Wednesday, October 31, 2007

How to Get 90% of the People You Email to Click Through to Your Product

Chris Anderson is fed up with being marketed to, as is David Meerman Scott.

I've been marketing for the last month now and getting something like a 90% clickthrough rate to my website. How? Great minds think alike: by doing the exact same things that David lists on his site:

1. Find out about your target.
2A. Be interesting to them and comment on their work.
2B. Or write something interesting to them that's not about your work.

In my case, I've been all 2A. I'm contacting people in my field and simply leaving comments on their posts, their work, or their forums with a linkback to my new company's site. My comments are anything from "nice post" to asking a specific question about what they've done.

The site is relevant to the people I'm contacting, and around 90% of the time they click on the link to find out who I am or what it is. Simple as that. Don't forget that the link's title is also something that might interest them, and I'm not even trying to sell it; they just want to know. Plenty of them do more than just click. They ask me for more information or want to sign up to my newsletter or beta test my product.

This is damn slow; only a dozen or so people reached per day. But it doesn't matter. Because if just a few of these people become my customers, I expect them to use the product and start spreading the word. Why?

That's really rule 0 of the above process: have something great to sell.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Review: The Corporate Blogging Book by Debbie Weil

Debbie Weil is a corporate blogging expert, online marketing consultant and speaker. She consults with large companies, CEOs and senior executives on how to create blogs that connect with customers and attract media attention.

And I know this because the above text is the entire title displayed in your browser when you navigate to her site,

As to how true this is, I couldn't tell you. She's one of the advertised speakers at the upcoming Blog World Expo, and while a Google search for "corporate blogging" doesn't list her site on the first page of results, it does list her book: The Corporate Blogging Book. It's subtitled "Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right".

Unfortunately, it's not. It is, however, a good introduction to the subject.

Like just about every other corporate blogging source in existence, this book about corporate blogging is aimed at the manager or CEO of a company. Either the company is considering starting a corporate blog and needs to know more information, or they know next to nothing about corporate blogging and want to know what it's all about. Or they are misinformed about blogging altogether and don't think blogging is relevant for their company.

The book covers, roughly in chapter order, basics about what blogging is, what corporate blogging is, some corporate blog examples, some fears about blogging (time and legal issues, mostly), CEO bloggers, the ROI of blogging, some blogging basics, some blog technology basics, and making the case for blogging to your boss.

Perhaps it wasn't a good idea for someone as immersed in the blogging world as me to have read the book. There wasn't anything new in it that I hadn't read a dozen times over on popular blogs already. It's merely a convenient collection of introductory ideas suitable for an airplane ride. Which was a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping that "absolutely everything you need to know" would include a lot more than that.

Regarding the ROI of blogging, one of my pet peeves is that most people speak about blogs in terms of number of hits to the blog, which is not really a useful metric for a corporate blog. Ms Weil kind of manages to convey this in the ROI chapter, but not forcefully enough. Too many of her examples still laud those blogs that become sensations in their own right. Funny how no one ever talks about the metric of a site's FAQ as being a destination site in its own right; only that it contain useful information and cut down on support calls.

Judged entirely on its own aims, which is to sell corporate blogging to companies by means of a simple offline introduction to the topic, it's good enough. But no more.

You can find more about her book on the book's site.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blogger Networking: A Second Look

After cogitating and hashing things out with my wife and my boss, my picture of networking is starting to clarify, somewhat. If you haven't yet read it, read my previous post on blogging and networking for background.

First off, I kind of understand the question now. It's "How would you feel if someone did this to you?"

This question is a more straightforward question than "Is this ethical?", "Is this going to work?", or even "Do I feel right about this?". The essence of it is that if your target feels good about it, you will feel good about it, and if your target feels good about it, it will work.

It could be that some things work even when your target doesn't feel good about it, such as pop-up advertising. But that's no way to make a living.

So, back to networking.

1. Networking is building relationships, not selling. Therefore, the appropriate time to sell to someone with whom you are building a relationship is when they ask you to. You can't send a few emails about other subjects and then, while you have their attention, send them a pitch, regardless of how beneficial it is to both of you.

That's not relationship building, that's deception. Relationship building is for the long-term, and will benefit you in the long-term.

2. Pitches can be sent to people who expect to receive pitches. E.g. marketers, business directors, conference attendees, and so on, and should clearly be addressed as such. You should not try to two-email or two-week relationship building with someone with the intention of following it up with a pitch and then dropping the relationship if the pitch isn't accepted. It will probably not be responded to, anyway, and you likely will have made someone unhappy, which is worse than where you were before you started.

3. One thing you can do with simple networking is to include your landing page URL and your company's tagline at the bottom of your comments and emails. As you build relationships, it is only natural that people will click on these. Furthermore, when they see your company's name in some other location, such as a news blurb or conference proceeding, the name recognition factor will come into play.

4. Hiring people to leave comments so that name recognition can occur in these places, or to send pitches to those expecting them, doesn't strike me as unethical or even problematic.

Having clarified these issues, though not with any sort of finality, I'm able to separate out what types of things I can and can't do as a hired corporate blogger for my new company.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Blogger Networking: A First Look With No Answers

I'm not entirely sure what the questions are, let alone how to answer them.

I define networking as building and using relationships with other people for mutual benefit. The word "using" here is rife with possible problems. Networking is essentially building business relations. One makes friends for mutual benefit, too, but we frown on the idea of "using" friends. "Leaning on" friends, or offering mutual support and discussion.

It's not only the hired blogger's networking functions that concern me; a regular blogger has to worry about these issues.

Consider the following situations:

1) You see a blog and leave an intelligent comment on it, with no ulterior motives. The blogger follows the link back to your site and comments on your blog. A relationship occurs.

2) You see a blog and comment on it - the same comment, but with the additional motive of wanting the blogger to follow the link back to your site and comment on your blog. Which he does. A relationship occurs.

3) You search out blogs for which to comment on, same as 2. Comments are returned, but a relationship doesn't unfold, because you weren't really interested in the relationship, only the comments.

4) You leave pathetic comments with links, with the same outcome.

5) You hire someone to leave comments on other people's blogs as if they came from you, and a relationship develops.

6) You hire someone, but you only wanted the return traffic and comments, and no relationship develops.

Now we come to the hired blogger ...

7) You scour other blogs related to your new company, looking to build relationships so as to leverage these for the benefit of the company. You leave intelligent comments, they return them, and you build relationships. Should you leave the company, the relationships continue.

8) You scour ..., but your intention is merely to build clickthroughs back to your new company. Relationships generally don't develop.

9) You leave pithy comments, and then follow up any return comments or emails with a sales pitch.

10) You simply scours for other bloggers in order to make a sales pitch. Who needs relationships?

I'm not entirely sure what questions I want to ask here.

Is it "Which situation is ethical?" I think so, but ideas about ethics vary, and there are no black and whites in these situations.

Is it "Which is most effective?" "Which is the 'right' thing to do?"

I'm wresting with the questions. When I figure them out, maybe I can start writing some answers.

In the meantime, assuming that you're really looking to build relationships, realize than relationships, like friendships, don't come overnight, or even in one month. Relationships can take years to develop. Relationships are based on mutual interest and respect, not on one party's immediate needs. And relationships cannot be scripted or timetabled. They are personal.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Marketing Overloaded My Head

As I mentioned previously, so long as I have a full-time position, this might be a low traffic blog. I'll try write 2 to 3 posts a week, but 1 at a minimum is all I promise for now.

My stint at becoming a "marketer" and all that entails is beginning to cause some friction. Having been roped into the marketing team, it's becoming clear that I'm not necessarily a good marketer. I know what I like, and I know what my audience likes. Emphasis on my audience, not the general public. I can market to bloggers and blog-readers, and that's it.

Roping me in to write copy for PowerPoint presentations to CEOs, press releases to news outlets, and so on, is not necessarily going to get you anything special, and might actually get you crap. Oh, I'm still creative as hell, full of ides and insights, new ways to look at products and marketing stories, etc. But the nitty gritty of ad copy and presentations not only annoys me, but wastes valuable time when I should be networking and writing web site guides or blog posts.

I've had to say this now in no uncertain terms. I didn't become a blogger to do work I'm not good at and don't enjoy. I've got lots of other jobs which can give me that experience. I've begun drawing lines.

Speaking of drawing lines, working from home is one of the classic areas where line drawing is difficult. I tend to work way too much. I wouldn't have a problem drawing a line for a normal company doing something basic like technical writing. But for a startup company that has loads of work and short deadlines, ad needs to get off the ground, it's hard to know when to say enough is enough.

When it comes to the point that the only relaxed time is when you're cooking or doing the dishes, enough is enough.

Speaking of networking .... but that's another post.


Monday, October 8, 2007

5 Professional Blogger Types

1. Independent

The classic professional blogger as addressed by ProBlogger and Performacing is the independent blogger. An independent blogger makes his or her revenue from traffic visiting the blog, either through advertising revenue, affiliate links, paid subscriptions, donations, or paid reviews.

2. Corporate insider

A corporate blogger uses the blog to drive sales to his or her company's products or services. A corporate blog may be independent or complementary to a traditional web site.

In this case, traffic is good only so long as it drives more traffic to the site, increases brand awareness, or increases the company's reputation.

3. Corporate outsider

A corporate outsider is hired to do the job of a corporate insider - that's what I'm doing. Before beginning to blog, the hired blogger has to get up to speed on the story and benefits of the product, create a mission for the blog and integrate it into the company. The insider doesn't need to get up to speed, but otherwise they are identical.

4. Sponsored blogger

As Gavin pointed out in a comment, a company may hire a blogger to blog about whatever so long as they get to host the blog on their site and wrap their site around it. In this case, the blogger doesn't need to get up to speed on the company because he's not representing the company.

5. Paid for posts

Bloggers can make money writing posts for companies, other bloggers, or post archives. They are usually paid per post and/or per traffic generated by the post. Per post payment is usually pretty low.


Monday, October 1, 2007

How to Find a Blogging Job

debng guest writes on Performancing 22 places to find a blogging job. While a list of job lists is helpful, it is a poor way to find a blog job.

- Everyone else in the online universe knows about these places, and if they didn't, they do now. There are not all that many jobs listed, and a whole lot of people are dreaming that they will simply send off a resume and have someone pay them full time to write blog posts. Your odds of finding a position this way is about as good as your odds of writing the next Technorati 200 blog.

- The list is anemic. A few of the upper items in the list have a few dozen jobs, while half or more of the rest have less than 10, or even none. The last entry is simply "try looking in your newspaper classified", which is really a long, long shot.

- This is an, how shall I say, old media approach to job search. What decade are we living in, exactly?

Do you want to find a blogging job? Guess what? It's actually easy.

Why? Because there are millions of companies who need bloggers and don't know it. Many thousands of these companies are not looking for a blogger, or looking for one but don't know what they want or need. A whole lot of them will hire you as a blogger without you even having to compete for the position.

Before you go off looking for a "blogging position", you should probably know: blogging = marketing. All companies need marketing, and blogging is simply a new wave of targeted marketing that reaches an audience currently overlooked and underfed by traditional marketing. Becoming a blogger means becoming a marketer, and a marketer may be called upon to do a whole lot more than simply write blog posts. That's why I call it "customer engagement".

Here are five real places to find a blogging job:

1. Your blog

If you're not blogging, you're not looking for a blogging job. And if you're not successfully blogging (in any definition of success), you're not going to find one.

Which means that you're a successful blogger: you have some subscribers, some readers, some hits. Want to find a blogging job? Ask for one on your blog.

Put in in a post, in the footer of every post, and on your sidebar. Engage your subscribers and commenters. They already like you, and they will help you find a job. Either they know a place that needs a blogger, or they can send someone a link to you.

2. Your company

If you're already working, your company probably doesn't have a blog. If it does, it probably doesn't have a good enough blog.

Go to your boss, human resources, or whomever, and pitch blogging for the company. If the company already has a blog, ask to post on it, help design it, or get involved in some other way. If you're any good, you'll be blogging part or full time fairly soon.

3. Social networks

Aren't these what social networks are for? Aside from asking your 10,354 friends, most social networking places, especially serious ones, have forums and other places to advertise for a blog position. Say that you're looking on your profile.

4. Friends and family

We used to call these social networks before the online versions. And the word "friend" used to actually mean something before it was co-opted to mean "people you want to annoy regularly".

Let friends and family know that you're looking for a customer engagement position, and ask them for whom to apply in their companies, using them as a reference.

5. Local organizations

Does your church, school, or synagogue have a blog? Ask to make one for them for free or a nominal fee. Not only is it good practice and a good service, it's an item in your portfolio, and happy customers who will help you find other paid positions.


Don't neglect the 22 places from the Performancing post, as well as any other companies whose "job listings" include a writer, blogger, or similar.

One more trick which can sometimes work: try blogging about a product you love and about which no one else is blogging. The world's first and busiest blog about the Ford Taurus (e.g.) can be a valuable asset to acquire for Ford Motors.

When you find a job, take the time to educate each other as to what exactly the job entails. For some of my positive and negative experiences in these types of conversations, please see my earlier posts.