Friday, July 31, 2009

The internet = tremendous opportunity if it’s measured

Not only does the Internet provide us (as consumers) with a fantastic opportunity to find a wider choice of products, services and special offers from a number of suppliers. For organisations it provides the opportunity to reach more target markets, compete on equal footing with a number of larger organisations, trial and test uptake of new products and services online as well as expanding corporate propositions to new markets.

Via the web, you can spread the word about your company, your products or services as much as you like, there will be a portal out there with your target markets name on that you can advertise to at cost (of possibly for free).

Perhaps you wish to be found for every key phrase variation available for your product using a pay per click model or you wish to run umpteen podcasts to show your expertise of a particular service.

Whichever avenue you wish to market your products or services online, you must always come back to three key questions:

1. How will the Internet help me meet my corporate objectives?

2. Will the marketing avenues I have chosen provide me with enough visitors in which to meet the goals outlined in the marketing plan?

3. How effective are the marketing avenues chosen? What conversion rates have we seen in the past?

Rocktime can work with you to help answer those questions to help you reach your business goals, targets and objectives.

We have even developed a ROI Sales calculator to help you maximise on your return on insight.

Check it out here:

Rocktime Sales Funnel Calculator

A few people have told us they have used it, to help get funds realised for further marketing activity from the top table. Once you have completed the funnel, there is a button to enable you to print these results too.

The ROI Sales Funnel asks you to look at your required visitor numbers against your marketing spend and your current online conversion rates of leads/enquiries and sales to determine the effectiveness of a particular channel or channels by calculating an estimated ROI for your marketing efforts.

Feel free to talk to our sales & marketing team about how you can take the information you currently have and turn that data into internet marketing strategy.

Contact Rocktime Sales & Marketing

There are several other ways in which you can measure Internet effectiveness such as:

  • Use, review, report and review again your web stats using Web Analytics (link to post coming soon)
  • Monitor customer retention rates (% of people using the website each month)
  • Review website engagement rate
  • Take note on uptake on sale calls mentioning website
  • Consider increase or decrease (cost avoidance) number of online emails
  • Set up focus groups and surveys on / about your site
  • Use online Mystery shoppers

Feel free to talk to us further about any of the above.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The day/ week everyone spoke about book stores, book publishers & E-readers

Every journalist has gone nuts for E-readers this week, with recent technology research (from research firm iSuppli) finding that the global E-book display market is expected to grow to $291 million in 2012 from $3.5 million in 2007. Plus launches of new e-book readers worldwide and news of positive performance year on year for UK book store’s such as Waterstones & Borders.

Waterstones are also due for a new website launch and recently Comscore reported news that Borders UK unique users increasing by 176% between May 2008 and May 2009, (from 61,000 to 169,000). Good news with the recent notification of close down of five Borders Flagship stores this week.

Plus we saw stories such as:

“Blackwell are launching eBook download store”

“Amazon are preparing a UK launch of the Amazon Kindle”

“US publisher Barnes & Nobile are launching the world’s biggest electronic book store to compete with a similar service offered by web retailer Amazon”

“Google’s pending federal court case which would/could allow them to release millions of books in e-book format”

“The launch of the Sony Reader and the Cool-er E-reader from Interead and stories that they could galvanize the market for digital text in the way the Apple’s Ipod did for digital music”

And the cherry on top

An article today from Retail week in which they summed up the development of the electronic book sector in article titled “Digital media sales raise new customer service questions for retailers” check it out.

What is an E-reader / E-book?

If you haven’t worked it out already: An E-reader or E-book is an alternative to the paper book, and has been popular with travellers and those who don’t want to carry around heavy books, so they opt for a lighter weight electronic book or e-book.

As well as being a handy gadget to have, the E-reader (of E-books) also presents a valuable opportunity for publishers and authors to generate income from their content. It is anticipated that take up will grow during the Xmas months, so expect to see E-readers in magazines and on TV adverts near a sofa near you soon.

Recent news and New news on E-readers and E-books

Currently the journalists are all talking about digital rights of E-books and the technologies behind each reader and of course the battles to Xmas market.

So we thought we would take a different take on this weeks “Hot Topic” and talk about how companies such as Waterstones, Borders, Sony, and Interead (launched the Cool-er Reader – they make reading cool) can use social media to help them build their community of followers.

It will be a challenge for the above companies to market their differences and in the same breath it will a challenge for consumers to know which E-reader to choose.

Thus we propose that to stay ahead of the game, one of the companies should quickly align themselves as being the one which provides the most help, advice and information to enable the customers and the authors (don’t forget the authors) to get the most enjoyment out of their reader and hopefully the biggest range of books.

What marketing tool can help with this. Well social media of course. Social media & social networking will allow for viral messaging of these new gadgets / technologies; information sharing; flattening those hierarchy’s and most importantly help build a community of loyal fans and followers.

As with all our projects firstly we will review the digital landscape. Lets look at how authors, publishers and avid book fans are using social media right now, we will then recommend an initial social strategy, which we hope will be of interest to those thinking about setting up a social strategy themselves.

Social networking : the authors role & the publishers role

Historically writers do not perform in the public in the same way as musicians for example, the publisher has always been the intermediary. However it is part of the authors DNA to be creative and many authors are now using social media tactically as a way to promote their books, a great advantage of doing this is that they start to build up and audience for the long term.

Authors are also using social media as a way to keep the buzz of the book alive. Rocktime Social envisages that a number of authors will have Google Alerts and Twitter Alerts set up, so that they know when people are talking about their books online (Ego-tastic!). It is important for authors to participate with comments on the web as it is here that they can then create positive word of mouth and turn those who may not have liked the book around (possibly).

There is also evidence of large publishers using social media effectively for example Penguin Books and their launch of Penguin 2.0 services back in Dec 2008, they are using digital and social media tools to connect with their customers, which includes aspects of customisation, personalisation, delivery to mobile phones as well as e-books and e-only content.

Social networking helps boost an authors esteem

Social networking is helping boost an Authors raison d’etre and recently we have seen signs that it can also help keep the story alive. Crime Thriller Author (and former Marketing Executive) Jeff Abbott, placed the Hero of his new book on Twitter, in which he is sharing updates of character Luke Dantry’s life on the run . Several authors use Blogs and Myspace for book promotion and updates on new releases, recently they have also now started to promote more their other social spaces (inc: Facebook & Twitter).

Social steps for E-Book providers

Based on the above information it is proposed that those who distribute E-books and E-book readers should promote their products within these social networks.

To understand more about the benefits of social media and how social netowrking can be measured visit this blog post for an introduction to social media strategy from Rocktime Social or call Rocktime’s Marketing team to talk it over.

Recommendation: Capturing publishers & authors & keep customers coming back

To capture the eye of the publishers & authors it is suggested that sites providing E-readers and E-books create an area which is useful for both authors and readers alike.

Based on the above insights initially we would propose that the providers place a new category on their site for them to provide author profiles which will includes lists and links to the authors social spaces (helping them spread awareness) and update (automatically – RSS feeds) fans of new author profiles along with promoting new catalogues & books as they arrive.

Doing something that is both different and useful on your site, will keep the community coming back.

Hey: How about digital book signing, or a collection of books you recommend for a loved one (now that is an idea!).

Promote the E-book company & authors in natural search

Providing profile pages for authors will not only help build relevancy (Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy) on your site, promoting you in natural search, but will also promote authors. Rocktime have developed a proven model of a site owner promoting others, with Local Food Advisor website in which the focus of promotion on the site is on local food producers, the owners of LFA are being social by promoting food lovers blogs and getting the food lovers to promote the LFA site in return.

Please note: Rocktime are not advising(unless of course you have a huge social media budget) that the E-book providers branch out into forums of public debate about new books, delayed releases, but to simply promote authors social spaces and to leave any backlash about killed off heros in the Authors own social space.

How social media and social networking can help E-book providers now

Before the E-book providers build a community of fans, social media & social networking can help the providers of E-book readers right now, with Reputation Management of comments in news stories/ forums/networks. It is important that they are ready to respond. Rocktime can assist here with ongoing management of your social strategy.

How they can be ready to respond is simply: Create a whole host / heap of questions and answers on your site, even if you are advertising the answers in magazines and other PR material.

Q: Does the E-book reader care about what computer you plug it in to?
A: No

They can then provide links to these answers saving time, promoting the most frequent Q&A on the home page. Address all issues. Even list them at the side of your twitter account, saving time answering repetitive questions is a great cost avoidance strategy (in the long term).

Summary of E-book providers using social media and social networks

Along with using social media to target the various book title categories, social networks can also help them target the gadget fans and fashion & design fans as well as travellers and avid readers.
Social media will help E-book providers and E-book distributors to promote their company values and enable them to be whoever they want to be ie: honest, approachable, helpful, sensitive, useful and authentic online.

Once a community is formed there are also great forces for fun and creativity in future months, years, further creativity will be gleamed from communicating with fans and followers.
We will be watching the E-reader market with interest, which one will get the followers, the fans, only time will tell (well by end of year).

Author: Sarah Griffiths, Search Marketing Manager at Rocktime & self confessed social media junkie and fan of Jeff Abbott. (Find her on twitter @sarahgriffiths – and if you liked this post let her know)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Beating the Cyber Bullies

Recently the BBC News interviewed Cisco fellow Patrick Peterson and ran the findings in a story titled ‘Cyber Crook gets business savvy’, Patrick Peterson said cyber criminals were increasingly acting like virtual MBA (Master of Business Administration) students.

He also pointed out that big news stories are a gold mine for Cyber Crooks and used Michael Jackson as an example, stating that when everyone was searching for stories of his death, the cyber crooks are busy creating news copy or video memorabilia to trick the users onto the infected sites.

He noted a huge increase in spam email messages recently and has concerns of spam coming in via mobile phones (‘smishing attacks’), suggesting that phone users will trust a message from their bank via SMS (text message) more than receiving an email with links to verify account ownership.

As we are moving to a more open, simple communication structure of the web, where trust is encouraged in new social network communities, it is important that we all follow some key tips to help beat the Cyber Crooks, then we can stay one step ahead of the fraudsters:
Please find our tips for internet security below:

Ten tips to beat the cyber crooks in no particular order:

1. Make sure you use hard-to-guess passwords, not ones with obvious personal links, such as your birthday or the name of your street. Good passwords include a combination of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and other characters.

2. Change your passwords often and use different passwords for different accounts

3. Make sure that you use an up to date browser and update security patches in your operating system. For Windows users there is a quick and easy way to update your system, click on 'Windows Update' from the programme directory or point to this link, which will take you straight into updates currently available for you to download:

4. Make sure you turn your computer's firewall on and, if you are using Windows, set up your computer to automatically download new security patches from Microsoft.

5. Install and update anti virus software regularly. Use a programme which will scan all files on your system once a week and delete the infected ones.

6. Never download email attachments from people you do not know or trust. Avoid attachments that you were not expecting, even if they are from a known source.

7. When receiving an email, look at the destination URL before you click it, here is an example if you scroll over this link: Rocktime Twitter and look in the status bar at the bottom of the browser, you will see that the link above is actually going to and not our Rocktime social twitter account.

8. Never click on links sent via SMS text messages if you are not certain that you have received a valid text from a valid company.

9. Back up your data regularly

10. Log off when you’re done for the day (Remember you are most vulnerable when you are connected to the Internet, if there is not a good reason to remain online then disconnect).

Final note from our Technical Manager at Rocktime, Andy Clarke

There are many factors we (Rocktime) take in to account when creating web sites and web applications. Some of these include making sure that the site is protected from SQL injection or cross-site scripting attacks. These are mechanisms that malicious users could use to either manipulate data stored in a database or to trick users in to submitting data to a different website than the one they think they are visiting.

One of the ways we protect our sites from these types of attack is to make sure that all user entered data is properly filtered to remove any potentially halmful code before it is stored or shown to a user.

Rocktime are not an Internet security company and if you do need additional assistance in securing your corporate network we would advise you contact Blue Chip Data Systems on +44(0)845 034 7222

Friday, July 17, 2009

Are you running an event or are you attending one why not live blog it!

Two situations when you may want to live blog from a meeting, conference, event, concert etc. Anything that is live and includes people really !

Situation 1:

You are at an event, let's say it's a conference. Some people can't make the conference, you are having an amazing time (!) and want to tell your colleagues and friends what is being discussed. What do you do? Live Blog it of course.

Situation 2:

You are hosting an event, again let's say it's a conference. Some key people that you wanted to attend can't be there, so you invite them remotely (via the web or mobile) so that they can join in with the discussions, ask questions for you to ask, comment on what is being said etc. You can also ask your attendees at the event to chat back (via web) to the non attendees. (Preferably in the break, as it's a bit off putting if all have their mobiles tapping when the speaker's on). Get all whom are interested involved.

Does the above sound unreal to you, well it's not and probably happens more than you know it. Here is a little explanation to those of you who are new to the Live Blogging phenomenon and explains how a number of packages are available to use (for free) online to help you stream events in real time and keep the event alive after the show has ended.

About Live Blogging

Live Blogging allows those not at the event to event to participate remotely, it could also help facilitate conversation between attendees, along with providing a place in which they can discuss the content further.

It wasn’t too long ago, that a few of us at Rocktime were sending in comments to the G20 submit (The Times Live blogged as did several other papers) via Twitter in the day and the evening live blogging Alan Sugar’s The Apprentice, which basically involved watching the programme and sending in comments to a (brought together by) social media community, posting who you thought was going to get the pointed ‘you're fired’ finger.

If you don’t need to create a community via social networks and have a list of members or fans already, then a Live Blogging platform will create more value to your already formed community, as it fosters commitment amongst the volunteer members/ fans.

There are various web based options for live blogging your event available these are outlined below some more “real time” (live) than others. If you have a particular requirement that is not covered below, talk to us about it, as with our experience & bespoke approach it’s more than likely we will be able to help you.

How to blog your live event / how to live event your blog

Basic level: Draft a post of the event and add photos and publish this to your site (accept comments)

Stream live video segments from the event using your computers webcam, using something like: U Stream TV discuss happenings using Twitter and #Hashtags

Live blog from the event, sending watchers photos and comments in real time using web based tools such as: Scribble Live integrate with Twitter, export the data and archive (for after event reference).

Live blog from the event using software such as Cover it Live, which will integrate with Twitter, allow you to put the event on your own site, providing real streaming on panellist comments, reader comments, polls, images all in real time, export the data and archive.

If you are potentially interested in live blogging; then you may want to bookmark this page for future reference, as sure we will add some more web based tools to this page in the near future.

Perhaps you are setting up a live blog yourself, if so tell us about it and we will lurk/watch and contribute if relevant.

Keep it real make it live.

Author: Sarah Griffiths