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Andy Beal at Marketing Pilgrim asks, Would you search for social media monitoring or social media measurement? It’s a good question and it must be pointed out that the two are distinctly different. However, I wouldn’t say either is more important than the other.

His Twitter audience overwhelmingly favored monitoring. Some of the responses were quite interesting:

@schachin monitoring… social sounds like it needs monitoring not measurement like ROI or CTR

Point well taken, but I think social media needs both.

@tonicarr I think I would be more apt to search “social media analytics”, then I would vote for your “social media measurement”

Here’s another point well taken, but not everyone knows to search for a term like “analytics”. But that’s essentially what the term “measurement” implies.

@SurjGish Depends, monitoring & measurement are 2 different things

Let’s see, where have I heard that before? ;-)

@1000cigarettes would depend on my intentions. measurement if i were looking for my own results, monitoring if looking to see cumulative mentions

This is perhaps the most revealing of all the responses. If I was looking for ways to measure and analyze data acquired from social media then I’d search for “social media measurement”. But if I was looking for ways to monitor mentions of my company brand then “social media monitoring” would be the more appropriate phrase.

@jimmyrey Social Media Monitoring is what I search for when looking for people who want to buy it

I’m not sure why you’d search for that term when looking for people to buy, but it’s an interesting response.

@chriskovac I’d search for “”social media monitoring” — “measurement” seems to vague, especially to people that are just now experimenting

Social media measurement is a rather vague term. If you don’t know what it means or you aren’t sure what it might mean then you likely would not search for it.

@EvanKRob social media monitoring. Seems to project a proactive philosophy where measurement suggests reactive.

Here’s another very telling response. I’m not sure that “social media measurement” is reactive. It depends on whether you intend to act on the data you collect.

@KidQuick my vote goes to social media monitoring. But, my 1st search query on that topic would be something else “social media analytics”

Another interesting response that favors “analytics” over either of the other two terms.

Personally, I think which search term you’d use depends on your knowledge and experience of social media marketing in particular and Internet marketing in general. If you’re familiar with the terms then you’d likely search for the term that is most appropriate to your needs. If you’re only familiar with one of the terms then you’d like search for that one. I doubt that anyone would search for any of the terms unless they’d heard them before somewhere.

But Andy Beal’s point shouldn’t be missed. What’s important when marketing to search engines is what people will search for. You may provide social media analytics, but if more people will search for social media monitoring then you should probably include that in your keyword list and target the phrase.

Without content no website can succeed. It’s like a car without an engine. It just won’t go. So you can bet it’s the most important part of your website development. But should you outsource it or hire an in-house writing team?

There are pros and cons to both. An in-house writing team will be easier and more convenient to communicate with and train. However, it could also be more expensive.

With outsourcing, it’s easier to let someone go if they aren’t producing the quality that you expect. It’s also a good way to test writers that you may be considering for an in-house team. Many times you can get very good quality writers at just a fraction of the cost of hiring someone to work inside your company.

So where do you find writers to produce your content? Here are a few resources you might consider:

  • Craigslist
  • Freelance websites like Guru and Elance
  • Reading blogs within your niche or industry
  • Job boards
  • Local colleges and universities
  • Professional writing associations

It’s important that any writer you hire, whether they be an in-house writer or a freelance writer, have some necessary knowledge. At a minimum they should:

  • Be familiar with search engine optimization strategies
  • Understand social media marketing
  • Know your goals and objectives
  • Be familiar with your company style and voice

On that last point, it’s not just important to know your style and voice. A good writer must be able to imitate it. After all, they are producing content for your website and your readers will know if they get it wrong.

Whether you hire an in-house writing team or a group of freelancers, keep in mind that your content is your business. Don’t let them compromise it.

Location-based networking, using your cell phone to notify others of your current location so that they meet up with you (for God knows what), is beginning to take off. This is a spin off of the Twitter and Facebook geographic networking phenomenon. So what’s the difference?

With geographic networking you are networking with others in the same city or area. For instance, Facebook has local groups you can join that are based on the city in which you live. It’s one way to use Facebook and has worked well for many small businesses. Twitter, too, has been used for geographic networking.

Location-based networking takes this concept one step further. You can narrow your location down to a specific point within your city and let others know where you are right now. You can then hook up, make a connection, hang out, or whatever it is you choose to do based on your networking. So what’s the benefit?

Actually, there are a number of benefits. If you’ve been following someone on Twitter and you know they are in the same city as you then you find them on Foursquare, one of the many location-based social networking sites to emerge, and you see that they are just around the corner from you having lunch, you could send them a quick message, “Mind if I join you?” Your networking then has just taken on a new dimension. You’ve met in person.

Of course, this can happen in other ways as well. Meetup groups allow local Twitterers to connect in a similar fashion, but usually as a group. With Foursquare you can hook up with a contact one on one. It might mean the difference between closing that sale and letting one slip through.

ChannelWeb lists eight other location-based social networking sites (besides Foursquare). While the idea hasn’t exactly caught on yet, it’s just a matter of time before it does. Are you poised to be there?

Try these eight location-based networks and see what happens.

  • Brightkite
  • Citysense
  • GyPSii
  • MobiLuck
  • Loopt
  • Plazes
  • Whrrl
  • iPling

And, of course, don’t forget about Foursquare. Take your local social networking one level deep.

Is it easier marketing to women online? It might very well be if you put stock in some statistics provided by comScore in a recent WebProNews article.

Consider these:

  • 75.8% of all women visited social media sites in May 2010; 69.7% of men did during the same period.
  • Women represent 47.9% of unique visitors to social networking sites yet view 57% of all pages on those sites.
  • Women spend 56.6% of the time on social networking sites.
  • Women average 5.5 hours on social sites per month while men average just 3.9 hours.
  • Women worldwide spend more time on social sites than men and regionally in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.
  • Women spend 8% more time online than men.
  • Globally, women spend 20% more time on retail sites than men.

Considering these figures, it seems that targeting women with your online marketing efforts makes since. While marketing to men can also be a big payoff, if you sell products and services that appeal to women, your chances for success are greater.

Social networking is not going away. In fact, the most trafficked websites online these days are social networks, including the #1 site – Facebook. These networks are great places to scope out the competition.

In fact, if you aren’t following your competition on the most popular social networks then you probably are not engaged enough online. I’d recommend, at a minimum, following your competition on these three four social networks:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

But what if you can’t find your competition on these sites?

If your competition isn’t engaged in online social networking then take advantage of this shortsightedness. You’re there so enjoy the competitive advantage. Chance are, however, that you can find at least one of your competitors on these social networks. When you do, follow them. Keep an eye on what they’re up to.

Are these the only social networks to monitor? By all means, no. In fact, if you have industry social networks, forums, blogs or other areas online where members of your profession meet then you should go there and monitor/follow your competition.

One of the best developments in web design over the years is the technology called CSS. CSS stands for cascading style sheet. With a CSS file you can make updates to your websites in minutes, updates that used to take hours prior to the development of style sheets.

CSS allows you to make changes to your website across an entire section or your entire site. Rather than go page by page to make changes that affect each page of your website, with CSS you can change the element one time and it changes across your entire website. Isn’t that cool?

There are still some web developers who design pages entirely by HTML using tables. This is a very primitive way to design websites, but it can be done. However, I’d recommend using CSS when practical and possible.

With CSS you can influence the following types of changes sitewide with a single update:

  • Navigation menus
  • Page background colors
  • Font styles and types
  • Link attributes
  • Page layout
  • Column width
  • Header and footer details
  • Mouseover and hover effects
  • Special effects like drop shadows and rounded corners

There’s plenty more you can do with CSS. In fact, you can get quite creative with it. If you are designing web pages today then you must consider CSS in your title=”web design with CSS”>design strategy. Pages built strictly with HTML are quickly going by the wayside.

Viral marketing – is it just for online marketers or can it take place off line as well?

Viral marketing is just another name for word of mouth. It can manifest itself in any number of ways, online or off line. For instance, online viral marketing can occur when a video grows popular because many people have bookmarked it or shared it with their friends. Maybe they sent the link by e-mail or they bookmarked it on their favorite social bookmarking site. Perhaps they favorited it on YouTube or shared the link on Twitter or Facebook. The fact that a lot of people shared the video in a short period of time means the video has gone “viral”.

This phenomenon takes place off line in the same way. Suppose you open up an ice cream shop in your neighborhood. On your first day of business you get only 10 customers. But all 10 of those customers tell five friends, each of whom visit your store the next day.

That’s 50 customers on day 2. But what if those 5 customers told 10 of their friends about your ice cream shop? They e-mailed their friends, called them on the phone, talked to them at church or school. Wherever they bumped into their friends, you were mentioned.

Now you have 510 people who know about your ice cream shop. On day three suppose that half of your first day customers came back to visit you again. And suppose 20% of your second day customers returned. Furthermore, suppose that half of the people they told about your shop came in as well. On day 3 of your shop you’d have 265 customers. Now you’re really growing!

Now, suppose those customers each told 5 of their friends about you. And they all came into your ice cream shop some time over the seven days. Getting the picture yet?

Viral marketing can, and often does, take place off line as well as online. The key is to provide a remarkable service, something that people will talk about. If you can do that then you’ll go viral, whether you are online or off line.

Benchmarking is the practice of comparing your business to a cross-section of businesses within the same niche. You don’t get any real data about any of the other businesses. Rather, you only get a compiled data set of all the other businesses with an average, or mean, for comparison purposes. So what good is it?

Benchmarking does have its place, but it has limitations. First, the benefits:

  • You get to compare your business to the average business in your niche and see where you fall
  • Any data that can be measured can be benchmarked
  • Benchmarking can take place over a short term or a long period of time
  • Information you gather from benchmarking can be used to better market your business and position it within the marketplace

Now what are the drawbacks?

  • As competitive intelligence, you can’t get any real data on any specific business
  • If you don’t know what you are looking for then you can easily misinterpret the data
  • You cannot benchmark data that you can not measure in some way

Benchmarking is useful for a specific purpose – it tells you where you stack up against your competition based on industry averages. In other words, if you have 5 key competitors and their average sales is 10% higher than yours then you know that you are 10% behind the average business in your niche. What you don’t know is which competitors are higher or lower than you (there’s other data for that).

When you want to see where you stack up against the average business in your niche, benchmarking is an excellent marketing tool.

Social Media Optimization (SMO) is a phrase that was coined by search pioneer Rohit Bhargava in 2006. Since then the term has grown and expanded and millions of people are now practicing this science (art?) every day. Many practitioners, I presume, may not even know where the term came from.

Rohit originally introduced 5 rules of social media optimization. Then someone added a 6th and 7th. Someone else came along and added rules 8 through 11. Another pioneer amended the list to include rules 12 and 13. Then there were rules 14, 15 and 16. Rohit rounded it out to include the 17th rule. And, of course, there have been many translations into languages other than English.

The purpose of this blog post is two-fold:

  1. To recognize the SMO pioneers who introduced and expanded this ever-evolving area of Internet marketing;
  2. To list all 17 rules in one place for easy reference.

With that in mind, here is the list of 17 rules of social media optimization and recognition of the person who introduced each rule to the growing conversation.

17 Rules Of Social Media Optimization

  1. Increase Your Linkability – In a sense, SMO is SEO. If you do it right then your content will be more linkable. Any inbound links you gain will increase your SEO advantage. (Rohit Bhargava)
  2. Make Tagging And Bookmarking Easy – This rule is so commonplace that many people do it without knowing they’re practicing SMO. (Rohit Bhargava)
  3. Reward Inbound Links - People who link to you are helping you out. It’s only right that you should reward them for their kindness. (Rohit Bhargava)
  4. Help Your Content Travel – Put it out there and watch it fly. (Rohit Bhargava)
  5. Encourage The Mashup – This one has been a bit controversial as there are still companies online who are stuck in the traditional mode of thinking about content ownership and copyright infringement. While those are legitimate concerns, a reasonable letting go of your content to allow it to evolve into something more powerful and with SEO and SMO benefits attached is a good thing. Don’t fight it. (Rohit Bhargava)
  6. Be A User Resource Even If It Doesn’t Help You – Providing unselfish value has a way of coming back to reward you. It’s the old “what goes around, comes around rule”. Or call it karma, if you wish. Either way, become a resource for others without regard to how it benefits you and you’ll see the benefits come back manifold. (Jeremiah Owyang)
  7. Reward Helpful And Valuable Users – If your site visitors take the time to interact with you and leave valuable comments and boost the community then show your appreciation by giving rewards. A simple “thank you” is often enough. (Jeremiah Owyang)
  8. Participate – Social media is not just about producing your own content. Interact with other people’s content as well. Be a contributor across multiple websites. (Cameron Olthuis)
  9. Know How To Target Your Audience – Instead of just throwing paint on the wall and seeing what sticks, interact with your audience in their hangouts. Otherwise, you’re wasting your own time. (Cameron Olthuis)
  10. Create Content - It may seem like a no-brainer, but if you don’t create then you can’t optimize. Social media is as much about creating content as it is about distributing it and it is just as much about creating content as SEO is. (Cameron Olthuis)
  11. Be Real – You can put on an act for only so long and when you are discovered your reputation is shot. Be genuine, be real. (Cameron Olthuis)
  12. Be Humble – Be respectful of others and don’t get a bighead. No one likes a self-congratulatory know it all. (Loren Baker)
  13. Try New Things – Just because there are rules doesn’t mean they should always be followed with no innovation. The rules are always changing anyway so embrace the change and try something new. (Loren Baker)
  14. Develop A Strategy – Don’t just wing it. Have a plan and stick to it. (Lee Odden)
  15. Choose Your SMO Tactics Wisely – Just because someone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should too. Not every tactic will work for every business. Analyze your strategy and choose the tactics that show the most promise for reaching your target audience. (Lee Odden)
  16. Make SMO A Part Of Your Every Day Process – Add it to your list of things to do each day. Make it a part of your best practices. (Lee Odden)
  17. Don’t Be Afraid To Let Go Of The Message – Back to Rohit Bhargava. If you have a great idea, let others own it. Let it go and develop on its own, just like Rohit Bhargava did with Social Media Optimization.

I hope these 17 rules of social media optimization are helpful to you. Social media is about three things really: 1) Creating Content, 2) Sharing Content, and 3) Distributing Content. It’s all about the content and what you can do with it.

Infographics can be helpful or just a sad attempt at link bait. But one thing is for sure, if they are helpful to others then they can helpful to you. This infographic by Vertical Measures illustrates that very well.

What makes this infographic so useful is it’s awesome simplicity. Right away you’ll notice that there are two categories of links based on this graphic. There are PR values and there are link types. The graphic breaks link types down into these categories:

  • Content
  • Blog/Forum comments
  • Purchased
  • Reciprocal
  • Embedded
  • Reclaimed
  • Natural
  • Requested

But which ones are the most important, or most valued?

This is really subjective, but Vertical Measures ranks them according to two metrics – difficulty and quality. In general, the more difficult it is to obtain a link of a particular type then the higher quality that link will be, which translates into more value for the link builder.

From easiest to most difficult, VM ranks them this way: Content Distribution, Blog and Forum Comments and Purchased Links are easiest to obtain. Next are reciprocal links. The third level of difficulty is populated by social media links, embedded content and reclaimed links. Natural links are the next most difficult to obtain and the most difficult links of all are link requests. This is almost a no-brainer.

From lowest to highest again, quality scores are broken down this way:

  • Reciprocal links are in the lowest position (note that they are second level in order of most difficult or easiest to obtain)
  • Purchased links and comments are slightly higher quality than reciprocal links
  • Distributed content and social media links are next on the quality scale
  • Embedded content is a bit higher quality than social media and content distribution links
  • Finally, the highest quality links are reclaimed, natural and requested

Notice some slight jumbling in the order but generally following the same parallel between quality and ease of obtaining?

The most interesting part of the value score that I find, however, is the break down of PR values. A PR1 link, for instance, is the equivalent of 11 average links, according to the infographic. That begs the assumption that the PR1 link you get is above average. The question is, What’s average? Would that be a 3 on the quality scale? If so then that would include social media and distributed content links. But some of those types of links can themselves be extraordinary, can’t they?

Vertical Measures places a PR10 link to have the equivalent value of 28,080,881 average links. In other words, get one PR10 link and that could be enough to push you up to a respectable search engine ranking.

Getting the picture yet?

I think the point is to get you thinking about what types of links you should be going after. Personally, I think you should pursue any links you can get. Many Internet marketers in recent years have tried discouraging their clients from chasing reciprocal links because they aren’t valued as highly as one-way links. But the fact is they do carry value. Get a reciprocal link from a PR7 site when your site is a lowly PR4 then that will be a valuable link.

I think you can over think the question. To build a solid link portfolio you need to build diversity into it. That means not focusing on any one particular type of link or link from sites with a high PR. After all, PR1 links carry value too. And some day that PR1 site might become a PR8 site. Your link will still be there.

When it comes to link building, just do it. Do it smartly, but don’t over think it.

If you’re familiar with VOIP technology (Voice Over Internet Protocol) then you’ve likely heard of Skype. While there are more costly VOIP services than Skype, Skype does offer an affordable small business alternative that is hard to argue with. It’s free.

Though Skype has been free  for the longest time, the company is now providing a pay-per-call service for website owners, which begs the question: If Skype has been free then why would small business owners pay to use it?

It is a good question and the answer is just as good: Because, until now, there has been little motivation for mass use of Skype for individual purposes. The reason is because users have to download the Skype software to their computers in order to make a call. Most people haven’t seen the necessity of doing that just yet.

So why offer Skype on your website then? Because it could give you the competitive advantage and you have nothing to lose.

Since Skype is free to download and free to use, there is nothing to lose in offering it to your customers. Put the Skype button on your website and anyone who has the software on their computer can call you – for free. Customer who don’t have Skype, and don’t want to download the software, can still contact you through current means of contact (contact form, e-mail, 1-800 #, traditional phone, etc.).

The benefit to you is that you can add Skype to your website and it costs you nothing unless someone uses it. They click the button, call you on Skype and you pay only when the call connects. Your customer gets free and immediate attention. It could mean the difference between gaining a sale and losing one.

Learn more about Skype’s pay-per-call service and take your internet marketing to a new level.

Many search engine marketers spend most of their time chasing the elusive search engine ranking, hoping that if they just SEO their website enough then it will magically appear in the No. 1 spot on Google for their target search term. Unfortunately, it rarely happens that way.

You can rank No. 1 for any search term if you work hard enough. But will you make any money from that ranking? Bottom line: If your web page does rank No. 1 for an important keyword or search term but doesn’t convert any visitors to traffic then you aren’t any better off than if your web page doesn’t rank anywhere at all. You’re still making no money.

Quite frankly, you’re better off with a Page 5 search result that converts at 50% than you are a No. 1 search result that converts at 0%.

You might want to read that sentence again.

Let’s put it into raw numbers. Let’s say your No. 1 search result delivers you 5,000 unique visitors per month but none of those visitors convert to customers. Either you’ve targeted the wrong keyword or your landing page isn’t written for conversions. That’s a problem.

On the other hand, let’s say your Page 5 search result sends you only 10 unique visitors per month but converts 50% of those visitors. Now you’re getting 5 new customers per month. Isn’t 5 better than 0?

Even if your No. 1 search result converts 1 percent of its traffic, 5 new customers from 5,000 visitors is nothing to get excited about. You’re still only converting 1% of your traffic, compared to 50% from the lower ranking page. It’s all in the numbers, man.

Instead of focusing on search results, you should be focusing on building landing pages that convert well. Optimize them for search traffic, sure. But if you are focused heavily on building links and optimizing for keywords and you forget to optimize for conversions then you’ve wasted a lot of time. And money.

No reputation management plan is going to succeed if you don’t start at the beginning. And where is that? With reputation monitoring.

So what is reputation monitoring? Reputation monitoring is using Internet tools to monitor what your customers, clients, competition, media and others in the marketplace are saying about you and your company. While monitoring your reputation you should not just be concerned with your company name. You should be concerned with key people within your organization and each of your brand names.

The most basic and free form of reputation monitoring is Google Alerts. You can monitor what others are saying about you relatively easily. Simply create an alert with the word or phrase that you want to monitor. Here are some ideas to help you create alerts that will seamlessly allow you to monitor your reputation:

  • Company name
  • Tagline
  • Motto or slogan
  • Subsidiary names
  • Name of every brand of product you manufacture or market
  • The names of all C-level executives for parent company and subsidiaries
  • The name of your media representative or PR manager
  • Key phrases associated with each of your products and company
  • Names of known key competitors and outspoken opponents
  • Perceived weaknesses in your brand and company name along with subsidiaries

These are your basic reputation monitoring needs. You want to find out what people are saying about you, your company and your products. After you have a handle on what is being said you can then begin to plan a reputation management campaign to address marketplace concerns.

Your competitors are full of valuable information and believe it or not, they just can’t wait to shove it down your throat. You can subscribe to their blogs through RSS feeds or email, or you can become a subscriber to their newsletters, and you can become followers or friends on any of their social media presences. The danger is that you’ll gain too much information.

Knowing what your competition is doing is a necessity and always has been. The best offline businesses are the ones that have always strategically placed themselves to best advantage – and you can’t accomplish that without knowing where you competition is, and what they are doing. The online business world is no different. What is different are the methods used to obtain some of that information.

You can research and spend some time spying on your competitors – or you can let them send you information. The reality is that you will need to do both. Your own research will uncover a lot of the un-publicized data ( such as keywords) – but that flood of information coming out in the form of blog posts and newsletters for example, can also help to build a picture  of where they are at and what sort of threat they present to your business.

Internet marketing can be a two way street – while you are out there promoting your business, you need to be aware of how your competitors are promoting theirs. Are you subscribing to any of the information that your they provide? You should – it’s free and they can’t wait to send it to you!

Competitive intelligence relies on information, more precisely, data in the form of raw numbers or words. Just looking at a competitors pages can provide you with a lot of information, however, knowing what keywords they may be targeting, who is linking in to them, and what sort of traffic they may be receiving can all be important to your forward planning.  To obtain this information, you need a good set of tools – a set of tools that you are comfortable in using.

When it comes to SEO for example, Firefox is generally the browser used by most professionals. There is huge assortment of add-ons available for Firefox, all free and many of them fairly easy to use. The hardest part is actually building your tool box of tools – sorting the good from the bad, then learning how to gain the most from each tool.

Forums can be a good starting point. Talking to others, finding out which tools they prefer and why. You can also find some good tips on how to get the best our of a particular tool.  Visiting mozilla.org is another good place to start. You can search the database of add-ons, many of which have user reviews along with information on what each add-on can do.

Learn about each tool before putting it to use otherwise you will either not be getting the best out of the tool, or you will be receiving misinformation rather than valuable information. Used effectively, you can learn a lot about your competitors web sites, who links to them, and how well placed they are in the search results.

Have you seen one of your tweets hit page 1 for a key search term? If so then you understand how it can be good SEO. If not then pay attention because this isn’t rocket science.

Of course, not everyone is doing it either.

Twitter results are now a part of all the major search engine results in real time. But even outside of real time you can rank for keywords on Twitter as well as on secondary social networks.

A secondary social network is a social media site you are a member of that automatically updates any time you update your Twitter feed. Many social media sites allow you to sync your profile with your Twitter feed so that your tweets automatically appear on those sites. Every tweet that is fed to a secondary social network has the potential to rank in the search engines.

When you write your tweets, keep your keywords in mind. Target them just as you would in a blog post or any other online content. You might just find your tweets appearing on the first page of search results at all of the search engines.

If you want to become an Internet marketer, whether your interest is in affiliate marketing, e-mail marketing or you intend to promote your small business through Internet marketing strategies, then you need to become familiar with Internet marketing terms. Here are 5 terms every Internet marketer should know before starting their IM career.

  • Keyword – What’s a keyword? If you don’t know what that means then you’ll have a difficult time figuring out how to market yourself online. It’s a very basic concept and an important one. A keyword is any word that you would like your website to rank for in the search engines.
  • Search Engine Optimization – Also called SEO, for short. Search engine optimization is the utilization of keywords and links to help your web pages rank better in the search engines.
  • Social Media Optimization – You’ve no doubt heard of social media. Maybe you’ve heard of social media marketing. But have you heard of social media optimization? This is the practice of producing your content in such a way that it has an increased chance of spreading itself around in social media circles.
  • Link Building – You cannot maximize your SEO efforts without inbound links. These are links that point to your website without a reciprocal link back to the linking site. Also called one-way links. Link building is the process webmasters utilize to build their one-way link portfolio.
  • Pay Per Click Advertising – Pay per click advertising, or PPC, is a form of online paid advertising where you bid on keywords and you pay for the advertising after your target audience clicks on the ad and visits your website. Other forms of PPC-like advertising include pay per action (PPA) and pay per view (PPV), or CPM (cost per thousand views).

These are not, by any means, the only terms you should be familiar with. There are others – viral marketing, video marketing, HTML, PHP, CSS (cascading style sheets), and many more – but these 5 Internet marketing terms are so basic that no one should start their Internet marketing plans without being familiar with them.

Take the time to learn if you want to earn.

There are two types of competitive intelligence:

  1. Battlefield Intelligence
  2. Noncompetitive Intelligence

Let’s start with Battlefield Intelligence. I call it this because its purpose is to help you gather information that will lead to stealing market share from your competition. This is the most common type of competitive intelligence though it may not always be the most productive. In order to succeed, your intelligence must be actionable and contain enough information to help you develop better products, better deliverables, better marketing and better customer service. It might even require you to develop new products to match your competition one on one.

Noncompetitive intelligence consists of strategies and techniques that do not necessarily impact your competitive stance. However, they are important strategies and lead to the gathering of important information to help you improve your internal processes.

The second type of intelligence, noncompetitive intelligence can consist of:

  • Forecasting and predicting
  • Describing your current business environment
  • Challenge existing assumptions
  • Identify your company’s weaknesses and propose solutions
  • Point to strategies that are outdated or that may need adjusting
  • Provide information to help you formulate intelligent questions for review and analysis

There are many different sources of information and techniques for gathering it. There are electronic sources of information and manual sources. You have in-house assets as well out external assets that you may be able to query for actionable intelligence. Furthermore, your intelligence gathering initiatives may be ongoing or short term.

One method of gathering intelligence about the marketplace is market research. A market research team can ask consumers what they think about certain aspects of your business environment, including strengths and weaknesses of your product and strengths and weaknesses of your competition’s products.

You can also collect the sales and marketing literature of your competition, which will give you some insight into how they are reaching their market and how they are communicating their own perceived strengths.

Academic libraries usually contain articles and abstracts written by industry professionals. Read what your competition has to say about important issues related to your market.

These are just a few of the techniques available in helping you collect actionable competitive intelligence. The first step is to decide just what you need the information for and what you will do with it once you gather it.

Simply placing your opt-in box on your website and hoping you get sign ups isn’t a very effective plan. Lots of website owners have found out the hard way. Instead, why not take the time to learn the optimal place for your opt-in box so that you can increase your subscribers and increase your revenue?

Is there an optimal place?

To be sure, it is relative, but that doesn’t mean inconsequential. There have been eye studies that show where most website visitors view a web page and where the human eye is more likely to go. In essence, the two hottest spots on any web page are on the top left and on the bottom right.

So does that mean that is where you should place your opt-in box? Not necessarily.

The general rule of thumb is to put your most important content in the hot spots and fill everything else around them. You want your web pages to “breathe”. That is, you don’t want them cluttered. So make sure there is some white space.

However, you want to make maximum use of the space that you do have. And that means putting your most important content items in the hot spots and placing other items around them ensuring that your overall design is attractive, uncluttered and puts your visitors’ eyes right where you want them most.

Web design is about more than just making your site pretty. It’s also about making it functional – and profitable.

StumbleUpon is a social media service that allows web users an opportunity to show their like for a web page by “thumbing” it up or to show their dislike by “thumbing” it down. The service has a reputation for two things:

  • Sending lots of traffic to many websites
  • Being responsible for high bounce rates and low conversion rates

Many webmasters use that second point to justify not using StumbleUpon at all, but that is a msitake. It is true that conversion rates are low and bounce rates are high as many people will stumble a site sent to them by a friend then immediately leave without really reading what they stumbled. Of course, users on other social media sites do the same thing.

But it is possible to go viral on StumbleUpon. And when you do you’ll be really excited that you got some Stumble notoriety.

If you do the following three things on StumbleUpon you’ll greatly increase your chances of going viral and getting a reaction from your Stumble traffic.

  1. Write a killer headline. Content is good, but no matter how well written and compelling your content is, if your headline doesn’t grab people’s attention then they will never read your content. Make your headline outstanding.
  2. Get rid of the popups. Most people don’t like them and if your site is full of popup advertising and other annoying web pests then Stumblers will not give it a thumbs up.
  3. Be active. Don’t just stumble your own content. Be active in stumbling the content of your friends and other users. Use the StumbleUpon toolbar to send a note to your most trusted friends about a page you want stumbled. Let someone else be the discoverer. If you thumbs up your own content and that’s all you do then you could get banned.

Going viral on StumbleUpon is not as hard as it seems. It is possible, but you’ve got to have great content that starts with a great headline and a clean site free of annoying ads.