Month: December 2007

Raising Conversions with Data and Design

MarketingSherpa’s Landing Page Handbook is tremendous.  I’ve had the handbook for over a month now and haven’t posed a review yet because I’ve taken the time to actually read and ponder all 272 pages.  Normally, I’m not a huge fan of such handbooks or “how-to’s” that pertain to marketing, but the Landing Page Handbook is definitely an exception and proved worth the hours of time I put into reading the whole thing.

Here are the specs from the site:

  • Research Data & Useful Stats — See how your landing page-related stats compare to 3800 of your peers. Useful for pitching upper management for tests and budgets.
  • Step-By-Step Instructions — Practical guidelines for each step of landing page design, including copy, graphics, layout, buttons, typeface, video, audio, and top four types of testing. Plus, “skunk works” tips.
  • Creative Samples & Case Studies — Use as design aids and inspiration for your new landing pages. Includes multivariate test results and real-life marketer’s stories. ( Click for a list of brands featured….)
  • Specific help for — Search marketing (PPC and SEO), business-to-business marketers, ecommerce sites, email marketers, offline advertisers and even bloggers.
  • Besides the case studies from major brands, the most enlightening part of the handbook had to be chapter 2 (“Landing Page Design, Layout and Copy Fundamentals”).  That sounds like it would be just a rehash of tips and tricks, but the chapter lays out a number of insights and examples (and helpful charts) that describes, in detail, a successful landing page strategy for higher conversions.  If the handbook had been composed of just chapter 2, I would have been happy with the time investment.

    However, all 270+ pages are useful for both online marketing newbies and veterans alike.  That’s not an easy balance to find, but MarketingSherpa found the magic for this publication.

    You can find out more about the Landing Page Handbook here.

    Google’s Biggest Move in Years: Adding Authority to Content


    (Example of a Knol)

    What normally causes a rage or a riot in the tech blogosphere flitters out to meaning little to nothing for the “average” web user in general or is tested and evolved before being adopted by web users outside of the Techmeme echo chamber. Interestingly enough, the things that seem to slip by most tech bloggers sometime come back to surprise us all with their impacts or ramifications for the web environment.

    That might be the case with Google’s latest experiment called “Knol” (for a unit of knowledge). Google says they are attempting to get people to contribute knowledge to the web with a layer of authorial addition:

    The key idea behind the knol project is to highlight authors. Books have authors’ names right on the cover, news articles have bylines, scientific articles always have authors — but somehow the web evolved without a strong standard to keep authors names highlighted. We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content. At the heart, a knol is just a web page; we use the word “knol” as the name of the project and as an instance of an article interchangeably. It is well-organized, nicely presented, and has a distinct look and feel, but it is still just a web page. Google will provide easy-to-use tools for writing, editing, and so on, and it will provide free hosting of the content. Writers only need to write; we’ll do the rest.

    The goal is for knols to cover all topics, from scientific concepts, to medical information, from geographical and historical, to entertainment, from product information, to how-to-fix-it instructions. Google will not serve as an editor in any way, and will not bless any content. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors. We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing.

    Knols will include strong community tools. People will be able to submit comments, questions, edits, additional content, and so on. Anyone will be able to rate a knol or write a review of it. Knols will also include references and links to additional information. At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads.

    It’s no wonder that Google is getting into the knowledge production business. And at this point, it is a business. Whereas Wikipedia has rapidly become the repository of information for those seeking deeper knowledge of a subject or topic than a query on a search engine (such as Google) can provide, Wikipedia still relies on donations and is run as a nonprofit.

    Google sees the opportunity to provide a better product while also serving their famous contextual ads on top of the content and increasing their revenues (with what would certainly be highly targeted audiences). Blending authoritative information with relevant advertising equals money. And lots of it. Not only will knols rank high in the search engines, they will go hand-in-hand with Google’s search results to form a platform of trust and that spells conversions.

    Google has learned well from both the under monetized Wikipedia and the over-spammed Squidoo in this endeavor. And while the announcement of the knol program went by fairly quietly in the tech world, this could be Google’s biggest move in years (up there with acquiring YouTube).

    I expect we’ll be seeing more and more about knols as people realize the potential impact on the average web user.

    ShareASale: Learning from Facebook


    Incredible (and promising) post from the ShareASale Blog today in context of Facebook removing the “is” from its presence platform…

    Similarly, we often have things at ShareASale that we know are “broken” but are little things in the grand scope of things. I hereby apologize for all of those “little things” and am going to try to sweep through a bunch of them – as I realized today (again) how important little things are to just generating good will and making you all (our customers) happy with us.

    Whatever you feel about Facebook, this is incredibly promising. We can only hope that more networks learn and adapt like ShareASale is doing.

    Flickr Now Has Stats


    Flickr announces that they have opened up a stats interface for Premium Members.

    We’ve introduced a new feature for our pro members: stats!

    No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you — we’ve launched another of our most often requested features. Yay!

    We’ve designed stats on Flickr to give you all sorts of insight into how people arrive at your photos. If you’re a pro member you can activate your stats now.

    There’s more information about stats on Flickr in the FAQs and we’ll be happy to answer your questions and take feedback in this Help Topic.

    Very cool for metrics junkies!

    AdItAll – Professional Video Clips On Demand

    AdItAll is an interesting entry into the online video creation space. Aimed at more corporate type companies with little time to adequately create, produce and edit a professional style video, AdItAll combines editing tools typically found on user generated video content sites with a marketplace of various available clips:


    As an example, I chose a clip geared towards an office environment which took me to an AJAX pop up to see the video, price (most looked to be in the $300 range for a 10-15 second clip) and choice to edit…


    The editing screen includes a number of options and allows the potential buyer to experiment with the soundtrack, voice over, individual frames, images, etc. All in all I was quite impressed with the editing options here…

    AdItAll isn’t for everyone, but it certainly is an interesting option for companies looking to include a short and professionally produced (and customizable) web clip on their sites. I don’t see many affiliates using this, but I do see the potential for an affiliate network or CPA network to grab a couple of vids for $300 to enhance their affiliate recruitment or site conversion improvement metrics.

    PayPerPost Puts Online Marketing in a “Hairy Situation”

    [Edit 1/15/08 The creator of the campaign, Kirt Gunn, emailed me to let me know that the campaign never worked with PayPerPost.  Glad to hear!]

    PayPerPost … er… Izea… insults our intelligence yet again. Ariel Waldman summarizes a new campaign from PPP and Garnier:

    The Harry Situation site is a horrid attempt at a site, not naming what networks, lawyers, etc. they were working with, but somehow managing to spill out the fill name of “Ganier Frucits” at any chance. A quick WhoIS lookup gives a vague address and another un-Google-able Gmail address…

    On this particular blog post, the site is again, linked to twice (with 2 TinyURLs). One of which is supposed to go to Todd’s “blog”, but when you click on the link, it (surprise!) takes you to an image of the “show” hosted on PayPerPost. Also, “interestingly”, the same name of the image is used on the Harry Situation blog, only this time appropriately hosted on the site. Other blogs that host the post load PayPerPost data when you visit them.

    Our investigative conclusion? Not only has Garnier (and potentially associated ad agencies) attempted to “game” bloggers, by somehow believing that they will link to anything without credentials, but it seems that PayPerPost is incredibly insatiable in making themselves and any blogger associated with them become an evil empire of ridiculousness.

    Whatever your feelings about PayPerPost … er… Izea… this sort of marketing stunt dilutes both the online marketing and online video effectiveness for early adopting advertisers and does nothing useful for either viewers or advertisers dumping money into such campaigns. In fact, I’m sure the poor results and backlash from this will only convince more Madison Ave agencies that online video is a fad.

    Twitter and Online Marketing: What Problem Does Twitter Solve?


    What purpose does Twitter serve for online marketers? Can you successfully “market” something on Twitter?

    Yes and no.

    Yes: you can market yourself, your ideas, your brand and your positions that down the road equate into real world bottom line numbers.

    No: marketing products or services directly on Twitter in a pure performance marketing sense is incredibly difficult. I’ve been on Twitter for over a year and have 500+ followers and people that I’m following (which is a fairly substantial number in Twitterland). I’ve not seen anyone successfully sustain the ability to direct market products or services.

    Twitter is an amazing tool for networking, sharing info or marketing yourself or your ideas. It requires patience and the realization that not all marketing is constrained by notions of direct results. Sometimes, the best types of performance marketing are the ones that build on organic interest… the type of interest you can generate on Twitter.

    Kurt Cobain: About A Son

    Can’t wait to see this (Cobain was a huge influence on my life. I literally “woke up” the first time I heard the opening refrain of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in the car on the way to Marion, SC with my mom. I was forever changed…and still am):

    Big in Japan: Web2.0 Is Dead and Japan is the Next Hub of the Web?

    Robert Sanzalone of Blognation Japan has an interesting interview with Zooomr’s Kristopher Tate in which he expounds on his vision of web development’s future.

    He’s almost got me convinced…

    Kristopher: My goal is simple. I’m going to make Japan the next center of the web!…

    I really want to get bloggers excited in Japan. It doesn’t seem like they have much forward voice here. That needs to change. The bottom line is this: Web 2.0 is dead — the brand is. In the valley everyone is scrambling for new ideas. But Google and Facebook have sucked up core talent. There isn’t anything new or exciting happening there. It’s become a bubble. Japan holds the second largest GDP globally. It’s infrastructure is amazing. 3G is here and people know how to use technology.

    Read the rest here.

    Super Roman Glue

    First concrete, now superglue… is there anything the Romans didn’t engineer?

    I’m sure the location that this glue concoction was recovered had something to do with its makeup (much as Roman concrete varies from place to place based on location of origin in the Empire). However, this is still pretty amazing considering the time gap:

    Analysis shows that the Roman glue was made of bitumen, beef tallow and pitch. But researchers said they had failed so far to recreate the adhesive and that sawdust, soot or sand might have to be added to complete the process.

    “When we finally manage to remake the superglue, it will easily compete with its modern equivalents,” Mr Willer said. “After all, which of today’s glues stick for 2,000 years?”

    Glue Used by the Romans Has Stuck Around for 2,000 Years – The Independent

    Medieval Archaeology Journal Online For Free

    Not for everyone, but if you’re a history nerd like I am, this is a great opportunity:

    An early Christmas present from the Society for Medieval Archaeology:

    Good news from the Society for Medieval Archaeology and the wizards at the Archaaeology Data Service. The first fifty (50) issues of Medieval Archaeology are available for free online. Its not quite open access, because the issues can’t be archived elsewhere, but that’s no real problem as long as the ADS stays funded.

    The Society exists to ‘further the study of the period from the 5th to the 16th century A.D. by publishing a journal of international standing dealing primarily with the archaeological evidence, and by other means such as by holding regular meetings and arranging conferences.’ It’s clear making the journal freely accessible is going to do a lot for their work, but even so when you also have to balance the financial needs of the Society it’s still a courageous step in a field where most publications are subscription-only.

    But the real reason to celebrate is that the journal is very good. There is plenty of stuff in it that deserves a wide audience. For instance Pictish symbol stones are a bit of a mystery. However I can read about them in the article Investing in Sculpture: Power in Early-historic Scotland by Meggen Gondek, which is available as a PDF from Volume 50 of Medieval Archaeology.

    (Via Alun: Ancient Science and the Science of Ancient Things.)

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