Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tweetups Are Cool, Despite the Name

Okay, so I put together my first tweetup last week. Half of you reading this post have no idea what that is, and I'm pretty sure a few of you rolled your eyes (I know I did the first time I heard the term). But here's the deal, despite the dorky-sounding name, tweetups are a great way to throw together an event with little effort or investment.

When we're talking about a tweetup, we're really talking about a casual event where people from Twitter meet in the real world. In this case, my first tweetup had a special guest: best-selling author, speaker and overall nice guy David Meerman Scott.

I'm a fan of David's books and I follow him on Twitter. When I found out he was going to be in town for training with a local company, I reached out to him through Twitter to see if he'd be interested in doing a Tweetup (joining some Atlanta folks for happy hour).

He quickly agreed to do the event, provided it was in Norcross, convenient to company where he was doing his training the next day. Now for those of you not in Atlanta, this is like having a New York City event in New Jersey - it's hard to pull much of a crowd. David said he was fine if only 10 people showed up. I thought that was awesome. Here's a guy that delivers keynotes for 600 people and he's willing to come grab a couple of beers with us. A lot of speakers I've met in the past would not be so generous with their time. It's gestures like this that help David create a World Wide Raves wherever he goes.

Despite the inconvenient location and a healthy dose of rain, more than 50 people came out to the event. The crowd was diverse, including local executives from Fortune 500 companies and well-known startups, reporters and bloggers, and of course, book-toting fans hoping to get an autograph. They all did (myself included).

I really looked at this event as an experiment. I wanted to see what all this tweetup hype was all about. The truth is, any of you on Twitter can put together a tweetup and get a bunch of people to show up and meet in the real world. And while I'm not going to go out and order a tweetup badge anytime soon, chances are good I'll host another tweetup again soon.

If you want to see some pics from the event:
Thanks to everyone that made the trip to Norcross for this event. And a special thanks to Three Dollar Cafe Norcross, those guys were awesome.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Atlanta Social Media Tweetup With David Meerman Scott

Those of you that know me know that I like to read (and suggest) my fair share of business books. As a marketing and PR guy living in a social media world, it's no surprise that two of my recent favorites are World Wide Rave and The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott.

These books should be your handbook for how you manage your social media, marketing and PR activities today. Now that I've got the plug out of the way, I'm happy to announce that David will be in town next Thursday and will be our guest for a special Atlanta social media tweetup (a.k.a. happy hour).

The event will be at the Norcross Three Dollar Cafe next Thursday (June 4th) from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Here's a link to the info: I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Protect Your Brands Online: Reserve Your User Names

Remember when everyone flocked to the Web and started grabbing up domain names left and right, in hopes of selling them for millions of dollars to the highest bidder? Have you tried to register a domain name lately and found it available? Probably not.

The same landgrab is going on in Twitter and across other less-established social media sites. If you have an existing brand (including your most important personal brand, your name) you should make an effort to reserve your user names across as many of the social media sites you plan to use.

Since there are more than 100 popular social media sites out there, it could take you weeks to go through this process. Rather than wast that time, use a social media user name checker (well, what else would you call it?) to search them all at once. It takes less than 30 seconds.

In addition to helping you figure out which user names are available and which ones you still need to register, the following tools are also great for discovering social media sites you didn't know existed:

KnowEm searches across more than 100 social media sites to see if your username is available or not. This one seems to be the fastest and most reliable, so I'd start here. This is also a great place to discover new social media channels.

namechk pretty much does the same thing, enabling you to check user name availability across 100+ social media sites. I've used this service as well, and it works good. It's also one of many great projects @prsarahevans is involved in (she's the one that came up with the MediaOnTwitter wiki and #journchat).

I'll also give an honorable mention to User Name Check, since the domain name makes me suspect they came up with this idea some time ago.

I think it's important to make a little side comment here. Just because there are 100+ social media sites out there (probably 10 times that), that doesn't mean you should set them up. It's good to have the user name reserved, in the event that particular social medium becomes a critical part of your online marketing strategy.

Social media is the technology you use to implement your strategy, not the strategy in and of itself.

It's also important to point out the search engine optimization factor here. If the social media site includes your user name in a unique URL, there's a good chance your profile on that service will index high for your brand or personal name. For example, when you search "Jeremy Porter" in Google, my Twitter and LinkedIn pages come up on the first page, partially because my name is in the URL.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gators, Chimps and Other Party Animals

I recently attended the Mashable Mixer Atlanta, brought to us in partnership with Regator. This was Mashable's first Georgia event, and what an event it was. If you're not familiar with Mashable, it's the largest blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and social media news. Hands down, Mashable has the best, freshest content in these areas.

As far as the event goes, it was a who's who of Atlanta startups, entrepreneurs and social media-types. In addition to Regator, the event featured Gold Sponsors a small orange, Chirbit, krumlr, MailChimp, Paste Magazine. Atlanta startups Band Metrics, Feedscrub, Jungle Disk, TechDrawl and Twitpay also supported the event as Local Sponsors.

I remember when I first started working in the Atlanta startup scene, somewhere around 1998. Back then, there were events (okay, really they were just big parties) almost every night of the week. It was common to shuttle from event to event on any given night. The startup community was vibrant back then, and everyone was out there networking with each other, launching new ventures and finding ways to work together.

The Mashable Mixer Atlanta was the first event I've seen in a long time that brought me back to those days. There were tons of folks from the next generation of Atlanta startups, plenty of private equity folks, a few journalists and many guests from out of town. And I don't remember talking to a single salesperson the whole night, but maybe that's just me.

I'm pretty sure 90% of the people who use Twitter in Atlanta were at this event. Though the number of people who weren't able to get tickets probably shoots a hole in my theory. The event sold out twice; and there was a line around the building when I got there.

I have to give props to Mashable for bringing their energy to town, to Regator for leading the charge on this great event, and to all the sponsors that helped make this possible. I hope this is the beginning of more great events to come this summer. I got to connect with a lot of old friends, and left with a lot of new ones. It was nice to meet a lot of people behind the Twitter avatars I see in my stream each day.

The party continued well into the night, with many folks joining the festivities at the official after party at Brewhouse. It looks like I was spared from those late-night pictures, thankfully.

Some other resources for those of you that attended the event or weren't able to make it:
Oh, and the animal reference in the headline? MailChimp's Frederick von Chimpenheimer IV (a chimp), Regator's Reg (an alligator) and Jungle Disk's... um, I guess a pink gorilla, were in attendance at the event. Here's a pic of the primates with MailChimp's Chief Twitter Officer Amanda Lauter.

And a final word on Paste Magazine. Like many print media these days, Paste needs your help to keep things rolling. They're offering an awesome selection of music for those that donate to the cause through their website as part of their Campaign to Save Paste. It's a great magazine. If you like music, check it out.

Twitpay Launches Retweet Commerce

Twitpay is one of the success stories to come out of Atlanta Startup Weekend 2. When it launched, it looked like a "PayPal for Twitter" service. Like anything associated with Twitter these days, the startup got a ton of great press for their launch.

Now we find out that over the past couple of months, its team has been working on a more comprehensive commercial offering of Twitter commerce tools called the Retweet Commerce Suite. Twitpay officially announced its first offering in the Suite last week, RT2Buy (short for "retweet to buy"), a service that enables content creators to publish and sell their digital media (ebooks, music, videos, photos, etc.) through Twitter.

While this could be a good B2C tool for bands and artists looking to sell their music or videos online, many of those users are still trying to figure out MySpace. Then again, RT2Buy is a lot easier to set up than a MySpace page or standalone website. It's really the online version of "Hey, I've Got Some CDs for Sale if You Want One", something struggling artists are used to.

Personally, I see a lot more potential on the B2B side of the equation for RT2Buy. There are a lot of experts out there selling all sorts of guides and ebooks that have a hard time pulling traffic to their sites. With RT2Buy, provided they have a following, they can publish and sell their work right through Twitter.

In addition to RT2Buy, Twitpay plans to launch two new services for the Retweet Commerce Suite very soon:
  • RT2Get - offering to help organizations run promotions and social media campaigns on Twitter. This will be very popular among marketing and PR agencies that are seeing a lot of interest for Twitter programs right now.
  • RT2Give - offering to help non-profits energize support and manage donations through Twitter. This is a great idea. While a lot of non-profits have found success on Twitter on their own so far, RT2Give helps the less advanced non-profits - big and small - to run fundraising efforts through Twitter.
While Twitpay will continue to offer its person-to-person tweet payments service, the Retweet Commerce Suite seems to have much more potential as a viable business model. We've only begun to see the ways people may choose to interact and transact through Twitter, and Twitpay is right in the middle of all the opportunity.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Does Twitter Really Understand How We Use Twitter?

Twitter made a small settings update yesterday that is not going over well in the twitterverse. Twitter has updated its settings to "better reflect how folks are using Twitter regarding replies." They believe that we only want to see replies between people we are following, and that replies to people we're not following should be hidden.

This is a Horrible Idea

Well, maybe not horrible, but didn't we learn anything from Facebook's recent fiasco? For me and many other Twitter users, replies are one of the best ways to discover new people you might want to follow. That's a big part of the secret sauce behind Twitter. It's a rapid fire word-of-mouth platform that helps us discover the interconnectedness between all of us. I have personally met dozens of new, interesting people as a result of catching a thread between somebody I follow, and somebody I don't follow.

I can't imagine that this move has anything to do with "usage patterns" or any real "user feedback" beyond the walls of Twitter's headquarters. Based on the response on Twitter (#fixreplies and #twitterfail are top trending topics as of this post - both focused on rolling back this change), it's obvious that a lot of us do not consider "one-sided fragments" to be "undesireable". If anything, this is one of the most exciting things about Twitter.

Now Twitter hasn't completely killed the ability to discover new people through your stream, you'll still be able to see references to others - which partially satisfies my needs. But what's really behind the change?

I have a feeling this change has something to do with the algorithm work Twitter is working on behind the scenes. If you're not following both people, you're not in the conversation, therefore having less relevancy than somebody that has both people in their network. But this is just a wild guess. Maybe Twitter really does believe this is a good thing for your Twitter stream.

At the end of the day, how much can I really complain about this? As Matt Asay points out in his latest post, "Twitter's @replies Change Suggests Viable Business Model", Twitter provides a valuable service for free. If we're not paying for the service, do we really have a right to complain about changes to the features. Of course, looking at it another way - and an equally valid open source argument - what would Twitter be worth if it didn't have all of us as users?

In the absence of any meaningful revenue, Twitter's biggest asset is its users. If we want to see one-sided conversations in our tweetstream, so be it. If some users don't like this, give us an on/off switch in the preferences, don't just pull the plug.

What do you think, does Twitter really understand how we use Twitter?

(Photo: walknboston)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Does Size Matter With URLs?

Bigger is usually better. A bigger house or paycheck come to mind. When it comes to sharing links across social media like Twitter, smaller is better these days. While URL shorteners have been around for years, they have exploded in popularity as millions of us have looked to cram as much information as possible into 140 characters. Mashable recently posted a list of more than 90+ URL shortening services that are out there today.

But does URL shrinkage harm your SEO efforts? That seems to be the hot topic around the use of URL shorteners these days.

But First, A Quick Primer In URL Shorteners

In case you're not familiar with URL shorteners, here's an example of how they work:

Let's say I wanted to send out a link to my recent blog post about free Twitter analytics tools. If I sent the link as-is, it would look like this:

If I used a URL shortener like TinyURL, one of the oldest URL shorteners and the category leader, it would look like this:

If I was posting the link to Twitter, I might want an even shorter URL. In this case, I could use a service like to make the link even shorter - like this:

Sure, it's still 17 of my precious 140 characters, but my original link was 80 characters. That's quite a difference. As you can see, URL shorteners make it easier to work with character limits on Twitter.

What You Should Know About URL Shorteners and SEO

There are many factors that determine the relevancy of your content on search engines. One major factor is the number of other sites that link to your content - commonly referred to as inbound links. Traffic is another major factor, as the more popular your content is (the more visitors you get on a page), the more important your content appears to search engines.

Some URL shortening services are better than others when it comes to SEO. I won't bore you with my analysis of the tools, since search engine marketing expert Danny Sullivan has already done this work for all of us. In a recent post about URL shortening services you should use for SEO, Sullivan reviews the most popular services with his SEO hat on. In his analysis, URL shortening services TinyURL,,,, and Snurl / Snipurl get the best grade.

I personally use for my URLs, because it's one of the shorter ones, it provides some great tracking of clicks, and it supports tweeting directly from the service - three features that are important to me. But why should you use these services over the others? Here is what I got from Sullivan's analysis (with my own two cents added):
  • 301 Redirects - without getting into the nitty-gritty of how redirects work, you want a 301 redirect for your shortened URL. 301s are considered permanent redirects, so search engines will give credit to your long URL. This is what you want. If your link is shared in a lot of different places, you want the actual page (the one with the long URL) to get the credit. This will improve the ranking of your long URL page.
  • Tracking - if you're going to share a link, you might as well use a service that will let you track the results. I love for this, since I can see the total number of people who have clicked on each link I've shared. For me, this is valuable information that helps me determine the types of information my Followers want me to share with them.
  • Stability - as I mentioned above, if a URL shortening service takes its servers down for maintenance, all your short links are temporarily disabled until the service is back up. You have no control over this, since you're relying on a third-party to serve up your redirects for those shortened links. It's best to use the popular services that have been around for a while, or else you risk losing all that link equity you've built up with your shortened URLs.
Sullivan also discusses client support in his post. This is less of an issue for me, since I use for my shortened URLs, regardless of the client I'm using. I do this to keep things consistent. However, clients like TweetDeck support many of the most popular URL shortening services, while Web-based clients like HootSuite have their own built-in services ( for example).

Another feature that's offered in many of the URL shorteners is a vanity domain option. For example, I've created a TinyURL link for my LinkedIn profile called This is really just an effort on my part to protect my personal brand, but it's a nice additional feature when trying to narrow down your choice of which service you would like to use.

If you want to know more about URL shorteners and/or their impact on SEO, you should check out some of these posts:
Which URL shortening service do you use? Do you have any additional suggestions for how to use URL shortening services in conjunction with your SEO strategies?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

An Analysis of Free Twitter Analytics Tools

As promised in my last post on Features I'd Like to See In a Twitter Analytics Platform, I promised I would provide an analysis of some of the free Twitter analytics tools on the market today.

I recently ran a test on my Jeremy Porter Twitter account using a variety of the Twitter tools that are out there. I've provided the results below to give you an idea of what you can expect from some of these early Twitter analytics offerings.


TweetStats is a very straightforward Twitter analytics tool that provides you with some useful graphs on things like Number of Tweets Per Month and your Tweet Density on specific days and times during the week.

TweetStats also provides you with graphs on Aggregate Daily Tweets or Hourly Tweets, your most popular Replies To, and which Twitter client you use most often. Overall, TweetStats is a great tool to get a quick glance at your tweet activity.


One of the latest additions to HubSpot's popular Grader family, TwitterGrader is an awesome tool for gauging how well you're performing in the Twitterverse. As you can see from the graph below, I scored a 98.4 out of 100 from TwitterGrader based on the tool's evaluation on my Twitter activity. Try TwitterGrader out and let me know what you score. Oh, did I mention how awesome these guys are? Their Grader tools are among the best ideas I've seen for generating inbound leads - which is what they do after all.


TweetRush was the least impressive of the tools I tried out for this evaluation. It really just provides you with a summary of your aggregate number of tweets and provides you with an average over time. In this case, I average about two tweets per day. Of course, I didn't tweet much early on, so the average is skewed a bit with this format. The results might be more impressive for you, particularly if you are a heavy tweeter.


Twinfluence didn't knock my socks off either. It really just provides you with an arbitrary ranking of your influence in the Twittersphere. In my case, I rank close to 12,000 - which is apparently in the 78th percentile of Twitter's 10 million plus users. Either way, it's a fun tool to play with as well. Again, I'd be interested in knowing what you score with this Twitter analysis tool.


I like this one. TwitterCounter shows a nice line graph of the increase in my Twitter Followers over time. This is a great at-a-glance way to see your trajectory in accumulating Twitter Followers, provided that's part of your Twitter Strategy. TwitterCounter provides historical snapshots of your Followers over time, and also supports the ability to compare different Twitter accounts for competitive analysis.


Twitalyzer wins hands down for its graphical representation of my Twitter activity, and its innovative approach to analyzing my Twitter behavior by five dimensions: Influence, Signal-to-Noise Ratio, Generosity, Velocity, and Clout. Twitalyzer's analysis is far more comprehensive and scientific than any of the other solutions, providing some impressive data for free. Twitalyzer probably has the greatest opportunity to capitalize on our desire to ego-check our Twitter prowess - or to analyze the results of your social media efforts on Twitter, without having to invest in heavy equipment. Twitalyzer is best positioned to be a gateway to premium offerings, providing users with a taste of things to come from more advanced Twitter analysis products.

As you can see, I score pretty low across most of Twitalyzer's dimensions. For more detailed information on how Twitalyzer works, visit the overview here (it's pretty impressive).


Did I miss one? Let me know. Feel free to share your advice on how Twitter users can monitor and track their social media success through Twitter. I'll be sure to let you know when I come across new tools to add to this list.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Features I'd Like to See In a Twitter Analytics Platform

In the months to come, I hope we'll get more advanced tools for measuring Twitter analytics and statistics in the marketplace. I'm optimistic that analytics will be a component of Twitter's eventual premium offerings - only because it appears they have Google Analytics installed on all user accounts. A best case scenario for me would be a tight integration with the Google Analytics API - something some smart people must be working on somewhere.

What types of analytics features would be useful for social media marketers? I would like to see the following:
  • Twitter Page Views: how many unique individuals visit my Twitter profile?
  • Source of Traffic: do people find me through Twitter search, through client-based searches, through #followfriday or #ff suggestions, from Twitter directories like Twellow or WeFollow, or do they follow me from another user's follower list? This information could be very helpful in refining my Twitter strategy.
  • Time of Day Activity: what time of day is best for my Tweets? When are users most responsive to my Tweets? When are the peak usage times for Twitterers in my target audiences?
  • Inbound Links: who is linking to my Twitter profile? You can accomplish this with Google Alerts or a Twitter alert service like TweetBeep or Twilert, but again, I'd like all of this to be incorporated into one solution.
  • RSS Subscribers: how many people are subscribed to my Twitter RSS feed? There may already be a way to track this, but I am not familiar with such an offering.
  • Geo-Tracking: what part of the world are my Twitter followers from? Show me a map of all my Twitter followers - or a map of where my traffic is coming from around the world.
  • Conversion: this should have been my first bullet. How many people decide to Follow Jeremy Porter after they hit my profile? Said another way, what is my Bounce Rate on Twitter (users that choose NOT to follow me after viewing my profile)?
  • Retention: how many unfollows do I get per day? What caused those unfollows? Tools like Qwitter could be helpful here, but I've found the service to be unreliable (I realize they're working to improve this). I'd like to go beyond alerts for unfollows, and dive deeper into trends in follower behavior. I'd also like to know what my retention rate is among my followers. Do most followers stick around, or do they bail after a couple of days? How many followers would I have if I improved my retention? You can see how this information could be vital to the success of your Twitter strategy.
  • A/B Testing: do I attract more followers with Tweets about general marketing topics or social media? Does a change in my bio drive more adoption? If I change my profile image, does it cause more abandons or more follows? This would be a powerful tool to have on Twitter.
While I'm sure some premium offerings on the market do some of these things already, I'm confident we'll see many of these features launched in new Twitter products in the months to come. For now, there are a variety of free tools on the market for evaluating analytics and statistics from your Twitter activity - or another user's activity, if you're doing competitive Twitter analysis.

In my next post, I'll do an analysis of some of the current free Twitter analytics tools on the market, to give you an idea of what you can expect. For now, please share your thoughts on features you'd like to see in Twitter analytics platforms.

(Image credit: jmilles)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Ensembli As a Supplement to Google Alerts

We all struggle with information overload. As somebody who tries to keep up with a hundred or so blogs and a few dozen email newsletters, I'll admit I'm addicted to information. Of course, most of the information is redundant - or worse, not relevant to the information I need to do my work.

I'm always on the lookout for new tools to help me sift through information faster. I recently came across ensembli, a new search tool that sifts through tons of information sources - similar to how Google Alerts works - to deliver hand-picked information based on search terms.

I've been trying ensembli out for a couple of weeks now (they launched at the recent Demo event) and have been very impressed. Ensembli seems to find a lot of information I don't need - like alerts - but it's a learning system. Based on the actions I take with the items it delivers, the system adapts to find more relevant information.

I've matched some of my ensembli searches to those I have set up in Google Alerts, and have found the ensembli finds stuff Google doesn't. If you regularly monitor the Web for articles and posts, you may want to take ensembli for a spin.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Twitter As The Real-Time Search Engine

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the big picture for Google. While talks about a formal business model are a little more than speculation at this time, and rumors of acquisition talks are in the air, one can't help but wonder about the true potential for monetizing the Twitter phenomenon.

As somebody who has spent the past couple of years learning the ins and outs of search engine marketing, specifically in the areas of local and mobile search, I'm most interested in the application of Twitter as a real-time, location-aware search engine.

Take for example a local sushi restaurant MF Sushibar that I consult with from time to time. The restaurant enjoys solid local search engine rankings, with thousands of unique visitors coming to their site each month. These are customers who are specifically looking for a place to have sushi in Atlanta.

Search results for any combination of descriptive and geographic terms (i.e. "sushi" and "atlanta") will most likely yield pages from the company website, along with directory and map listings featuring the company's info. You can troll through the reviews to make a decision whether or not you want to make a reservation at MF, or you can ask your friends for suggestions. This is the result of local search engine optimization, the services we provide at Radius Online.

Twitter is an excellent place to ask your friends for suggestions, particularly if your friends are in the market you're looking for a recommendation in. Social networks also fall into this category for peer suggestions. Local directories such as Yelp!, Kudzu, OpenTable, or CitySearch can also provide you with suggestions, though most people are skeptical of reviews on these sites.

Now consider the potential for Twitter. Somebody from out of town is driving down Peachtree Street when they get a craving for sushi. They tweet "hey Atlanta peeps, what's a good sushi restaurant?" Followers chime in with suggestions. What if the restaurant were monitoring tweets for such keyword combinations as "atlanta" and "sushi"? They could instantly reply with the day's specials or a unique mobile coupon for the customer.

Now what if this could be automated? Anytime a customer tweets about "Atlanta" and "Sushi", they get an automated DM message with a special offer for today only. This is the power of real-time search, along with a unique application for local and mobile search. This could be where Twitter is going. Imagine the power you have when you can engage the customer at the exact moment they are considering a purchase.

As a separate example, I have another friend who rescues data off of fried hard drives. He monitors tweets for terms like "my hard drive just crashed" or "I can't get any files of my computer." Over the past few months, he's found dozens of new data recovery clients by doing this. Again, what if this could be automated? Rather than having to monitor thousands of tweets 24/7, you could automatically position your offers in front of users based on their thoughts and comments - what their need is right now.

This isn't unchartered territory, it's really just the latest channel where search engine marketing strategies can be applied. It's also only one of many potential uses for Twitter in its current form.

How are you monitoring tweets to find new opportunities? If you're not listening for potential opportunities, you could be missing out.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Media's Love Affair With Twitter

I signed up for my Twitter account in May 2007, about a year after a lot of my techie friends did. I really didn't start using Twitter until last fall, and now it seems the whole world is using Twitter.

One thing that has really surprised me about the Twitter phenomenon is how quickly the media has embraced it. It's hard to read any magazine or watch a television program without a plug for Twitter. On-air broadcasters invite viewers to interact with them through Twitter, and often respond to viewer tweets while they're on the air. Think about how much free advertising and publicity (and subsequent word-of-mouth) Twitter is generating. Twitter is almost as popular as the Snuggie.

Just look at the Top 20 Twitterers on Twitterholic and you'll see what I mean. CNN, The New York Times, NPR, and Mashable all make the cut. Depending on your definition of media, you could easily add another 15 media Twitters when looking at the top 100.

I don't remember the media being so enamored with Facebook or MySpace - many media outlets were late to the party for those (and many had to pay-to-play when they got there). It seems that they don't want to miss the boat this time around. Twitter may not have a business model yet (that we know about), but they certainly have captured the attention of mainstream media (not to mention celebrities and other public figures).

So why does the media love Twitter so much? Here are a couple of possibilities:
  • It takes less than five minutes to set up the account - even with some brand-friendly customization.
  • It doesn't cost them a penny - Twitter is free, making it one of the most cost-effective channels for reaching audiences.
  • Accurate audience numbers - while Twitter is still small compared to other online channels, everyone knows how many followers you have. Many media outlets don't know for sure how large their online audience is (read this article in Technology Review for more on this).
  • Twitter has a huge "cool factor" for brands - instantly demonstrating that media participants "get it" and are in-tune to the Internet-savvy audiences that consume their content.
  • Traditional media is hurting - they need to embrace new channels or risk becoming extinct. With newspapers dying everyday, media needs to find new outlets to reach consumers.
  • Twitter drives traffic - with little effort, a media outlet can post a link to a new story and drive up to thousands of unique visitors to its site within minutes (not to mention the pass along retweet factor).
  • Instant feedback loop - journalists know instantly whether or not audiences are interested in their content, based on retweets, click-thru (using trackable URL shortening services and Web analytics), and general responses from readers.
  • Instant trend data (free research) - The media can keep tabs on current trends and topics in real-time, responding even faster to audience demand for coverage. They can also identify new expert sources and topics with relative ease, using simple searches and following the conversations of their followers.
  • The President used it - in part - to get elected. There is huge support from politicians and political journalists on Twitter. It's proven to work as a communication channel for them, why not for media?
  • The competition is using it. Regardless of whether or not Twitter shakes out to be a fad, or they find a business model that forces organizations to pay-to-play, media can't risk their competition having more Twittershare. They need to be there to keep up with the Jones.
These are just a few possibilities for what is behind the massive success Twitter has found so far among media users. It's obvious that Twitter is here to stay for now, as constant media mentions for Twitter drive new users in droves to this channel. It will be interesting to see how journalists continue to use this medium in the months to come.

Why do you think the media loves Twitter so much?

Friday, March 13, 2009

10 Tips for Using LinkedIn

A lot of people ask me about the social networks I use for B2B marketing and public relations. In truth, I only use one for this purpose - and that's LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the B2B social network. I think I joined LinkedIn when it first came around. At the time, I had a Friendster account too, and was trying to decide which one to use. I picked LinkedIn. Good choice.

When I started using LinkedIn, less than 10 percent of my network was in there, but I still found the service to be valuable. Fast forward to 2009, and just about everyone is using LinkedIn in the business world (even if they've just set up an account after giving in to all the peer pressure).

I have made the assumption in the past that everyone knows how to use LinkedIn. Then I'll mention a tip to a tech-savvy friend, and they had no idea they could do that. So here's my stab at 10 Tips for Using LinkedIn, from my own experiences:

1. The SEO Factor - search for "Jeremy Porter" in a search engine, and there's a good chance my LinkedIn profile will come up. Now it might seem like a vanity thing to do SEO on your name, but how do you think people find you? They search for you on the Web. Why not make it easy? LinkedIn pages perform great in search engines, but there are a couple of things you can do to boost your value. For starters, create your own vanity URL through LinkedIn. This is how I got the URL. When you can include a search term in the URL, it makes the page more relevant in searches. Second, link to your LinkedIn profile whenever you can. I've done this on job search sites, Twitter, and other pages to increase the number of inbound links pointing to Jeremy Porter's profile. For example, this blog post links to my profile.

2. Answer Some Questions - while a lot of the LinkedIn Answers can be a little spammy (like Yahoo Answers, if you're familiar with that). There are usually a couple of good questions out there that you can answer, depending on your expertise. When you answer questions, you share your expertise with others - expanding your reach and positioning yourself as an expert. If your answer is voted as one of the "Best Answers" for the question, you'll show up in all kinds of searches in LinkedIn.

3. Join a Group (And Join the Conversation) - there's now a group for everything on LinkedIn. You may want to seek out some groups related to your interests to find others with similar interests. This has been a good use of my time, as I've met countless people in the Atlanta community through groups. Don't just join any group you see though - pick ones that you're most interested in, you'll get more value out of your effort. If you join too many groups, you might turn people off. Of course, you can opt to only display certain groups you belong to on your profile, reserving other memberships for those in that group. I do this with several more obscure groups I belong to.

4. Complete Your Profile -
I'm always surprised by how many people don't complete their profile all the way. This is the single most important thing you can do on LinkedIn. It's the basis for all the connection recommendations, and it's the key to showing up in searches. It serves as your virtual bio or resume, and gives people instant access to your credentials.

5. Add a Picture -
people want to put a face to your name. Make it easy for them by uploading a photo. Pictures are worth a thousand words in LinkedIn, as they are everywhere else.

6. What Are You Reading? -
LinkedIn Applications launched in the past year. My favorite new application is the Amazon widget, which lets you share what you're reading with others. I've received tons of feedback from people that share the same reading interests as I do. In a way, it's much like a business book club for me. It's a great way to keep up with what others are reading too.

7. Find Alumni & Former Co-Workers -
this has been one of the most valuable uses of LinkedIn for me. I think I've connected with most of the people I went to school with - and I've greatly expanded my personal network by getting to know a lot of the alumni out there. You'll also be surprised by where people you used to work with work now. LinkedIn automates this process for you, suggesting people you might know, based on your profile. Take advantage of the suggestions and get to know more people. That's what LinkedIn is all about.

8. What Are You Doing? - some people think status updates are a waste of time, but I've connected with dozens of people based off updating my status. I've said things like "heading to Connecticut to see my family," and had friends in my network say "I didn't know you were from Connecticut, so am I." There are a lot of common ties that bind us. LinkedIn makes it easy to discover this at a much faster rate. The status update is a good tool for this.

9. Who Do Your Friends Know? - some people choose to hide their friend lists from others, but most are open about their Connections on LinkedIn. I've spent some time reviewing the friends my friends have in the past, and have connected with many people I wouldn't have thought of off the top of my head.

10. What's My Connection? -
there have been countless times when I've tried to get in touch with a hard-to-reach contact. Maybe it's a high-profile journalist or a C-level executive at a big company. LinkedIn has been a great tool for finding a way in the door. Simply search for the company name (or the person) and you'll see your degrees of separation to those people. It's much easier to get your foot in the door from a mutual connection than cold calling the secretary. Now keep in mind, you can't abuse this privilege - you need to have a good reason to contact the person, and you need to have a good relationship with the person you're asking for an intro from.

10.5. Provide Recommendations (And Get Them) - everyone has "References Available Upon Request", but LinkedIn lets you put them front and center. Have you worked with somebody that you really liked? Why not provide an endorsement for them through LinkedIn. This type of good karma can often come back to pay dividends for you. Just be sincere and honest in your praise of others - it's a reflection of your reputation and credibility as well.

11. Ask for Help - One more tip for you. If you need help - an answer to a question, quick feedback on a topic, or a suggestion for a new hire, use LinkedIn. Either create a question, a poll or put the question in your status (such as "looking for a graphic designer to help us design a new website"). You'll be surprised how quickly your network or the community-at-large will come to your aid.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Posting for the Sake of Posting

See, I knew this would happen. I finally bite the bullet on the blogging thing, then I don't do a post for over a month. Truth is, I've spread myself a little thin lately. Since most of the people that stumble across this blog are looking for me, I figured it's only fair to let you know what I've been up to.

The Day Job
Since last summer, I've been working for a long-time friend and colleague at Radius Online. Radius provides an all-in-one website and local search engine optimization solution for small businesses. For a low monthly fee, small businesses get a domain, hosting, professional website, content management and ongoing local search engine marketing help. For example, if you're an auto repair business in Decatur, Georgia, we make sure you show up in search terms for local auto repair. While there is a lot of competition from paid services like Yodle, Yelp!, ReachLocal and a lot of Pay-Per-Lead services out there, we're holding our own, delivering some great organic results for clients across the U.S. By the time you read this, we'll have more than 1,500 customers on our program.

I'm managing business development for Radius, integrating our solution with partners, resellers and affiliates serving the small business sector - which is a tall order. While the economy stinks all around, we believe this is the one area small businesses can safely invest to grow their businesses. We've actually seen demand increase for our services so far this year, and several big partners are evaluating our solution as part of their offerings.

The Startup
As some of you know, I've wanted to start a software company for a while. I think there are a lot of unmet needs for new solutions in the PR sector. For the past year or so, I've been working on developing a new product for journalists and PR professionals. While we're still keeping things under wraps, you can start to follow what we're up to on Twitter and the blog. Our first product will be available by mid-summer, and it looks like we'll have more than enough users lined up to take things for a test drive. It's an exciting time to be developing a solution for journalists, bloggers and PR professionals, since all of these segments are going through some big changes. I've been fortunate to pull a great team together, and I hope to be sharing much more of our progress with you soon.

My Other Startups
I now have three wonderful children four and under. Ethan just turned four, Ella is 17 months, and Alexa is five months. All the kids are doing well, but three little ones can be more than the Gabe and I can handle at sometimes. Seriously though, kids are the best startups of all, right? If you're not hanging out with me on Facebook, consider adding me as your friend. I've tried to keep the photos current, but they sure do grow up fast.

Lacrosse Coach
I remain dedicated to growing lacrosse in the Metro Atlanta area. For the second year now, I'm volunteering with the Henry County YMCA to help them build a sustainable youth lacrosse program. We've recently signed up to participate in the Georgia Youth Lacrosse Association and have eight games on the schedule for this spring. Somehow I manage to make it to a couple of practices and a game each week. Thankfully a lot of other people have stepped up to help the program this year, and it's exciting to see the growth and interest in lacrosse in our area. We now have more than 60 boys and 10 girls signed up in the program. I wouldn't be surprised to see this number double again by next season. If you have an interest in lacrosse, and you live anywhere near Henry County, let me know.

PR & Marketing Consulting
I continue to consult with several high-tech startups in the Atlanta area, around the areas of PR, marketing communications and social media. I like variety and startups, so it's a good opportunity for me to spice things up a bit (and bring in a little extra scratch for those hungry mouths at home). If you want to talk shop, or you need help on marketing or PR for your startup, please consider contacting me through LinkedIn.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, I really don't have that much going on. I'm sure you're all as busy as I am. But on the off chance that you were hoping for more frequent updates to Jeremy Porter's blog, I can't make any promises. I have a bunch of post ideas bouncing around in my head. If there's anything around my areas of interest or expertise that you'd like me to blog about, please make a suggestion in the Skribit box on this blog. I hope you're all doing well. Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

No Mom, I Won't Friend You

It seems like everyone is on Facebook now. It's only a matter of time before my mom sends me a friend request. I'm going on record now to say I'm not going to accept it. I don't want my mom hanging out where all my friends are, especially when I feel like sailor-talking... or complaining about her (sorry mom).

Early on, I was willing to 'friend' anybody on Facebook - pretty much because I never used it. I didn't really care who was in there (which is my current approach to using Plaxo). Now that I'm actually using Facebook to keep in touch with my friends from high school, college and today, I'm starting to realize that a lot of my "friends" aren't really friends.

So what to do now? I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings by de-friending them. I've been de-friended a bunch (okay, only one time I can think of) and it stings a bit. But really, are you just trying to follow, friend or link to as many people as possible, or are you building quality relationships?

Here's my new plan for social networking...

Facebook - if you can answer "yes" to any of the following questions, I won't mind giving you a "poke" from time to time on Facebook:
  • Do you know the words to "Here's to the Breezes?"
  • Did you grow up in "The Home of the Red Onion?"
  • Have you ever heard me sing (try to sing) three sheets to the wind with a future American Idol finalist?
  • Did you ever date me, but don't hate me?
  • Am I married to you, or did you go to my wedding?
  • Do you know what happened that we're leaving in Vegas? Me neither.
  • Did you ever pot plants with me?
  • Do you know the names of any of my kids?
  • Do you know a story about me (or have a picture of me) that is your insurance against me telling that story about your (or showing that picture of you)?
  • Do you know whether or not I have a tattoo?
  • Or... are we friends?
Did you answer "yes" to any of these questions? If so, we're probably already connected through Facebook. Now it's not a requirement, but it's a good starting point - if we're not really friends, we shouldn't pretend we are.

LinkedIn - now LinkedIn is a different story. I think professional relationships at all levels are important, and that we're all interconnected in this smaller-than-it-seems world we work (and live in). So if we've ever met through work, have worked together in the past, or have exchanged business cards... and, we'd both like to talk again sometime, let's be connected through LinkedIn. I really know everyone of my LinkedIn contacts - and I don't get people who use other networks to brag about how many contacts they have. It's one thing to collect business cards, it's another to build meaningful relationships.

While I'm at it, here are some examples of LinkedIn requests I'm not going to accept (pulled from real examples):
  • "Can you forward my request to the CEO of this huge tech company? I know he's three degrees away from you, and you probably don't know him, but I'm sure he'd like to meet me." No.
  • "You're in the same group as me and we're from the same city. We should be contacts. Let's meet up sometime too. Oh, my name is..." No.
  • "I'm a networker, you're a networker, wouldn't you like to network together?" No.
  • "I know my LinkedIn says 500+, but I have over 5,000 contacts in TopLinked. Want to be 5,001? You should go over there too, so you can get credit for the contacts you have above 500." No.
Okay, so maybe I'm venting a bit here, but this is just lazy. LinkedIn is an incredible tool. I was an early adopter and have been blown away by the constant improvements. It's value - for me - is directly tied to the quality of my relationships through the system.

Plaxo, MySpace, Bebo, Friendster, etc. - I use Facebook for personal and LinkedIn for work, it's that simple. I'm on the other ones - including the social network my college created - but it's really just to refer people to the ones I use. Plaxo is great for reminding me of people's birthdays, or for inviting people to be my friend when I don't want it too, but it doesn't do anything beyond Facebook and LinkedIn for me.

Twitter - I follow anybody I find interesting. I hope the people following me find me interesting. I don't follow people just because they follow me, nor do I think that should be a requirement. I love Twitter, and I don't mind engaging in the conversation with anyone there. It's a fantastic tool for interaction - and I'm completely open to being contacted through there. Want to get to know each other first? Twitter is great for that. I'd love to have you follow me on Twitter.

Final thought: I'm not inferring that I'm sooo important that I need to segment my social networks. That's hardly the case. I'm just saying that I think that you sometimes need to have different strategies (and messages) for your audiences. My status updates in Twitter about a cool new Web application I discovered will be interesting to my followers there, but my friends in Facebook (true story) are going to wonder what the hell a "UI" is. Likewise, everyone doesn't want to hear about my trip to the zoo or see pictures of my kids playing in leaves.

Do you have any hard and fast rules for how you manage your various social networks? Are you completely open and transparent to all, or do you limit access to your personal life in networks like Facebook?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Favorite iPhone Apps

I'll admit, I was pretty skeptical about the iPhone when it came out. I can remember saying to myself, "There's no way it can do all that." Of course, this stems from my past disappointment - having been an early adopter of several smartphones (eh hem, Treo). This time around, I wasn't going to fall for it. Which actually worked out fine, since I didn't make a move until the iPhone 3G came out. While it was hard letting go of my Blackberry, I couldn't be happier with my decision.

The thing I like most about the iPhone is all the apps and its seamless integration with the App Store. Think about it - you decide you need a piece of software on your phone, you search for it through the App Store, download it and use it, no matter where you are. That's delivering on the promise of mobile computing.

So what are my favorite apps? In no particular order, I'm a fan of the following apps:
  • Shazam - the coolest app ever created. Ever hear a song and wonder who sings it? Shazam answers that questions using some crazy recognition technology beyond my comphrehension. I've been in the middle of a noisy bar, held up my phone with Shazam, and had it tell me what song was playing in the background. And talk about instant gratification, I can download it from iTunes (or Amazon) right then and there.
  • ToDo - the ToDo app is great as a standalone task manager, but it's integration with Toodledo made me decide to buy this one (at the time, Toodledo didn't have an iPhone app - now they do). I still like ToDo's UI better though. ToDo syncs flawlessly with Toodledo and I like using the two together. I've added ToDo to my menubar, so I've got it on each screen. I've also used Jott (voice recognition service) and the Toodledo integration point so I can add tasks to my to-do list using my voice - this comes in very handy during my long commute.
  • Facebook - FB's mobile sidekick for the iPhone is pretty decent. If you have a lot of friends, it does tend to load slowly, but overall it does what I expect it to do - let me interact with my friends while I'm out and about. Best feature of the iPhone Facebook app? Mobile upload of photos. Before the iPhone, I updated my Facebook page far less often. Of course, you can instant message through the iPhone app - which is a cool feature - I just haven't used that much.
  • LinkedIn - I'm a LinkedIn junkie. I use this business social network to keep up with a lot of my professional contacts. I really only use LinkedIn to search for bios before meetings or to update my status. If they incorporate their full feature set (messaging or answers for example) into a future edition, this would be a killer mobile app. I'll cut LinkedIn some slack, since they've been really aggressive about adding features to their core app over the past eight months.
  • Twitteriffic - I currently use the free version, but am thinking about upgrading (since I don't think you can RT with the free). I use Twitteriffic as my primary personal mobile Twitter client. It serves the purpose, but I know there are other options out there that folks like more.
  • TwitterFon - speaking of Twitter clients, I use TwitterFon for my work tweets (easier than logging in and out of one client). Since I've been using TwitterFon, I've liked the interface better - I also like the search feature, which isn't included for free in other clients.
  • Pandora - I stream Pandora in my car via the iPhone and it works great. If you like the Web version of Pandora, you'll love the iPhone app. I hear they're going to roll out ads to the iPhone app next, so that could knock it down a few points as my favorite - but it's still a great app. If you're not familar with Pandora, you can create channels based on an artist you like - and the software figures out other songs you may like based on qualities found in the music - this is referred to as the Music Genome Project.
  • Tick - Tick is the mobile sidekick to TickSpot, one of my favorite Web-based time management apps (and I've evaluated at least 50 of them over the course of the past couple of years). The design is plain and simple and easy to use - the pricing is very reasonable as well (I'm referring to the Web app - the mobile app is free). I use TickSpot to track time for my freelance work.
  • Yammer - I've just started using Yammer to collaborate with my startup team for a side project. It's a great place for all those random thoughts you want to share with co-workers - think of Twitter, but limited to people in your company (must have @yourcompanydomain email to participate). While I'm not sure if I'll keep using Yammer, the mobile app increases the chances - since it's easy for me to review what everyone is working on and update my status on-the-go.
  • Stanza - I read a lot. I always cart around a book or two in my car, so I can take advantage of downtime. As a gadget guy, I've been eyeing the Kindle for a while, but it's just not that sexy of a device in my opinion (not to mention the price $$$). While I think Amazon should just give them away, that's another issue for another time. I recently stumbled across Stanza, which basically gives you some Kindle-like functionality on the iPhone. You can download books for free through several sources, such as Project Gutenberg - or you can buy books through several sellers. I'm currently reading The Prince on the iPhone and it's a very cool little app.
  • Clock - the standard clock application on the iPhone deserves to be on this list for me. I uses it as my alarm clock, my reminder, my timer, and stopwatch. It's a simple little app, but a great value-add. Waking up to the Xylophone is much more pleasant than the air raid siren my old alarm clock sounded like.
  • LIVESTRONG - my favorite app so far this year, the LIVESTRONG app syncs up with The Daily Plate from It's a huge collaborative database of calorie information and exercises for tracking your health and fitness. This app is the single reason I've lasted in to February on my new year's resolution.
Apps I Wish I Had On My iPhone Right Now
  • Hulu - I wish I could watch Hulu on the iPhone right now. The good news is Adobe and Apple seem to be talking about supporting Flash, so maybe I'll get my wish later this year.
  • Slingbox - I'm also waiting for Slingbox to launch their iPhone version. When they do, I'll buy a Slingbox, it's that simple. For now, I'll have to live with watching snippets through the YouTube app.
  • Audible - I don't need this app, but it would be cool to have over-the-air downloading of my Audible library to the iPhone (so I don't have to manually sync). I'm sure they're working on this, so it's only a matter of time.
What Are Your Favorites iPhone Apps? I realize my list isn't that exciting. I didn't name a single game (300 Bowl, Flick Fishing, Penguin) or pointless apps (iFart Mobile, Hold On!), so take a minute and share some of your favorites in the comments.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Glad to Be Part of the Growth of Lacrosse in the Atlanta Area

For almost a year now, I've had the pleasure of volunteering for the Henry County Family YMCA, helping them establish a youth lacrosse program for boys ranging in age from 10-15. Last season, we had about 20 kids total show up - barely enough to field one team, let alone a team in each age group.

This year, after two pre-season clinics, we've seen more than 60 kids show interest and are planning to have a team in each age group - and we may have enough girls for a team as well. It looks like we'll have 4 home games and 4 away games (we only had two scrimmages last season), so all the returning and new players are very excited.

I really buy into the Y's mission of "Building Strong Kids. Building Strong Families. Building Strong Communities.", and see the positive effect organized team sports have on kids through the Y. Of course, volunteering really just gives me an excuse to run around the field and pretend I'm still 21 each week.

It would be an understatement to say I'm excited to see lacross growing in metro Atlanta, especially on the southside of town. Of course, I'm not surprised, since this is a national trend that is even more pronounced in Georgia.

Lacrosse is now the fastest-growing sport at the high school level in Georgia. In 1999, there were seven boys and six girls teams. There are now almost 100 high school teams (46 boys and 48 girls) in the State (Source: AJC).

Nationwide, lacrosse is growing at every level across the country. According to a recent BusinessWeek article, about 480,000 people played lacrosse last year, nearly twice as many as in 2001." There are currently more than 400 college teams and more than 1,200 high school teams in the U.S.

Want to learn more about lacrosse? Check out the web resources I provided below. Even better, do you live in the metro Atlanta area - somewhere on 75S - and want more information on the youth lacrosse programs offered by the Henry County YMCA? If so, visit their site here or comment on this post.

Have you seen exposive growth for lacrosse in your part of the country?

Friday, January 30, 2009

What's Your Conversion Rate?

I had a great brainstorm this morning with Todd Miechiels, a B2B marketing expert that specializes in lead conversion for small to medium-sized businesses. We were talking a lot about how surprising it is that many marketers still place so little emphasis on conversion. It seems like the focus remains on lead generation - generating as many qualified leads as possible - but less on conversion of those leads.

What's an Acceptable Conversion Rate? What is ROI to You?
Ask any marketer what an acceptable conversion ratio is for any strategy they're using in their marketing mix, and chances are good they know. Often, they consider anything that converts above the industry average to be a success. Others look more at ROI, often equating the return as anything above and beyond the cost of the campaign. If a campaign generates more than a dollar per dollar invested, it's considered a success. There was a return. In my opinion, ROI should be a specific and measureable goal - the desired yield from your investment. If you spend $1, how much will you generate in return. If it's not more than $10, I'd question the value of the program.

It's still surprising that so many marketers don't have an adequate system in place to track conversion - beyond their search engine marketing programs, where it's much easier to nail this down. Of course there are many issues surrounding conversion - first, what's your definition of conversion?

Rather than jumping on the latest marketing trend - like video, social networking or micro-blogging - it's better to take a step back and figure out which tactics will generate the highest-possible conversion rate for your industry, target audience and budget. The information is out there, often only a couple of clicks away.

As you're working through your marketing budget, or looking for areas to cut as you've got less money to work with, it might be a good time to ask yourself "What's my conversion rate?" on this program. Is it enough to justify spending money on it?

Marketing Automation Systems Can Help You Manage and Optimize Your Marketing Investments for Greater ROI
If there's one area you should invest in this year - assuming you haven't already - it's in the area of marketing automation. There are some great new platforms out there for managing the entire marketing progress, each of which delivers its own set of positives for tracking conversion and ROI. The more efficient you can make your marketing machine, and the better data you can get from your systems, the better position you'll be in to predict outcomes and adjust budgets accordingly. One good Atlanta-based company in this area is Pardot, which I currently use for some of the projects I'm working on. I'll talk more about these types of solutions in an upcoming post.

A quick note on email. If your current email marketing platform doesn't provide you with insightful conversion information, you might want to check out MailChimp (another Atlanta company). Not only does MailChimp provide you with valuable ROI calculators, but the provide you with comparison conversion averages and other useful data for your industry category. MailChimp also integrates seamlessly with Google Analytics, so you can more easily close the loop on conversion through your email campaigns - beyond opens and clicks.

Questions to Consider
As far as evaluating your conversion efforts goes, consider asking yourself these questions to help you refine your focus:
  • Do you really know the return you're currently generating from each marketing program you spend money on? Can you loosely draw a line from investmetn to revenue realized?
  • Are you setting your conversion goals based on industry averages (such as 5% being a good conversion ratio for direct mail), or are you striving for the best possible (above average) conversions?
  • Is there anything you could do differently to improve your conversion ratio across any of the programs? If not, are the results enough to justify continued investment?
  • If you use outsourced resources or agencies, are they providing you with regular assessments of the ROI they're generating for you? Do you know what their conversion ratios are? Do you agree with those assessments, or are you taking their word as experts?
  • If you were only to spend your money on one marketing program, which is most valuable to your organization? Chances are, this is the area that converts at the highest percentage.
  • Is there a different new marketing initiative you could invest in that would perform better than what you're doing today? For example, when was the last time you updated content on your website? Do you have a call to action or other way for visitors to engage you on every page? Are you using landing pages? So on, and so on.
The whole point with this post is to challenge you - particularly in leaner times - to look at all your investments across sales and marketing to determine areas where you can improve performance. It's sometimes easier than you might think to increase your results, even when demand is on the decline.

In truth, I'm not the expert in online lead generation and conversion, that's more Todd's area. You should check out his website and blog for more on this topic. Another good resource would be Brian Carroll's B2B Lead Generation blog (he's probably considered the top industry expert on this subject - not to take anything away from Todd).

What Do You Think?
So what do you think? What investments generate the best conversion ratios for your business? What's the best source of qualified leads for you? Are you using marketing automation systems already? If so, how have they helped you refine your processes and improve conversion? Let me know.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Taking My Own Advice On Blogging

I meet with people all the time to talk about marketing. They always ask me what the most effective marketing tactics are and what they should be doing to build their brands. I always recommend social media and blogging, telling people they should blog on a regular basis - as in posting daily - to attract a loyal and devoted following.

Of course, I'm a total fraud... at least when it comes to blogging. I don't have a blog. It's really a shame, since I think I occasionally have a good idea to share and have been a copywriter for years, helping others write articles and blog posts. It's not that I can't do it, or don't want to do it, but rather I just don't do it. Some might call it laziness or procrastination - I call it a failure to put one foot in front of the other.

So I'm going to get this monkey off my back and start blogging now.