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Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Digg and Del.icio.us

February 23rd, 2007

With the number of questions I’m getting from clients about why we included Digg and Del.icio.us tags on their site, I’m starting to realize that I’m not doing a very good job of explaining why upfront. So, in an attempt to reverse this trend, here’s a bit of an explanation.

Digg and deli.cio.us are two of the most popular services for social networking. As you may be aware, social networking is a huge phenomenon powered by the newest web technologies (aka Web 2.0). For more insight look up “Internet Social Networks” on Wikipedia, but the essence of social networking from a business perspective is that it provides an unique free opportunity for an organization to get their message heard and propagated.

Social networking is relatively new to mainstream but growing fast and many believe that it will play a key role in the future of the Web. In addition to providing a medium for referrals, it also provides a means by which your site can be more visible to the Internet as a whole through indexes and search engines. Sites with quality, well targeted and frequently updated content are good candidates for success using social networking. For example, Idaho Business Review recently deployed a Web 2.0 site on which they utilize social networking links prominently in each of their online articles (see
an example
). There are a lot of dynamics to be in place before a site is going to grow exponentially from its inclusion in social networks, but it comes down to a principle that an old sales veteran once told me, “If it can’t hurt, and might help, why not do it?” And of course, having Digg and Del.icio.us links make you look hip.



Sir Isaac Newton

February 16th, 2007

As a former boss of mine used to say, “Having a great idea and not telling anyone is the same as not having any ideas.” Do you have a great site with a valuable message? That’s a significant achievement but if you’re a relatively new company you need to think back to high school physics and Sir Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion, “An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.” We’ve built the mass into our site to keep it going but the challenge for now is to take it from rest to motion. Our slingshot will be Google et. al. who, if we treat them right, can serve as our matchmaker to unite us with those people out there who need our solutions most.

Will work for backlinks

The good news is that Google and company claim to want the same thing…they want to serve up the most valuable sites to their users for any combination of keywords. The most important means by which Google and the other major search engines claim to decide which sites are truly the most valuable is by taking a vote from the Internet community. The votes they use are link backs from other sites.

So your mission is clear, submit your URL for consideration to as many other sites, indexes, and directories as possible. There are many options for where to submit, but some of the most important ones I’ve listed below. I recommend to our clients that they go through this list methodically to get the best exposure possible for nominal cost. Keep in mind
the process and protocol for getting your URL listed at each one of these sources will vary…some are an automated submission and others will require you calling the organization to make a case for being listed, yet others may require
you make a contribution of value to their community.

  1. All the major search engines of course, you might consider using a service like Traffic Blazer from RisingLineWeb.com
  2. dmoz.com (open directory project)
  3. Superpages.com
  4. Local business directories
  5. Technorati.com
  6. Public Library Sites (you’ll need to make a convincing case as to why they should list your link)
  7. MyPages.com
  8. blogflux.com
  9. blogtopsites.com
  10. blogwise.com
  11. iblogbusiness.com
  12. Blogger.com (your profile)
  13. goarticles.com
  14. syndic8.com
  15. blogdigger.com
  16. weblogs.com
  17. Press Release Sites e.g. prweb.com
  18. Squidoo.com
  19. Craigslist.org
  20. Digg.com
  21. del.icio.us
  22. Furl
  23. Shadows.com
  24. MyWeb
  25. StumbleUpon
  26. blog-directory.org

The process of submitting to these potential partners can be time consuming. To keep from being overwhelmed, consider setting aside 15-30 minutes every week or two for backlink hunting. As always, I would be interested in your feedback or suggestions.

Avoid Site Monkeys

February 14th, 2007

Imagine driving down the freeway…you see a billboard with a message about an accountant specializing in international business, just what you’ve been looking for! As you start to read a few sentences at 70 mph, a giant helium-filled monkey that’s anchored in place next to the billboard begins clashing it’s synthetic cymbals while cables retract and expand it’s eyelids. Hey look there’s some sort of logo on the monkey’s shirt for the accounting firm….too late, you’ve sped by the sign.

Site MonkeyAs ridiculous as this example sounds, it’s exactly what happens many times on websites. We find a site in a Google search that looks like it might be what we’re after, but on its front page were confronted by too many snippets of ambiguous information and distractions and no clear statements of what this site is about.

One of the most ludicrous distracting features that I’ve seen recently is “SitePal.” A zombie-like animated talking head that speaks in slow broken computer generated speech…”Welcome (octave lower) to our Website (two octaves higher) Please mouse over my (pause) face to make me talk. What’s even creepier is that on some versions the characters head slightly bobbles and it’s eyes cross as it attempts to follow your mouse movements.

Having some sort of animated or technical feature on a site can be tempting for its novelty factor. But just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done. Research has consistently shown that superfluous elements are often detrimental to the overall communication and persuasion goals of web sites. For
access to solid research on the topic visit theĀ  Stanford Web Credibility ResearchOpens in new window site or, in keeping with the theme of efficient communication, check out the all-time classic, Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug.

iPhone Delivers Upon Market Need

January 12th, 2007

Once again, Apple has circumvented the status quo by developing the world’s most advanced mobile device, the iPhone. Unlike the OCR driven Blackberry or the stencil managed Windows device, the iPhone combines value-added features such as a fully functional Web browser, an advanced and functional MP3 player (iPod), and a true touch screen platform, which allows users the freedom from stencil-driven bondage.

So why is this iPhone device relevant to a marketing blog? Simply from the standpoint that Apple has revolutionized the mobile market in one swoop by satisfying a true market need, namely to develop a user-friendly hand held device that facilitates efficient and easy communication.

Unlike the Blackberry I currently carry, the iPhone provides the user a true interface for instantaneous communication via a phone, Web platform, and SMS texting. Plus, the iPhone only has one button, which has completely simplified the arduous process of data entry on mobile technology … no more stencils, no more miniature keyboards, no more gadgetry features that literally take weeks to figure out; the iPhone has enhanced userability through exceptional design. Trust me, as soon as my T-Mobile contract expires, I’ll be running to the Cingular store that very day so as to move away from the soon-to-be RIM paperweight.

So as professionals, what can we take away from Apple’s example? Namely, to not get caught up in product commoditization, but to strive to deliver on a true market need. Steve Job’s innovative leadership was simply a product of assessing what the ultimate aim is in mobile technology, namely convenience and functionality, and delivering upon it. As a result, Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, and Sony Ericcson were all caught off guard and have been scrambling over the past week to formulate a response.

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