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Eight Best Practices for SEO Internal Link Structure

Posted in Tips on 21 November 2014

Any competitive website is constantly updating, understanding and enforcing its SEO. With billions of websites to compete with, ensuring that your website is appealing to your target audience as well as the search engines is absolutely essential. One of the most useful methods of improving content marketing SEO is using internal linking.

Why Use Internal Linking?

Internal links, unlike external links, provide instantaneous access to another page or section within the same website. External links, in contrast, point to information within external domains and other websites. Using internal links vastly improves the SEO of a website by providing clear paths to authoritative and relevant information for both Internet users and search engines. By pointing to specific pieces of interesting and useful information, internal links demonstrate the value and importance of your website, and highlight why search engines should display your website within their search results.

How do I Use and Create Internal Links?

Understanding the importance of internal links is one thing. Creating and using them effectively, is another thing entirely.

Here are some tips for structuring your internal links so that they benefit your website and improve your SEO.

Make Your Homepage Useful

With navigation tabs as a prominent feature of any website, the homepage is typically one of the easiest pages to link to. Most Internet users will visit your homepage whenever they visit your website. As a result, the homepage is often the highest ranking page of your website, and is the one with the most authority. So, use this wisely.

Optimizing your homepage to make it a source of internal links to relevant and useful information is one of the best ways to link to other webpages within your website. Linking to specific pages will highlight important information throughout your site, creating paths that are appealing to both Internet users and search engines. There are back link tools you can use, but you want to be cognizant of how they are used. Too much back link building, too quickly can backfire.

Use Appealing and Relevant Anchor Text Within Hyperlinks

Anchor text is the clickable text within a hyperlink, and allows users to move immediately to another relevant webpage. Anchor text is used as the link title – the words used within the anchor text should ideally be specific to the information you’re linking to. Accessories such as the WordPress plugin, SEO Smart Internal Links, helps you do this by automatically hyper-linking to keywords within other pages of your website.

Provide a Clear Route to Your Information

One of the most well-known tips for website design is to ensure that the Internet user does not have to visit more than three of your webpages to find their target information. The importance of this tip should not be underestimated; according to a KPMG web branding study, over 90 percent of online hotel reservation websites conform to this process. In addition, the UK government’s business advice site, Business Link, states that this tip is one of the best practices of web design.

Use Breadcrumb Navigation Features

This navigation feature typically appears at the top of any webpage and displays the precise location of the webpage within your website. This tells the reader where they are, and what section of your website they are in. While this does not provide internal links embedded within the text of each webpage, it still acts as an incredibly useful method of internal linking. Downloads such as WordPress’s SEO Plugin will help you use this feature and optimize your navigation tools within your website.

Display Useful Sidebars, Widgets and Navigational Links

Adding different widgets and navigational links to each webpage will help Internet users find relevant information on your website. Customizing and optimizing your widgets and sidebars will ensure that readers see something that will interest them. Link building tools such as the Widget Context plugin can help you do this by ensuring that specific widgets and links are displayed depending on what type of content the Internet user has selected to read. In addition, understanding which links and content will be commonly searched for will allow you to select useful links and add them to your sidebars and footers .

Consider the Positioning of Your Internal Links Within Your Text

This is a particularly useful tip: readers can stop reading your article whenever they want. Consequently, ensuring that internal links are positioned within the top section of your webpage will make these links more likely to be clicked on. As a result, search engines will rank these links more importantly. Placing keywords and links within the first few sections of text on each webpage will make them more visible, rather than leaving them right at the bottom of your article.

Internal linking is a vital method of improving your website’s SEO and rankings. When used efficiently and carefully, these links provide useful paths for Internet users and help them find the information they’ve been looking for. The more user-friendly and useful your website is, (with good use of article writing) the more likely search engines will display your website within their search results.

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Attack of the Botnets

Posted in News on 21 November 2014

Ever wonder how Google knows what’s on your website? Have you ever been infected by malware or a computer virus? Ever pondered how these spammers got your email address? I have one word for you: BOTs! The World Wide Web is crawling with them. Spider bots to index your website, evil bots that can make you wish you never had a computer, bots that scrape the web for ID information, and bots that you can buy ― but unfortunately break search engine rules ― which then render your domain as an outcast in a sandbox kingdom that no one can find.

Bot is short for robot or “Web robot,” a type of software program designed to automate some functions. They can come in a wide variety of online programs. Similar to “Wizards and Witches,” there are “Good bots” and “Bad bots.” Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc., all use “Good” search bots to scour your properties’ content to index that information (i.e., search for subject matter, meta- and alt-tags, keywords, and backlinks to other sites such as your social nets and partner websites).

Good Bots

Spider Bots – Also known as Search Bots; these are used by search engines to explore Web pages for content, organization and linking. Spider bots have certain criteria for indexing and determining the ranking of Web pages within the search results.

Trading Bots – These bots scroll through the online auction sites (such as eBay) to locate the best deals on a specific product or service. In this case, a trading bot is used for commercial gain.

Media Bots – These provide updates on weather conditions, news and sports, currency exchange, and are used as censors in applications that run chat rooms and Instant Messenger (IM) programs.

Bad Bots

Spam Bots – These bots spider the Internet to collect data from forms that have been filled out online, spreading advertisements and pop-ups throughout the Internet, and collecting email addresses for the purpose of spamming.

Hacker Bots – Used by hackers to crawl around the Internet and find vulnerabilities in websites and online applications so they can exploit them for malicious purposes.

Download Bots – These forcibly download a Web page that the hacker wants surfers to see instead of a Web page surfers had requested.

Malware/Virus Bots – These bots can infect and turn your computer into a zombie (read below).

Click Bots – These can eat up your Pay Per Click funds or trick you into following them by showing up in your Analytics.

Scraper Bots – These can scour websites collecting various types of ID information.

It’s important to understand one unchanging principle of programming and tools in general: All of these bots are tools. The purpose of a tool is to increase your efficiency. To do more in less time. In this regard, bots, being automated programs, are powerful tools. In the right hands, they can have a positive productive result. In the wrong hands, the results can be malicious, devastating and in worse cases, downright evil.

Beware of the Botnet Zombies!

According to Norton, the Bad bot types “are one of the most sophisticated and popular types of bots used in cybercrimes today.” The cybercriminals that control these bots are called bot-herders or bot-masters. These are used to perform malicious acts and to breach network security protocols. These Bad bots also facilitate a hackers’ ability to acquire and subvert many computers at a time, creating a “botnet.” PCs (including Macs) that have been subverted by bots and/or a botnet are known as zombies.

The unfortunate PC that becomes a zombie computer is now linked to other zombies across the world. It is now enslaved to a specific network, a collective “botnet,” that’s used to spread viruses. They then create spam and engage in other types of illegal activities and fraud online. Frequently, the users/owners of the hapless computers that’ve been turned into zombies don’t even know their machines are infected and are being used for nefarious purposes. However, there can be telltale signs such as a computer operating slower (which can be caused by many other, less invasive issues), the display of mysterious messages, seeing the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death,” or other signs that something’s gone awry. It may seem as if your once seemingly intelligent operating system has now undergone a loBOTomy.

How large are botnets? Prepare yourself… Some botnets may “only” have a few hundred or few thousand computers. However, others can and have had as many as tens and even hundreds of thousands of now-infected computer zombies available to do their bot-master’s ill will.

Stealthy and Mischievous

There are different ways a PC or smart device can become infected. Because of the automated nature, these bots spread themselves out, spanning the Internet in search of vulnerable unprotected computers. Upon accessing an unprotected computer, they rapidly insert themselves into the machine and then report back to their controller. Then, like a criminal or terrorist in-hiding amongst the general population, they lie and wait incognito, until receiving a command to execute a specific task.

One common method for a bot program to gain access to your system is when you’re visiting a website and it deceptively baits you into downloading or clicking on a tempting link (such as a free movie, MP3 or picture), thus giving it a chance to infiltrate your system. Another frequently used method is coupling the bot as a file attached to spam emails sent to the user, or as a program dropped from another piece of malware. Similarly, tempting links can be posted to your social nets, infecting your social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). So remember when you’re surfing the web or your social sites, there are lots of nasty “critters” out there that would delight in nothing more than infecting your PC to take control of its functions.

Some of the automated tasks that a bot and/or botnet may hijack your PC to perform:

Sending – May include software, spam and viruses.

Stealing – Can include personal and/or private information and then send it back to the bot-master. Credit card numbers, bank credentials and other sensitive personal information, including any financial information or personal health records are within their grasp.

DoS (Denial of Service) – Similar to kidnapping; this includes launching DoS attacks against a specified target. Cybercriminals often extort money from website owners in exchange for them regaining control of the now-compromised site or PC. Cybercriminals by nature, are like geeky bullies. They often attack regular computer users because they are the easiest targets. Young hackers may be motivated by curiosity and because they enjoy the thrill of the challenge. However, most attacks are motivated by financial gains, with the remainder being perpetrated by cyber warfare countries and by “Hacktivists.”

Clickfraud – Ever more frequently these days, the Bad Bot Boys use bots to increase the cost of online advertising by automatically clicking on Internet ads. They may also be used to trick you into following their links to increase their traffic.

Financial Fraud – Mining digital currency, such as Bitcoin.

Diversionary Tactics – Sometimes bot attacks are used to mask other hack attacks. The bot attack keeps the I.T. administrator or webmaster busy fighting the DoS attack, while the hacker launches the secondary attack to gain access to their real objective (financial data, bank transactions, etc.).

Creating Havoc

Botnets cause huge financial losses every year. In 2013, the cost to the world was estimated to be between $375 to $575 billion. The security of individuals, businesses, financial institutions and even governments are all at risk. First and foremost, the information and interconnectivity of any system that has been subverted into a botnet is no longer in the original user’s control. It’s like being a pilot and having one’s airplane hijacked. Especially considering that many people store highly sensitive material on their PCs such as financial information, login and password credentials, email lists, electronic health records, etc. All of this is now available to be misused by the bot-masters.

Just imagine what happens when the zombie-ized machines belong to a major corporation or governmental organization. Given the frightening nature of these botnets, the severity of their attacks can accumulate, as key commerce, utilities and or social services are all at critical risk. Guess what? These types of attacks have already happened to our financial institutions, large corporations and government institutions, sometimes daily. (Remember the incidents involving JP Morgan, Chase, Home Depot, Target, and HealthCare.gov?)

One doesn’t have to be a bot-herder or bot-master to engage in malicious botnet activity. Anyone intent on wreaking havoc online ― an individual wanna’ be hacker, syndicate organizations, terrorist groups, hacktivist groups, enemy countries, etc. ― can instigate these disruptive activities in cyberspace simply by renting botnet services from a cybercriminal.

According to the report, “Botnets, Cybercrime and Cyberterrorism, Vulnerabilities and Policy Issues for Congress”: “Cybercrime is becoming more organized and established as a transnational business. High technology online skills are now available for rent to a variety of customers, possibly including nation states, or individuals and groups that could secretly represent terrorist groups. The increased use of automated attack tools by cybercriminals has overwhelmed some current methodologies used for tracking Internet cyberattacks, and vulnerabilities of the U.S. critical infrastructure, which are acknowledged openly in publications, could possibly attract cyberattacks to extort money, or damage the U.S. economy to affect national security … New and sophisticated cybercrime tools could operate to allow a nation state or terrorist group to remain unidentified while they direct cyberattacks through the Internet.”

To Bot or Not to Bot? That is the Question.

One of the first things we recommend is to take personal responsibility in real time. What does that mean? Don’t engage in online behavior that can compromise your security. Stay away from questionable websites, and above all, use multiple layers of anti-malware to warn you of potentially malicious websites and social pursuit. To read a list of security programs and other steps you can take to protect yourself, read our previous blog, “The Scariest Stuff Online.” You may also get a copy of our latest book, “Working the Web to Win,” which has a chapter devoted to this subject.

Just last month, “PC Magazine,” in an article entitled “The Best Antivirus for 2014,” recommended the protection programs of Panda, Kaspersky, Norton and Bitdefender. Also high on its list was the cloud-based behavioral monitoring of Webroot SecureAnywhere Antivirus. We also highly recommend you install secondary adware/malware programs such as Malwarebytes or Advanced System Care. Microsoft also recommends that you ensure your system is patched with the most current Microsoft Windows Update.

In this article, we discussed what are bots and botnets. We gave examples of “Good bots” and “Bad bots.” We further provided, in greater detail, explanations of what they are, how they infiltrate into computers, tablets and smartphones, and then proceed to aggregate networks of digital devices to do the bidding of their cybercriminal masters. We then discussed the different ways in which botnets are used to wreak havoc across the Internet. Lastly, we provided links you can check out to stay informed, along with steps you can take to protect your systems including key recommendations of the top antimalware applications everyone should use to protect their digital smart devices from becoming prey to Bad bots and malevolent botnets.

If you found this article useful, please feel free to share and repost it. We welcome your opinion and comments related to this article, just add them to the Comments section below.

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Will Google’s Inbox Service Make Gmail Obsolete?

Posted in News on 21 November 2014

Google is a corporation that loves transformation, the constant dynamic energy of change and innovation. As a company, it has, in part, thrived and become a technology powerhouse because it is not afraid to completely reinvent any or all of its products, always aiming for improvements and for the creation of the next best thing. Whether or not Google’s legions of fans embrace all this change and transformation is another story, however, and they have learned the hard way to often ease into major change with popular products.

Enter one of Google’s most successful offerings to date: The mighty Gmail. In a way, Gmail is a problem for Google because of its immense popularity and loyalty. Any changes made to Gmail over the years have often been received with tremendous outcry and protest. (Remember when those Social and Promotional tabs first appeared? It was as if the apocalypse hit for some.) So the company that loves to innovate and polish has been backed into a corner with one of the most popular activities in the digital world: Sending email.

Instead of revamping a tool that millions are obsessed with, Google is dealing with the task of upgrading the email experience by launching an entirely new service. Google Inbox, now in beta, is the answer Google has to the question many have been asking lately: How can we evolve the process of email, and make our lives feel less cluttered and more organized?

Whether Inbox is an answer to those cries for help or just a new shade of lipstick on the same dysfunctional pig is not yet known. But Inbox is definitely different. Very different. For some, that’s a godsend. For others, it’s a nightmare. Read on to find where you stand.

What Makes Google Inbox Unique

Inbox is a vastly different beast from Gmail, and that fact is apparent the moment you login. Built more for a mobile experience than desktop, Inbox is full of animations, graphical buttons, and elements of Google’s obsession with its Material Design philosophy. It has a less is more philosophy in a visual sense, which is why it’s ideal for smaller screens. At the same time, Inbox is super rich on new organizational features that aim to make email a more manageable, less time-consuming task.

Since it’s built more for a mobile audience, information density is not what Inbox offers. Instead, you now have significantly more power in deciding how to organize each individual email. You’ll especially love Inbox if you’re a fan of turning emails into a task list. If all you do is read and respond to emails with little to no classification or organization, Inbox probably isn’t for you. If you have been hungry for more ability to group and monitor emails and segment important ones from non-urgent matters you can reply to at a later date, prepare to fall in
love.

Snooze Your Way to an Organized Inbox

One of the most notable features in Inbox is the ability to “snooze” an email based on either time parameters or your location. For time it works like this: You can snooze an email with the intention of replying in hours, a day, a week, or even randomize it with “someday”. Based on these parameters, the email will appear in your inbox again as requested. That way your emails can be out of sight and out of mind until they truly need your attention.

To snooze by location, you separate your emails into things you need to do at work, at home, or in any other physical space. The emails you mark as Office while you’re at home won’t appear back
in your inbox until you physically step back in to the workplace. In this way, Inbox makes the overwhelming list of emails we all sometimes face a thing of the past.

For those emails that require attention without the need for categorizing or organizing, Google has given us Pins. Pins are similar to the star system currently in Gmail, but on steroids. Pins let you mark the urgency of an email you intend to reply to quickly, and then unpin and thus delete. It’s therefore a lightning fast way to delineate messages that need a quick response, but don’t need to be saved nor monitored.

For Google Inbox, It’s All About Organization

Ultimately, Inbox works if you’re after a more organized and streamlined email experience. You can set reminders around the times of day you wish to respond to your messages, and flag individual emails in all kinds of creative ways. Is this the answer to your email prayers? Perhaps – if you’re a heavy user, Inbox will make your life easier. If you’re not a fan of Gmail, Inbox likely won’t win you over. And remember it is definitely still in beta mode, so know that Google is still working out usability kinks and certain issues with flow.

It also remains to be seen what the fate of Gmail will be if Inbox takes off. It doesn’t make a lot of sense that Google might maintain two separate email products, so expect the two to merge and share features at some point in the near future. That’s a road Google will have to walk very lightly, for obvious reasons; they don’t want to upset the legions of fans for one of their most popular products. Yet many of us have long lamented that Gmail needs a facelift, and Inbox delivers in spades. We shall see who becomes the belle of the email ball; for now, it’s nice to have options.

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Is Mobile Usability Now A Search Ranking Factor?

Posted in News on 21 November 2014

In recent months, we’ve seen Google take a particular interest in the mobile usability of the sites it displays in its search results. One way in which we’ve seen this emphasis is in Google’s testing of ‘not mobile-friendly’ icons next to poorly optimized sites. I recently wrote about this in my article Is Google Changing Mobile Search Results?

While it appears Google is currently only testing this feature on a very limited basis, it’s a good indication of where Google is placing emphasis these days.

We also know that, for over a year now, Google has been penalizing sites that generate errors for mobile users. The purpose behind this has been to de-prioritize sites that contain videos that are not accessible on mobile devices, as well as sites that contain faulty redirects (for instance, sites that are configured to direct smartphone users to a site’s homepage regardless of the URL they request).

Another way we’re seeing this emphasis is in a new feature in Google Webmaster Tools called Mobile Usability. Users can now see how their site performs on mobile devices, as well as receive specific warnings to indicate areas of potential improvement. To view this feature, look under Search Traffic and then Mobile Usability:

While mobile usability is not currently confirmed to be an official ranking factor, it seems clear that it’s only a matter of time before it is. In a recent Google Webmaster article Google says: “Because global web traffic from mobile devices is on the rise, and recent studies show that mobile visitors are more likely to revisit mobile-friendly sites, mobile usability is now relevant for optimal search results.” (emphasis theirs).

And in a statement made to Search Engine Land, Google seems to confirm this: “Because at Google we are aiming to provide a great user experience on any device, we’re making a big push to ensure the search results we deliver reflect this principle. We want users to be able to enjoy the web wherever they are.”

In light of this, what should business owners and webmasters do to ensure sites are properly mobile-optimized? To break it down, let’s take a look at the common errors you may see in your Google Webmaster Tools account, and how you can fix or avoid them.

6 Primary Mobile Usability Errors and What You Can Do About Them

Fortunately, Google tells us exactly which usability issues can cause warnings in our GWT account. Following are the 6 primary errors you may receive, as well as what you can to avoid or fix them.

1. Flash usage: You may receive this error for a page that relies on Flash-based content. Because most mobile devices will not be able to display this content, this can be a significant problem for your mobile users.

What you can do to avoid or fix this: This is an easy one: avoid using Flash on your site as much as possible. Flash-based sites are notorious for being unreliable, unstable and inconsistent, so getting rid of Flash will be sure to make both Google and your website visitors happy.

2. Viewport not configured: If your site isn’t using a responsive design, you may not have properly specified the meta viewpoint tag. This means your site visitors may not be able to view your site properly across a variety of screen sizes.

What you can do to avoid or fix this: Switch to a responsive design for your site. With Google telling us that there’s a mobile device penetration of over 50% in the US, not having a mobile friendly site means missing out on a huge chunk of potential traffic.

3. Fixed-width viewport: You will see this error if certain pages of your site have been set to a fixed pixel width in order to adapt to mobile screen sizes.

What you can do to avoid or fix this: Switch to a responsive website design.

4. Content not sized to viewport: If certain pages require horizontal scrolling in order to view certain words or images, you may receive this error message.

What you can do to avoid or fix this: When determining CSS values, be sure to use relative width and position values rather than fixed ones. This can be avoided by adopting a responsive design for your site.

5. Small font size: If you’ve ever had to reverse-pinch to zoom in on unreadable text on your mobile device, you know just how ‘unusable’ a small font can be.

What you can do to avoid or fix this: Specify a viewport for your pages, then set your font sizes to properly scale within the viewport. Some best practices in terms of size are setting your base font size to 16 CSS pixels, and then making all your other font sizes relative to your base font.

6. Touch elements too close: If your buttons, icons or navigational links are too close to each other, it can be difficult for your mobile users to click on them without accidentally hitting two at once.

What you can do to avoid or fix this: Given that the average adult finger pad size is 10mm, Google recommends a minimum tap target size of 7mm and an appropriate amount of space between targets.

This is likely a trend that’s going to become even more important over the coming months, so now’s the time to ensure your site is properly optimized and accessible on all types of devices.

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Lesson from Inbox: Email marketing needs to be 'expected and relevant'

Posted in Tips on 21 November 2014

What advice do you have for email marketers that may be panicking because of Inbox or ready to seize the new opportunities presented?

Ryan Phelan: Sit down, take a deep breath and relax. This happened the last time with tabs, remember? And since then the world has not devolved into apocalyptic chaos. Many freaked out then, and we are starting to see the same thing now. My phone's been ringing off the hook with marketers saying, "What do we do?" My response? Well, nothing right now, let's look at the numbers first and realize that Google rolls new stuff out in phases. This is a limited release, so we have time to see what impact this really does have. Additionally, we need to remember that impact is not based on what you believe the consumer will do, it's based in the metrics. Before marketers panic, perform the due diligence. You're talking about a small population (now) only on mobile and one platform. Let's see how the dust settles. Your email is less about how the user experience of one receiver is and more about what resonance your email has with the consumer on a regular basis.

 

Beyond that, I think marketers again have time to start to concentrate on the real problem, which is the blatant abuse of the inbox by not moving (like the rest of the Internet) toward an informed conversation. Start 2015 out right by looking at the data first and the sale second.

But please, relax first and stop freaking out.

Chad White: Don't panic. The adoption of Inbox is going to be slow. It's starting at zero and for the time being, Inbox is by invitation only, just like Gmail was initially. Even once it becomes freely available, people have to go and download it. This is radically different than the rollout of Tabs, which was pushed to a huge installed base of Gmail users over the course of a couple of months. Inbox is a not a sea-change, but rather a groundswell that won't be felt in any significant way until well into next year.

However, the call-to-action for marketers is clear: Your emails need to be both expected and relevant, because email users have a growing number of tools to manage their inboxes efficiently. Solid permission practices are key to starting relationships off on the right foot. There's an ever-growing need to send personalized and targeted content by managing customer journeys, creating one-to-one recommendations using predictive intelligence and segmenting messages to custom audiences. And, of course, smart rendering across devices is expected.

After a decade of inbox staleness, the email channel has evolved quite a bit over the past few years — What's next?

White: First, going forward we'll see much of the innovation focused on the mobile inbox. That's where the growing audience is. Webmail will continue to slowly shrink, so those providers aren't likely to invest too much more than they have to in those going forward. Google with Gmail has really been the exception, but I wonder now if they were to a degree using Gmail as a test bed to inform their development of Inbox.

Second, as the wearable market takes off, email marketers are going to encounter more challenging form factors. Watches, glasses, and earpieces will create new design challenges for marketers when it comes to communicating via email. We'll see the addition of a least two more layers to responsive email design: desktop >> tablet >> smartphone >> wearables with tiny displays >> voice- and gesture-controlled audio-only devices.

 

And third, one piece of unequivocally good news is that image blocking is likely to gradually go away over the next five years. The spam, security, and bandwidth rationales behind blocking images are getting weaker all the time. So we should see more inbox providers join Gmail in turning images on by default.

Over the past decade, we've seen the definition of "spam" completely redefined, engagement-based filtering adopted, inboxes go mobile with HTML capabilities thanks to the introduction of the iPhone, social media dramatically affect email content, and personalization and targeting capabilities grow from infancy to adolescence. The next decade will prove just as dynamic and keep all email marketers on their toes.

Phelan: I think you're going to see the other receivers getting on the Google bandwagon more aggressively. You might see an "arms race" in terms of who organizes better and innovates. Receivers have had good feedback on the changes they've implemented, which will beg the question "How do I make it even better?" I believe that you're also going to see more and more pressure being put on the marketer by the receivers. They don't want to lose market share and in turn revenue, and they're going to start telling us in louder terms how they reward loyalty to brands by consumers.

The innovative and responsible use of data is not going to diminish. We've crossed a threshold where companies continue to prove that it works very well. Compression by receivers in consumable content will continue and those that fail to recognize that path will stop innovating and be conquered by those who met and exceeded the future.

 

Data, attribution and a respect of the customer is where we are. Don't get left behind because your email program only costs you $.002 per email. Receivers are not going to go backward and decide that irrelevant email is OK. They're innovating and we had better be out there doing the same thing.

Google and other receivers have changed the email game very fast and recently. If you're not accustomed to change, maybe now is the time to start to pivot.

Jay Jhun: In order for Inbox by Gmail to become a real force of nature in email, Google would have to eliminate the Gmail app (which it probably can't — and likely won't) or the features on Inbox would have to be rolled into the Gmail app as a default state. It makes you wonder whether the Inbox app is really just a convenient testing silo for Gmail innovation. The bottom line for today: Stay calm. Watch and wait.

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How to improve your mailing list before everyone unsubscribes

Posted in Tips on 21 November 2014

Reply-all disasters are so common, they have their own Wikipedia page.

They're so ubiquitous, even, that the bad manners of reply-all offenders overshadow the bad manners of those who make and distribute mailing lists in the first place. While the listservs that dominated the 2000s may not be as common anymore, mailing lists are still central to the operation and social functioning of companies, universities and other associations. (For the record, "listserv" refers to a software used to send mass emails; "mailing list" is the colloquial term.)

We've compiled 11 tips that will help you improve your mailing list etiquette — and maximize effectiveness, while you're at it.

1. Repeat to yourself: Listservs are public.

Think about what you're sending before you send it — if it belongs in a private email or makes more sense to send to an individual, you shouldn't send it through a mailing list.

Also check the recipient of the email before you send it. This year, the University of Virginia's top-ranked law school sent admissions stats of more than 100 people who applied for clerkships to a listserv of all those applicants, and then sent another email with subject line "PLEAE DELETE IMMEDIATELY."

But we all know email doesn't work like that.

2. Don't add unwilling recipients.

Nobody wants to be on a mailing list you didn't request, so just don't do it. If you do add someone accidentally, or if recipients eventually want to be removed, don't make it difficult for them. If you can do it yourself, do it immediately. If you use a mailing list client, give clear instructions on how recipients can remove themselves (or include those instructions in an email signature for specific lists).

People already receive enough emails willingly. Unless they slashed your tires, or something — then a mailing list sounds like a great punishment.

3. Timing is everything.

There's a lot of data out there concerning the best times to send emails in order to achieve the highest open rates.

Send emails in the morning, when people are first opening their inboxes — between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. — and when they check their email again after eating dinner, but before they go to bed — between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. According to reports, Tuesday and Saturday both have high open rates.

4. Be consistent, not persistent.

In short, don't flood inboxes. It's a bad idea to become known as an extremely persistent mailing list, because too many emails can desensitize or annoy recipients, and therefore hurt open rates. Commit to sending emails either weekly or biweekly, and then everyone on the mailing list knows when to expect messages.

5. Use a brief but descriptive subject line.

Think of your subject line as an elevator pitch — it should be brief and capture attention so your audience will want to find out more. If you're sending a list of updates or summarizing a recent event, using a subject line like "Updates from Nov. 7 meeting" may turn people off from opening the email. Instead, include the best or most compelling parts of the message and use those.

6. Know the appropriate message length.

Too long and you'll lose interest, too short and your email could seem pointless. Sending a consistent number of emails will help with this, as too many emails corresponds with fewer updates in each one, but a good rule is to observe how many paragraphs your email contains. Readers lose interest when they initially see too much text. Essential information should be included at the beginning, where people are less likely to start skimming.

7. Organize dense text.

Have a lot of updates? Instead of relegating each one to a paragraph, use bullet points in order to direct readers' eyes to a list. If there are multiple components to the email, consider making a heading for each one, such as "Updates" and "Opportunities." Breaking up text will be easier on the eye, and it'll be less taxing to read the entire email.

8. Avoid excessive stylizing.

Using bold or italic text for headings or to highlight important information, such as deadlines and meeting locations, is a good idea. Highlighting entire paragraphs is not. The same applies to brightly colored text, especially on non-white backgrounds, and non-standard fonts that are hard to read.

9. Say no to all caps.

While not everyone associates all caps with yelling, it isn't necessary in an email when you could achieve the same effect with bold or italic text. Shut down the urge when you have it, no matter how important something is.

10. Consider context as well as audience.

Assume the people on your mailing list don't read all the emails you send, and that there may be people who don't know what you're talking about. If you're bringing up a previously discussed topic, summarize that topic in one sentence for those who missed it before.

You should also offer to bring individuals up to speed in a separate conversation.

11. Leave the abbrev.

Especially when emailing a large or professional mailing list (as opposed to your friends and family), not all readers will be familiar with SMS language or abbreviations. If you do use them, do it sparingly.

Source

5 Ways to Create Fresh Perspectives at Your Next Event

Posted in Tips on 21 November 2014

Meeting planners and event managers know the drill – jam-packed event schedules, multiple-day conferences, and lots of sitting for attendees. We see our clients and guests struggle with it every day. As an event planner, how do you keep your audience engaged and active during long conferences and meetings? Here are a few ideas we’ve gathered from observing our clients in action.
Team Building + Exercise = Fresh Perspectives

Studies show that a short aerobic workout gives your brain an immediate boost. Just doing one workout has been proven to immediately increase higher-order thinking skills. Imagine what your next event or conference would be like with increased thinking!

In addition to brain stimulation from exercise, team building activities create learning experiences attendees can apply to their everyday life. Team building is a beneficial approach to improve communication and problem solving. For event guests, team building activities provide opportunities for networking.

Make your conference, event, or meeting more productive and hands-on with these fresh perspectives designed get your audience moving and interacting.

Fresh Perspectives

Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, physical or mental, activities for team building are designed to break up the classroom atmosphere of a meeting or conference. Follow these fresh perspectives to incorporate puzzles or games, physical activities, and interactive and experiential learning activities into your next event, conference, or meeting.

Outdoor Break

There’s nothing like stepping outside after sitting inside at a conference or meeting for hours. Give your attendees a breath of fresh air with outdoor interactive or physical activities. Take a short walk, plan a brief outdoor activity or take a portion of the event outside and help break up a long day. Attendees will appreciate the fresh air and feel energized when they return to the event or conference.

Mix It Up

If outdoor space isn’t available, stimulate productivity and engagement inside the meeting space with puzzles and games. While puzzles and games may sound simplistic, they are useful tactics to inspire creative thinking. Puzzles and games use scenarios to encourage intellectual problem solving and attendees can immediately apply what they learn during the conference or event in a simulated real life situation.

If you have short breaks between event sessions, try classic ice breakers to liven up the agenda and get people moving in these brief timeframes.

Get a Brain Boost

Getting the heart moving improves blood flow to the brain and, as a result, improves cognition – the process of acquiring knowledge.

Charles Hillman, professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois, found that as little as 20 minutes of aerobic exercise at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate is enough to boost your brain power and learning ability for the next few hours.

Whether it’s a group jog in the morning or mid-day yoga, incorporating physical movement into events and conferences gets brains stimulated and thinking. Quick spurts of movement, such as having attendees stand up and stretch, can also be a positive method to boost thinking and engagement.

In Conclusion

Integrating team building and exercise into events and conferences engages and motivates attendees. Look for ways to get up and get moving, and even get out of the conference room.

Create a fresh perspective at your next event!

Source

Marketing Assistant

Posted in Jobs on 20 November 2014

Are you creative with great copywriting skills? Do you want to work as part of a dynamic marketing team for one of Europe’s fastest growing companies?
FDM Group is a global professional services provider and the UK’s leading IT graduate employer. We are currently seeking a highly-organised marketing professional with excellent communication skills to join our London based Marketing Team as Marketing Assistant. This role will involve all aspects of marketing including assisting with internal and external communications, marketing campaigns, organising events, ordering branded merchandise, research and day-to-day administration.

Essential criteria:

· Hold a marketing related degree and/or some experience in marketing

· Excellent written and verbal communication skills

· Strong interpersonal skills with ability to negotiate

· Able to build and maintain strong relationships with other departments and content sources

· Effective organisation skills with ability to prioritise

· Able to use initiative and apply creativity

· Work well in a team as well as independently

· Able to work under pressure and to tight deadlines

· Strong attention to detail with high level of accuracy

Desirable criteria:

· Previous marketing experience

· Additional languages (French, German, Cantonese or Mandarin)

If you are excited by this role and would like to take the next step in your career, please send your

CV and covering letter to marketing.jobs@fdmgroup.com

PR and Creative Copywriter

Posted in Jobs on 20 November 2014

Brookfield Rose - United Kingdom

We’re seeking a passionate wordsmith and creative thinker to fill our vacancy of PR & Creative Copywriter. Reporting into the Head of PR, the successful candidate should have experience working within a creative copywriting environment, ideally with a varied portfolio of content creation and recruitment sector experience.

Key Responsibilities:

To work with the group stakeholders to create compelling content for blogs, insightful knowledge zone articles, press releases and email campaigns

To forge strong relationships, predominantly internally across the groups Managing Directors and Sales Directors

To meticulously ensure all material passing through the department is copy edited/proofread to the highest of standards, offering comprehensive feedback to team members and stakeholders where necessary.

To provide editorial support for pitch proposals

To interpret creative briefs of varying magnitudes, with the ability to respond with cutting-edge, innovative concepts

Key Skills:

Excellent self-motivation

Ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines

Good team working skills

Administrative and organisational skills

IT proficiency

Proofreading and attention to detail

Accuracy - both in terms of grammar and information

Creativity, and ability to produce innovative and original ideas

About the Brookfield Rose group:

Brookfield Rose is no ordinary business group. We prefer to do things differently; finding opportunity where others see problems. And where many settle for convention, we feel more energised by challenging it. As a group of highly experienced professionals, our people redefine best practice on a daily basis. For now, we’re focusing on the recruitment, personal finance and logistics sectors, with transformative solutions, systems and software.

Our collective insights, skills and talents are streamlining administration, saving time and improving bottom lines for companies and brands across the UK, as well as offering individuals a better way to find and manage their employment, or get a better deal on loans or logistics.

To apply for this role please send an updated copy of your CV with a covering letter to careers@brookfieldrose.co.uk .

 

Events Coordinator

Posted in Jobs on 20 November 2014

Do you have experience of working across large-scale events? I’m on the lookout for budding event coordinators who have had exposure to world class global events, ideally of the sporting variety.

You’ll be the sort of person who loves to be busy and enjoys being in the thick of the action. You should also be a team player with great enthusiasm and a keen eye for detail.

It would be desirable if you have been exposed to tasks such as site visits, venue liaison and negotiation, compilation of event documentation, sourcing and managing suppliers, as well as conducting briefings and overseeing temporary staff and marshals.

I’m in the process of chatting to a variety of leading sports agencies so if you’d like to be considered for future opportunities, please do get in touch with sm@cadoganss.com

You should be willing to work long hours and weekends on occasion.

 

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