26 de agosto de 2011

How OTA hotel reviews drive bookings

According to a PhoCusWright study of 27,000 U.S. hotels comprising 65 major brands, two out of every three online traveler reviews were posted to an OTA. Equally important as the majority OTAs now hold in the online review game is their influence therein.
“Those visitors that do click through beyond the (OTA) search results to read the review, they are significantly more likely to book travel online within the same month both on an online travel agency but also on a branded hotel website as well,” said Douglas Quinby, senior director of research for PhoCusWright, during a webinar Thursday titled, “Tweet This! Social Travel Grows Up ... or Does it?”

Roughly 7% of unique visitors to any major OTA complete a booking within the same month, he said. Of those who click through to read a full review, that percentage bumps up to 13%.

“It makes a very clear case for why OTAs have invested in building their review content for their hotel shopping platform,” Quinby said.

It also makes a very clear case for why hoteliers should be paying close attention to what guests are saying about them on the likes of Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity.

Get the full story at HotelNewsNow.com

Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica

25 de agosto de 2011

5-star online hotel reviews go for $5

As online retailers increasingly depend on reviews as a sales tool, an industry of fibbers and promoters has sprung up to buy and sell raves for a pittance, writes The New York Times.
“For $5, I will submit two great reviews for your business,” offered one entrepreneur on the help-for-hire site Fiverr, one of a multitude of similar pitches. On another forum, Digital Point, a poster wrote, “I will pay for positive feedback on TripAdvisor.” A Craigslist post proposed this: “If you have an active Yelp account and would like to make very easy money please respond.”

The boundless demand for positive reviews has made the review system an arms race of sorts. As more five-star reviews are handed out, even more five-star reviews are needed. Few want to risk being left behind.


What is your opinion?

Get the full story at The New York Times

Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica

24 de agosto de 2011

Plan de Redes Sociales

Aunque escasos, estos años de experiencia en redes sociales permiten detectar ya varios patrones y comportamientos que se asemejan entre los distintos proyectos que las empresas elaboran, toda vez que integran estas plataformas entre sus herramientas de fidelización.


Gracias a empresas que ya se arriesgaron –algunas con éxito y otras no- ya es posible realizar una guía que permita indicar el camino correcto a todas aquellas que aún no lo hacen, por no conocer su utilidad o simplemente por temor a fracasar.
Te invitamos entonces a realizar este recorrido, paso por paso, hacia el desarrollo de una estrategia Social Media elaborada por  el sitio Isragarcia:
Paso 1Define tus objetivos, tanto cuantitativos como cualitativos, es decir, visualiza dónde quieres ir y cómo llegar allí.
Paso 2Conoce tus límites 2.0, tómalos en cuenta e identifica qué es lo que puede ayudar o perjudicar a tu empresa en la red social. Haz un plan hacia el éxito, con base en toda la información que obtengas del estado de tu negocio a nivel online. Por supuesto, planea el fallo y establece un plan B.
Paso 3Ahora es el momento de la creatividad. Tómate tu tiempo para madurar tus ideas y conceptos, identifica las claves. Cada plataforma, herramienta o acción llevada a cabo debe de tener su propio significado, así como características y objetivos. De lo contrario, estaríamos hablando de algo estándar. Sin embargo, todas las acciones deben ser alineadas bajo una misma línea estratégica. ¿Estás dispuesto a continuar?
Paso 4Una vez hayas definido los elementos clave de tu estrategia, debes realizar el análisis de lo que hace tu competencia en Twitter o Facebook; por ejemplo, cómo factores externos y la tecnología afectan nuestra identidad digital; o cómo es vista nuestra empresa desde las social media.
Paso 5Haz una lluvia de ideas partiendo de nuevas herramientas, el aprovechamiento de las nuevas plataformas y servicios sociales (geo-localización, social commerce, entre otras), aplicaciones, y también tomando en cuenta el equipo humano.
Paso 6Determina la audiencia a la que quieres llegar. Revisa sus gustos, hábitos, necesidades y perfiles. La idea es segmentar lo máximo posible tus redes.
Paso  7Crea tu cuenta en la red social, con perfiles, nombre de usuario (de la empresa, marca o concepto que quieras destacar de ella). No publiques, ni hagas visible nada, haz un borrador sobre el papel de cómo funcionaría todo. Así tus jefes y socios pueden revisarlo y ver qué les parece. Enlaza y conecta las plataformas directamente en Facebook, LinkedIn o Twitter. Creas también algunos blogs satélites.
Paso 8Establece un periodo de prueba para poder comprobar el funcionamiento de todas las plataformas sociales y ver los resultados.
Paso 9Realiza una campaña de lanzamiento, haz lo que sea necesario para comunicar que creaste una identidad digital de tu empresa.
Paso 10Utiliza herramientas de optimización y productividad como:
  • Posterous
  • Postling
  • TweetDeck
  • Tagthe
  • bit.ly
  • Workflowy
  • Storify
  • Curated.by
  • DropBox
  • MailChimp
  • GoogleWave
  • Del.ici.ous
  • Google Docs
  • Reader
  • Evernote
  • Yahoo Answers
  • Menéame
  • Facebook
  • Tuenti
  • Linkedin
  • Viadeo
  • Xing
  • Squidoo
  • Ning
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
    Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica

    22 de agosto de 2011

    8 Ways to Find Great Social Media Content

    Do you want to know how to find the most valuable social media content? Are you looking for great articles and videos to share with your friends and fans?
    Be sure to watch this edition of Social Media Examiner TV with our host Mari Smith.
    In this episode, Mari introduces you to the concept of curating content and how it can help your business. And Mari also reviews 8 content curation tools to help you find the best information for your business.
    Share your feedback, see the show notes and discover how you can be part of a future show below!


    Here are the content curation tools Mari reviews on this video:

    #1: Google Alerts

    Use Google Alerts to get notifications of your important keywords. Mari also explains how to use Google Alerts for reputation management with vanity searches.
    google alerts
    Set up Google Alerts for keywords relevant to your business.

    #2: Google Reader

    Subscribe to blogs in your Google Reader for better social media management.

    #3: Facebook Friend Lists for Better Facebook News Feeds

    Get more control over your Facebook news feed with Facebook Friend Lists. Mari shares a great tip on how to make a Facebook Friend List with your favorite fan pages for better content curation thanks to a filtered view of your news feed.
    facebook list
    Create Friend Lists of your favorite fan pages on Facebook to filter your news feed for quick content curation.

    #4: Twitter Lists

    Mari shares how you can create Twitter Lists to curate information from people who consistently share great content on Twitter.
    twitter lists
    Create lists of your favorite news sources on Twitter.

    #5: HootSuite

    You can use HootSuite with multiple social media profiles to make it easier to share the valuable content you find online. Mari gives you some great tips to get the most out of this social media tool.
    hootsuite
    HootSuite helps you curate content and share it across your social network.

    #6: Paper.li

    With Paper.li, you can publish your own virtual newspaper which pulls in information from various social media platforms.
    paperli
    Paper.li is an easy way to pull in links from your favorite sources.

    #7: Alltop

    Alltop curates the content for you by allowing you to create a MyAlltop page to subscribe to your favorite blogs.
    myalltop
    Alltop is a great resource to help you find the best content from your favorite blogs.

    #8: Mobile

    Flipboard and Pulse are two mobile apps Mari mentions in this video. And she explains why using mobile apps makes it easy for you to curate content on social media.
    pulse
    Content curation apps like Pulse are valuable tools to stay up to date.
    Watch the video to learn more about these content curation tools!  And be sure to listen for Mari’s hot marketing tips on how to craft a tweet to get more retweets.
    If you’ve enjoyed this episode of Social Media Examiner TV, make sure to tweet about it (use hashtag #SMEtv), share it on Facebook or even embed this episode on your blog.

    Source: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/8-ways-to-find-great-social-media-content/

    Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica



    21 de agosto de 2011

    Skype Lets Users Find WiFi Hotspots

    Skype just launched a new iOS application for iPhones, iPads and the iPod Touch that allows users to find WiFi hotspots—and only pay for the minutes used, which is nice when traveling.
    skype wifi
    Source: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/linkedin-enhances-mobile-experience-this-week-in-social-media/

    Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica

    LinkedIn Enhances Mobile Experience: This Week in Social Media

    Their latest mobile app is available on iPhones and Androids and helps professionals be even more productive on the go.

    Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica

    19 de agosto de 2011

    Ya puedes publicar imágenes directamente en Twitter

    Twitter ha lanzado un nuevo servicio con el que ahora puedes publicar imágenes o fotos directamente desde la computadora, las imágenes serán alojadas en Photobucket y el peso máximo es de 3MB.
    Hoy, al entrar a mi cuenta de Twitter encontré el mensaje que me avisaba sobre la novedad.
    Nueva función publicar imagenes en Twitter
    No estoy seguro si ya está disponible en todo el mundo, pero en la página oficial de la red de microblogging comentan que están en ello.
    Una vez que se ha activado la nueva función y quieras compartir una imagen desde el ordenador, debes hacer clic dentro de cuadro (caja) de Tweets o el botón nuevo Tweet, verás dos iconos en la esquina inferior izquierda, uno para añadir la ubicación y el otro para añadir la imagen.
    Compartir imagenes en Twitted directamente
    Al hacer clic en el icono de la “camarita”, te dará la opción de elegir la foto o imagen.
    Twitter.com Imágenes directas
    (Si quieres cambiar la imagen o foto antes de publicarla, la puedes borrra haciendo clic en la “x” y elegir otra).
    Escribes el texto y lo publicas como cualquier tweet. Tus seguidores podrán ver la imagen redimencionada (más pequeña) en la barra derecha.
    Cómo subir fotos a Twitter
    Para ver la imagen o foto más grande, deben hacer clic en el enlace, el cual mostrará el tweet y la imágen.
    Fotos Twitter
    Para borrar la imagen después de haberla publicado tienes que borrar el Tweet que la contiene.
    Si quieres seguir utilizando servicios de terceros como Twitpic o yFrog, puedes seguir haciéndolo sin problema.
    Para más información puedes visitar el centro de ayuda de Twitter.

    Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica

    15 de agosto de 2011

    Mostrar quién es el administrador o propietario de una página de Facebook

    Si alguna vez te has preguntado (como yo y algunos cuantos miles más) ¿cómo mostrar quién es el administrador, propietario o creador de una página de fans (o comercial) de Facebook?, esto te puede interesar.
    Una de las nuevas funciones en los recientes cambios en las páginas de fans de Don Facebook permite hacer público quién es el administrador de la página de manera que se muestre en el margen izquierdo. Es opcional, así que no se preocupen aquellos administradores o creadores que prefieren mantener su anonimato.
    Veamos cómo activar y desactivar la opción:
    1.- Ve a “Editar la página” (arriba a la derecha):
    Del post mostrar propietario pagina fans
    2.- En la página de edición, haz click en “Páginas destacadas”:
    Mostrar admins de páginas de fans
    3.- En páginas destacadas encontrarás 2 opciones, la primera “Me gustan” (esta es otra nueva función que te permite elegir hasta 5 páginas que “le gustan a tu página” para que aparezcan en lado izquierdo de manera rotatoria. Por ejemplo, si te gustan (bueno, si le gustan a tu página) 50 páginas, con esta opción se mostrarán las páginas que has elegido).
    Pero sigamos con nuestro tema, ve a la segunda opción “Propietarios de Páginas” y haz click en “Editar los propietarios de páginas destacados”:
    Mostrar creadores de paginas de fans
    4.- En la siguiente ventana selecciona los administradores que quieras que se hagan públicos:
    Quien es el administrador o propietario o creador de una pagina de fans de facebook
    5.- Haz click en “Guardar” y te aparecerá algo así:
    Nueva funcion mostra quien es el propietario de una pagina
    5.- Y ya está, ve a tu página y comprueba que aparece el administrador o propietario en la parte izquierda:
    Nuevos cambios facebook
    Para que veas como se ve en vivo y a todo color ve a la página del directorio de Tuxpan, Veracruz en Facebook.
    Para quitarlo sigue los mismos pasos, ve a “Editar los propietarios de páginas destacados”, quita la selección y guardas.
    Puedes elegir más de un administrador o propietario, todos los que selecciones aparecerán en la parte izquierda de la página.
    De las funciones nuevas de las páginas de fans de Facebook, ésta me parece muy interesante ya que permite a las páginas comerciales o de negocios hacer público a la persona (o una de las personas) que administra la página lo cual da un aspecto más personal en este canal de comunicación, es decir, las personas con las que se interactúa (fans) podrán ver que hay una alguien de carne y hueso detrás del logotipo, sobre todo para microempresas y Pymes, creo que puede ayudar en la estrategia de comunicación de su plan de marketing online.
    Por otro lado, habrá administradores o propietarios de páginas que prefieran no hacerse públicos y es normal, imagínate, el administrador de la página de Coca Cola que tiene más de 23 millones de fans, si se hace público podría recibir tantas solicitudes en su perfil personal que en unos minutos podría llegar al límite de 5000 amigos :) (es un ejemplo extremo claro, y además Coca Cola tiene más de un administrador, pero no sé, podría ser interesante ver que pasa ¿no crees?), y por el contrario podría ser bueno para quienes quieren hacerse promoción y darse a conocer. También hay quienes prefieren separar su vida personal de la profesional, y con esta nueva opción no lo podrían hacer.
    ¿Qué te parece esta nueva función en las páginas de Facebook?, ¿Qué utilidad, ventajas o desventajas le encuentras?

    Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica


    14 de agosto de 2011

    Rules of High rankings changed: Surviving Google PANDA update

    Google recently changed the rules of high rankings by introducing a new update that targets ‘low quality’ websites. And its time for you to change your SEO and marketing strategy accordingly.
    Millions of webmasters and SEO geeks are loosing traffic (and sleep) due to what Google calls ‘PANDA’ or ‘Farmer’ update which targets ‘content farms’ and de-ranks them. ‘Captain Google Panda’ is sailing against the Pirates of Content and punishing those who have been creating huge waves of content in their ‘content mills’ or writing only to capture a sea of keywords on Search Engines.
    Impacting more than 11.8% search results worldwide, too much of noise, speculation, opinion and coverage over this update has ultimately caused too much of confusion in SEO community.
    Here is a complete guide on what you are up against, how to shape your high ranking strategy for future and a detailed survival guide against the wrath of Google Panda update.

    What is Google PANDA update?

    The experimental Panda Algorithmic change was updated in US on 24th February, 2011 (Panda 1.2). It was rolled forward globally to English Google users on 11th April, 2011 (Panda 2.2).
    By means of this update, Google expressed its wrath against low-quality websites (those with duplicate, irrelevant or worthless material). All the same, it expressed appreciation for high-quality websites (those with original, relevant and useful material).

    “This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

    - Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts
    Google’s Search Quality Engineers

    So what does Google mean by “low-quality” website?

    As per Google, it means content:
    - that visitors don’t want to bookmark
    - that is mass-produced or spread to multiple sources
    - that lacks original research, reporting and analysis
    - that has factual, stylistic or grammatical errors
    - that is hollow / irrelevant for end-users
    - that is contrived / keyword-stuffed just to drive traffic
    “In addition, this change also goes deeper into the “long tail”
    – Google representatives

    Out of all the websites hit by Panda, a good number have experienced a dip in their long-tail keyword rankings. Websites that relied excessively on long-tail pages to attract link-backs have been adversely affected by this update.
    So, it goes into saying that via Panda update, Google has reinforced the importance of long-tail keywords as well.

    Learning from the mistakes of Big Publishers

    ‘Captain Google Panda’ is sailing against the Pirates of Content and punishing those who have been creating huge waves of content in their ‘content mills’ or writing only to capture a sea of keywords on Search Engines.
    Here is a list of big publishers who were hit by the recent update. Closely observe and learn from what they did WRONG or what they did RIGHT and where they stand after PANDA update.

    Ezinearticles.com -

    The magnitude of poor-quality content (most of which was clearly spun) on this website was too much to cheat search-engines. Long-tail keywords were not targeted properly and there were too many anchor text links directing to other sites…primarily because writing and editorial guidelines were too lenient to check ‘shallow’ content. Clearly, the website’s traffic was affected by both Panda 1.2 and Panda 2.2.

    eHow.com -

    eHow was hit just by the global roll-out of Panda update. eHow has a history of being openly criticized by search engine companies like Duck Duck Go and Wired magazine, labeling it as a ‘content mill’. eHow trains an army of writers (poorly paid) to write low quality content designed to rank high on search engines.
    Apparently, it was the poor internal linking strategy, irrelevance of topics and the inability to target long-tail keywords properly that pushed eHow down in search engines. The website, otherwise, has stricter content guidelines (as compared to ezinearticles.com and hubpages.com) and has recently (post PANDA) shut down new author signup.

    About.com -

    In contrast to eHow, this company is known to recruit one of the best writers that actually have domain knowledge of what they write about. The compensation of the writers is tied to the performance of the content (in terms of traffic and advertisement revenues). At one point of time, search engines like Google, Yahoo, Ask and AOL were interested to acquire About.com but The New York Times won the bidding battle.
    Inspite of so much concentration on content quality, the how-to giant lost on page views, although it gained on long-tail keywords. This is why it has remained stable throughout. Guess Google likes whoever plays by the rule: ‘Don’t be evil’ :)

    Blogspot.com -

    Blogspot.com got a positive hit from the Panda attack. The website (both Google’s own blogs and other user created blogs) have experienced an  approximately 22.80% visibility increase post the update and why not? It targets long-tail keywords effectively and provides fresh, relevant and valuable information to the end-users. Google loves such websites!

    Google has nothing against articles, but against low-quality articles and their repetition

    Google has waged a war against low-quality / duplicate content AND NOT against articles particularly! Since, a lot of such ‘low-quality’ content was previously available on many article directories, it’s these directories that were hit THE MOST!
    “Google’s recent search algorithm update did have an impact on our traffic, It was to the tune of about a 10-35% decrease.” – Christopher M Knight, CEO Ezinearticles.com
    And for that matter, such content copying may also exist within the website, what we call internal duplication. Would you stop writing for your own website also?
    Google urges webmasters to invest in high-quality content – it may be an article on your own website, a blog, an article submitted to top-notch article directories, a Google knol…whatever…

    What NOW? Time to consider other facets of article writing

    In a way, article writing is similar to the realty sector. Its all about the most profitable LOCATION! So, where do you put your articles now on?
    Matt Cutts, Google’s anti-spam mastermind, recently pointed a clue by saying that when there are better alternatives available, why stick to the fuddy-duddy ones?
    “I am not a huge fan of article marketing. I will lean towards great content that naturally has links… do social media marketing so that people are linking to it organically for the reason that they actually love it.”
    So, what is he exactly talking about? Good blogging and social media marketing, eh?
    Of course, yes! Blogging is just another facet of article writing, a better one you can say…! The online world seems to be abuzz with this new form of writing…

    Start a blog (meaty, juicy and UNIQUE )

    Include a blog in your website and optimize it for both short-tail and long-tail keywords. Keep it alive and kicking by adding fresh, catchy and relevant posts. You may even link it with other high-quality relative websites, if you wish. But if your posts are actually rich and juicy, they’ll be worthy of being linked and bookmarked naturally.

    Guest post on niche-related blogs

    Guest blogging on other blogs can get you authority linkbacks (and followers) to your website or blog. Every blog has its own guest posting guidelines. If you send a niche related blogger your post and it meets their posting guidelines, whoa! You’ll cyber-meet many new people and get a chance to improve your website’s visibility. Even better would be to cross-link all your guest posts together.

    Invite guest posts from niche-related bloggers

    Inviting someone to guest post on your blog is like inviting a star on your talk-show. Say for example you have a health related website…Wouldn’t it be great if you can loop in a professional diet expert to write a guest post for you, on your blog obviously? Remember, you must invite guest posts from only those bloggers whose interests are related to yours…

    Submit your blogs in premium blog directories

    If you submit your pulpy blog to a premium niche related directory, it will work! But ONLY if its your own, and not a stolen one! And that reminds me of BlogCatalog and Google knol…No, its not a blog directory but it lets you share your thoughts on just any topic under the sun! And since these are reputable content-sharing platforms, it’s a worthwhile consideration…

    Use Social Media Channels for promotion

    You need to inform your followers about your new story, isn’t it? And what better medium of promotion than social media! Nearly half of the world in active on social media sites and hence….if you know how to bell the cat right, your blog is right there where you want it to be! And with Lord Cutts making it clear that Google considers social media reputation while according rankings, you should be doing it even more rigorously!!

    I am already PANDA hit. How can I improve my condition?

    Concentrate on content:

    You need to concentrate on better content from now on and post more frequently. Write genuine content, without copying from other sources. Structure your content properly by using more headlines and optimizing it for keywords organically.
    Deleting overly used sources of content (like an RSS feed) may help (but it is entirely upto you). The duplicate content penalty exists on page level and makes your website more prone to it if you are copying content in masses. However, there is no indication that the penalty exists at domain level.

    Build more backlinks

    Since PANDA is about improving user experience, concentrate on the only feedback from users that search engines dwell upon – the backlinks. Get genuine backlinks to your content. Engage in deep-linking whenever possible. Structure your website so that every page is approachable within 3 clicks and easily crawlable.

    Socialize your content

    Make your content easily shareable, use Facebook comments, engage with people on Twitter or just entice people to digg or bookmark your content. Ofcourse, your content should be worthy enough for a bookmark, digg, ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ on social networks.
    Google can now read & understand shortened URLs & accounts them as backlinks (Dont get started with spamming twitter now). Google even launched its own URL shortening service to read the pulse of users. Google is about to launch +1, which works like Facebook’s LIKE button. All these are indications of how closely Google is following its users. Socializing with these users is a nice strategy.

    Panda (emic) Attack : A battle against stale content; not against article directories

    It ultimately boils down to the fact that search engines LOVE unique, relevant, informative and grammatically correct text. Call it an article, blog, knol…or whatever you will!  And it’s not just about the quality of your content but also about the quality of the location where you intend to post it!
    Google is clear in its message: Websites that do not pay importance to uniqueness of content and user engagement will be filtered out of search results.
    Mr Panda that is big and fat, has NOT had article directories fallen flat!
    It’s all about quality and location, and your site’s social media reputation!

    Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica


    Google Panda: Forcing Businesses to Create Better Content

    If  you haven’t paid any attention to the news around Google Panda but use content to market your business, here’s what you need to know. Google recently changed the way it ranks websites with content in search engine results. So all the dozens of article directories (also known as content farms) are no longer ranking at the top of search results. If you’ve been using article directories to increase your ranking, you’re now wasting your time.
    Essentially, Google now looks at the quality of every site that links to yours and determines its value. Of course, Google’s secret formula will never be known, but what we can glean is that it doesn’t like:
    • Sites with a lot of unrelated content
    • Sites with lots of ads
    • Sites that don’t appear to be moderated
    • Sites that are overstuffed with keywords
    • Sites that link to many others without reason
    You know those sites when you visit them. And while many companies bemoaned these new rules, they’re actually really good rules, if you know how to play the game.
    panda bears
    Rule 1: Deliver Good Content
    This should be the only rule, honestly. If you’ve been mindlessly churning out articles with little value and lots of keywords, you need to change your strategy. Instead, focus on what your customers want to know. This could be how-tos on your products, frequently asked questions, industry commentary, company news or op-ed pieces. Find out what pains your customers have, then ease them by providing useful content.
    For example, you came to Small Business Trends because you were looking for information related to small businesses. You (we hope) find the content useful, and might even come back to see what other good stuff we’ve got going on. You can do the same thing we do on this blog on your own website. Be the expert in your industry and drive traffic to your site through content.
    Rule 2: Keep It Fresh
    Google loves new content, so don’t write one article and think you’re done. Create a strategy for putting out several articles a week and determine what you’ll write about. You might ask different people in your company to write on their areas of specialty to keep it diverse, but still relevant.
    Rule 3: Invest in a Good Writer
    Most CEOs don’t have the time or ability to write awesome content week after week. So don’t skimp. Hire a freelance writer or agency specializing in blogs and articles to help if you don’t have someone on your staff who can do it. Look for someone with experience in writing blog posts. You want a pro to drive traffic to your site.
    Rule 4: Share Your Content
    Your content’s only as good as the people who read it, and if that includes just your mother, it’s not doing its job. Set up an RSS feed from your blog; publish links to your posts on social media; share links in your company emails. Eventually people will find your content on their own, but you need to help them get there.
    Look at Google Panda as a positive change that will help you rise above competitors who were doing a bad job of content marketing. If you follow the new rules, you’ll be able to effectively use content to get new customers.

    Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica

    13 de agosto de 2011

    The Perfect Landing Page. 12 Landing page Tips and Examples

    Landing page best practice advice

    Most discussion of web design in companies still naturally tends to focus on the home page. But, for companies who are running a lot of online marketing campaigns, the effectiveness of the different pages deeper within the site is vital to getting returns from these campaigns.
    So this prompts the question, which factors make for the most effective landing page? Is a ‘Perfect Landing Page’ possible? This post gives a summary of my top 12 and places to look to find more.
    If you’re into landing pages I recommend this excellent post written since I wrote this, decomposing 10 landing page examples.

    Salesforce.com – an example of the Perfect Landing Page?

    To illustrate these tips, I’m going to use an example I’ve used in training for a couple of years – it’s the Salesforce.com lead generation page for its CRM service (click to enlarge).  I think it illustrates many good practices such as removing the main nav which can be a distraction. I’ve marked up what I see as good about this format. It’s maybe not perfect, but much better than most! Let me know what you don’t like about it! Or how things differ for consumer sites!

    If you want to read more on techniques to increase web site conversion I recommend my Web design best practice guide. This has many other tips and examples on landing page best practice.

    Defining landing pages

    First, of all, what is a landing page or microsite? Not everyone knows this jargon and actually, there’s no simple answer.
    My definition is that landing page or microsites are: “Specific page(s) on a web site created for visitors referred from marketing campaigns which are designed to achieve a marketing outcome.”
    Anything referred to as a landing page is intended to maximise conversion of visitors to this page or series of pages to a particular marketing outcome – sale, lead or change in brand metrics.
    Most typically, the outcome is conversion to action, typically data capture where a site visitor fills in an online form to generate a marketing lead.

    Landing page goals

    Effective landing pages are those that meet their objectives, so let’s start with typical objectives. Often it is thought that response is everything – so objectives are not though through, but that this can lead to data capture pages that are too simple.
    Typical communications objectives in order of importance are:
    • Achieve registration typically to generate a lead (such as a quote for insurance in our example) which leads ultimately to sale
    • Profile and qualify the site visitor in order to deliver more relevant follow-up marketing communications
    • Explain the value proposition offered by the company to differentiate from other sites the visitor may visit during the buying process i.e. Answer the visitors questions.
    • Communicate the brand values of the organisation running the campaign
    • If the visitor doesn’t want to disclose their details right now, provide contact details for traditional sales channels such as a phone number, or give the visitor reasons to return to the site or engage them through other relevant content or offers
    It is important to run through these objectives since sometimes it is just the two primary objectives related to data capture that mainly determine landing page design and not the secondary objectives which are equally important. The majority of the visitors to the landing page won’t actually convert, so it is important to give them a favourable experience also.

    Different types of landing page

    We have to bear in mind that there are different types of landing pages that work best depending on the campaign objectives and whether it is a short-term or long-term campaign. There are two basic choices. The first is a landing page integrated into the sites stucture and consistent with standard page templates and navigation for the site. The second is a landing page specifically created for the campaign with a different look and feel. Here are some of the pros and cons.

    A. Landing page(s) integrated into site architecture and style

    It is most efficient in terms of effort in content creation to make landing pages part of the main site information architecture. The downside is that they may not work so well in terms of converting both direct referrers and browsers navigating from elsewhere on the site. They also need to be search optimised, which may add to costs of the campaign. This is an example of integrated pages for annual travel insurance (http://www.norwichunion.com/ travel-insurance/ annual-travel-insurance).
    Such landing pages in particular category or product pages use what is known as deep linking.

    B. Bespoke landing pages that are not part of the main site structure or style

    These are used where a more “stripped down” page than standard content is required which focuses on converting visitors from an online ad campaign. Alternatively, if it is a short-term branding campaign then it may be more straightforward to create a microsite separate from the main site with a different look and feel. This often happens where resource cannot be found to create a microsite within the main site, or it is felt that the existing site look and feel cannot deliver the brand impact required.
    So this approach is used since it can potentially produce higher conversion rates or produce a microsite more consistent with the campaign goals and style. The disadvantages are that this approach requires more effort and maintenance and often result in a poorer user experience since the page will look and work differently to elsewhere in the site. If it is a completely separate site with a separate domain, a big disadvantage of this approach is that due to the Google sandbox effect, it is not likely to be included in the search results for several months. Given this it is really essential that the site is incorporated within the same domain – for example www.quotemehappy.com redirects to the main Norwich Union site.
    So, companies need to work out whether the cost of producing this type of page is offset by the potentially higher conversion rates and better campaign results. Although this approach is surpisingly quite common, I think the approach is often taken for convenience eventhough it is more expensive in the longer term. I know of one E-commerce manager for a multi-national technology vendor who tries to educate their hundreds of web and traditional marketing specialists to not use the bespoke landing page approach, but to always try to integrate into existing site structure.
    Often though there is not one right or wrong approach and a hybrid can be used, i.e. you create tailored landing pages only for high volume/high expenditure generic Adwords pages or for major offline ad campaigns.

    The home page can be a landing page

    Note that a landing page could potentially be the home page although this is not typically best practice. But, if a company has a limited range of products or the main campaign objective is to generate awareness rather than response.

    Different referrer types

    To make the landing page effective, we also need to think through the full range of places the visitor may originate. There are 3 main origins we need to design the landing page to accomodate:
    1. Online media placement. Visitors can be referred by clickthrough from any online referrer such as a search engine, online ad, affiliate site or e-mail campaign. There are two main types of landing page for these placements:
    2. Offline media placement.
      Offline ads or direct mail may have a specific campaign URL (CURL) such as www.quotemehappy.com
      This is the landing page for these offlin referrers.
    3. Visitors that navigate from elsewhere on the site. Such visitors are not using the page(s) as a “landing page”, but still need to be accomodated if you are using a deep linking strategy.

    Landing page success factors

    To be effective, landing pages need to combine the following:
    • Usability
    • Accessibility
    • Persuasion
    • Develop trust in the brand

    My Twelve microsite success factors

    Before I run through the success factors, remember that guidelines are only guidelines, they of course, have exceptions. The only way to be sure of what works for your audience and your market is to conduct tests such as usability studies, A/B testing or multivariate testing. Having the right web analytics tool is vital to this.
    As a minimum, you should readily be able to view data on bounce rates (the proportion of visitors who leave the page without visiting more pages) and conversion rates (the proportion of visitors who complete the intended outcome) for different referral sources (e.g. paid vs natural search vs online ads). Ideally, it should also enable you to complete A/B testing where different visitors are served different pages so differences in bounce and conversion rates can be assessed.
    Second, remember that the guidelines are dependent on the users typical viewable area of screen. While many still design for a minimum of 1064X768 or even 800 by 600, the latest data on screen resolutions shows that over three quarters are now higher than 1024 by 768 although this is skewed by the designer audience of that source! So check your own analytics!
    However, if browsers open a new window, for example from search results page, the new window may be smaller than full-screen.
    So finally! these are my top 12 guidelines for landing page effectiveness:
    ONE. Deliver RELEVANCE.
    Unlike casual visits by browsers, visitors arrive on landing page with a directed goal or intention in mind. So the first thing you have to do is instantly show relevance to help visitors achieve that goal.
    A clear headline should show relevance and also engage the visitor to scan down the page. You need to show the visitor they have selected the right place to find the brand, product, deal, information or experience they are looking for, so the headline must clearly indicate this.
    Other key “relevance messages” should be readily scannable through chosing the right headlines and with panels drawing the eye to the different areas as in the Huggies example. Tests tend to show that larger fonts give better response.
    Since hitting the landing page is often the first experience of a company, we have to answer basic questions that the customer has about the company such as “Who are you?”, “What do you do?”, “Where are you?” “Do I trust you?” You may do these on the home page, but does the navigation on the landing page allow these questions to be answered. Standard menu options such as “About Us” or “Contact Us” can achieve these.
    TWO. INTEGRATE with referral source(s). The customer journey to your web site started elsewhere. To deliver relevance also requires consistency with what they have already read and seen to meet their expectation.
    So in terms of message, branding and creative the landing page needs to deliver an integrated communication. This applies particularly to offline ads, interactive ads and e-mails.
    The key message on the landing page needs to be consistent with the key message of the referral source. So again, you need to show the visitor they have selected the right place to find the brand, product, deal, information or experience they are looking for, so the headline must clearly indicate this.
    THREE. Provide sufficient DETAIL to support the response decision. More generally, the whole experience needs to be right to generate response.
    For me, one of the most important aspect of landing pages, and one that is often not right, is that there isn’t enough detailed information on which the visitor can decide to signup.
    To help determine the right-level of information, best practice is to use design personas to identify typical information required and the gap relative to what you deliver. Also think about the level of “domain knowledge” the user has – do your technical product descriptions make sense. Also think about “tool knowledge” – where your landing page requires using additional tools what knowledge is required to use them effectively and are you providing the right explanations.
    FOUR. Start the user on their journey. The design should make the next step clear and minimise the number of clicks required for response since every extra click required in response will generally reduce response by 10%. It is best practice to include the initial data capture on the first page as shown in the Salesforce.com example.
    If the response mechanism is on another page use multiple calls-to action to gain response since some visitors will respond to images and some text hyperlinks. Make all images clearly clickable, for example by making them look like buttons.
    Form-related approaches to improve the journey:
    • Limiting the options on each page is an effective technique.
    • Grabbing attention in first 30 seconds through a headline and lead that reflects ad copy and “isn’t too clever”, i.e. be direct.
    • If it is a multi-page form, then draw users in with easier initial questions.
    • Allow the form to be saved part way through the quotation
    • Use dynamic headlines related to referrer including search keyphrase to help deliver relevance
    • Use focus groups to decide what to test – marketers who are too close to the problem may disregard factors that are important to customers
    The words used to form calls-to-action are critical to create a scent trail that users of the site follow. An effective scent is delivered where the words match what the user wants to know or achieve.
    FIVE. Use the right PAGE LENGTH. This is a difficult one to give guidelines on. The right copy / page length is one that minimises the knowledge gap between what the user want to know and what you tell them.
    Some designers would suggest that content must fit on one page that doesn’t require scrolling at 800 by 600 resolution. But short copy is often inconsistent with Guideline 1. Also tests have shown that page can be scrollable – users will scroll if they appear scrollable. However, it is best if key information include response mechanism are above the fold.
    To summarise, I would say, make it short (for impulsive readers) AND long (for readers who want to read more).
    Of course, the only way to get the length right is to test. This Marketing Experiments test
    suggested that long-copy outperformed when driving visitors to a product page from Google Adwords.
    SIX. Use meaningful graphics. Graphics must be consistent with the campaign and generate empathy for the audience. Don’t understimate the importance of quality graphics – stock graphics rarely work. It is difficult to assess how graphics influence conversion rate, so the implication is test.
    SEVEN. Remove menu options? Another guideline that causes disagreement. Removing menu options will often increase conversion rate since less choice of where to click is offered, but for those who don’t respond will give a poor experience and prevent them browsing other parts of the site. Often a compromise is best with a reduction in menu options to top-level options only.
    EIGHT. Consider using a ‘flowable’ or liquid layout design This maximises real estate at a given resolution – Amazon do this, Orange don’t.
    Although this can work well for a retailer to show more products above the fold in a category, this is achieved with a loss of control of design. For landing pages, a controlled, fixed design will often work best.
    NINE. Remember search marketing
    There are three aspects to this. First an offline campaign will lead to people searching on your brand or the campaign strapline.
    Make sure you are using paid search to direct visitors to the relevant pages particularly during the campaign.
    Second, if the page is integrated into the web site and will be used in the long-term, optimise it for relevant search keyphrases using the search engine optimisation techniques described here.
    Three, Google sends out a robot “Adbots Google” to test landing page for relevance and speed, so make sure your <title>, headings and body copy include the keywords you’re using to trigger your ad and including in ad copy.
    TEN. Remember the non-responders
    Provide a choice for those who don’t respond despite your carefully crafted landing pages. Provide a reasonably prominent (trackable) phone number or perhaps a call-back/live chat option. Also provide some options for them to browse or search elsewhere on the site.
    ELEVEN. TIMITI!
    TIMITI is a term coined by Jim Sterne, author of Web Metrics
    It stands for Try It! Measure It! Tweak It! i.e. online content effectiveness should be reviewed and improved continuously rather than as a periodic or ad-hoc process. Because the web is a new medium and the access platforms, user behaviours and competitor approach all change continuously, what works at the start of the year will certainly not work as well by the end of the year.
    TWELVE. Consider landing page longevity
    Landing pages are often used for short-term campaigns. If so, you need to carefully manage when they and links to them from within the nav are expired. Risks include out-of-date offers and visitors typing in URLS which are no longer valid. Use of a custom 404 Error page is essential to manage these problems gracefully.
    Finally, remember that there are always exceptions to guidelines and some have suggested that many of the commonly held usability guidelines are myths
    See also Bryan Eisenbergs ten unwritten Internet design rules
    So that’s my guidance, as always, tell me what you have found. Share the approaches you have found effective. Thanks.

    Editor: Alex Rojas writes articles related with technology, social media and marketing. Sponsored by Costa Rica Hotels, Motor de reservas en linea and Travel to Costa Rica