Web Marketing

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I try to write about three times per week. Most of it is pretty good and will probably help you grow your business. If it doesn't, then I probably can't help you.

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

You can use a traditional RSS Feedreader with this fancy-dancy link. I think this approach is harder but if you want to do it the hard way, who am I to say otherwise?

Monday Marketing - Tracking Your Web Marketing

posted this on Monday, September 2, 2013 at about 9am.
Monday Marketing - Tracking Your Web Marketing

You may have recently decided to jump into the wonderful world of web marketing. You figured you'd show how cool you are by doing your own search engine optimization or pay per click management. As a result, you just set up your first online ad campaign and now you’re ready to sit back and reap the benefits of its inevitable success.

I'm sure that your new ad may be well placed and eloquently worded and is probably doing well. At least that's what I'd love to hope for you. In fact, there is no way of knowing how effective your campaign is without the ability to track its progress. More specifically, if you don’t specifically track what people do after they click on your ad then you'll not know how well your campaign is really doing.

Conversion tracking is the process by which you can track the performance of your ad campaign. Oftentimes people think that a conversion is simply making a sale. In actuality, a conversion is any time you can get someone to do something you want. This can be as simple as clicking onto another page or add something to a shopping cart.

The most common tool for monitoring conversion goals is Google Analytics. Fortunately, this is a free tool. Through Google Analytics conversion tracking, you can track the page that someone comes to from an ad campaign and then track where they go. If the goal is to click on a specific link, you can track the percentage of people that actually perform that action.

When you are tracking your visitors as they flow through your website, you have the ability to know how effective your ad campaign really is. So, if you are trying your hand at your own web marketing, make sure you take the time to set up some conversion goals and track the performance of your campaigns.

If you don't, you might be failing and not even know it.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?

Do Not Get Scammed On Your Own Website

posted this on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at about 8am.
Don't Get Scammed On Your Own Website

I was very excited to receive a message from my website contact form today that told me I was doing everything wrong. You can imagine how worried I've been and how nice it was to get a random email from someone I've never met before telling me that I could be doing so much better.

I was told three distinct things. The first was that I am not getting the traffic I should because I'm not found in the search engines for the terms I should be. The second is that my company is not doing well in most social media websites. And, third, my website is not user friendly on mobile devices.

If you've received a message like this from your website, pay attention here. You should understand that you are likely being scammed.

Let me clear up a few things about my website. First, I'm content with my traffic and being found in the search engines is not a direct generator of traffic. Second, my website is not a company website and I bet I'm doing better in social media that this yahoo is doing. Third, the only way you'd think my website doesn't work on mobile devices is if you haven't looked at my website on a mobile device.

Here's where the email really got interesting. After his signature line, there was a fancy postscript:

PS I: I am not spamming. I have studied your website and believe I can help with your business promotion. If you still want us to not contact you, you can ignore this email or ask to remove and I will not contact again.

I'll just say:

  • Yes, you are spamming
  • No, you have demonstrated that you didn't study my website
  • No, you can't help me with my business promotion

Then, the post postscript:

PS II: I found your site using Google search and after having a look over your website I recommend you to implement future technologies such as HTML5 and Responsive Design to make your site more accessible in mobile phone, tablets, desktop etc.

From me:

  • If you found me on a Google search, then I can't be doing all that bad
  • If you think my site isn't responsive then you should look again

When you get an email indicating you need to do better, consider the source. If they were as good as they say they are then they wouldn't devolve to petty tactics to try to win your business.

Oh, if the email is riddled with spelling and grammar errors (as you can even see from just the postscripts) then you should use that as another clue that you aren't dealing with someone legitimate.

Corey Smith and his wife are the proud parents of five wonderful children and live in Meridian, Idaho. He is the president of Tribute Media, a Meridian based Web Design & Marketing Agency.

He is the author of two books, "Do It Right: A CEO's Guide to Web Strategy" and "Tweet It Right: A CEO's Guide to Twitter." You can learn more about his books here.

Interested in having Corey speak for your organization? Need help building or marketing your organization? Want to tell Corey how cool you think he is?

Why Email Marketing Fails

posted this on Thursday, December 8, 2011 at about 3pm.
Constant Contact

I won’t name any names, but I’ve recently been hearing a lot of ads proclaiming that if you add social media to your email marketing, then you’ll be able to supercharge your email marketing.

The premise is that if you add the social media icons to your email marketing, your subscribers will forward share the content via their social circles.

I have heard way too often marketers treat email and social media as a magic bullet for marketing online. Yes, I agree they are great traffic generation tools. I address each of these methods in my book (although I don’t specifically talk about tying them together because that would be too tactical for my tastes). However, I think that there is one key component that companies do, such as the company who shall remain nameless, to significantly mislead their audience... that is to say that if you market via email (or social media) then you'll never want for more business.

I don’t want to leave anyone out of this, so let me be clear. I don’t think that this misleading advertising only exists in email marketing companies. It’s been going on for years. It’s the radio, television and newspaper salesman that says, “You’ll get more business if you are on [insert media here].” It’s the yellow page rep that convinces businesses to pay thousands of dollars each year because of [insert your reason here].

The problem I have with the email marketers, especially when talking about how effective social media is, is that they never talk about how much work it is to really do it right.

Don’t get me wrong… I know they have tutorials, info guides and educational materials. In fact, they have so much information available on their websites that I am sure they understand this principle very well. They know how hard it is. They know there is far more to an email that putting some text in a random (pretty) template and hitting send. I just get frustrated when they make it sound so easy.

I think there are three key reasons why email marketing fails. I think that these also apply to social media.

List Management

List management is the most important of these three areas where email marketing fails. The most common approach to email marketing is that people take all the people in their database and start emailing them. They don’t look to whether they have opted in or whether or not the content is applicable.

I can always tell when someone is starting a new email marketing campaign because I’ll get subscribed a couple of times since I have a few emails that I use on a regular basis. It’s obvious they have just stripped their Outlook or GMail account and started emailing everyone. They put no thought into how to appropriate start and manage their list.

The other issue is they don’t actively manage their email lists. Different people are willing to take action differently than others. Because of this difference, we need to manage the subscribers differently. Customers react differently than prospects. Prospects react differently than people you just met at a convention or networking event. Because of this difference, we need to actively manage lists of people as groups that will act differently.

Above all, don’t buy email lists… don’t do it.


Next to list management, this is probably the most important area of failure for email marketers. Too much text and a confusing message can cause the people to simply ignore your message… or worse, send your email message to their spam filter (which you never know).

Content relates to your text, obviously. But, it also refers to imagery and video. When you have images that support your message that are well thought out, people will be able to see what your point is quickly and increase likelihood of action.

Really, when it comes down to it, content needs to speak to your audience. If you have an audience that is looking for a lot of news, then a lot of text is appropriate. When you have an audience that is looking for the daily deal, then you need one, bold message/image that allows them to act quickly.

Know your audience and the content should then follow.


Sometimes I get emails way too often. Sometimes I get emails not nearly as often as I’d like. The problem we have as email marketers is that we don’t really know what people expect.

When I sign up for a newsletter from a publisher of news, I’m probably expecting that I will receive something on a daily (or sometimes more often) basis. When I sign up for a blogger’s email distribution I’m probably going to expect emails multiple times per week. If I sign up for a newsletter from a business that I shop with (retail or commercial) then I probably don’t want to receive emails very often.

This can be a tricky thing to master. This is one of the key reasons why list management is so important. Different people will want to receive their emails at different frequencies and at different times. You have to test what works and what doesn’t work.

Bottom Line

Email marketing fails because marketers don’t really take the time to properly understand and manage their email marketing efforts. They send emails inconsistently, they try to get too much information in an email or they send emails to people that never really wanted the message in the first place.

In order to be effective in email marketing, you need to take the time to manage it effectively. Look at the analytics your email marketing provider has and always test new concepts to see what is the most effective.

Of course, it may just be better to hire it all out.

Either way, it’s going to take time to do it right. It’s not something that you can just throw together in a few minutes and expect it to be effective. It requires planning and consistent execution to be successful.

It would be better to not do it at all rather than do it wrong.

Marketers Don't Quite Get QR.

posted this on Friday, December 2, 2011 at about 8am.
Boston Market QR

In 1994, a Toyota subsidiary (Denso Wave) created a unique type of barcode called a QR code. QR stands for Quick Response. It was a great tool for tracking inventory (in their case, vehicles during the manufacturing process). It didn’t make sense from a marketing perspective because the masses didn’t have the QR scanners.

In the last few years, as smart phones have had the capability to scan these codes, marketers have started to use these codes more and more.

Most marketers are not using them properly.

The first application of a QR code for me personally was a year ago as I was buying a hard drive from Best Buy. I went online and found they had the best price but I decided to go buy it in the store. When I arrived at the store, I found the product was $30 higher than the online price. Upon asking for the price match, they weren’t sure if they could so I started browsing on my iPhone. I looked at the sticker on the shelf and noticed a QR code so I scanned it with my phone… it took me right to the product page online which showed the lower price. They matched the price.

It was a spectacular tool for me as a consumer.

I like to view the QR code as a way to link our analog and our digital worlds together. It’s like putting a hyperlink on a piece of paper.

The biggest problem, however, is that many marketers that are starting to use the QR code haven’t quite figured out the fact that if you scan a Web link with your smart phone, your webpage to which it links should be mobile optimized.

Recently, I was in two restaurants… one did it right and the other did it wrong. (I love both of these restaurants so I’m not disparaging them in any way).

Costa Vida

The first restaurant (bad example) is Costa Vida. On the left in the image below is the table tent that shows a call to action. It says, “Join the revolution.” I’m not sure what that exactly means but, notice the bottom right corner of the left image, it says, “Just scan with your smartphone.” It then provides a handy QR code.

On the right is the screenshot from my iPhone. It took me right to his blog. It took me to a page that was not optimized for my smart phone. I could leave a comment on the blog, if I wanted. I’m not sure how to join this revolution or even what the revolution is. This video was loaded by “admin” on Sept. 21, 2011 and, as of the date on my post here, there were no comments on the blog. I’m not sure how many people actually scanned the QR code in their 43 locations but I think that the minimum expectation for people scanning the code is some sort of joining in via an email list, Facebook page, community something-or-other.

Costa Vida

Boston Market

The second restaurant (good example) is Boston Market. On the left is the table tent that shows an even more clear call to action than our Costa Vida example. The QR code is far more prominent. Boston Market also did a much better job of making the call to action very obvious as a benefit to the customer. You’ll notice on the left side is the screen shot of the page that I saw on my iPhone after scanning the QR code. You can see that the page on my mobile device is optimized for this experience. Big buttons and clear text. I know exactly what they want me to do when I get there.

Boston Market

In the end…

There are many other uses for a QR code but linking to a webpage is the most obvious for marketers right now. I think we still have a little way to go before we see QR being using extensively well in marketing in the United States… but I don’t think we are too far. It’s used extensively in other countries like Japan. I think it’s really going to come down to enough companies using it properly.

Your next step is to try it out on simple marketing pieces… but you want to test it every time to

Teaching Through Writing

posted this on Monday, September 26, 2011 at about 9pm.
Book Pages

For years, I’ve known that I had a book me in. I wasn’t sure what that book was, but I knew it was there.

I’d had many starts and even more stops (funny to have more stops than starts, huh?).

The challenge is thinking about the book as a whole and understanding what the end will look like.

I’m not sure how fiction writers think of it… or even how other non-fiction writers think of their book writing process, but I found that once I understood how the book would look in the end, it came pretty quickly and easily.

Earlier this year, I had a very clear vision of what this book should be. I knew how long it needed to be and I knew that it had to be different than any other business book out there. In fact, the only real writer's block I had during the process was when I tried to depart from my original vision and not talk about World War II (curious yet?).

I know there a lot of people out there that devour business books (or non-fiction books in the genre they are interested in). I, personally, don’t. I really have a hard time not getting bored. There are a few out there that don’t bore me (you can read my book to know which I recommend). I usually will devour non-fiction pretty quickly.

The biggest challenge that I had to overcome is that I had to write a book that was going to be of interest to me… it had to be a book that I could sit and read through without my ADD kicking in and taking over.

So, what was the answer to solve this problem?

Why pictures, of course.

Don Elliott, in my office, is a very accomplished illustrator. He knows how to illustrate cartoons as well as more serious images. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed his artwork in my book.

While the artwork in the book is all drawn by him, it really represents how I think of things. When I explain things to people, I like to draw pictures. Give me a marker and a whiteboard and I’ll draw you something that will help you understand the concept more quickly than any thing else.

It didn’t occur to me until the writing of this blog post why that was the case. Really, it comes down to story telling. So, that is why there is another key aspect to my book (you know, I needed to make it work for me). That other aspect is telling stories.

You may not think how the first solo pilot to fly across the United States, the founding of Disneyland or World War II propaganda relate to Web strategy, but they do. You may not see how building a house or Biff’s Cheese Shack relate to marketing your business online, but they do. You may not see how Harley Davidson Motorcycles or high-definition television help you do more online, but they do. In fact, I think that because I was able to tell these stories, the book practically wrote itself. It made it easy for me to convey the message I needed… it made it easy to draw the pictures (in my mind) that made the story work.

I think the single, most important part of the entire book is that it’s different. My publisher (Aloha Publishing) really wanted to book to be more standard. More standard in size. More standard in the language used. More standard in how my bio was written. Originally, they encouraged it to even be in black & white. My response to all that is that standard is boring. There is no intrigue in doing things the way everyone else does it. There is no way to truly stand out on the shelf if I look like everyone else. When you buy your book and see the little picture above the barcode, you’ll now understand why it’s there.

The book will be out soon. We now have approved the final color proof. I’m not sure of the exact release date, but it will be out soon.

Now, I’ve got to get going on my next book (apologies to my wife, kids and employees in advance).

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