Authors Posts by seosmarty

seosmarty

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Ann Smarty is community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas and owner of MyBlogGuest.com. Follow her on Google+ and Twitter.

What makes a good landing page?

This is a common question that most start-ups find themselves asking when preparing to launch their site. Because they are small businesses with limited funds and resources, there are no expert marketing teams and $100 per hour graphic designers to answer it for them. They have to rely on their own creativity, ingenuity and the basics that this question will teach them.

Landing Pages

It doesn’t help that most people have a different set of requirements for the perfect start-up landing page. There is no real set standard, and what might work for someone else might not work for you. This depends on what service or product it is you are attempting to sell. It affects the navigation and overall layout because of your site and user’s needs.

Does that mean you can’t find an adequate reply to the query? Luckily, no. There are a couple of ways to make sure you make the best choice in your landing page design.

Look At What You Need

Start out by looking at what it is you need in a landing page. Will it be a simple introduction with a social networking sign up option? Maybe something with a full list of products, features and contact information? Just a quick stop before moving onto the main site’s sign up documentation?

By knowing what you are required to provide to give the visitor
what they need to accept your offer, you are halfway there.

Look At What You Want To Say

Next, think of all of the information that is most important about your company. Think of how to explain the product or service, the mission statement, and the call to action. Keep in mind that this is not an About page. So the shorter the summary for these elements, the better.

You are trying to use the landing page as a quickfire way of sparking the visitor’s interest. There is nothing worse than a start up that fails to immediately explain what they are, and what they do.

Look At Others’ Landing Pages

Finally, take a peek at other landing pages that have been successful.

ZenDesk

ZenDesk

Zendesk has changed their interface from the original landing page they had. But I like this one even better. A stylish background image showing a tablet is the only real adornment. Then the sign up is presented in a large, white box in the center with a cartoon picture of a smiling Buddha. Which takes care of the connection to their business name. Super simple, with unobtrusive links to their privacy policy and terms of use.

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck

I am always a fan of websites that use dark layouts, but not black. This one uses a dark gray background for their landing page, and a similar style for the rest of their imagery. All that breaks it is the white of text, and the occasional blue touch of links and the official Twitter logo. You have a screenshot of the service, to help illustrate the purpose of the dashboard. Otherwise, there is just a small list of features, the download link with an image of Apple and Microsoft logos to show both are compatible, and sign in and ‘follow’ buttons.

DropBox

DropBox

The moment you go to the page of the download link, it gives you the standard permission pop up to begin install. I think this is very clever, as not many sites utilize this (somewhat presumptuous) tool. It can usually be assumed that visitors to this page have already chosen to get the program anyway. But the main landing page is even more direct and minimalistic. There is nothing but a small video, represented by a faded blue play button, and the download button. Scrolling below will show you a discreet menu that looks separate from the rest of the design.

Mint

Mint

Mint is a good example of a site with a higher burden of explanation than most. Because it is asking for financial account information, they set about showing exactly what they do, how they do it, and how you can access this service. Along with a couple of images and promises about security, and links to other pages explaining more in each section. But they manage to present this all without being too wordy or cluttered.

Do you have a landing page that you think provides an example of how start-ups should proceed? How about one that is a major “don’t”? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: 1.

Live Blogging Ideas and Tools: Wordfaire

I use microblogging a great deal, and Twitter is my biggest obsession. I love it, from letting people know of interesting things that happen to me throughout the day, to sharing links I have found. But it isn’t good for everything, which is why I have a primary blog for my more intensive posts that cover more information.

When it comes to an event like a conference or concert – both of which I attend regularly – I used to give a long stream of updates via Twitter. But this never did it for me, and I felt like I was really missing something. I especially felt like my followers were missing out on the intensity of the experience – especially since I couldn’t give them the level of detail the event deserved.

The good news is that over time I learned about new services that allow you to live blog. This is an up-to-date feed in an actual blog post, letting you provide as much detail as you want.

1. Live Blogging Plugin

Live Blogging Plugin for WP

Most of you reading this are probably WordPress users. There is an easy to use plugin that lets you create live blog entries from anywhere. It lets you do this through the poll feature, Meteor, Twitter and a few other sources. The best way to get a good view of how it works is through the demo video here.

Keep in mind that it doesn’t work with a small handful of themes, which is a pain. Mainly it is the comment updating that messes up, so be sure to check and make sure it is compatible with your WP theme.

2. Tumblr

Tumblr

When you are updating using images primarily, this is a great, free alternative to more complicated services. It is also a popular platform, so you will be able to really get your photos and content out there. The downside is, of course, that this is not a blogging site made for text except in small amounts. So if you are wanting long, drawn out explanations of media you post, you will want to go elsewhere.

3. Wordfaire

Wordfaire

I love Wordfaire because it is such an easy and quick service to use. Use it wherever you are. I probably use it more than anything else for live events. You just sign in using Facebook, Twitter or Google+. This will create a dashboard where you can make new posts and begin adding images or video. Comments are powered by Disqus, so it is easily accessible to anyone who wants to engage through your post. It is also very socialized, connecting your social media profiles and making it easier to share.

4. CoverItLive

CoverItLive

If your blogging platform isn’t really made for live blogging, there is help. This program is a great way to direct users to another area where you are creating live updates. Just log into your account and put in all the details to your event (including title of event, time zone, date, when it begins and ends, ect). Then copy / paste the code into your usual blog and direct users to the coverage.

They have a small free option, with 100 clicks included and API, Twitter and Facebook support, mobile support, unlimited embeds and other features. The rest of their plans range from $9.99 to $299, and a custom option on request.

Conclusion

Live blogging a convention, conference, press release or other event is a big part of offering something special to your viewers. There are many ways to do this, but as it happens is probably the best. Don’t miss out on the chance; check out these useful tools and get started.

What do you use for live blogging? Tell us in the comments.
We would love to hear from you!

Analyzing data on computer

Image Credit: ┬ęDepositphotos/ml12nan

Have you noticed the sudden rise in social commerce apps? If not, you must have had your eyes closed, because they are everywhere, and every marketing blog seems to be writing about social commerce almost constantly. Even Mark Zuckerberg admitted that this is the next wave in the technology, which is why he has focused on making Timeline so compatible with merchant services.

I have spent the past few weeks going through some of these apps, and I have to admit that a lot of them are nothing special. I can’t see the difference between analytics tools that were based around any standard online shop vs. what many of them are now.

But these seven managed to impress me, mainly because they really changed it up to focus on the social element of analytics. If you have tried some of what is out there, you know that is a rare thing indeed. So if you are looking for something more than a normal data tool with a Facebook sticker slapped on, check out these apps.

1. Moontoast

Moontoast

Everyone is talking about Moontoast lately, and it does a pretty good job of advertising itself as a trendier, edgier version of data tools. The user experiences I have read in reviews have been really positive, and it has been named one of the most advanced tools on the web. That is why companies like Universal Music and Time Fortune are two high-profile users of the product. But the “you get what you pay for” adage applies here, and that quality comes at a fairly high price. Moontoast is a good option for a professional, already-established brand that is looking to expand its reach through a great demographic understanding, but not so well placed for the little guy just starting out.

2. Campalyst

Campalyst

What I love about this tool is that it isn’t based on number of likes, which is ultimately a pointless way of attempting to measure success for a shop rather than a brand. Instead, it focuses on the profits generated from Facebook, which is a handy way of measuring ROI. It is also another popular product for professional websites looking to cash in on social commerce. The Huffington Post and Bloomburg are two examples of clients it boasts.

3. Social Report

Social Report

This is the first analytics tool that I have seen using Skype customer support for face-to-face interaction and problem solving. It has nothing to do with the performance of the app itself, but I love that personal touch and how simple and innovative it is. That is what you want in a social commerce company: innovation as it dominates a new field of business. The tool itself is pretty good, though similar to a lot of others. It has a $9-per-month starter and then three others at $39 per month, $79 per month and $159 per month. This depends on how many admins, projects and features you need. Social Report is affordable enough, and I think the live support alone makes it worth a shot.

4. Claritics

Claritics

I will say right off the bat: This analytics program is very expensive. But it is the height of professional tools, used almost entirely by medium to massive companies. It has a very basic free version that allows up to 100,000 MAU’s and installs. It also has an engagement dashboard, virtual and real commerce, virility and activities monitoring, as well as community support. The paid versions cost between $450 per month and $9,999 per month. The most popular is the $1,999 option, which gives you all features for a scale of up to 1,000,000 MAU’s and installs.

5. Iwipa

Iwipa

Don’t have $10,000 per month to throw at your social commerce development department? No worries – this is a good option for everyone from an established brand to a guy in his mother’s basement wanting to start his own comic book exchange. It’s easy to use and feature heavy, and with both free and paid versions, you can build a pretty nice fan page or storefront. I like the unlimited tabs that come with membership as well as the bookmark apps and the built-in YouTube plug-in.

6. Bazaarvoice

Bazaarvoice

This tool is unique, as it uses a review system rather than traditional profile analytics. It paints a picture of how your brand is perceived on the web by both customers and potential customers and helps to target problems areas that need to be fixed in public opinion. My advice would be to get this in addition to other social commerce platforms for a more complete view of where you stand.

7. Janrain

Janrain

I like this platform, as it focuses mainly on the personalized data of your customers and then gives you a look at what they like, don’t like, are interested in and like and save. This is compatible with multiple sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, PayPal Access, LinkedIn, Yahoo and more. They have a wider management platform to check out, like engage, capture, federate and game mechanics.

Comparing Social Commerce Analytics Tools

These tools actually make analytics interesting. That might have been how it felt to some of the people reading this now, but you guys are a little bit crazy. For those of us living in the normal realm, this was an impossibly boring part of social commerce that never inspired much excitement – until now, when there are plenty of supertools that take care of it for us.

The seven above are sure to impress you, so check them out and find the ones right for your business.

No matter how much we can be frustrated with Digg nonexistent customer support and powered-by-few story selection, we can’t ignore the site.

Why? If you are an Internet marketer, you need to know what’s hot online. If you are a link baiter, you need to know what appeals to the public. If you are a blogger, you need constant stream of news and inspiration. And if you are a social media marketer, you need to be connected to power Diggers.

So accept this, Digg is still useful and monitoring it helps a lot (I wanted to say “is a must” but then thought many successful online marketers can still do without it, so not a must but very helpful).

With the huge number of stories submitted and categories to track it is not easy to monitor Digg and spend minimum time for that. So let me share just a few most useful tools that save time but allow you to keep an eye on Digg activity:

DiggTop

DiggTop (runs on Adobe AIR). What I really love about the tool is that:

  • You can save time by not clicking through: you can get a summary of each story by clicking on it; you can also Digg the story and load associated images right within the tool.

DiggTop

  • It has a plenty of options to configure for better monitoring and notifications:

Twitter buttonsTwitter is recognized as one of the best viral marketing tools. So if you have a good post you think might go viral, Twitter is your best bet to attract people’s and ‘linkers’ attention to it.

One of the most important steps in turning Twitter into an effective viral marketing tool is to make the sharing process “smooth” – and a good Twitter button inviting nicely to spread the word can be highly effective.

Buttons That Encourage Readers to Tweet Your Posts

WordPress Plugins

Tweet this! is a fairly popular WordPress plugin that lets users easily Tweet each post of the blog. It works like any social bookmarking button that allows to share a story with two clicks. It re-directs you to your Twitter home page and redirects a Tweet containing the post title and link; all you have to do is to click “Update”:

Tweet this! WP plugin

It also includes support for Plurk, Yahoo Buzz, Delicious, Digg, Ping.fm, Reddit, and StumbleUpon.

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Image searchWhat makes image search different from text search is that people searching for images are most often looking for some entertainment rather than business-related or informative content.

What else differentiates image search is that image content is often subjective – you can ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ images; besides, more often than not you even don’t know exactly what you are looking for and what you want to find.

So here are some fun free image tools that turn searching for images into fun and also let you find you don’t know what:

Search Images by Color:

Multicolr is Flickr-based color search engines. With it you can mix up to 10 colors and select images matching the chosen color palette.

The more colors you choose, the more colorful images you get in the end:

Each search result has its own URL, so you can share it with friends. Here’s my latest pick:

Multicolr

Twitter Greasemoneky ScriptsIf you are an avid Twitterer, you must be using some third-party application to send and receive Tweets. However this doesn’t mean you don’t ever enter Twitter web interface. The following Twitter Greasemonkey plugins will encourage you to do that more often and will make your Twittering experience enjoyable.

Note: since Twitter redirects /home page to /timeline/home now, you will have to manually edit the URL of the scripts sometimes. For this right-click the Greasemonkey icon in the status bar, choose “Manage User Scripts”, choose the script that is supposed to work on your Twitter home page, select the URL and change it to /timeline/home*

Integrate:

Twitter Search Results on Google: this script displays the most recent 5 tweets for the query that you are search for, giving both real-time Twitter search results and Google results on the same page:

Google + Twitter

Wikipedia toolsLove it or hate it, Wikipedia is a valuable resource of useful information. It may be argued if the information provided is reliable (as it is added by non-experts), but what is for sure, the site stores the huge volume of data which is discusses, edited and moderated to ensure it provides value.

Another great thing about Wikipedia is that it has a great number of possible implications due to its clear “inter-linked” structure and high popularity. So, let’s have a look at various tools that make Wikipedia even more useful and “usable”.

Wikipedia Search Engines:

PowerSet is Wikipedia search engine applying its natural language processing to search. In fact, using it often saves me from the trouble to open Wikipedia pages. It offers FireFox search plugin for quicker access.

The application answers questions quite accurately. Besides, for each query the tool collects so-called “Factz”, i.e. related concepts and topics. For example, searching for ‘brand’ returns the following “Factz”:

Brand:

includes :
Westhroid, Naturethroid, Armour, Nesquik, Dinkum, Crusha, foods, Tobacco, Oysters,

uses : letters, infomercials, systems, commands, variation, spots, method and creators.

appear on :
timetables, literature, product, gasoline, sides and ends.

Powerset Wikipedia Search

Facebook ClutterDo you remember how Facebook started? When Myspace had been around for a while, Facebook popped up as a clean, clutter-free alternative that cared for their users’ privacy and security. Naturally, with growing popularity Facebook lost many of its cool features and it is no more that calm place it used to be.

Of course, you may like new” Facebook but for those who miss the “good old” Facebook, here are some tips for you on how to remove some clutter and get control over your privacy settings:

Block Facebook Applications:

You can fully opt out of sharing information through Facebook applications. For that, you need to first remove any applications you have added, and remove your permissions to all external applications that you may have used.

After that, navigate: Settings -> Privacy Settings -> Applications -> “Settings” tab

Block Facebook applications

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