Tendo Dev Blog

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The inside scoop on the Tendo View redesign

In January 2008, we redesigned Tendo’s monthly email newsletter, The Tendo View.

If we developed a new email approach for a client, we’d certainly follow-up with some analysis on whether or not the redesign was successful and adjust our strategy accordingly. So, we’re doing the same for our internal effort and want to share the results with you.

(Some call this “eating your own dog food” but we think it’s just fair play. If we’re going to hold our clients accountable, we should do the same for ourselves.)

What Did We Do?

The Tendo View is an email newsletter that we send to approximately 1,000 recipients each month. Our audience includes past, present, and potential clients as well as freelancers and marketing professionals that are part of Tendo’s extended network.

Given our business, we have many marketers and Web-savvy folks on our list—the type of people who receive a LOT of email newsletters.

In 2007, our newsletter metrics were very respectable. We averaged a unique open rate of 20.71% and an average click-through rate of 12.21%.

We believed that the content we delivered was good. It provided value to our users and we had a nice mix of different content types, from feature pieces to site reviews to our popular “jargon watch” to blog entries.

But we wondered if the look and feel of the newsletter was inhibiting our ability to generate even more opens and better click-through rates. So we decided to make some tweaks to the design—not a wholesale redesign, just tweaking some elements—to see if we could improve our metrics.

Here’s what we found… Continue reading

June 6, 2008 Posted by | Email Marketing, John Kovacevich, Metrics/Web Analytics, Tendo View | , , | Leave a comment

What I’ve learned from Twitter

I’ve been playing with Twitter the past couple months, mainly out of curiosity from the buzz it’s been getting (see here and here and here). I just couldn’t understand the value of a tool that enables 140-character text-message answers to the question, What are you doing? Who cares what I’m doing? Why should I care what others are doing—I mean, in 140-character chunks? And why use Twitter to find out?

As I’ve discovered, Twitter is a very tiny form of blogging. In case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s how it works. Many people “tweet” in between blogs—it’s a faster, easier way to stay connected. When you tweet, your comments are readable by any other Twitter user, but most people don’t read everything that every Twitter user is writing. Instead, you set up your account to follow specific users and track different issues as you wish. Twitter can compare your email contacts to its user registry and tell you who among your contacts is already a Twitter user, so you can follow people you know. Or you can look at all Twitter posts on the website and choose to follow those who seem interesting. Or you can go to http://whoshouldIfollow.com, type in your Twitter username, and receive all sorts of suggestions for who you should follow.

Continue reading

June 3, 2008 Posted by | Charlotte Ziems, Mobile Content, Social Media, Twitter | , , | 3 Comments

Web redesign tip: show your readers what’s coming

Planning changes to your site? Give your web visitors a peek behind-the-the scenes. Use it as an opportunity to engage them in a conversation about what they want and then give them previews about what’s coming.

I check SFGate every day. They’ve been rolling out a new design of their site over the last few months. But instead of just popping up the new design, they’re doing a good job of previewing the changes and explaining WHY they’re being made.

Such an approach can improve adoption of new features and reinforces the value proposition of your site. —John Kovacevich, VP Marketing Services

May 22, 2008 Posted by | Design, John Kovacevich, Web Content | , | Leave a comment

Who’s on LinkedIn vs. Facebook?

Everybody is buzzing about social media and what it can do for your company. With anything that’s “new” on the Web, there is always a lot of hype and hyperbole. So I was curious…how many people in the Tendo universe are actually using the big-name social networks?

I decided to conduct my own little experiment. I pulled all the email addresses from the Tendo contact database (approximately 1,320 addresses).

Then I fed those email addresses into the contact finder on LinkedIn and the friend finder on Facebook. (I would have done the same on my MySpace account, but MySpace doesn’t allow you to scan an uploaded list, and my own informal traffic monitoring shows that MySpace is on the decline.)

Both have a feature where they compare your address book to the addresses of active members and let you know if a member is in their network. (Don’t worry if you’re on the Tendo mailing list but don’t want your information circulated in either the LinkedIn or Facebook networks. Your information was not saved in either location; it was simply a one-time scan of the list.)

Here’s what I found: 50 percent of our contacts were members on LinkedIn and 18 percent were on Facebook.

Obviously, the Tendo list is not a “representative sample” of the whole world; given our business, we have many marketers and Web-savvy folks on our list. And LinkedIn is especially popular here in the Bay Area as a professional networking tool; the majority of our addresses are from the Bay Area.

But it’s interesting to me that nearly 20 percent of our list is on Facebooka more purely “social” network and one that was not even open to non-college students a year ago.

Again, this is just a snapshot in time and we probably can’t make any grand conclusion based on these two numbers, but it’s fair to say that the number of people using social networks is on the rise. The basic functionality of these sites is going to become more and more standard in a variety of applicationsperhaps even for your company’s network. So you may want to get yourself registered and start poking around. —John Kovacevich, VP, marketing services

April 28, 2008 Posted by | John Kovacevich, Metrics/Web Analytics, Social Media, Web Content | , , , , | 1 Comment

Social and downloadable media at Ad Tech ‘08

Ad Tech ’08 took place in San Francisco last week and I managed to make a few sessions and wander the exhibition hall. Ad Tech is a digital marketing conference for media, publishing, marketing, and technology professionals. Basically, anyone who’s interested in the tools, strategy, and opportunities of online marketing. Here are some observations and data points that may help inform your customer engagement efforts.

Session: “Social media marketingthe value proposition”

Panel featuring MySpace, Target, Electronic Arts
• eMarketer magazine reported that $1.6b will be spent on social media marketing this year, and $2.4b by 2010
• MySpace had 73 million unique visitors in March, an increase of 7%
• Facebook saw 35 million unique visitors in March, an increase of 9%
• EA and Target say they’re beyond the experimental phase and plan bigger social media marketing investments (details on Target’s successful ’07 Facebook back to school campaign can be found in my April Tendo View article)

My take:
• The early adopter marketers have learned “what works”
• Social media audiences will embrace a campaign, if it’s done right
• Social media networks are growing in size and audience demographics
• Companies should investigate social media

Session: “Marketing with downloadable media” (podcasts)

Panel featuring Jim Louderback, former editor of PC magazine, now CEO of Revision3; Kin Robles, a producer at National Podcasting System; Mark McCrery of Podtrac, a podcast ad-serving network; and Roxanne Darling, host of “Beachwalks with Rox,” a popular daily podcast in which she ruminates on anything and everything while walking her black Labrador on the beaches of Hawaii.

My take on podcasts:
• The time is right to investigate
• They can help you engage a hard-to-reach, highly desirable audience
• They present a low-cost way to reach a broad audience with viral content
• Their popularity reflects the rise in user-controlled “on demand” media

Here are some stats from a recently released Edison Media research report, “The Podcast Consumer Revealed: An Exclusive Early Look at the Growing Podcast Audience.”

• Podcast listeners are generally more affluent, well-educated, and spend more money online
• Podcast listeners represent a 50/50 split among men and women and demonstrate high levels of avoidance behaviorthey know how to evade marketing
• 40% increase in consumption of audio podcasts between ’07 and ‘08
• 21% of Americans (54 million) have watched or listened to downloadable media
• Ad recall rates from podcasts are 47% higher than traditional ad spotsa highly engaged audience!
• 75% of podcasts are accessed through iTunes
• The most viewed/listened to iTunes shows get between 160,000 and 250,000 views/listens per episode

—Bill Golden, managing editor

April 23, 2008 Posted by | Bill Golden, Multimedia, Web Content | 1 Comment

Seeing the world in 2D

Tendocom.com QR CodeYou probably have a digital camera in your pocket or your handbag right now.

Seriously, they’re everywhere. Try finding a cell phone without one. And this means we can all see our embarrassing photos of that Friday night float around to all our friends before we’ve hit the warm embrace of our bed that a.m.

But is that all they’re for? Just passive recorders? Hardly. Imagine if your camera phone could tell you something. How about the date of your favorite band’s next gig? Give you discounts on that new DVD? Take you to the website of the company you saw that cool ad for in the subway?

Well that’s the concept behind 2D bar codes. You’ve probably seen them before on a UPS package, and there are several types. But the ones you’ll see most of are QR codes. These little pixelated squares can contain a surprising amount of information. They’ve been huge in Japan for years now, and they’ve spread across Europe over the last two years (most notably in the ad campaign for 28 Weeks Later), but for some reason the United States has been holding out.

Not anymore.

The communications benefits are huge, be it advertising, viral marketing, or even just a neat way to put information on your business card. Almost any phone can read them with free software. That’s up to 230 million people.

So the question isn’t why use it. The question is this: How can you use it, and why aren’t you already?

April 14, 2008 Posted by | Custom Content, Mobile Content, Multimedia, Target Audience | Leave a comment

Web headline lessons from The Onion

Lots of us here at Tendo read The Onion, the fake newspaper with the funny headlines. (The link to the online version is included, but frankly, the print version is better.) We’ll ask, “Did you see the headline in The Onion this week?” and then repeat whatever grabbed our eye.

And therein lies the lesson for anybody writing headlines for the Web. You have to get your audience’s attention. Yes, the content below the headline is important. But if you don’t get the click, nobody sees your content.

And The Onion understands this. According to a recent episode of This American Life (which you should listen toit’s great), the writers at the Onion come up with 600 headlines each week and narrow them down to the 16 that end up in the newspaper. Then, once those 16 headlines are chosen, they develop the story that goes with the headline.

This is, of course, almost the complete opposite approach to how most companies generate their Web content. Somebody writes content and then comes up with the headline last. I suggest an opposite approach: Write your headlines first. While the headline may not be as funny as The Onion, it will force you to define the value proposition and come up with a reason a person would click on your article before you invest the time in writing. John Kovacevich, VP, marketing services

March 30, 2008 Posted by | Content Strategy, John Kovacevich, Web Content | 2 Comments

Hybrid social media

If all the excitement around Web-based social media has you nervous about whether people can still hold a conversation in person, fear not. Social networking site Meetup.com has combined the ease and community-building capabilities of the Web with the primal need for in-person interaction.

Meetup.com reports more than 5 million regular users, facilitates more than 37,000 groups, and helps arrange about 80,000 physical events monthly. That’s a large group of motivated consumers, segmented by very specific interests—two attributes that typically make marketers salivate.

As reported by The New York Times on March 19, Meetup.com has found an interesting sponsorship model to support its various special interest groups. The site has signed both American Express Open and Kimberly Clarke, parent company to brands Huggies and Pull-ups, to underwrite and support Meetup.com groups for new mothers and entrepreneurs. Meetup.com’s sponsorships allow brands to provide valuable services to potential customers and opportunities to interact with their brands in meaningful ways. What’s interesting about Meetup.com’s approach is that it combines the best of two worlds: the convenience and ubiquity of the Web and the impact and intimacy of in-person interaction. Bill Golden, managing editor

March 27, 2008 Posted by | Bill Golden, In the News, Social Media, Web Content | Leave a comment

I want my online TV

For once in my life, I’m an early adopter. Like a growing number of people, I consume much of my television via my laptop computer, rather than my television set.

Sure, the image quality’s a little less crisp than real TV, my connection is sometimes slow, causing the viewer to skip or freeze, and I can’t fast-forward through the commercials as with a DVR. But still—instant, free access to stuff I want to watch whenever I want to watch it is pretty nice.

I can say definitively that I now watch more TV and regularly keep up with more shows than I ever did before. And that’s saying a lot since I rarely watched TV at all before I could access it online. My TV consuming habits have changed significantly based on now available technology. My case is probably more dramatic than most, but I don’t think this trend is going away.

Will the TV networks take advantage of this change in the wind? Or will they stubbornly resist it and try to snuff out the freedom the new technology allows, like the music industry did? Based on the current state of CD sales, which the music industry still depends on to measure success, I’d hope TV networks would choose the former option. The old way of doing things isn’t going to work here. Continue reading

March 11, 2008 Posted by | Content Strategy, Content Syndication, Multimedia, Selena Welz, Web Content | Leave a comment

Is the podcast dead?

Is the podcast dead? And what is a podcast anyway? Back in 2005, the New Oxford American Dictionary hailed it as the Word of the Year and described it as a “digital recording of a radio broadcast or similar program, made available on the Internet for downloading to a personal audio player.” That definition has morphed, however, and now plenty of people view a podcast as both audio and video. It can either be a show with regular episodes, or a lecture or some other one-off event that is downloadable. But the question is, how many people are doing the downloading??

Wizzard Media proclaims podcasting to be “one of the fastest growing and widest distribution mechanisms in the history of media.” Of course, they have a vested interested in saying this, and we’ve heard it before. In March 2006 eMarketer said the “audience for podcasts has shown meteoric growth, particularly in the U.S. It is variously projected to reach between 20 million and 80 million by 2010.” Way to pin down that prediction, eh? A month later, Forrester predicted growth “from 700,000 households in the United States in 2006 to 12.3 million households in the United States by 2010.” That’s a big difference: 12.3 million vs. 80 million. The most trustworthy source, Pew Internet & American Life Project, reported in November 2006 that only 1% of Internet users report downloading a podcast on a typical day.

My quick Web search didn’t yield a lot of stats or reports on podcasting in 2007—perhaps the hype was dying down at this point? But a February 2006 eMarketer report estimated that the total U.S. podcast audience reached 18.5 million in 2007.

I’m pretty skeptical about a lot of these numbers and projections. But I am sure of one thing: Podcasting is still an inexpensive way for a company to get its message out, and the medium can help a company establish a personal, human connection to its clients and customers. And don’t forget that you can also post transcripts of podcasts. At Tendo, we often preach the idea of “write once, use many.” In this case, “record once, use many” is true, too. Julie Jares, managing editor

February 29, 2008 Posted by | blog, Julie Jares, Mobile Content, Multimedia | Leave a comment