So you want to start this email thing

So you want to start this email thing

Email marketing is boring. This is actually a good thing. It is boring because it is a known quantity, because it works and it has been a part of online marketing for so long it is hard to make up new buzzwords for it. There is still a lot that can be done with it however. There are triggered campaigns, systems to tailor content to your list by segments, various tactics to build your list from other ‘rented’ audiences like Facebook. If you are just starting though, there are a number of other things you need to be across first.

There is a good reason why email is one of the most popular direct response advertising tools for most digital marketers. It is easy to set up, scales fast, delivers return on investment and can be very very effective. Like many other digital channels, one of email marketing’s strengths is in how easy it is to track, and how effective it can become with a little applied analytics and analysis. Like so much other data driven activity, the trick is to know what to look at.

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Search Marketing Inbound

Search Marketing Inbound

Inbound marketing is a popular topic. As an idea it has been evolving online for a few years now, and currently is closely associated with content marketing, being present and engaged on social media platforms and community building efforts. At it’s core, inbound marketing is not about paying for advertising, and mostly comes down to just two ideas. Have something your potential market cares about and be visible where they are, be it a social media platform or a group of search terms.

Inbound marketing works when those doing it provide the users with something they want that also helps the business to accomplish its aims. Like a band posting footage from a concert to help sell a new album or an author who runs a blog that keeps her in touch with her fans. This activity builds the community around the brand, creates interest in the bands music or the author’s work. It gives the biggest fans something to share with their friends online and off. It also creates interest and content.

Read more at You Need Inbound in your Search Marketing

So it finally happened...

So it finally happened…

Bing Ads have finally launched in Australia, only four years after the deal between the two search engines started the process that would stop one of them from being an actual search engine. It only took another two years after this deal before Yahoo! stopped being an actual search engine in the US, and since then this process continue around the world.

Except for in Australia. Despite repeated rumors and the occasional email from Yahoo!7 Yahoo! Search Marketing managed to hang on in Australia. One issue that may have delayed this in Australia was that Microsoft Ad Center (later Bing Ad Center) never opperated locally. Locally Yahoo! Search Marketing provided Live’s, and later Bing’s paid search advertising. Another possible problem was the cosy relationship between NineMSN and Yahoo!7.

Bing Ads in Australia

The first real announcement about Bing Ads coming to Australia appeared on the Bing Ads blog on the 2nd of April. Not the 1st, fortunately. In the post they named Mi9 as their local partner for providing search advertising. Unsurprisingly there was no news from Yahoo!. What was unexpected, given the deal that was struck in 2009 and what was seen elsewhere is that both Yahoo! Search Marketing and Bing Ad Center will remain seperate for now.

Unfortunately this means that Australian search marketers will still need to interact with Yahoo! Search Marketing’s venerable interface and optimisation tools for a little longer. It also seems that this will split what little share of search both search engines have between two platforms.

At Least it’s Different

Bing Ad Center provides a far better interface than Yahoo! Search Marketing. When comparing a platform that has remained untouched for at least four years to one with active development, this should be no surprise. However not much will change. Google will remain the dominant search engine, both in volume of searchers and share of paid search budgets.

Last Chance to See

Last Chance to See

Google Reader is about to be shut down, and most people who would care have already found a replacement. Personally I have not logged into my Google Reader account for a while, not since I moved on. There are a lot of alternatives available and apparently Feedly is a fairly popular alternative, though there are a number of other ones out there. Personally I have already switched to Tiny Tiny RSS, a self-hosted solution like Fever. Google Reader’s sunsetting also saw a number of other unexpected alternatives competing for attention. Digg apparently has a reader and Flipboard now lets you migrate your RSS subscriptions from Google Reader to your account via their app.

There is one thing these alternatives will struggle to replace and that is Google Reader’s popularity. While Feedly seems to be the most popular alternative, it still does not have the same level of support for its API that Google Reader had. As the proverbial 300lb gorilla for years, Google Reader was the default choice, and as such, it was used to power a lot of other cool apps, including Feedly and Flipboard. No one else seems to have this. You could argue that none of the alternatives are likely to either.

The Death* of RSS

Some have asked; are RSS readers necessary anymore? These days shared links on platforms like Twitter, Linkedin and Google Plus are a far better and more popular way to keep up with the news. Other tools like Flipboard seek to make it easier to browse content from your social media profiles, and their magazine feature creates another way to curate and share information.

Ideally, following people who find and share great information is a far more effective model for generating your own curated flow of information from people you trust to provide you with what matters. Though depending on how often they post or you check, you might miss a few things.

There are more ways to approach this problem though. Other tools like Trapit and Prismatic try to source the best content based on your own tastes and what you actually interact with. These tools seek to find information based on what you are interested in, and not on who you happen to follow at the time.

An RSS reader can easily do a number of things the tools above can’t. It is easier t0 avoid missing something interesting if you were not looking at Twitter for an hour. Most RSS tools provide search tools, more or less turning them into a simple Custom Search Engine. Finally a good web-based RSS reader with app support and a device agnostic web interface simplifies managing information.

Niche Tools and Niche Audiences

Subscribing to RSS feeds never seemed to be mainstream. For most people, RSS readers never seemed to be an option for managing the information firehose that is the Internet. Ever. Tools like RSS readers were used by niche audiences, some journalists, bloggers, professionals and a small, slightly more technically-minded minority of the online population.

Over time some have moved away from relying on RSS readers, replacing them with some of the tools mentioned above. However a loud, vocal and engaged minority still seem to care, as we saw when Google announced the end of Google Reader. Ultimately though it is still just a minority.

* Death may or may not involve actual death, and in fact it is incredibly silly to argue that a technology is ‘dead’ or ‘dying’ simply because one way of using one niche implementation of it is declining. It makes as much sense as arguing that printing is dying because newspaper subscriptions are down.

_trackSocial on Search Engine People

_trackSocial on Search Engine People

My latest guest post, How To Track On-Site Social Interaction Better Using _trackSocial is now live on Search Engine People.

It outlines how you can add more than just Google+, Facebook and Twitter to Google Analytic’s Social Plugin reports. It requires a little bit of work, but no more than you would need to do to implement events.

There is another, very useful report that takes a little more to get started with: the Plugin report. This report tracks how and where users interact with social media plugins on the site. Without any further work, this report will only track any Google+ buttons active on the site. To get more from this report, you will need to do a little more work.

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