Tendo Dev Blog

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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

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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

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

How much is your content worth?

There’s a terrific piece in the March issue of EContent Magazine by Ron Miller called “How Much is Your Content Worth? – Measuring Website Content ROI”

(I’d love to include a link to the article…but it doesn’t exist on their website. For a publication that has such good content on this topic, it’s ironic that their own web experience can be a little frustrating.)

The piece talks about how many companies still generate web content with little concern for how effective it is. There’s a great quote from Phil Kemelor, VP of strategic consulting at Semphonic:

“I think companies are still only just getting the message that web analytics are the key to controlling costs in web development and analyzing and marketing your content. It seems companies have been comfortable spending money on developing content and they don’t know if it’s being read or not and if it’s really contributing to their bottom line.”

I found myself nodding in agreement, having had versions of this same conversation with most of our clients over the years. On the web, if you’re not clear about what you want them to do and how you’re going to measure success, don’t do it.

But I disagree with one quote in the piece (not from Miller or Kemelor): “I don’t think content matters. You have to distill it down to the business objective. What they are trying to do: save time, make money and so on.”

The point is valid—web content must be in service of some larger business objective and you need to be crystal clear what that is. But to say that “content doesn’t matter” is silly. The right content moves your target closer to that business objective; the wrong content is an obstacle.

Content isn’t just a bump on the road to your business objective—it’s the critical element that motivates the desired action you want from your customers. In that sense, the right content is worth a lot. John Kovacevich, VP, marketing services

February 28, 2008 Posted by | blog, Content Strategy, John Kovacevich, Metrics/Web Analytics, Web Content | 2 Comments

Keys to viral marketing success

Brian Morrissey has a good piece in ADWEEK’s January 7 issue called “The Rules of Viral Web Success, at Least for Now.”

He says it’s all about the three S’s: simple, self-expression, sharable.

Recent successful viral Web campaigns, such as Burger King’s “Simpsonize Me” and OfficeMax’s “Elf Yourself” took these guideline to heart.

It doesn’t need to be complicated or even use the latest technology. If it’s fun and you can customize it and share it, you’ve got a winner.

Don’t be afraid of the simple idea. Think of all the things you received in YOUR inbox over the last year. What did you spend more than a minute with? Did you pass anything on? If so, why? John Kovacevich, VP, marketing services

January 18, 2008 Posted by | Content Strategy, John Kovacevich, Web Content | Leave a comment

A whopper about the Whopper

You’ve probably seen the ads: Burger King employees tell customers that the Whopper is no more. What?? The home of the Whopper has discontinued the Whopper?? Customers freak out, and Burger King eats up—and films—every minute of it.

One blogger says the ads are “breaking all the rules.” I’m not so sure. I thought the ad was clever when I first saw it, but then I gave it more thought. Burger King has been the home of the Whopper for 50 years, so of course customers would be shocked to hear that the company discontinued it. You’d get the same reaction if McDonald’s pulled the plug on the Big Mac, or if Starbucks stopped selling Frappuccinos.

According to a recent marketing newsletter, the ads are “using a negative situation to highlight the popularity of the Whopper.” True? It seems like a given that someone standing at the Burger King counter would be bummed to learn of the Whopper’s demise. But if you went into a McDonald’s and filmed reactions to the same statement, you might not think the Whopper was very popular (and for the record, I’ll take the Western Bacon Cheeseburger from Carl’s Jr. over a Big Mac or the Whopper any day).

So back to the point: Is the ad “breaking all the rules” by lying to customers and then recording their reactions? Is Burger King clever for jumping on the YouTube/viral marketing bandwagon? Maybe. But I’m wondering if the ad campaign is just preaching to the converted.

What do you think? Julie Jares, managing editor

January 14, 2008 Posted by | Brand Marketing, Julie Jares, Web Content | 4 Comments

Leave the writing to the pros

It’s true: when you take something away, its value becomes more apparent. I once smashed my thumb in a car door, which debilitated my right hand for several weeks but left me with a much stronger appreciation for my opposable digits.

I’m hoping a similar effect will result from the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, and a higher value is placed on professional writing skills. The latest effect of writers ditching Hollywood is the canceling of the Golden Globe Awards ceremony, producing some kvetching from those involved with the awards. The Daily Show returned to the air sans writers this week and has managed to pull off two decent episodes, but one wonders how long Stewart and Co. can rely on navel-gazing jokes about the absence of writers on the show. It’s clear that the entertainment industry depends on good writing for its success.

Developing successful content for a website is no different, yet many organizations cheap out when it comes to the writing. The prevalence of bad writing on the Web attests to this. Sure, it might seem to make sense for Jerry the Marketing Guy to develop your Web content, and Jerry might even be great at his marketing job, but that doesn’t mean he’s a writer. (No offense, Jerry.) Relevant professional experience is just as important in writing as it is in any other job category. A car salesman may know a lot about cars, but that doesn’t mean he can fix your transmission.

Quality Web content does translate into monetary value for your organization, so it’s worthwhile to invest in developing your content the right way. If you want a website that will produce results and help advance your organization’s goals, let the professional writers and editors do their jobs. —Selena Welz, associate managing editor

January 9, 2008 Posted by | Selena Welz, Web Content | 3 Comments