Monday, June 28, 2010

5 reasons Hotels should use Foursquare

With the surge in popularity of the smart phones, social media sites like FourSquare, which offer ‘Geo location based Checkins’, are ones to watch. Foursquare allow users to ‘check in’ using mobile phones when they visit any location be it a cafe, library, office, shop, hotel etc. They can share their location with friends and win virtual badges for their activity ie: ‘ a mayor badge – for person who visits the location the most’. Find out more about Foursquare here.

The above image shows a hotel, local to our offices and a recommendation I gave; anyone who searched for ‘Hotel Du Vin’, on FourSquare, or who searches for 'Nearby Tips' when in Poole will see this review.

The Guardian wrote an article as a FourSquare user, have a read, as it explains the concept of Foursquare well: "Yesterday I took the tube into central London and walked to a random corner of Soho. I opened the app on my phone and went to the "nearby tips" section....."

Sharing with you, our top 5 reasons why hotel marketers should use FourSquare

1. Provides ability to send out offers and promotions, to local visitors, using FourSquare and interact with your customers Such as:
@ Hotel Max: Come in, show our front desk that you checked in on Foursquare and get a $20 gift card to use towards your next stay and be entered into a raffle to win a free stay!

2. FourSquare can help hotels drive repeat business, as people come back to the same place to become ‘mayor’ (receiving a badge for number of check ins) and retain their position.

3. On search of local places it allows people to find out more about you from others, i.e. This hotel has the best Wi-Fi access in Poole, and allows the hotel owners to learn from peoples comments.

4. Enhances brand regonition via increased awareness within Twitter, as many Twitter users opt to link their Foursquare account with their Twitter account, if you see that one of the people you follow regularly ‘check in’ to a certain Hotel restaurant etc, then you may be interested to find out more.

5. We’ve recently seen the site HotelChatter adding Twitter mentions and Foursquare mentions of hotels to their site under a section called Hotel Social view their story here: They are also beginning to start a list of USA Hotels using FourSquare, we will be watching this list to view how they are using this geo locater social tool.

Want to know more about FourSquare and Social Media Networks, get in touch with the Flashlight team and talk to us further about social media strategies that would suit your business.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sandcastle Event @sandbanks_beach July 12th

If you are local to Sandbanks, why not take part in a sandcastle building bonanza at Sandbanks beach in July and attempt to break a world record?

We have just found out that the Lewis-Manning Hospice in association with Dorset Business - the chamber of commerce and industry are organising an attempt to break the world record for Sandcastle Building.

The event takes place on Sandbanks Beach on Monday, July 12th. The record breaking attempt will be from 6pm to 7pm. Family fun is organised before. A few of us from Rocktime will be down there.

To join in, you need to set up a team of four, and will need to raise £150 plus VAT to take part – which will include tickets to a BBQ beach party taking place from 7.30pm to 11pm. Tickets for this event are £20 a head. Spectators of the event more than welcome, free of charge.

For more details call 01202 701000 or visit lewis-mann

If you do attend here are some tips on how to build the perfect sandcastle from The Guardian.

Thanks sent to for the photo

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Game, Set and Match Isner!!

The longest tennis match in tennis history, 11hrs and 5 minutes. American John Isner won the world's longest tennis match, beating Nicolas Mahut of France 70 games to 68 in their final set at Wimbledon. Find out what the professionals thought of the match, a few comments from the pros on Twitter (collated today & yesterday):

Bob Bryan: “We are witnessing history and there seems to be no end in sight!”

Pat Cash:
“Unbelievable Mahut and Isner 59 -59 in the 5th set!!! 10 hrs so far what a day at Wimb Dent fastest serve ever at Wimbledon 148 mph.”

Greg Rusedski: “You cannot be serious! 59 all in the 5th and seven hours later still not finished lets hope one player can at least get to 100 aces.”

Caroline Wozniacki: “the Isner – Mahut game?? 59-59 in the fifth set. They are finishing tomorrow! Crazy!!!”

Laura Robson: “Isner vs Mahut currently 34-34 in the 5th set. I’m tired just watching!”

Serena Williams: “All I can say about John Isners match- WOW”

Andy Roddick: “really really cant believe the match that took place….. will never ever ever happen again… unreal!”

Andy Murray: “This is why tennis is one of the toughest sports in the world, this will never ever be matched again”

John Isner : “feels like a million bucks!!!”

Photo courtesy of tinali778's

Friday, June 18, 2010

Google Moderator on YouTube news

YouTube has recently given a new level of interactivity to the end user by integrating Google Moderator into YouTube, allowing content developers the opportunity to receive feedback and input form their users.

Google Moderator was previously used as part of Google’s interviews with President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Find out more about Google Moderator here.

The Moderator allows you to ask for ideas or questions on a topic of your choice and have the community vote for the best ones in real time.

The video above provides a good example of user interaction titled: “The Summer of You! Foodwishes First Contest Ever! In Honor of YouTube's New Moderator Feature”. Go to this page on YouTube see the voting in action.

How it works is explained by YouTube below:

“Here’s how it works: You set the parameters for the dialogue, including the topic, the type of submissions, and the length of the conversation. Watch as submissions get voted up or down by your audience, and then respond to the top-voted submissions by posting a video on your channel. The platform operates in real-time, and you can remove any content that you or your audience flag as inappropriate. You can also embed the platform on your own website or blog“

Find out more information and view some examples on how the feature is being used over at the YouTube Blog.

On review of the above video in 2 weeks, 503 people submitted 200 ideas and cast 4,169 votes, will be interesting to see how the Google Moderator feature in YouTube catches on.

Author: Sarah Griffiths

Friday, June 04, 2010

Geek Video of the month

This video is a definite winner this month. Parrot AR Drone has developed a Wi-Fi helicopter with 2 cameras!! The Wi-Fi helicopter can be controlled by the iPhone and IPod Touch, allowing you to play the augmented reality game indoors or outdoors. Depending on the applications the user downloaded, it will open up a whole new world to the user, they can take part in wild races or discover aliens hidden in their living room. Pretty cool. Watch the video and to find out more about this new concept of video gaming using augmented reality, then visit the developers site here: or follow their conversations over at Twitter @ardrone.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Value of Conversion Analytics

Working alongside our clients we are very much focused on their conversions rates via delivering more traffic to see improvements in sales; finding niche portals to stir up interest in products and services; creating social media campaigns to encourage interaction; inviting people to engage further with the brand with user generated content & reviews; advising clients to use our voucher code module via our CMS to encourage some quick win conversions, or to promote an available discount offer etc etc. Conversion rates and benchmarks are of course very useful to have and it is vital that you review them, they are not only important for the client to help determine the return on investment (ROI) of their marketing spend but also for ourselves, as an agency to help prove our capabilities in delivering results. Conversion rates are also particularly effective when listed alongside overall business targets.

We of course all like to see the figures/conversion rates rise. When they don’t rise in a particular month it could be that a referral site didn’t perform as well as the previous month, or perhaps the PPC budget was reduced, or social networking activity was lowered, or SEO activity needs to be increased. We keep track as much as we can on site changes that may affect our client’s conversion rates, this is dependent on learnt knowledge from the client on their ‘out of agency’ marketing activity i.e.: events they are attending, newspaper/magazine adverts, and radio announcements. Having this knowledge then help us to determine where the ‘conversion value’ is derived from. So that we don’t shout, “Hey didn’t we do well”, only to find out they have had a national radio advertisement promoting their site to the whole of the UK !!

It is very easy to focus on these ‘marketing outposts’ and point the finger of ‘that performed well’ or ‘give blame’ to an outpost when performance reduces. Every now and then, if not every month, or week (if you have the budget and desire) it is important that we step back from these conversion rates and start to look at the site as a whole.

Some key considerations to focus on when reviewing site performance include the below: I am passing this blog post around to my colleagues for additional input):

* Remember some customers may arrive at your site, simply to window shop, to compare prices, to show their friend some interesting content. They have no reason to buy, book or order from you, they are there to browse, dream, who knows. I know I certainly browse a lot and yet have no intention to buy.

* Others may of heard about your site, thought to pop by to check you out, they may be job hunting, visiting to seek out inspiration on an article they are writing, or they may be looking for assistance with an order, trying to find your email, or possibly looking to unsubscribe from your emails.

Moving on

It would be interesting to find out the main reason why people are visiting your site, asking them a little question “Why are you here today?” then segmenting the reasons people visit, maybe with a site redesign to capture those markets. I believe B&Q did this at one point with a new landing page for a limited period asking ‘are you here to browse or buy?’ (I of course clicked browse). The landing page wasn’t intrusive and I quite liked the fact that they were placing me into a category, I actually thought it was going to change my website experience, it didn’t and I soon forgot about the landing page as I moved around the site.

In designing a new site it would be very positive to review the pages people visit. In Google Analytics you can action this in the ‘Top Content Report’; reviewing whether they are visiting the Help pages, the Articles, the Latest News, the Products/Services etc. If you then determine that the majority of visitors to your site are there to view your products/services and are not converting, then it will become clear that there is possibly more you can do, to convince them to buy/order/book from you. The number of areas you can report on with web analytics are/is vast, you can delve in as deep as your budget and/or time will allow. I have always stuck to the 80/20 rule, 80% analysis and 20% reporting which I obtained from a Web Analytic Guru at some stage of my career. A big tip: If you focus your analysis alongside your overall company objectives then the data will be more meaningful to you, you will then ask more questions of your data and want to understand more.

If an increase in sales is a target, then you may wish to review whether ‘offer banner 1’ performed better than ‘offer banner 2’ or whether the E-newsletter brought in the right type of converting customers. If it is an objective to increase the number of new visitors to your site, then you may wish to report on how many people completed the ‘Recommend to a friend online sheet’, did you give an incentive and did this work??. Alternatively, or additionally, if you are keen to see if your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy is performing, then you could start by reviewing the number of ‘keywords’ people are using to access your site, is this increasing on the long-tail (as in long key-phrases). Did the changes in creating unique and compelling content effect the overall conversion rate?

Oh, arrived back at conversion rates again, it is very easy to do. This blog post has mainly been to promote that you should be ‘aware’ not just to ‘point the finger’ at your goal/conversion rate or the funnel, but to look at the bigger picture and note that not everyone is visiting you to convert anyway. I imagine the Apple UK site had a large conversion rate when the iPad was launched in the UK, this was created by viral spread of the news; consider, could you follow suit and create a ‘viral’ to encourage the right customer to visit your site and convert??

If you are feeling that your conversion rates are rather static at the moment and believe your site needs a review, revamp or possible boost, then talk to Rocktime Sales and together we can discuss how we can help. Give them a call or drop them a message over at our contact form.

Hope this has been useful. We are soon to embark the above activity on our site, so if you see a little message saying “Why are you here today?” you know the reason, we are simply trying to understand our audience better.

Author: Sarah Griffiths @Sarah Griffiths

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Google May Day Update increases long tail traffic

Over the Bank Holiday we are sure that the majority of you were out in the garden; clearing out the wardrobe; or planning your Euro-Vision party: Rocktime’s Head of Search was busy finding out about what has been named the Google’s ‘May Day Update’. She shares with us her insights below:

May Day Update Undercover Reporting

There were several blog posts & forum chats to sift through which stated that the update had dramatically increased or decreased traffic to sites, so this change was one worth investigating. After sifting through the techie rumours, I identified that the update really is pretty straightforward and impacts “the long tail traffic”, which are generally from longer tail queries that fewer people search for individually. No drama. We have been focused on the long tail for some time now.

The new algorithm update gives continued emphasis on page quality, to give smaller sites more of a chance in ranking highly. It appears (from forums and blogs) that the larger sites, with weak content but a lot of trust (links) are moving down positions in natural search. To help explain this, we envisage that the E-commerce sites will be most affected, especially those with individual product pages, found deep in the navigation path, which have the product content pulled in from the manufacturers database. The content is likely not to be unique and hold little substance with regards to page quality. In summary, a large site with lots of pages, which generally fared well in search results before, could now find itself dropping position, if they haven’t got a unique angle on their content and on the information they provide to their customers. Amazon should remain OK as they have unique product descriptions and user reviews.

A few search marketing managers & web masters are citing that Google has changed their Algorithm to purely push those larger sites down and obtain more advertising revenue from them (Adwords), we (amongst others) disagree, this is purely a quality change, giving Google users the most relevant site for their query.

Matt Cutts (Google) posted a video on the update; see above. The news on the change is very brief, so you may want to read a deeper and well explained review over at ‘search engine land’ – Google Confirms “Mayday” update and the impacts on long tail traffic, by Vanessa Fox.

The fact that the algorithm change was rolled out between April 28th and May 3rd means that you could go into your analytic package and see if you notice a drop, or an increase, to then determine whether you have been affected by this change. It would be a positive move to review whether the change has been effected by a number of referrals, or the number of pages that are receiving traffic. Look closely at the number of keyword (from organic search) driving visitors to your website, look at your key-phrase positioning reports to note if any phrases have dropped position. Then strategise on how these can be improved or enhanced.

Most of the reviews out there are rightly saying “Don’t Panic”, which is very good advice indeed. If you are constantly practising high quality SEO, building relevant pages, making content compelling enough that people will want to share and generally improving on page and in content navigation, then we are sure you will be fine. Do keep reviewing who is ranking above you and consider why Google are deeming them to have a higher quality than your site, could it be that they have ‘user comments’ on their sites, regularly update their site or encourage page sharing (badges, widgets, bookmark icons).

Google made more than 500 changes to their algorithm last year alone and 99% of the time none of us even notice. All you need to remember is, it is Google’s mission to display the most relevant and useful page to their customers on search. We do harp on to our clients quite alot about relevancy and page quality, apologies for that, but as you can see from the above update, it has been worth it.

Should you require any assistance with your SEO strategy you can of course contact the Rocktime Flashlight team who are practicing high quality SEO on a number of websites right now.

Author: Sarah Griffiths @sarahgriffiths