SiteBeat - MightyMerchant Monthly Newsletter > March 2007
Greetings from MightyMerchant.
In this and upcoming issues you’ll find timely topics to help you manage your business. We understand that enhancing your online presence and increasing your customer base are prime objectives for most of you. Here at MightyMerchant, we’re constantly keeping ourselves informed of industry changes and marketing innovations that we can share with you to help your business grow.
This month we’re looking at tips on using RSS feeds to market your site, and we’ll discuss marketing to the growth of virtual communities online. For our customers who are inclined to keep up-to-date with the details of online marketing, we have a forum to recommend.
As always, we welcome your feedback. Please contact us with comments as well as suggestions for future editions.
In This Issue
• MightyMerchant Announcements
--New Google Base format implemented
--New e-mail strategy forthcoming
--Google Webmaster Forum
• Welcoming new MightyMerchant clients
• Marketing Through RSS — Tips on using feeds
• Marketing to Pop Culture — Finding a place in virtual communities
• Client Profile — We speak with Joi Guarino, proprietor of Capwholesalers.com, Accessoriesbyus.com, and Customizedwear.com
-- New Google Base format implemented
As we announced last month, we have implemented Google’s new formatting requirements for Google Base (what was previously known as Froogle). As the use of Google Base is on the rise, we recommend using it to promote your products. MightyMerchant includes an automated Google Base upload. Contact us for more information on upgrading.
-- New e-mail strategy forthcoming
As many of you are painfully aware, the level of spam has risen dramatically in the past 3 to 4 months. Our servers have become overwhelmed by the amount of spam we are processing and our SpamAssassin software cannot keep up with the flood of spam. We are evaluating a few new options for processing e-mail and will have more information next month, including tips for you on how to minimize the level of spam.
--Google Webmaster Forum
At MightyMerchant we work with a range of customers, from those looking for complete support in marketing their sites to some very dedicated do-it-yourselfers. For those seeking direct information on improving their Google performance, many resources exist. We’ve found some much more useful than others, and here’s a great resource if you have the inclination to read blogs focused on search engine optimization.
Google Groups has an online community of people who regularly post comments, questions and discussions about SEO. The Webmaster Help group (http://groups.google.com/group/Google_Webmaster_Help
) is intended for webmasters to help each other out, but Google does indicate that actual Google employees pop in from time to time to post announcements, share tips and answer questions. Even if they don’t personally respond to each post, Google claims that they do take into consideration the concerns and questions they read about in the discussions.
Of all the online forums you could participate in regarding the topic of SEO, this is probably the best one on which to focus your time, due to the participation of actual Google engineers, including those from Matt Cutts’ elite team. Recent popular discussions include server downtime, and 301 redirects (A permanent 301 redirect moves web pages that have been indexed by search engines to a new URL. Often, search engines discovering that a page has moved can cause a severe drop in traffic, so this is something to consider whenever online retailers change the addresses of their web pages.)
- Marketing Through RSS - Tips on using feeds
Marketing Through RSS
RSS is a relatively new phenomenon, but one which has taken hold fast. News sources publish feeds regularly, letting people read about breaking news whenever it becomes available. Most blogs publish regular feeds, to let users know when new content has been posted.
If you are completely new to the world of RSS feeds, we recommend that you check out our introduction to RSS at http://www.mightymerchant.com/home/mm5/page_1186?stpl=sitenews. This article tells you where you can get an RSS Reader and explains some of the basics.
Interested In Having A Feed? Here are some tips on implementing feeds most effectively:
• Grab readers with the headline
Most feed readers only display the titles of new posts, so make them interesting. For instance, “Fun Handbags For Spring” is probably more attention-getting than “New Purses.”
• Don’t forget photos
Images are almost always better than no images.
• Don’t send too many feeds
Unless you’re posting new and exciting information every day, anything more than weekly updates is probably too much.
• Use full-content feeds
Some users shun partial-content feeds because they have to click on them to read the full text of the update. Using full-content feeds eliminates the need to do this, making (most) users happier.
• Use an “Add to Google” button
Google makes it easy for users to add your feed by allowing you to place this button on your site. Users simply click on the button to add your feed to their Google Reader or Google Personalized Homepage.
Interested but still not sure if an RSS feed is right for your site? Ask us! We’ll be glad to help you figure it out.
- Finding a place in virtual communities
Marketing to Pop Culture
With 2006 recently brought to a close, let’s take a step back in time. From ClickZ's The Year in Search: A 2006 Review here are the ten most popular search terms for three sources:
|Lycos ||Google ||Yahoo! |
Clearly, the majority of them come directly from pop culture. Celebrities and Internet-related buzzwords such as MySpace, Bebo, Wiki, and Mininova also dominate, along with a few sports-related items. It is interesting to note that Google, an industry leader in snapping up Internet-focused services like YouTube, scored with a higher number of Internet-related search terms. So what does this mean to you?
One popular Internet phenomenon, which is not on these top ten search lists, is Second Life. Second Life is an online community where you can own virtual land and spend virtual money. Joining is free. Here are some amazing figures: There are 4,366,234 Second Life residents, with 1,594,592 logged in over the last 60 days (as of 3/6/07). Within one hour they spent $1,547,544 (yes, that’s over one and a half million!).
Look at the numbers. The day we checked, just over 22,000 residents were logged in at one time, with between 500,000 and 1 million users regularly visiting the virtual world. As small-scale marketing efforts go, that’s a large number of people, but it’s important to realize they won’t all see you. And it’s a lot less than the number of people who would hear about you if you undertook a large-scale, national marketing campaign. Still, it’s a significant number of young, technologically literate consumers who are on the cutting edge of what the web has to offer.
Marketers are beginning to ask themselves how innovations in online socializing can be integrated into advertising campaigns. If this is all news to you, that’s OK. Don’t ignore the phenomenon, but don’t jump right into it either. Before creating a virtual identity, here are some important things to think about:
1. Gauge your commitment
It would be easy to join Second Life (SL) and put up an empty storefront, just so that people passing by would see your name, but that’s not the best approach. An abandoned or empty storefront leaves the same negative impression in a virtual world as it does in the real world, so make sure before you begin that you are committed to maintaining your virtual identity, just like you would pick up litter outside your brick-and-mortar store if you had one. Having a storefront means you could have virtual employees in the store 24 hours a day, providing human interaction with virtual shoppers, just like you would have in a real store.
2. Evaluate your product
When aligning with SL, or any other virtual community, your products need to be useful both in the real world and in the virtual world, for an unlimited amount of time. For instance, assuming you sell clothing, a virtual shopper could walk in to your store seeking a shirt for their avatar. Avatars (visual representations of you) don’t get sick or die, so that shirt needs to be desirable for a long time!
3. Measuring success
Determine how you will measure the success of your virtual endeavors before you commit resources. For instance, will you survey your online site visitors to find out how many found you through SL?
4. Monitor your competitors
Check out if any of your competitors already have SL profiles. Some may. If they do, now you know. If not, you’ve got one leg up in that this may not be a marketing avenue they have ever considered before.
5. Deflect negativity
Realize that not all residents of SL appreciate virtual commercial ventures. How will you handle negative attention?
6. Identify your goals
Clearly identify what your goals might be for joining SL. Once you commit, anyone who interacts with you will leave with some kind of impression of you and your product that may be difficult or impossible to change if it’s negative.
Marketing in today’s world is a lot different than it used to be. More and more, the Internet is being used for social interaction, and has the potential to reach millions of people quickly and easily. On March 5, 2007, a Microsoft executive was quoted as saying that by 2010 the company was confident that the majority of their one billion dollar advertising budget would shift to digital, meaning Internet-based, online advertising. For the small business owner, the path should be clear; that online advertising is too powerful a force to be ignored.
The important thing is to know how YOU feel entering these types of virtual communities. It may not be right for you, but if you can definitively integrate all of these issues into your business plan, there just may be an avatar waiting for you in Second Life!