Posts

Contest: Let's create a new logo for The Strategy Web

After one year with my old and self-created amateurish logo (via Logoease), I have made two decision in one go. First of all, I definitely want a new logo and secondly, I like to see how a logo contest website is performing and what kind of ideas it’s ‘creative head community’ is coming up with.

A challenge for the designers or for me?
So on Thursday night last week, I started my contest and decided to go with elogocontest.com. And if you want to take part and hand in your ideas as a designer, please feel free to log on to my contest ID for the new The Strategy Web logo PS: This platform is called Hatchwise now). The challenge is on you. And some people have already been very creative and shown their innovative approaches.

For people or companies that are looking to start a logo contest the steps are easy. This was my challenge some days ago.

How does elogocontest work for contest holders?
You start by registering an account as a contest holder. Having done that, you kick off your logo contest by describing the basic outlines of the contest, your target group, the essential parts and texts of the logo and finally, by writing a short summary about the contest. This is the online brief for the designers which is a self-explaining questionnaire and easy to handle. And you think about how much money you want to hand over to the winner.
Done!

What is the benefit for designers?
The benefit for designers is not huge you might say… I do disagree with that. It depends how you see it. OK, 150,- US Dollars won’t make a designer rich, yes. However, it might have some serious impact for their future business. Generating first-class reference for your creativity and your business is not easy. By taking part in some of these competitions, designers can proof their creative power, train their creative heads in an open-competition, receive some references, and generate future business from contest holders (word-of-mouth is key in the business of the future!!!).

And if they are clever, they have a blog and a twitter account where they are talking about their contest success. If this does not help, then word-of-mouth tactics don’t work…

Any special thanks for the winner of my logo contest?
Yes, there is! My contest ends Saturday night… The winner will get an exclusive interview on his/her business, his/her thoughts on logo contests, and why the company started using elogocontest (or others as well).

So if you are a designer or a creative master mind, keep the speed up of new ideas coming in! Looking forward to your ideas. And I promise, feedback will be provided asap.

Spot On!
Logo creation has cost start-ups (and all other companies) a fortune some years ago. Today, it has found an innovative contest approach all over the web. Examples like 99designs, elogocontest, logo contest, Logoease, jovoto, mypitch, AAA Logo and mypitch proof that today the world of innovative and creative agency work is changing towards a more customer friendly web 2.0 approach. And it is becoming affordable…

For now, my work is done and I am sitting hear and am waiting for your ideas… And for those of you who want to help me choosing the right logo, comments on creatives in my blog are very much appreciated.

How to attract more visitors – The 10 most important visitor resources for blogs

How can you find a lot of users for your business blog?

How can you find a lot of users for your business blog?

Is there a secret, why corporate blogs and business blogs have more success than traditional corporate websites? Is it the modern architecture of blogging systems? Is it the exiting and exhilarant spelling style of bloggers? Or is a conspiracy of the digital natives against the internet retirees?

Nothing of it! Blogs and bloggers are simply using some very effective methods to attract visitors.

The 10 most important visitor resources for blogs:

  1. Feeds – Blogs are read via feed reader predominantly, not via browsers any longer. Well-known blogs have more than 100.000 feed reader per day. On a normal day in Germany, there are some blogs with more than 10.000 feed reader.
    Highlight your RSS feed on your blog and take advantage of a feed service like Feedburner
  2. Google – Visitors through search engines are the second largest visitor group of blogs. Bloggers use always methods of search engine optimization (SEO) in order to achieve good rankings with important key words.
    Write in a search engine friendly way. Use Google’s Webmaster Tools and install a SEO plug-in like wpSEO!
  3. Pingbacks and Trackbacks – Links don’t just offer a value-add for your own users but also backlinks and numerous new users.
    Link all directions as often as possible and learn to use trackbacks in a proper way.
  4. Twitter – with the micro-blogging service you can approach users faster than with your blog. News with real add-on information are spread via Twitter the “viral” way very fast.
    Work on broadening your Twitter follower base. Promote your Twitter account on your blog and vice versa. Twitter your blog postings at the right time!
  5. Social Networks – Promote your important blog postings on XING, Facebook or LinkedIn.
  6. Forums – Are you an accredited expert, for example a wine blogger?
    If you see in a forum the question: What are the most expensive wines or the 10 most dry French ones? Write a posting on your blog and post only the link in the forum.
  7. Blog directors and RSS feed directories – Just some selected directories (Technorati, Blogoscoop, Bloggerei, Wikio) generate new visitors. Especially, if you are ranking well in these directories.
  8. Your comments on other blogs – Make yourself heard on other blogs as a constructive business partner – far and foremost in not well-known blogs. This will result in new visitors. Beware the free of sense comments! This will damage your own blog reputation in the long term.
  9. Comments of others on your blog – This is the secret of well-visited blogs:
    Be responsive to comments – You will win permanent visitors!
  10. Guest writers – Invite readers/users, other bloggers or “VIP’s” from the offline and online world to write guest posts. Every guest author will be talking to others about it or link directly to this post.
    Your creativity has no limits: travel agents blog about journeys of their customers, hotel managers animate guests to write about their vacation resort, … Your customers don’t want that? Ask them if they want to publish some of their holiday pictures on your homepage! You will be surprised seeing the reaction…

Did I forget something? Is your ranking of visitor resources different? Where do you see options to attract more visitors for your blog? Looking forward reading your comments and reading your ideas and thoughts!

Guest writer Karl-Heinz Wenzlaff is the German expert and consultant for business blogging. He knows the useful tips and tricks, and is specialized on professional company blogs, product blogs or employee blogs. Some month ago, he helped me migrating from Blogger to WordPress in order to set up a magazine theme.

Thank you for being one of my guest writers, Karl-Heinz.

UK: Internet users love browsing social media – less shopping

A recent study by Hitwise reveales that UK Internet users are spending more time browsing online media than ‘going’ online shopping. In March 2009 9.8% of all UK Internet visits were directed to social networking websites and 8.6% to online retail websites. Compared to 2008, the figures turned around (online retailers 9.7% – social networks 8.2%).

In the passed year, online retailers sawe a downsize in traffic from paid search like sponsored or paid for links on search engines (i.e. like Google, Yahoo!, Live and Ask) – 2009: 8.9% and 2008: 10,1% of visits to online retailers came from a paid search listing.

“The growth of social networking, online video and the continuing popularity of news websites has meant that an increasing proportion of consumer’s online time in the UK has been devoted to online media,” commented Robin Goad, Hitwise’s Director of Research.

The traffic that Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, YouTube and the likes generates for online retailers increased in one year from 5.2% to 7.1%. And social networks now generate 58.3% more traffic than webmail providers (Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and GoogleMail). The best performing categories in 2009 were Auctions, Fashion and Department Stores.

“Social networks are a relatively small but fast growing source of traffic for online retailers,” commented Goad. “At present, only a minority of retailers pick up a significant amount of traffic from social networks, but many of those that do have seen a positive impact on traffic. For example, fashion retailer ASOS has a strong presence on Facebook and in March received 13.3% of its traffic from the social network. Another example – in a very different market – is online bookseller Abebooks, which currently receives a quarter of all its UK Internet traffic from social networks, more than it gets from search engines.”

Spot On!
Is this showing a trend that people are willing to buy products in social networks? In the UK, it sounds possible. It could be the next step. We all know that the easy purchase process is a winner – for companies and customers. Thinking of the future of social networks, companies should consider engaging with customers much more on social networks while also integrating ‘light’ e-commerce opportunities in their Facebook Fan pages or in their company profiles at XING. Or at least indicate and lead the way for customers to some good offers or marketing activities. And re-thinking efforts on big spendings for paid search is definitely something that needs to be thought about…

News Update – Best of the Day

Just good Hi5 links…

5 elements to create a successful Facebook Fan Page…

15 SEO elements companies need to win in search engine ranking fights…

50 corporate website designs that stand out from the crowd…

PS: 500 robots and 10.000 students head to Atlanta for the First National Robotics Championship….

Report: Marketers web-strategy not listening to SMB needs

The latest report from Bredin Business Information (BBI) finds that SMB’s will not become customers with the common marketing strategies: Marketers are going online while small and medium-size companies are still living the offline world of direct mail and tradeshows.

The two surveys by BBI, conducted in late January and February, combine the findings of 50 leading marketers and 741 SMBs. While marketers were asked about their outreach and research efforts for 2009, the SMBs had to give some insight about their online and offline media preferences, top business issues and brand ratings. The findings show that both sides don’t go and-in-hand to reach their targets.

The marketers world
What marketers know…
SMBs rely less on traditional marketing tactics but that’s one of the top ways they like to receive product and service information.
What marketers do…
Marketers’ spending will increase spending on every online tactic (especially microsites and resource centers, social networking and webinars) but decrease budgets in direct mail, print advertising and trade shows – only PR and telemarketing will increase.

The SMB world
What SMBs rely on offline…
– 43,6% newspaper and magazine articles
– 43,5% direct mail (including letters, postcards and catalogs)
– 32% radio/TV ads
– 27,4% phone calls
What SMBs rely on online…
– 72% online referrals (friends and peers) most popular information source on products and services
– 57% search engine marketing
– 44,5% educational websites
What SMBs favorite in social media…
– 19.7% Facebook
– 15,6% LinkedIn
– 11,3% Twitter

“Marketers are clearly reacting to the difficult economy by using offline tactics much more selectively. They are also moving online aggressively, to reach SMBs efficiently and learn how to get the most from new media opportunities. (…) However, our survey of SMBs indicates that business owners are not nearly as enthusiastic about many online formats for business purposes – such as social networking – as marketers are.” said BBI CEO Stu Richards

Spot On!
The high percentage of marketers more focused on winning new customers than keeping current ones surprises… : 48% balancing their acquisition and retention efforts, 32% concentrating more on acquisition and 20% focusing more on retention. In my experience it is easier keeping clients and trying to meet their needs. Marketers should try to face the difference between customers who really ‘live and communicate the web’, and those that don’t. Going online will be the future, sure, but step-by-step with training the customers the benefits of receiving the information online. Today in some industry sectors, marketers can still put into question the high priority of moving online (3,5 on a scale of 5) and slowing down offline tactics (2,6 on a scale of 5) if the target group is not ready for listening online.

News Update – Best of the Day

Die richtigen Strategien für Social Media zu finden, ist derzeit ein Versuch von zahlreichen RP- und Marketingexperten. Geoff Livingston, ein bekannter amerikanischer PR Stratege, bringt die Komplexität der Thematik in seinem Post ‘Five Social Media Strategies‘ kurz und prägnant auf den Punkt.

Es gibt viele Leitfäden für die Planung einer Webseite – aber nicht viele für die Planung der perfekten. MintTwist, eine Internetberatungsfirma aus UK, hat eine sehr interessanten Planungs-Leitfaden abgeliefert. Einfach mal durchlesen und selbst prüfen, ob die bestehenden Elemente der Planung, dem Design und der Aussagekarft der Webseite entspricht.

Nach seinem erfolgreichen Post über Personal Branding 101, hat der Autor des Buches ‘Me 2.0’, Dan Schwabel, nun seinen zweiten Teil abermals bei Mashable veröffentlicht. Personal Branding 102. Wer sich diesen Post durchliest, macht sich danach sofort an das Auffrischen seiner Digital DNA und seiner Kontakte in seinen Social Media Netzwerken.

______________________ Spot On!

Wenn Sie einen aktuellen Report zum Thema Social Networking haben möchten, bietet diese Studie Ihnen die Option dazu. Die Studie will herausfinden, wie wir Social Networks im Business-Kontext nutzen, welche wir bevorzugen und wieviel Zeit wir dort investieren. Nehmen Sie sich die Zeit und sein Sie einer der ersten, der die Studie bekommt.

Cost per User – the next digital currency?

The discussion about the best advertising currency is long-lasting. It may never be ending. Still the discussion needs to be continued. The web publishing space had all the options on the table: cpm, cpi, cpc, cpl, cps and so on. And each and everyone of those failed in a way that makes all sides of the publishing and web value chain happy. The only currency that did not seriously come up as a currency ratio in media is cost per user (cpu) although every company follows this metric to evaluate their website costs.

Advertisers love to purchase ‘cheap’ quality space of extraordinary target groups. Platform owners need premium-price compensation models in order to provide high-quality content to their users. The users don’t care. Although they are the stumbling block, the center of attention, in this issue between platform providers and advertising clients. Now that web 2.0 and social media comes into the ‘cpx-game’, everyone gets a chance to rethink digital currency models. What is missing in this discussion is the cost per user model.

A Retrospect on Controlled Circulation
If we go way back to the beginning of this century, there was an interesting discussion about controlled circulation going on in the publishing industry. This discussion indicated that the best value of a medium is the registered or qualified user. Someone who gives away a lot of personal data in order to receive a medium for free. And there were numerous print magazines in the market that do and did controlled circulation. And today? There are hundreds of community-based business models on the web – all of these are to a huge degree controlled circulation orientated. Only a few of these businesses know about it, or see the premium value of controlled circulation media in this advertising space.

Now, what exactly is controlled circulation?
In a lot of meetings with clients, the question came up a thousand times when we explained our old community model. Controlled circulation is a distribution model, usually free of charge, for newspapers and magazines that wanted to have a deeper control of their target group. Thus, controlled circulation magazines offered the ideal targeting of the best quality audience for their advertisers. The benefit was quite obvious if we read the articles here and there. Advertisers spend more money for an ad in the controlled circulation arena than for the classical news-stand magazine. In booking controlled circulation media advertisers know in details what target group get for their money. This premium model could have been applicable to business models on the web. But only a few saw this option and took advantage of the ‘closed’ access door idea.

Why is controlled circulation a winner?
The big benefit of controlled circulation is that non-profit organizations audit the reader database of magazines or web platforms in terms of database quality and quality reach: for print BPA and for web platforms ABC Electronic. Both independent ‘controllers’ double-check in the means of the advertisers what kind of target group quality content providers ‘pretend’ to offer to the advertisers. Advertisers love the audits as there is some reliable data that marketers could show to their bosses or the management team after the sales people had captured the marketing-office for their sales pitches. It needs to be said that the audits were based on projections – only 10-20% of the total database really was tested, but still the quality check was much appreciated by the advertisers.

Controlled circulation and the modern web communities
The question is: Why did the controlled circulation discussion ‘die’? Why was it not carried on as an idea for a premium-priced advertising currency in the web world? Why did the focus on the high-profile individual user registration get lost when there was such a huge benefit for the advertising industry? Did it get killed alongside the top-valued personalization idea which got stepped down by the advertising cpm valuation? Maybe…

Nevertheless, in days where social media, social networking and community-building is exploding, is it not the right time to focus on the value of the registered user in terms of digital currency and critically scrutinize the ‘odd’ cpm valuation? Does not the individual need to be in the center of attention of the modern web 2.0 world? The modern web individual that communicates with companies. The one that reads, comments, blogs, publishes, networks, rates or reviews?

A vision
Just imagine there was a kind of database that all magazines and platform owner have to use who want to earn advertisign dollars. That database is held by a non-profit organization or the government. A system where all users unite, active and inactive web users. Every user could define their most interesting platforms and status of activity which would lead to a cost per user index for each online magazine or web platform, based on consumption intensity of the average user, social networking value of the active user and staying-time frequency of each individual. In the end, the combined data of the website generates a platform coefficient which leads to a cost per user. This is the cost that advertisers want to book, right?

Spot On!
In the modern social media world registration processes become daily business for users. If it was one database as described above, the users would be held responsible. They would be more careful on how to define access and care about their data. From day to day, users get more open minded about showing their data on other media including registering their preferences, interests and hobbies. And platform owners benefit from that. In the future, it will become a state of the art for publishing houses and digital platform owners to have their own web community visible on the side-bar for new visitors. This is a huge success for web platform owners. What could be a better reference if you can show your audience, visual and accessible for everyone with avatar picture that the users upload themselves? Bloggers already use this option to attract more interest. The single user will become the reference for each platform.

So, what if the best targeting measurement of a platform becomes the cost per user (cpu)? If we think about how connected (via Google, Facebook or Yahoo) these platforms are becoming and see all the website and social media metrics we could monitor, the question rises: Is there an option to standardize registration on web platforms and communities plus integrating all the generated data of these platforms into one non-profit system or organization which calculates a cost per user index based on targeting criteria like b2b or b2c and different demographic data? Is Cost per User the next digital currency? The discussion is yours…

News Update – Best of the Day

– Niemand will 404-Seiten sehen, schon gar nicht im Business. Wer aber kreativ ist, kann damit auch sein Business-Image aufpolieren. Und jede Wette, dass Sie die nachfolgenden 404’s sehen wollen…?

Unter einer herrlichen Liste lustiger 404 Seiten… nehmen wir zwei heraus und danken dem Kollegen, der die North Face 404 an uns weitergab – ergibt wiedermal 3 ‘Top 404’.

– European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA) bringt Neuigkeiten zur europäischen Online-Nutzung in aktueller Studie: Online wird ein Teil des täglichen Lifestyles. Aus Perspektive des Business interessant…

When researching or considering a product or service, 64% of European internet users consider personal recommendations important, with websites of well-known brands (49%) and both online customer (46%) and expert (45%) reviews following closely, showing that internet users are increasingly using both online as well as personal recommendations to make purchase decisions.”

– Das Monetarisierungsproblem hat Twitter kürzlich noch den Verkauf an Facebook gekostet. Nun reagiert der CEO des Micro-Blogging Dienstes, Evan Williams, und tritt die PR-Maschine los. Doch über die Monetarisierungs-Strategie lässt er nichts raus – nur, daß bald Umsätze fließen sollen. Zu lesen auf CNET, wo die Leser 11 Business Modelle voten können.