Whats Missing?

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Mr. S., senior marketing exec here, just sent me a video to watch. It was about a blind man with his tin can and a sign: ‘I’m blind, please help me’. He was collecting just pennies. Along came a woman who cared. She rewrote the sign to read ‘It’s a beautiful day, and I can’t see it. Will you help me?’ and the money started coming.

Here it is:

Moral of the story: its not what you say, but how you say it. Nice video, nice message.

Who produced this piece of work? It was actually an ad for an advertising company, who were trying to explain why they were needed: to say things right. Because its not just what you say, but how you say it.

Egad! Why aren’t these folks drinking their own fruit punch? I went around and asked some reasonably bright folks ‘Can you tell me what the creators of this video are trying to do?’. The answers were intriguing, but no one said ‘They are selling their service’. Not one. No one got it. What a waste!

Marketing is a bus with only one destination: get people to want to buy. The vehicle may be entertaining or it may be boring. But if you successfully arouse a desire to buy in the reader, you have done the job. If you have not, you belong in Hollywood, not Manhattan. You are merely an entertainer.

You ask me why would someone be interested if the clip does not create any dramatic effect?
My answer is that the person is already interested, before reading your ad. He or she already wants to save money or have thin thighs. You need merely to explain to them how they can achieve that. Nothing can be as interesting to someone as a goal they think about fourteen times a day.

So to recap: marketing means getting someone to want to buy. And it usually involves presenting a solution to a problem vexing the reader. Thats all. Anything else is likely to be Entertainment.

If the video is fascinating and thought provoking, but completely does not do what it was intended to – to SELL!! This is what is so wrong with advertising today – it has become a creative art form, but doesn’t do anything. Imagine someone designing a car that looked awesome but didn’t run. How fast would they be out of a job??

Agree or disagree? Have your say here below:

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The Usual: Spammy Link Requests

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Him: 800px Sean the spammer e1359490764354 The Usual: Spammy Link Requests

From: Brandon Murphy
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2013 7:33 AM
To: Mac
Subject: Re: Gift Card Contact Form

Name: Brandon Xyz

Email Address: brandon@xyz.com

Message: Hello, I wanted to reach out to inquire about the possibility of advertising on your blog in the form of sponsored guest posts. Either I can have content written or you can write content that is relevant to your audience and helps to promote our client’s service. We then pay for that post and the opportunity to have exposure to your readers. If this is something you can do, please email me. Thank you, -Brandon Xyz



On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 1:14 AM, Mac <Mac@kars4kids.org> wrote:

Sure thing, Brandon. Check out my hangups here: giftkards4kids.org/blog/write

240px No spam.svg  The Usual: Spammy Link Requests


Thank you for responding  and we are happy to hear that you are interested. What we are looking to do is guest blog on site like yours. We will provide you fresh content written by our professionals. Posts could be about clothing, fashion, eyewear, sports like wakeboarding, snowboarding, climbing, surfing, skateboarding, etc. So, if your website niche is other than these mentioned above then we will add you in our waiting list and will contact you as soon as we have related clients and articles for you.

We would be able to pay(as per your website Page Rank)  per post with 2 permanent do follow links. The post frequency will be 2-3 a week depending on what is available if you are interested, more or less is always an option depending on what you would like. We have many partners always looking to guest blog, and we have a few that would go well with your blog and your audience, would that be something that you would be interested in doing?

How we determine what to pay:
PR 1- $5 per post
PR 2- $10 per post
PR 3- $15 per post
And so forth….

Also, as your PR goes up so does the payment for future post…. let me know what you decide…

Thank you


Don’t bother….

(I do link out and I do host guest bloggers. But this guy was too clueless – he had no idea what my blog is about, no idea if it was a fit or not, and no idea of even my ranking. Its just sad!)

800px The Spam mobile The Usual: Spammy Link Requests

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How To Write Compelling Content

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At a weekend summit, I witnessed ‘dueling rabbis’. Dueling rabbis is when two Rabbis debate an issue, and usually the audience joins in. I sat at the outer rings of the crowd observing, and noticed some things about us human beings, things useful for SEO.

(This picture is of a duel – I couldn’t find one with rabbis, sorry)

Pirate Sword fight 1 by elf fu stock How To Write Compelling Content
I noticed that the question debated upon was not – in of itself – all that interesting. In fact, as in all things, the truth lay in between the two. Were a speaker to present both sides of the issue, the audience would have been fast asleep. However this was not just a presentation of the two sides – this was a debate; a fight. Each position was vigorously presented, the opposite view was insulted, attacked and parried. The audience was spellbound. The debate lasted for an hour, and wandered far off topic – at one point they were discussing why one of the rabbis had lost weight and what were the chances of his keeping it off, so help me! It was real stuff, and it was dearly compelling.

Fight! Fight!

The SEO lesson here is that if you can, present a fight. Make a conflict and a battle, a struggle between two bloggers. Create drama. People will lap it up. A conflict always holds power. Compelling content is made irresistible by making a tussle out of it, and even boring material becomes content.

A struggle is interesting:

6459470621 77b016f734 How To Write Compelling Content

How to go about doing this: Pit two opposing writers against each other. It would pay to invent two protagonists and set them against each other, if you don’t have real opponents readily available. If you are paying writers, have two tackle the job – each one is assigned to a certain side of the issue and is charged with defending that side.

Give ‘em A Piece Of The Action

As the argument developed, people from the crowd were encouraged to take sides, challenge, and add to the fray. Indeed the struggle grew as more and more heated as people joined in. Why did these everyday people stand up and give their opinions? We are hard-wired to want the chance to make a mark, to be heard and taken seriously. Humans like to have their say. We all need to give our piece.

What is the SEO application here?

Giving people a chance to be part of the action is what people want. Comments are nice, and always popular, better yet would be if we can have people contribute to the content itself.

How to go about doing this: One idea is to throw out a question, discuss it back and forth in a forum, and them present the final result as a synopsis of the various opinions. These opinions are raw power – they are the exact thoughts of the people involved. The minimum is that comments be allowed and that the writer of the piece be involved in replying, rebutting and engaging the comment writers.

Making Fights

One last observation; as the discussion grew more detailed, and specifics were discussed, the positions became clearly delineated, and the thoughts clarified. It forced the people taking part to develop their theories, and the issues were kneaded through. This never would have happened otherwise.

The takeaway is that an argument is a good way to develop the issues and work them through. Things that would never have been noticed come to light.

How to do it: Create arguments! You may have an opinion, thats fine. But do present the other side two; let there be tension and conflict.

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Optimization, AB Testing and Targeted Marketing – SMX Israel 2013

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Adam Tal:
Focus only on results by:
1. Setting clear goals,
2. Finding the right customers,
3. Giving them what they want!

Its THAT simple!
How to find the right customers:
A. Find out what people are asking – get the top five questions by searching for keywords in the Google keyword tool. See what it suggests.
B. Convert keywords into questions. If your search returns ‘piano, easy’, create a question with it: ‘are piano lessons easy?’.
C. Create an ad on adwords asking the question directly.
D. Create a landing page that answers the specific question; ‘are piano lessons easy?’. Even though you are selling piano lessons in general, prepare a page specifically answering the question posed. The adwords ad will lead directly to this page.

Your Happy Customer BUYS!!

On another topic altogether; Chrome has this extension: Sniffer. This extension allows you to find out what any given website is running – which platform is it using and what are the the plugins that make it perform what it does. This way you can obtain similar effects.
Trick question for SEOs: How does one use text that provides SEO benefit – it allows googlebot to understand what the page is all about, yet without causing the page to become too texty and spammy, (as is often the case!)?

A. The solution is to create a double-layer page; the upper, visible layer contains a lightbox big enough to cover the entire page, with contains t he functional parts that you want people to see, the under-layer contains the keyword text. A good example of this is a travel site that allows people to search for flights. The best pages are clean-looking, with little text, however Google will never rank you for that page unless there is text there. So the resolution is to put the travel search engine in the lightbox on top, and thats what people get when they come to your website, so they leave happy and are helped, yet underneath put in the travel terms you wish to rank for, so that you are good with Google too.

On The Olde Subject Of Conversion…

Conversion Tip: To maximize conversion: leave out any sign-in form; the less info people need to give you the more safe they feel.

Case studies for conversion:
Dell added an icon, added 8% conversion for  them.
(It made the page clearer and let the user understand what will happen after they click on that button)
Changing the delivery person on UPS to an Asian added 30%, changing to a female Asian gained another 15%, altogether 45%!!
Having a 2-page process, with one page leading into the other instead of one long form – 15% increase.
Where the benefit was shouted out in a special red circle: 148% increase!!
Do test: headlines, ethnicity of the people pictured, image sizes, # of steps needed, and being more explanatory about what will happen next (what are the next steps, and what will happen when you do x) and special offers shout-outs.
Using login via Facebook works, because it makes login easier, only one step.

A-B Testing
Visual Website Optimiser: this tool makes it easy to do AB testing on your site. Also great is optimizely. Google allows for AB testing, (read all about it right Here) as does UnBounce.

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Doing Video Right – Tips from SMX Israel 2013

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This is the second batch of tips and tricks I learned from SMX Israel 2013:

 Doing Video Right   Tips from SMX Israel 2013Video!
There as been a 27% increase in online video in the past year, with the trend only continuing. One new Israeli political party – Eretz Chadashah – was launched exclusively online. (They failed completely in the elections. What does that mean??)
So video matters, it really does.
When uploading a video to YouTube:
1. Be sure to fill in all the fields with information.
2. Entertainment wins hand-down over education – aim to entertain. Example where the education is hidden in the entertainment; ‘Will it blend?’ series.

Will It Blend??

3. Keep videos short – 30 seconds to 2 minutes max.
4. Always include a call to action.
5. The first ten seconds are crucial – don’t waste it on an intro. People will decide to watch it or not based on the first impression.
6. Make sure the video and audio are high-quality, not junk. Even YouTube. Try for eye candy.
7. Important; annotations in video WORK! Do use them.
8. If you have lots of videos on your blog – submit an xml sitemap with your videos to Google.
9. Write out the text/dialog of the video and put it on your website. This adds value to your audience – you are not just a collection of videos from YouTube, but you provide more.
10. PR; get celebrities to appear on your videos; example – the Gangam video has Mike Shmidt and others.

Eric Schmidt Dancing Gangnam Style

This sure attracts the crowds!
11. Before making a video, get ideas from keyword research. Use: ‘SEM Rush‘. Then make a video about what people are searching for; follow the crowd.
12. Tool: Videoscribe  (free trial) will sketch a video for you. Also; Animoto (free to $20/month) allows you to make videos from pictures.
13. Name the video with the keywords you researched, put it also in the metadata and properties.
14. Upload to YouTube, include location and custom thumbnail – make sure the thumbnail is good. You can upload a thumbnail that is more appealing, if need be.
15. Use 500 to 1000 words in the description, and put the YouTube url into the description too, so that it will appear on any scraper sites.
16. Add 5 descriptive tags.
17. Build backlinks to the video via; Pressrelease, OneHourBacklinks and Fivver (Just search for; backlinks. Ooh la la!!)

Tips courtesy of Akiva Ben Ezra of Ben-Ezra Marketing and Barak Hullman of MarketerEdge.

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Israel SMX 2013: My takeaways

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This is part one, there will be more to come:

SMX Israel this past Sunday:

1. First of all, as in all events of this genre, the keyest takeaways are the emails of some new people you made contact with during the seminar. I have been using – or abusing – (depending on if you ask me or them) the privilege of correspnding with some of the true
professionals that I have run into there, to my great advantage. Having a fund of high-quality cutting edge knowledge an email away is worth the cover price of the seminar, in of itself.  (The takeaway in that fact is that you ought allow no one to talk you out of attending on the grounds that you will have wasted time and money…

2. I learned a lot about Social media. Probably because I’m seldom on Social, I needed to hear the obvious from others. I had been using Twitter, Facebook and Google+ as a bulettin board to announce my blog posts. That is all wrong. (- though I wouldn’t put any money down on my changing….)

First of all, Social is a conversation, a dialog. A blog post is a presentation, lecture or filibuster – whatever. What it is NOT is putting something to other people to respond to.
Yet that is exactly what Social is.

facebook 67361 640 Israel SMX 2013: My takeaways
Moreover, the dialog changes with the platform. Just as locker room banter is not ballroom repartee, nor bar jokes, so too the people and tenor of Facebook are not that of Google+. Its different.
(To me, Google+ seems more proffesionaly oriented than Facebook. Not the platform – the tenor of the posts.) So instead of sharing the same content on all the platforms, it needs to be tailored to each group seperately. Otherwise no one will engage. This is the second reason why indescriminate posting will lead nowhere.

3. Don’t buy Facebook ‘like’s. The most common way of buying ‘like’s is by raffling off an iPad, a tactic worn down almost to sea level. The problem with it, besides being seen as a scammer, is that every ‘like’ you gain decreases your relevancy score. Next to your ‘like’s is another metric ‘talking about you’. When your likes are 10k, and ‘talking about you’ is 50, that means people find you irrelevant. Facebook cannot serve your ‘like’ers every post they
‘like’d, -there are too many – and they need to choose the most relevant posts. If you have too many ‘like’s you have labled yourself as irrelevant. And it cost you a good iPad to boot.

AMPEGY Billboard FACEBOOK 304x912 300x100 Israel SMX 2013: My takeaways

3. Creating ads for Facebook, Adwords and Bing:

A. Find your customer’s concerns. If you are selling piano lessons, put ‘piano lessons’ into your keyword tool and check out what is being asked.
B. Get the five biggest questions. Go answer  those questions with your web copy.
C. Then design your ad as a question. If you are discussing price of piano lessons, ask ‘Are piano lessons cheap?’. If you are discussing if they are difficult; ‘Are piano lessons easy?’.  Make multiple landing pages, one for each question. The ad for cheap piano lessons goes to a page where you emphasize price, the one about ease goes to another where you talk about how quickly they will catch on to playing piano. You get the idea.

4. Where to advertise? Adwords and Bing, of course. But there is another kid on the block too. His name is CPV. ‘Cost Per View’ is surprisingly working. Google for the top ones. It may be far more economical than Adwords.

5. Are ads on Adwords and Bing identical? Pretty much so, however the crowd on Bing is an older and less sophisticated crowd. Temper your ad text accordingly, please.

6. How can you get an actual response from the Facebook customer service? The simple answer is that you can’t. Thats what usually happens. The alternative path is to use the advertising form instead of the general contact form (-AKA The Cemetery…) and hiring a Social Media Consultant. The only thing the consultant has that you don’t is connections at Facebook. Thats why you hired her, of course.

Anti Facebook Logo by CrapsY Israel SMX 2013: My takeaways

This also works when you need special favors, like moving or merging from one Facebook account to another. (Lets say you started with it all under your name, now you want something more professional).

7. Want to know how to do it right? Look at these guys’ FB page: Beauty Addicts (Preen.me). Their Facebook audience is massively engaged and its all business – every ‘I would’ leads to their website, Preen.me, which sells cosmetics as an affilate. Lots of business, in fact.

8. Think AROUND your topic; if you are selling bicycles open a cycling group on LinkedIn. If you are a public charity, discuss some general charity issues. Keep away from your parochial purview.

More to come…

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‘Nother Reason To Use Gift Cards Instead Of Cash

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SAS: budget control. (SAS is for ‘short and sweet’. Yup, just made it up)

For a chronic overspender (ouch!) or to teach your teen how to budget spending, gift cards can be a great tool. They are limited with a set amount of money on it. So instead of taking your credit card or checkbook, and end up overdoing it, you trick your mind into thinkming in terms of a finite budget. It actually trains the mind to think in terms of fitting costs to available sums, and this is amazing when you send a teenager shopping. Not only don’t you risk your kid overspending you into hock, but he will even learn purchasing with limits.

Sometimes, – I know this doesn’t happen to you, but it happens with me all the time, – people can cleverly set a monthly budget for eating or decorating. Somehow somewhere down the middle of the month the budget slips their minds and they end up doing things quite differently than they had planned. To their chagrin. And to their spouses’ chagrin too. Yeah.

Gift Cards are an out; they provide a way of presetting and limiting things from the outset. Of course, you CAN purchase more gift cards or whip out that trusty credit card and checkbook too. But its breaking a promise, one that  you have made to yourself. And its that much less likely to happen.

So the takeaway here is that gift cards are a tool you can use to force yourself, or teach your teenager, to budget. Do use it!

P.s. Bonus: You can also buy those gift cards at a discount from a reseller like plasticjungle or cardcash.com. So not only do you budget, you even save in the process. Shweeet!

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What To Do With A Gift Card You Cannot Spend

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We have discussed the usual paths here, here and here.

I have a ninja technique that I have never tried, but got it from a customer service worker, someone that knows their stuff. I haven’t thought it through and its also less push-button than the other ways, but more lucrative too. It is a drop more complicated:

1. Go to a store (best option is a large department store like Walmart) and buy a gift card for their store.

2. Buy something with it. Return the item. Tell them it was a prepaid credit card that you threw it out. They usually give you cash back.

Does this work? One thing is sure: if it does, you receive back the full value of your gift card, something that does not usually happen!

If you read this and try it, please help others out by telling them of your experience: comment below!

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What Gift Cards Add To Your Business

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I know that I will get new customers and those are easy to measure. But I am more interested in measuring the increase in spending my existing customers are making due to the gift card program? Are they spending more than what they originally planned to in my store because they got a gift card or are they simply using the card for their planned purchases?

Garrick Saito says: I don’t know of a sure-fire way to do this.

I think the first thing you must not do, is to consider gift card sales as a sale.  When someone purchases a gift card/gift certificate, all you have done is to create a liability.  You ‘owe’ someone merchandise/services to the bearer, until it is redeemed.

Gift cards ‘redeemed’ might be a good starting point, but the sticky part of that equation is “Would the sale have ever been made had the recipient never had the gift card in the first place.”  I don’t know of any logical way of answering this question.

One other ‘partial’ metric is to quantify the amount of forfeited gift cards.  In some states, it is legal to say “Must be used within one year of purchase” or “Valid until MM/DD/YY.”  In these cases, the money maybe taken into income (i.e. card and liability voided).  However, before doing this,  you should first research if it is legal to do so.  For example, in the state of California, it is illegal to have a gift card expire.  The theory is that someone paid you money and you never provided anything of value in exchange (some might say it is analogous to stealing).

This subject is almost impossible to analyze logically.  Sorry I didn’t have a better answer for you,

- Garrick
I think this CAN be actually quantified:
1. If x amount of the gift cards sold are never claimed, that represents profit, even if its carried on the books as debt.
2. If the average card takes n months to redemption, you have an interest-free loan for the interim.
3. You can compare total sales before starting your gift gift card program and the total afterwards. The difference represents the additional income generated by the gift cards, money you would otherwise not have made.
For further reading, and some statistics about gift cards going unused:
Full disclosure – I ripped this entire post off Quora, because I thought it would interest you…
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Are You Going Over The Top?

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I wan’t to give my sweetheart a present. Is giving a gift card just darned lazy, and I ought to rather go down and slog through the isles looking fo the perfect gift? And if I am already going for a gift card, howabout running the whole nine yards and giving calm, cold, curvaceous cash?

Here is my little thought, put it in your pipe and smoke it:

Sometimes it can be a drop – only a drop – presumptuous to choose a specific gift. It expresses that you know best what is good for someone else, when the simple truth is that they might not be entirely interested in your gift. So while cash means that you perhaps don’t give a darn, a specific gift means you are a little TOO involved.

That is why a gift card can be better, a middle path. It indicates that you know your friend is half-mad about fishing, and that you care and love them and want to help them to be happy. So you are helping them get fishing gear, yet at the same time you are not usurping the driver’s seat.

Think about it. If you think I’m nuts (many folks do) let me know below. I appreciate it!

Here are some other considerations, found elsewhere on this exceptionally fine site.

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