Archive for the ‘Email Advocacy and Marketing’ Category

Wired Thinks Blogs Are Over, Misses the Point

Paul Boutin, in the new edition of Wired Magazine, makes the case that blogging isn’t worthwhile anymore. While Boutin makes a few good points about the different functionality associated with blogging, social networking and microblogging, he fails to go beyond anecdotal evidence in his analysis of the value of blogging.

He begins:

Thinking about launching your own blog? Here’s some friendly advice: Don’t. And if you’ve already got one, pull the plug.

Wired.com, where the article was published, hosts about a dozen blogs. Paul’s fulltime gig is with ValleyWag a top-500 blog focusing on silicon valley gossip. His personal website is, you guessed it, a blog. Apparently irony is easily lost on Mr. Boutin.

He continues:

The blogosphere, once a freshwater oasis of folksy self-expression and clever thought, has been flooded by a tsunami of paid bilge. Cut-rate journalists and underground marketing campaigns now drown out the authentic voices of amateur wordsmiths. It’s almost impossible to get noticed, except by hecklers. And why bother?

Yes, there is far more garbage in the blogosphere now than at any time prior. The other side of this though is the fact that there is more research, factchecking, sharp analysis, breaking news and “folksy self-expression” than ever before. Better yet, now we’ve got social news websites, blog search engines and web-based RSS readers to help us sort through the clutter.

The crux of the argument is as follows:

The time it takes to craft sharp, witty blog prose is better spent expressing yourself on Flickr, Facebook, or Twitter.

Mr. Boutin fails to mention the fact that a pretty good percentage of Tweets are automatically generated from a blog’s RSS feed via Twitterfeed. The same is true for status updates on Facebook. Flickr is a great tool for uploading, storing and sharing photographs, but if your Internet outreach efforts are limited to photo-sharing, you won’t have much luck.

To get the most out of social media you should participate broadly. Just having a blog is as limiting as just having a Facebook account. Your flickr account is worth little if you have nowhere to post the pictures. If you spend all of your time creating short-form content on Twitter, will you have anything to link to? A comprehensive social media outreach plan should encompass all of the above and more. Ideally, organizations should be using social news sites (Digg, Reddit, Buzzflash, Current, etc.), social networking sites (Myspace, Facebook, etc.), social bookmarking sites (Simpy, Furl, etc.), microblogging sites (Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) blogging software (WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, etc.), email lists, listservs, targeted blogger outreach, search engine optimization and more.

When the world wide web was popularized, we didn’t unplug our phones and throw away our stamps. When we need to send a quick note, we email. When we wanted something more personal or more in-depth, we pick up the phone. When we want to formalize a communication or reach someone across the globe, we write a letter. We learned to choose appropriate communications tools for the types of communication we were engaging in. We are going to have to do this more and more in the future, as our communications options continue to diversify. Just as Twitter is ideal for a quick, one-sentence not with a link, blogging is still ideal for mid-length communications with embedded pictures and video.

The bulk of the article is dedicated to hand-wringing over the social media habits of several early-adopting bloggers like Jason Calcanis, Robert Scoble and Mark Pilgrim. The article would probably be better off with more facts, and less anecdotal fluff. Here are a few facts he could have taken into account:

42% of Americans have read a blog and 11% do so daily.

The liberal blog reader project found that 74% of blog readers voted in 2006. Just 41% of all eligible voters did so that year.

71% of journalists have a list of blogs that they check on a regular basis.

Here are a few institutions you may have heard of who disagree with Mr. Boutin’s analysis:

“The Democratic Party cannot win major national elections without the netroots.” -NY Times

“The netroots now rank alongside [unions and interest groups].” -The National Review

“Liberal bloggers [have] quickly become a formidable constituency in Democratic politics.” -The New Republic

“Now that the Netroots’ power has been cemented, any Democratic presidential candidate will have to consider how to woo these Internet activists.” -Time

Here is the bottom line: Blogging is not dead. As social networking and microblogging claim a larger share of the new media landscape, they justify a larger share of an organization’s media outreach strategy. Just as it wouldn’t have been wise to stop reaching out to newspaper and the traditional press when you hired a blogger, there is no reason to stop blogging because you want to create a Facebook or Twitter account. Shifting priorities to reach your audience as effectively as possible is a good thing, but Mr. Boutin’s assertion that blogging is no longer useful is way off the mark.

Advice from the Blogosphere: Bounce Rates, Email Subjects, Social Advertising and The Future of Social News

Dosh Dosh has some good advice on how to lower your bounce rate. It is worth reading in full if you aren’t happy with your bounce rate (hint: you should never be happy with your bounce rate.)

1. Test your site with a group of users. Ask them to enter your site from specific pages. Get feedback based on their experiences. This will give you ways to improve.

2. Expose next steps. Give visitors actions to take if they are interested in the current page. Add links to more information at the bottom of the copy or within content.

Email Trainer offers some information on the importance of email subject lines, as well as some tips on making yours stick out.

According to Jupiter Research, 35 percent of email users open their emails because of the words in the subject lines of the emails they receive. Since the average consumer reads over 300 subject lines per week, your subject lines have to be extra special to get noticed. So, how is your email going to stand out in the inbox?

This is from last week, and I still don’t know what to think.

On Monday, Goldstein is expected to announce “social banners,” or display ads that turn you or your friends into the hook of a marketing message. In tandem, SocialMedia will announce that it’s developed a patent-pending algorithm called FriendRank to power those social banners. It’s like Google’s PageRank, but instead of ranking pages for their popularity, it ranks friendships.

Muhammad has some fascinating thoughts on why Reddit might be the future of social news. Worth reading, as always.

Q&A on Constant Contact: Text Version and Spam Filters

This is part two of the ongoing question and answer series. If you have a question you’d like me to answer, send me an email at josh@thehatchergroup.com and I’ll do my best to answer it here.

Question:

We use the Constant Contact email service, and the text doesn’t transmit very readably on mobile phones or blackberries. We also have a problem with spam filters blocking us – I’ve learned to request that our URL and Constant Contact’s URL be put on recipients’ White Lists when this happens.

I’m curious if you have any hot tips about these issues.

Answer:

1) Text version in Constant Contact
Try this:

“Wait until you have completed all edits to your HTML version.

On the left hand side, click on “Advanced Features” then select “Edit Text Version.”

Once you do this, it becomes a “customized” text version, and will no longer stay in synchronization with the HTML version, which is why I recommend you do this as the last thing.”

2) Messages blocked as spam with Constant Contact

There are a few things that could be causing this. Has there been a spike recently or is the # just steadily growing over time? If it was a big spike, there may be a problem (i.e. people marking your emails as spam, blocked by an email service), in which case we’ll have to re-evaluate. Otherwise it is very likely one of the problems mentioned below, such as normal list churn, de facto unsubscribes, full inboxes, etc.

In the meantime, here is what Constant Contact has to say about it.

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Powerpoint on Driving Traffic to Websites

Glossary of New Media and Online Outreach Terminology

If there is another word you’d like to see added to this list, email me at josh@thehatchergroup.com and I’ll be glad to add it.

Avatar – A small (usually about 100X100 pixels) image associated with a profile on a social media website. The avatar can be used for branding and identification, and can also have an impact on the success of the profile.

Blog – A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts. As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs. Via Wikipedia.

Blogroll – A list of external links located on the homepage of a blog, generally in the blog’s sidebar.

Bounce Rate – The percentage of web site visitors who arrive at a web site entry page, then leave without going any deeper into the site.

Broken link – When a web page has been moved or no longer exits, or if the server is down and an Internet link cannot find the desired page, it is referred to as a dead link. Dead links on your site can negatively impact your performance on search engines.

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