the presentation. Start by providing valuable content to build the credibility of your name, he said.
Check out: blogs, Twitter, Google's YouTube Channels, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed
- Great content: Not only should you provide valuable content, but make sure that as many places as possible are linking to that content. Also, use words on your site that correspond with popular search terms. Moreover, linking your own site to other sources improves your own relevancy and importance. Finally, name everything to ensure that the search engines pick up on your content.
Check out: Google, Podcasts, WordTracker, KeywordDiscovery, Google Universal Search/Blended Search (text, video, images)
- Everybody is famous: “Everybody is famous to at least 15 people,” Berkowitz told the audience, playing off Andy Warhol’s idea that everyone has “15 minutes of fame.” Whether it’s a podcast or a personal blog, he added, “you are what you publish.” Be relevant and consistent -- Berkowitz recommended blogging three to four times per week -- and you’re sure to build your following.
Check out: Apple iTunes, blogs, PodioBooks (eBooks)
- Open architecture: By creating a widget that users can download straight to their desktops (or even their iPhones), you’re giving them front-row tickets to your information. Internet retailer Woot, for instance, offers its site visitors one deal a day; aside from engaging actively on Twitter, Woot also notifies customers of the discounted item via widgets.
Check out: Linux, Facebook widgets, Widgetbox
- Payments: Despite the rise in online shopping, a Pew online shopping survey revealed that 75 percent of users agree or strongly agree that they do not like giving out credit card information or personal information online. Therefore, third-party services such as PayPal are restoring trust and convenience in online shopping.
Check out: PayPal, Bill Me Later, eBillme, Google Checkout, National Payment Card
- Direct-to-consumer PR: When public relations puts content on the wire, that release typically goes public the same time it’s unveiled on the company Web site. Berkowitz suggested, however, that companies create content on their own site first, give the search engines time to pick it up, then unleash it to the PR sites. That way, the content available on your own site will receive the higher ranking having been the first recognized source. Increase the chance your article gets picked up by including your top keywords/key phrases once in first and last paragraph, and twice by the first 200 words. Do not go overboard.
Check out: PR Web, PRNewswire, BusinessWire, NewsForce
- "Free!": From the vendor perspective, there are many tools that are not only free, but very powerful, such as Google Analytics. Customers are also attracted to free content (eBooks, videos), free trials (whether in Beta or for a limited time). Berkowitz mentioned marketing strategist David Meerman Scott, who wrote eBooks and made them accessible at no cost. Having acquired over 250,000 downloads, Berkowitz said, “who’s not going to give him a book deal?”
Check out: Google, SeoQuake, Compete, SpyFu, SeoDigger, Syntryx
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