domingo, 31 de marzo de 2013

The Basis B1 Fitness Band Is Amazing But Still Needs Polish

Being as chiseled as I am is tough. You have to eat right (brownies only every other day), exercise (take the stairs to the attic), and keep tabs on things like your heart rate and body temperature while playing Sim City. That's why the Basis is one of the best "general purpose" body monitors I've seen. The band, which senses your blood flow, body temperature, and perspiration along with steps and motion, is a small, discreet watch-like system that works surprisingly well as a standard pedometer but offers a way to break bad habits and make new ones.

I'm a longtime fan of quantified health devices for the simple reason that they offer immediate feedback on my current activity level and health. I've been using Fitbits for as long as they've been available and I've managed to lose 20 pounds by keeping my activity up and not eating like a slob. The Basis is different in that it offers the same features as a Fitbit but with a few improvements. For example, on the bottom of the watch there is an optical BPM heart sensor as well as leads for perspiration sensing and temperature. Because it is a watch you can wear the device overnight and monitor your sleep habits as well.

The device itself is about one inch on each side with an integrated rubber band. Four spots in the corners activate various features and there's a central button that is not yet activated in this incarnation of the device. Pressing the right buttons displays steps take, calories, and current heart rate and you can activate the clock or data by pressing the left "buttons." A sensor turns on the backlight when you move the watch towards your face (this happens intermittently but it works in principle) and you can also turn on the backlight by pressing the left touch button.

As a watch, the Basis is fairly basic and I'd even say sub-par. You can tell the time and the date, but traditional sports functions are missing. Viewing it in low or bright light is difficult and the backlight pops on for a mere five seconds, giving you just enough time to forget what time it is. It lasts about five days on one charge and connects to your computer or charger via a sort of USB-powered "frame" that connects to the watch body. It's a bit cumbersome but it improves the water-fastness of the watch.

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The real magic happens on the back end. The Basis watch syncs with, a dedicated website for the device, as well as a forthcoming mobile apps for Android and iOS. It is here that the Basis shines – and confuses.

Basis uses the concept of "habits" to motivate you to get off your duff. Some of the habits are simple – one asks you to simply wear the watch – while others encourage you do take a certain number of steps a day or spend a certain amount of time sleeping. You unlock various habits by completing challenges over time and you begin with only a few possible "goals" during your initial set up.

This system is both ingenious and frustrating. While open-ended health devices like Fitbit and the Jawbone Up reward you after you've completed a certain number of steps with an email or notification, the Basis forces you through a set of gamified steps to gain your "reward." It encourages you to visit the website often and unlock new rewards but the rewards themselves are so open-ended that it's difficult to remember some of them. Unfortunately, the Basis band won't remind you and the only indication that you've hit a certain step count is a little winner's cup icon at the end of the readout. A bit more info – "You completed the Sleep For Eight Hours Challenge" – would be immensely helpful.

The system also offers a number of interesting graphs including comparative activity and "heat graphs" of your various vital statistics. You can, for example, see when you tend to sweat the most (I found sweat when I eat) and when you tend to wake up. "Insights" offer little snippets of information about your day including sleep quality and the like.

Being a watch nerd I usually wear the Basis on my right hand and a real watch on my left. Because the watch is fairly small and dark it looks more like a Fuel Band or an Up than a Timex. I think that depending on this watch as a daily wearer would get immensely frustrating and I wouldn't recommend it.

However, as a window on your body it is superior even to my beloved Fitbit and I'd say it's even better than the Up. Simply having my heart rate available at all times is a valuable bit of data and the step counter is as accurate as the Fitbit in most situations. The Basis is obviously bigger and more conspicuous than other devices, but the battery life and form factor make it a slightly superior choice if you're willing to wear it on your wrist all the time.

The market for quantified health devices is definitely huge and entrants like Basis keep pushing the envelope further and further. The B1 seems like a strong first try, and the company expects to release firmware upgrades that will add more functionality to the watch over the next few months. The ability to pair the watch with a mobile app is also a much-needed addition as the syncing system is a bit wonky via USB.

For $199, I think this band gives most any other health device a definite run for its money and I'd even recommend the Basis over more complex offerings by Suunto and Polar. Rather than making a kitchen-sink sports watch, Basis has produced a cool, streamlined monitoring device that is, for the first time in the space, eminently usable and promises some interesting potential.

How Net-A-Porter plans to build on its mobile success in 2013

Posted 18 March 2013 11:21am by David Moth with 0 comments

Despite the massive shift towards mobile commerce in recent years, surprisingly few retailers have managed to create successful, user-friendly iPad apps.

So it's all the more impressive that Net-A-Porter has produced several high quality apps that cater perfectly for the iPad's 'lean back' browsing experience.  

This time last year it was reported that 15% of Net-A-Porter's traffic came from mobile devices, a figure that had increased from 10% in just six months, which explains why the brand places such great emphasis on its mobile strategy.

The luxury retailer successfully blurs the lines between being a publisher and an ecommerce store, so its iPad apps include a huge amount of editorial and video content in order to entertain and inform customers while also edging them towards the checkout.

To find out more about how Net-A-Porter's mobile strategy will develop this year, I spoke to group mobile manager Sarah Watson...

1. Please can you briefly tell me what your mobile strategy is for 2013? Will the focus remain on your iPad apps?

Our mantra for last year was to create a mobile experience that was fast, easy and engaging. Mobile consumers now consider this a given and expect a whole lot more. 

For 2013 our focus is on optimisation and service. We aim to offer the best possible shopping and browsing experience anytime and anywhere, across any device.

2. What proportion of your sales and traffic comes from mobile? And what proportion comes specifically from your iPad apps? 

A significant portion of both sales and traffic comes from mobile and tablet and this has doubled since last year. 

3. I was very impressed with your Mr Porter The Tux app last year. What has the response been from customers, and has it been a success?

The Tux app was Mr Porter's first step in creating an iPad Magazine. It offers a cinematic journey with editorial content inspired by evening wear. 

The idea was to create a uniquely stylish experience and create an editorially-driven app that features an array of all-original content, imaginatively brought to life with a unique navigation interface, shoppable video and still-life images that react to touch. 

The response from customers has been amazing.  We have included feedback loops that have allowed us to make the app even better. For instance, the movie-sized Tux app is over 1.5GB because of the super high quality video content, so we have produced the "Tux Lite", a smaller version of the same app that customers can trial before deciding whether they want to download the full version.   

4. How long is the average shelf life of your apps? Is there pressure to always come up with new ideas to give customers fresh content?

Our apps fall into different categories like shopping and editorial and we have different expectations for each. 

We see our shopping apps as an extension of our websites. They offer our customers a native experience for both iOS and Android that has been fully optimised for each particular device. 

They are updated every six weeks with new enhancements and features and we will continue to keep improving and evolving them in line with customer feedback and technical innovation. 

The usage of our shopping apps continues to grow. For instance, in the last month we've had over 35k new downloads for the Net-A-Porter app alone.

Last month, across The Net-A-Porter Group, we saw over 99,000 new downloads from iTunes and Google Play, taking our total number of app downloads to 1.78 million.

Our editorial apps focus on the 'lean-back' experience that suits the iPad. Our unique editorial content is brought to life and is available offline.  

We also have more promotional apps that have a shorter shelf life but are a great opportunity for us to try out new technology. Mobile is a fantastic platform for trying new things; we have already experimented with augmented reality, gaming and image recognition and we've even built our own outfit builder for men.

5. How does the development process for your apps work? Is it primarily led by the editorial team or the mobile tech team?

The Net-A-Porter group has its own in-house mobile team as our mobile sites and apps are an important part of our overall brand experience. 

Mobile technology is moving incredibly fast and having our own internal team means we can be nimble and reactive as well as creative and experimental. 

6. You won our award for innovation in mobile marketing last year for an interactive shop window that used augmented reality. Do you think that AR has a future as a marketing technology, or is its value mainly for PR?

Augmented reality has already come on leaps and bounds since we launched our Window Shop campaign for Vogue's Fashion's Night Out and will continue to do so. A bit like voice recognition, it's out there, it works but it's not part of everyday life just yet.  

The more people become attuned to being able to connect the physical and the digital world the more we will see these technologies being used and the better they will become. 

7. You also won our Grand Prix prize for being the best overall winner. How did this award help to validate your mobile strategy both personally and with your bosses?

We were incredibly proud to win this award. We consider ourselves to be a fashion and a technology company and are passionate about the work we do in the mobile space. 

Technology moves so quickly that you sometimes forget to take a step back and look at what you've achieved. 

It's great to know that our innovation is being recognised and gives us motivation to keep building new apps and experimenting with new exciting technologies.

Rand Fishkin: how CEOs can be great marketers

Posted 18 March 2013 14:57pm by David Moth with 0 comments

The job of being CEO is no easy task, just ask any of the six men and women who have been employed in the top job at Yahoo since 2007.

So it might seem a bit harsh to suggest that alongside the massive pressure that comes with the day-to-day running of a company, CEOs should also be a figurehead for their company's marketing efforts.

But at Distilled's LinkLove conference SEOMoz CEO Rand Fishkin suggested that those in the top job have a big role in setting the overall tone of their business, including marketing.

He said it's natural that companies take on the passions, interests and eccentricities of their founders. As a result, the CEO can have a huge impact on the direction and strategy of their company's marketing.

First off, Fishkin outlined the CEO's main responsibilities:

  • Set the mission, vision and strategy. This is central to the CEO's role and something nobody else should be doing, otherwise the CEO is abdicating their job.
  • Need to live, breathe, and share core values of the company. Core values are the actions that are rewarded internally, they're the reason people are hired and why they're let go.
  • Hire and manage the executive team. The executive team determines how the rest of the company operates; they set the culture within their individual teams.
  • Ensure the business is properly capitalised.
  • Allocate the company's resources.
  • Be the brand's chief evangelist. If they aren't, the company doesn't have good marketing.

Why should the CEO do the marketing themselves?

It's important to note that Rand's definition of marketing involves being in the spotlight and being a public figurehead for the company.

To this end, he looked at why he thinks a speaking at a conference with an audience of 1,000 marketers has more impact than writing a blog post that achieves 20,000 page views.

1. Nobody knows the business as well as the CEO. The CEO is in a unique position in terms of their knowledge of the company, its products and its strategy.

2. Nobody else has the CEO's reach of coverage. Press and public interest is always drawn to the person in charge. For example, even though Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has been in the press a lot lately due to her book tour, people are still far more interested in CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

3. Nobody else has the CEO's authority. They are the ultimate decision maker, and much of what makes CEOs great leaders also make them great marketers, e.g. strategy, vision, charisma.

The three kinds of great CEO marketers

Fishkin identified three kinds of CEOs that make great marketers, but for very different reasons.

Richard Branson

Ordinarily Brits tend to be quite reserved, but Branson uses his celebrity to get phenomenal marketing and brand exposure.

Another example of this kind of CEO is Ben Huh , who is very successful at using his celebrity to help Cheezburger earn massive amounts of press and brand awareness.

Danielle Morrill

Referly's Morrill is a very involved CEO. She participates in online discussions and has a very popular blog, as well as a huge social media following.

Another example is Ray Grieselhuber from Ginzametrics. He participates and comments on things online, thereby earning press attention for being helpful and well informed.

Jeremy Stoppelman

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman maintains a relatively low profile, but is passionately involved in his company's marketing success.

Fishkin said that seven days before Yelp's IPO, he received an email from Stoppelman in the middle of the night asking for SEO tips, which shows how much he cares about the company.

10 tactical tips for the CEOs engaging in inbound marketing

Finally, Fishkin came up with 10 tips to help CEOs master the art of inbound marketing.

He said other types of marketing aren't worth the CEO's time and efforts, as they don't scale as well or make use of the unique advantages that CEOs possess.

1. Understand how your funnel works. CEOs need to know how attribution works, where traffic is coming from, and what's getting you sales.

2. Be proactive in your industry. Write blog posts, tweet, write a book, or get involved in industry events.

3. Use the press wisely. CEOs can be creative with internal policy to gain coverage, such as Full Contact's 'paid paid vacation' benefit.

4. Empower your marketing team with developers. SEOMoz has an 'inbound engineering" team that focuses exclusively on marketing-related development.

5. Get good at one or more forms of content. Be it webcasts, blogging, slide decks, or Q&As, learn to be really good at just one thing that can help move the needle.

6. Recognise marketing accomplishments the way you do product, engineering and financial milestones. Shout about marketing accomplishments publicly to make the team feel loved and show what matters to the business's culture.

7. Optimise your online biography and update it frequently. A CEO's online biography will likely get shared a lot, so pack it full of links.

8. CEOs amass favours, so don't be afraid to ask for links and shares.

9. Make use of your contacts to amplify messages. You can do this manually through email, or by using Followerwonk to export and search for social followers who might be able to help.

10. Embrace authenticity. Fishkin said that in the past as people became rich they wanted to be associated with that wealth through big brands, but today the emerging wealthy class wants to be hipster. They want a watch that nobody recognises or shoes that nobody has ever heard of. 

This stems from a strong desire for authenticity. We care more about the story of the brand than what the brand actually sells.

12-Year-Old Makes Case for Marriage Equality in Inspiring Letter

Twelve-year-old Daniel Martinez-Leffew is hoping a similarity between his family and the family of Chief Justice John Roberts will help bring support to LGBT rights.

When Daniel discovered the chief justice had previously adopted two children, he realized Roberts might have a soft spot for other adoption stories — namely, his own. Daniel wrote Roberts a letter (which he reads in the video above) detailing his own rocky adoption journey, including how he was once called "unadoptable" because of a medical condition.

Daniel goes on to explain that, regardless, he and his sister were lovingly taken in by two parents, who just so happened to be gay. His family, Daniel explains, is no different than Roberts', that both families are filled with love, happiness and support. It's something Daniel hopes the justice will keep in mind when the Supreme Court hears arguments for Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in the upcoming weeks.

"I know you have a tough decision to make with the gay marriage issue but my family is just as valuable and worthwhile as any other," he writes. "We are all Americans and deserve an equal chance at bettering our lives."

BONUS: 10 Videos That Inspired Us in 2012

H/T Hypervocal. Image via YouTube, depfox

11 simple link building tips for SEOs

Posted 18 March 2013 13:04pm by David Moth with 2 comments

Building links to your site is quite easy if you're willing to resort to dodgy tactics, however thanks to Google's Penguin updates it's becoming less likely that these links will actually benefit your SEO in the long term.

Interflora is a high profile example of what can go wrong if your linkbuilding strategy isn't whiter than white.

So to avoid being exiled from Google, SEOs need to direct their efforts into building sustainable links.

At Distilled's LinkLove event on Friday Hannah Smith ran through a series of tips and tactics for building valuable links that your site can be proud of and that Google will look kindly on...

1. Get blogging

Blogging has proved to be a very successful tool for linkbuilding for many businesses, including Econsultancy, but it can be difficult to get your content shared if you don't have a well-recognised brand.

To help gain exposure and build links, Smith recommended a paid-for tool called Zemanta that recognises the main themes of your blog posts and puts it in front of bloggers who write about a similar topic, thereby giving them suggestions of content they might want to link to.

In past 12 months Smith built 257 links for a client using Zemanta at the cost of about $14 per link.

2. Make use of photos

If you have decent images on your site then it's likely that other people are already stealing them, therefore you should take advantage of this by making them embeddable.

Smith suggested a tool created by Paddy Moogan that makes all images embeddable, so whenever somebody tries to pinch a photo they are automatically given an embed code containing a backlink.

Site owners should also consider placing all their images on Flickr and licensing them through Creative Commons so people can use them under the condition that they link back to your site.

A perfect example is this eye-catching image of Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein at our Innovation Awards a few years ago, which is published in our Flickr stream.

Econsultancy Innovation Awards 2010 Dinner

3. Stop talking like an SEO

When asking people for links, you need to bear in mind that they probably aren't au fait with the latest SEO jargon.

So for example, if you're asking a journalist for a link back from a photo they've used, ask for an image credit rather than an attribution link.

Similarly, you don't want to guest blog, you would like a byline.

4. Make sure you're actually getting those links from photos

There is a new tool called Image Raider that allows you to find out who's using your photos and whether or not they've linked back.

Then you can seek out the people that haven't linked back and ask them for an image credit.

5. Using video

If you've worked hard to create video content that people want to share and embed then you need to make sure you aren't just building links back to your hosting platform (e.g. YouTube or Vimeo).

You can find out who has embedded your content using the video statistics tab in YouTube, then go and politely request that they add a link back to your site.

Furthermore, Distilled's SEO consultant Phil Nottingham has created a video embed link generator, which automatically creates a backlink each time the content is embedded on a third-party site.

6. Working with existing communities

A common tactic for SEOs and marketers is to try to interact with a relevant online community so they might consider linking to you.

Unfortunately they tend to be alert to it and don't want people trying to exploit their communities, so how can you approach them without being shunned?

Smith said that in the past she bought advertising in online communities, not for the links or any SEO benefit, but to get relevant traffic that is likely to convert.

Also, after paying for advertising they might be more open with you, as you've given them some money.

7. Getting PR coverage with no links?

More often than not publishers are wary about linking to a homepage or promotional landing page as it's seen as being too commercial.

However they don't have the same qualms about linking to 'people' or 'about' pages as it is seen as providing context and information. Therefore it's a good idea to create profile pages for your employees.

8. Can't find someone's email address?

Smith recommended using Gmail plugin Rapportive, a free tool that helps you to find people's email addresses.

9. Make sure to follow up

Just because a blogger has agreed to add in a link that doesn't necessarily mean that they will actually get around to doing it.

Unfortunately people are busy, so you need to give them a nudge to remind them.

Smith recommended Gmail plugin Boomerang, which allows you to schedule emails for later, gives follow up reminders, and alerts you if you haven't heard back from a particular contact.

10. Great content will help secure guest blogs on great sites

Guest blogging is a great way to build valuable links back to your site, however it's difficult to secure bylines from top tier publishers.

To make your request stand out from the crowd, you need to product high quality, useful content that the site will be eager to publish. This might be new research, a best practice guide, or tips for how to achieve a certain goal.

It does require some commitment to keep coming up with interesting ideas, but the returns make it worthwhile.

The ultimate goal is to become a regular contributor, as that delivers greater returns and requires less effort than scrabbling around for low-level guest blogs every month.

Incidentally, at Econsultancy we firmly support Smith's views on guest blogging, and would like to take the opportunity to point you in the direction of our post detailing 15 tips to help you become a brilliant guest blogger.

11. Make use of all available data

If you want to produce an infographic but don't have any of your own data, then simply source some from the internet.

Distilled created an infographic using data available on The Guardian's website, then contacted one of its journalists to let them know. This resulted in a link from The Guardian to the client's website.

martes, 19 de marzo de 2013

Social Media Sites Imagined as Party Goers

In today's ultra-connected world where the Internet is your bestest (and only) real friend, it makes sense to party it down with your favorite social media sites.

While a roaring shindig with Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube and Reddit sounds like the soiree of the century, it turns out these social media sites have pretty irritating human personalities. At least according to this Cracked video. They brilliantly imagine a work place get together with these Internet "people" that proves you really don't ever want to be friends with the World Wide Web.

In real life, Facebook is the ever-changing, uber-popular chick with a likeable disposition; Reddit is the know-it-all-first guy; Kickstarter is always hitting you up for cash; Bing is just an eavesdropper and Pinterest is always bragging about her DIY skills but her gluten-free cupcakes taste like cat food.

And don't even get us started on Google and his two-faced antics — sometimes he's helpful, the rest of the time he's pushy and gossipy.

Party on, Internet — just don't invite us.

Image courtesy of YouTube, Cracked

Listen to the Strokes' New Album Before Its Release

The Strokes are now streaming their newest album, Comedown Machine, on their website — a week ahead of its scheduled release date of March 25.

The group teased fans with the album's first single, "One Way Trigger," back in January.

Comedown Machine will be the New York-based rock band's fifth studio album. Their previous album, Angles, was released in 2011.

Give it a listen for yourself. What do you think of the new tracks? Let us know below.

Image via Simone Joyner/Getty Images

What you’re doing isn’t content marketing (or, at least, it’s not good)

Posted 18 March 2013 09:51am by Ryan Skinner with 1 comment

Thousands of marketers are now born-again content marketers (the palm print of well-known content marketing evangelists still visible on their foreheads). A study published this week said 95% of UK marketers "do content marketing".

It's a milepost. 

From the dark art of bloggers to the secret sauce of edgy digital marketers, content marketing's now evolved into 'putting copy garnish on your website'.

     "We've got case studies on our site. We do content marketing."

     "We've got an explainer video. That's content marketing."

     "Our content marketing is webinars."

These all fit the broad-as-a-barn-door definition of content marketing.

And that's a problem?

Well, yes. Just as the question 'are you really living?' applies differently if you're asked by an adrenalin junkie or an A&E doctor, we're struck by a definition problem.

Some marketers become content marketers, but many just redefine what they've always been doing as content marketing.

A CMO reads an Econsultancy post on content marketing, gets hot under the collar and orders his trusty lieutenants: "Get busy on this content marketing thing!" The lieutenants look at the directive, then look at the pile of case studies, decks and social media updates on their plates and – voilà! – rename a column on their spreadsheets. Now they're doing content marketing in a big way. The dishes are done, man!

This is the cynical extreme. Most B2B businesses probably are doing veritable content marketing; they produce the occasional white paper, or pay a research firm to churn out a survey, and then push this to a lead-gen company or publisher to generate leads.

That is certainly content marketing. Much of the time it's just pretty terrible.

We're not in need of a new definition; after all, we still call SEO 'SEO' despite the fact that everyone's more or less doing it (and it's changed considerably over the last ten years). We may, however, want to narrow down what we mean by doing content marketing well.

I'll come back to that.

Should 95% of marketers be doing content marketing?

I was recently talking to an expert on digital marketing who, when I pointed out some tactics that can help companies that were seeing poor results from their content marketing, asked: "When do you just decide it's not worth it?"

Part of me wanted to reply "companies see far worse results from their display advertising campaigns and you don't see them deciding never to advertise again, do you?", but I didn't. It's the Weight Watchers paradox: It's not the product; it's the application of it.

But even content marketing champions would do well to wonder whether it's a good fit for everyone. That is, how can we answer the question: When does content marketing make sense? And when does it not make sense?

What are we asking for, when we're asking to do content marketing?

In one of the thousands of memorable scenes from The Departed, undercover boss Martin Sheen tells young cop freshman Leonardo Di Caprio "we deal in deception here. But what we don't deal in is self-deception".

If you say you're going to invest in content marketing, or invest more in content marketing, then you'd better damn well have a good idea of what you're asking for. And you'd better be determined to deliver on it. And it'd better be something different from what you've been doing before.

I can state this with equanimity: If you think content marketing is a box to be ticked, you will fail. Full stop.

When marketers step up to management to make the case for content marketing, the case should be a good one, but it should be a damn difficult one to make. You should incite questions like:

"You want us to sink our precious money into producing words and pictures that don't talk about us, our products or services? You want to invest big sums in rich content that we will then give away, for nothing? You're telling us that – if people come to our site to get this content – we should not sell to them? (Are you out of your gourd?)"

I have a niggling fear. It is this: Marketers, wary of these sensible questions, choose not to really make the case for content marketing. I fear that they jump right over those core challenges and jump directly to benefits.

  • We will generate XXX leads every quarter.
  • We will bring XXX new people to our site, XXX into our funnel, nurture XX% into conversions within six months and make every one of our salespeople into heroes.

These marketers fail to challenge their stakeholders' ideas of what good marketing is. And they never really get buy-in to do something different.

Why it sucks not to do the big ask thing

Here's the problem with failing to do that: You fail to determine whether you should actually do content marketing.

I'm convinced that, if your executive team doesn't get the chance to ask the tough questions, and if they don't convince themselves (with a little help) that it makes sense to proceed with content marketing anyway, no worthwhile content marketing will ever come of that company.

You see, marketers shouldn't shortcut their stakeholders' opportunity to bite off the biggest challenge of content marketing. If you don't fight for (and they don't give you) the green light to do content marketing that says "yes" to all of the questions I mentioned above, you're not going to feel licensed to make the bold calls that great content marketing requires.

- You'll cave in to all those people demanding you squeeze sales pitches in to your content.

- You'll abandon every campaign that doesn't yield leads right away.

- You won't have the internal support to do the things for which your market will love you (but which have no other intrinsic value).

This endeavor demands boldness, not servility. JFK did not ask the American public to fund a multi-billion dollar scheme to invent Velcro, Tang and disposable diapers. No, he told Americans that they were going to the moon.

The question of whether a given company will succeed with content marketing, I feel, is less an issue of product type, market size, price or channel, and more an issue of whether its management can understand the principles that drive content marketing and give it the backing and freedom marketers need to make it happen.

Testimony from the Content Marketer of the Year

Joe Chernov, last year's Content Marketer of the Year, did very many things right in the tenure at Eloqua that led to his award, but his recent tweet about it was telling:

Chernov tweet
To succeed at content marketing, a marketer has to look his boss, and their boss(es), in the eye and say "I know it looks insane to you. It should. But you've got to believe me, and you've got to give me money to do it right."

Say it. And get the nod. It'll motivate you to no end. And if you don't get the nod, leave it. Go where they'll let you do it right. Because if they don't trust you now, they never will. And you'll never get to do content marketing right there.

When does content marketing make sense? When you get buy-in to do it. Proper buy-in.

Joe Chernov, along with a few other content marketing luminaries, will discuss the issue of convincing internal stakeholders to do content marketing next week. We'll see if they concur.

Lunar milestones

If buying into content marketing's a leap of faith, and management's leapt, there's no way back. But they're going to want to know if it's being done well, and make changes so it does do well, if changes are necessary. Content marketers should want that too.

How do you know if you're doing it well?

This brings this essay back to the beginning. If 95% of marketers are doing content marketing but the vast majority of them aren't doing it well, we should be able to identify how they are not good in more than a purely subjective manner.

What kind of metrics should we see from good content marketing?

•    Start by building a long list of people you respect in your field – preferably ones who tweet, or blog, or speak or share stuff. If you're slowly getting more mentions, shares or referrals from them, you're succeeding at the big task.

•    Examine how other people share your content too – both volume and quality. These should both steadily increase.

•    Look at a very clever little metric that allows you to see when people share your content, but who never visited your site. That is, by tagging links, you can identify when people share your content that was first shared with them (but not via you). Call it indirect attribution.

The grand finale

Here's the takeaway: Only do content marketing if you're committed (and you get commitment) to do the kind of content marketing that makes normal business types nervous.

Once you've got that, you're 100,000% more likely to do content marketing well. Demonstrably well. Because that'll be the only way.

(And I don't think 95% of marketers are doing that today. Far from it.)

Five cost effective SEO tools for SMEs and digital startups

Posted 18 March 2013 18:48pm by Pratik Dholakiya with 0 comments

SEO Tools are a time saver for everyone. However, the majority of the tools are too costly for small businesses or digital startup.

So, here are five cost-effective SEO tools that would be beneficial and helpful to them.

Hopefully everybody here understands that no tool is going to do your SEO for you. Results demand a diverse skill set. But one of those skills sets is undoubtedly data analysis, and without a good source of data, it's much more difficult. 

Yes, you can get by on keyword research with Google's keyword tool. You can track your rankings and links by exporting them from Webmaster Tools to a spreadsheet and painstakingly creating your own graphs and data analysis. (And yes, there will always be cases where this is still necessary).

But if you want to get all of this done in a reasonable about of time, it's going to take a paid tool. And if you want to explore the link profile of the web, audit your site, and find data with any real depth, you'll still need to open up that wallet.

There are affordable tools within your grasp. Here are a few of the options available.


At a minimum price of $48 per month, this option is a bit more expensive than most of the tools on this list, but I'm listing it first because I still use it quite often, despite having the budget for more expensive tools.

The most impressive feature is the unique SEO correlation testing feature. It's built to help you test what tactics are actually improving your rankings, and which ones aren't.

This really gets to the heart of what data driven marketing is all about. If you aren't using tools to identify the connection between your efforts and your results, you're using tools for all the wrong reasons.

As for the main dashboard, you get a more organized view of your key metrics than Google Analytics or webmaster tools will give you, plus SEOmoz link metrics (without paying the full SEOmoz price).

The tool sends out alerts if there is a statistically significant shift in your rankings, tracks the impact of your social signals, and comes with its own keyword tool. It also uses extrapolations to estimate what keywords comprise your "not provided" traffic.

The PDF reports are also great for working with clients.

The $48 price tag allows you to track up to 300 keywords and 10 websites, and up to 3 clients. This should be more than enough for startups and small businesses. Odds are, if you have more than three clients, you can also afford the $98 price tag, which gives you 10 client accounts, 1,000 keywords, and 25 websites.

If you only buy one tool, I'd go with for the correlation tests alone. 

2. SearchEnabler

This is another tool that I still love to use. With the Pro version weighing in at only $49 a month, and the Starter version at $15, it's hard to argue that this is outside of any company's budget.

While it doesn't have a standout feature like the SERPS correlation tests, it offers a well-rounded collection of tools that every SEO can benefit from:

  • Site Analysis. The website analysis tools essentially audit your domain for errors and areas for improvement. Even those of us who are versed in SEO can lose track, and these tools help catch our mistakes.

    The domain analyzer helps with navigation, redirects, and hierarchy, while the crawler warns you about unreachable pages, no-indexes, sitemaps, malware, and so on. A content analyzer also checks for issues like duplicate content.

  • Link Analysis. The link analyzer tracks your links, and the links of 3 competitors (up to 15 competitors in the Pro version). While this tool lacks PageRank or authority information, it helps you discover anchor text, and measures the spread of no-follow vs. do-follow links.

    You can see where your competitors' links are coming from, and find keyword opportunities.

SearchEnabler also lets you track your rankings for specified keywords, track social media activity and its impact on traffic, and look at visually appealing SEO reports.

While a lot of the functionality that comes from this tool can also be found through a combination of Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, it's organized and simplified for easy use.

The link analysis is great for finding new keywords and outreach opportunities, and the audit tools can be really helpful for spotting things you might have missed. Considering the price tag, this is a worthwhile investment if your resources are limited. 

3. SheerSEO

Another well-rounded tool, this one's available with several different pricing options, ranging from $7 to $40 per month. They recommend a $15 version, which offers everything but their competitor analysis feature. A $25 version includes competitor analysis, and it's only limitation is 100 keywords instead of 400.

As you might have gathered, the tool tracks rankings and imports Google Analytics data.

It also includes a surprisingly large and helpful collection of tools for the price tag. One of the most useful is a blog review request tool. You use it to set up a message to send to bloggers in order to request a review of your site.

The tools seeks out relevant blogs and lets you manually select which ones to send the message to. This alone isn't going to cause your site to overflow with traffic, but it's a good way to seek out some contextual links.

It also comes with a directory submission tool, but we'd advise against using it since this is a dated tactic with very little (possibly counterproductive) value.

The Facebook and Twitter tools are great. They track mentions on the social networks, even if they use a shortened URL. You can see the messages themselves as well as trends over time. Great four outreach and tracking social engagement.

The $15 and $40 versions also offer a keyword traffic estimation tool. This uses data from the Google keyword tool to estimate how many clicks you should get from a keyword with your current rankings.

A supplement index ratio tells you what percentage of your pages are in Google's "supplemental index," the pages that are stored in Google for algorithmic purposes, but which don't show up in search results.

The tool also lets you track your competitor's backlinks, although frankly SearchEnabler offers more complete and valuable information on this front.

4. UpCity

This is really more of an educational resource than a tool. Small businesses interested in doing SEO for themselves can benefit from the tool, because it walks them through the process, helps them choose keywords, and offers some rudimentary tracking features.


With costs as low as $19.99 a month, it's worth using for a few months while you are learning SEO.

However, as we have said before, SEO is not a cookie cutter process, and this tool can only take you so far. This tool can be good as an introductory training course in SEO, but after a few months it's very important to start working on more advanced link building and link baiting tactics that no piece of software can guide you through safely. 

5. SEO SpyGlass

If all you're looking for is a tool to check out backlink profiles, this is a good bet. While it's certainly no competitor of OpenSiteExplorer, Ahrefs, or Majestic in terms of power, it's offers comparable results for those with limited resources. Unlike the options mentioned above, SpyGlass isn't cloud-based. You pay a one time fee of $99.75.

Use SpyGlass to uncover the backlink profile of any page on the web. This is great for competitor analysis. The tool reports the PageRank of each link and lets you sort results by PageRank in order to find the most important links. While PageRank alone isn't a perfect estimator of rankings, it's very helpful when you don't want to dig through an enormous pile of links.

SpyGlass also goes deeper and reports the Alexa ranking, which helps you get some estimate of the amount of traffic you can expect from the link. In addition to reporting the anchor text, SpyGlass reports the title of the linking page, which tells you a lot about relevancy.

Another great thing SpyGlass does is report the IP address of the link. A bunch of links from different sites with the same IP address is a red flag for black hat manipulation, and a sign to avoid grabbing links from those domains.

You can also sort by link type, so that you can exclusively look at links from blogs or forums. Obviously, blogs are better suited for guest posts. Seeking our forum links isn't necessarily best practice, but it can be useful if you play the forum for awareness and branding.

SpyGlass also goes a step beyond reporting the PageRank by reporting the number of outbound links on the page. It uses this and the PageRank to make a proprietary calculation called "Link Value," so that you can really highlight the most promising links worth targeting.

At the price of just a single one time fee, SEO SpyGlass is one of the highest value tools out there for link analysis.


You don't have to break the bank to get your hands on some SEO tools worth using. While it's worth upgrading from some of these tools as your SEO budget increases, all of these tools are useful at some stage in development.

Remember, if you can't measure the effectiveness of your efforts, you'll end up wasting time and resources. It's worth investing in tools in order to really live up to the name "optimizer."

Any other tools you recommend?

Pratik Dholakiya is Lead SEO & VP of Marketing at E2M Solutions and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. 

Mashable Rocking SXSW 2013: A Tent, a Party and a Grumpy Cat

Mashable had an amazing South by Southwest this year. Lines wrapped around the block for Mashable House and a diverse crowd from the interactive community partied together at MashBash.

We loved interacting with the community in Austin, and reading what you had to say using the #MashSXSW hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

For those who missed it, Mashable House was an an easy escape from the Convention Center, which celebrated Internet culture. Grumpy Cat was as much of a star IRL as she is on the Internet, and fans lined up around the block, rain or shine, to take a picture with the feisty feline.

Internet meme Scumbag Steve and Nyan Cat creator Christopher Torres were also at Mashable House. Scumbag Steve arrived in full character, while Torres drew Nyan Cat temporary tattoos and created massive Nyan Cat art.

Lastly, we chatted with celebrities like Ian Somerhalder, Danny Boyle, and other interactive community noteables. Mashable partnered with NowThis News to create the quick videos we shared with you.

As the sun went down on Sunday, a line that stretched for blocks queued up for MashBash at Speakeasy in downtown Austin. Featuring performances by Robert DeLong and DJ Mick Boogie, MashBash was one of the most buzzed-about parties of SXSW.

Our sponsors 3M and Yappem did a fantastic job entertaining partygoers who weren't tearing up the dance floor. 3M demoed their Streaming Projector powered by Roku, and applied 3M screen protectors on guests' smartphones.  Attendees snapped photos of the 3M technology — like the 3M Multi-Touch display — for the chance to win prizes. Startup Yappem, which rewards users for sharing content about brands on social media, provided hula hoop contests, yoga challenges and more to win cool prizes.

Mashable House and MashBash were made complete by a Bosco photo booth, which created instant custom SXSW memes and GIFs, and a FeedMagnet visualization of the hashtag #MashSXSW displayed on monitors throughout the Mashable House and MashBash.

Check out the gallery above for photos from our SXSW events. You can also see our complete coverage of SXSW 2013 here.

Photo by Live Box Photography; © 2013 Live Box Photography