Category Archives for Features

Internet Marketing Minute – XML Sitemaps

The Internet Marketing Minute

The Internet Marketing Minute

In today’s episode of the Marketing (almost) Minute I’m looking at the importance of a correctly formatted and updated XML sitemap. Often times this is poorly implemented on a site.

There are a number of “optional” tags meaning you can get away without implementing them but I strongly recommend you make sure you are implementing a full URLSet.

Keep in mind that if you are running a dynamically generated site, this becomes even more important. In order to keep up with the changes on your site you’re going to want to get the Google Sitemap Generator and install it on your server. More details in the podcast. Click the image below to Play the podcast.

Note: This is a pretty “grass roots” podcast 🙂 In time it will become more refined but for the time being keep in mind my main motivation for doing this is to give out some good tips that you might not find everywhere else in the universe. I’m refining the links I place in the podcast itself as clicking them will take you away from the site. For now these are the links in the podcast:

Sitemaps XML Format

Third Party Sitemap Generators

Google Server Side Sitemap Generator

Here’s the example for the suggested format:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>

      <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>

      <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>

      <priority>0.8</priority>

   </url>

</urlset>

GPS Tracking Tools and Toys – Gadget Friday

If you know me, you know I’m a huge gadget freak. I’ve got all the newest toys and some of my favorites are my GPS handhelds. I use mine for camping, hiking, off roading in my 4×4 Jeep, cross country skiing, and mountain biking.

I’ve used my GPS for a couple of years and can’t even begin to tell you how many times it’s saved me in a jam and just made my entire life a whole lot easier. Now, beyond me being a gadget freak I’m also a new Dad so I’m starting think about things on different level. Less about fun and more about the safety of my son and fiancee.

What if they’re driving somewhere and get lost? The possibilities are endless. Well I ran into LandAirSea GPS Tracking systems. Not only is their site fantastic (with some great stories about how criminals have been nabbed using their devices) but they have affordable tools for someone like me.

Now I’m thinking about my son turning 16 and getting his Driver’s License (I know I know I’m probably jumping the gun a bit here but bear with me). LandAirSea has a very cool GPS Tracking Key.

It’s small, simple, takes 2 AAA batteries and you can download the info to my laptop. Check out the product page for the GPS Tracking Key here. I’ve also had a few thoughts about getting these for my company. We have a “fleet” of 3 cars (not much I know) but we do pay gas mileage as an expense and the last thing I want is to over pay expense especially these days when times are a more tight than normal.

So, if you have a small business or want to know where your vehicles are going, check it out. LandAirSea makes some other industrial tools as well for any of you with larger fleets.

Definitely a cool addition to my gadget list! What other GPS gadgets do you use? Ever tried LandAirSea products? Comment and let me know.

Internet Marketing Minute Podcast

The Internet Marketing Minute Well I’ve finally decided to get things in gear with my Internet Marketing Podcast. I’m thinking of the following format:

  1. Limited to (around) 1 minute each and every day. This makes it manageable for me personally as I’m swamped with both Honeypot Marketing and Natural Traction.
  2. Low production value. I’m not going to spend hours tweaking intros and outros – I’m not really a radio guy in fact. I’m thinking you want the information in the minute not a minute of music.
  3. Highlight one strategy each and every day. This is will be a focused podcast not one about last great conference I went to and how I met up with Matt Cutts and we got drunk. There are enough podcasts like that.
  4. Stay out of SEO rambling debates and debates among arrogant designers who think there is no value in SEO or Internet Marketing.

Now I am thinking one thing here. Since I have years of online gambling marketing and sportsbook internet marketing experience I could focus on that here and then do a more general podcast on Honeypot Marketing. I’m actually thinking of leaving it up to you all out there.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Basically it comes down to a niche podcast versus a generic podcast. I’m thinking out loud and need some input.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Email Scammers Get More Saavy

This brightened up my morning today. I get tons of spam like this but I have yet to have seen one that actually included my real name in the body. A few things about this are very cool:

  1. I never knew I had a relative named Michael Nedelko. It’s even more ironic that my relative has a similar name to mine (my middle name is Michael).
  2. I never knew that my relative worked in West Africa as “Director of Produits petroliers” – although my French is a bit rusty I think that might mean he was the Director of Petroleum Products. Well done!
  3. Sadly, even though I never met my successful relative (the dude was worth over $10M!) the poor guy was the victim of a tragic plane crash. I hardly even knew ya.
  4. Happily, the money is in an estate account! Yippee! The lawyer was kind enough to track me down with all of this pertinent information. Thanks Lawyer person!

Sadly, this is the same old Nigerian email scam. It just seems they get better and better at composing their emails. Undoubtedly some poor schmuck will get a letter like this and send these people $10,000 to get the $10,000,000. But that poor schmuck probably already verified their banking and credit card information through a similar email.

Beware the Nigerian email scams, although if for some reason you’re reasing my blog you would fall for this kind of thing (at least I hope to hell you wouldn’t).

Check out this email though – pretty impressive overall:

BARRISTER  HUDSON JUNE AND CHAMBERS
03 BP 2082,Cotonou,
Republique du Benin
E-mail: hudsonjune1970@yahoo.co.jp

ATTN: Daniel Nedelko

I am Barr. Hudson June, the Attorney at law to Late Mr. Michael Nedelko, a native/national of your country, who used to work as the Director of Produits petroliers (TOTAL BENIN) in Benin Republic West Africa Here in after shall be Referred to as my client..

On the 29th of April 2007, my Client, His wife and their three Children were involved in a plane crash and unfortunately lost their lives. Since then I have made several enquiries to your embassy to locate any of my clients extended relatives  but all efforts was just in vain.

After  these several unsuccessful attempts, I decided to track his last name over the Internet, to locate any member of his Family hence I contacted you. I have contacted you to assist in repatriating the money left  behind by my Client before they get confiscated or declared unserviceable by the bank (BANK OF AFRICA, BENIN REPUBLIC). These huge deposits were lodged particularly, with the “BOA” where the deceased had an account valued at about $10.5 million dollars (Ten Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars).

The Bank has issued me a notice to provide the next of kin or have the account confiscated. Since I have been unsuccessful in Locating the relatives for over Six years. Now I seek your consent to present you as the next of kin of the deceased since you have the same last name so that the proceeds of this account valued at $10.5 million dollars can be paid to you and then you and I can Share the money 50% to you and 50% to me.  I will procure all Necessary legal documents that can be used to back up any claim we may make. All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us seeing this deal through.

I guarantee that this will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any breach of the law, but you must also agree not to disclose or pass any information related to this business to any body for security reason and to avoid eye brow, and the way we are going to achieve this is.

I will need the following information from you:

Your Full Name and Address,
Your Age, Occupation and Position,
Your Telephone, Mobile and Fax Number for Communication Purpose.

My private email address is :  hudsonjune1970@yahoo.co.jp  Please feel free to contact me immediately for further action.

Waiting to hear from you urgently.
Best Regards
Barr. Hudson June.

Seth Godin on Commission

Image representing Seth Godin as depicted in C...

So I was going through my normal hundreds of morning emails and although I generally breeze through Seth Godin‘s posts (I’ve found them to be the equivalent of Tweets, short, uninformed, the internet equivalent of a sound bite without substance) this particular post made me pause:

Everyone gets paid on commission

Beyond the fact that it’s about 5 lines long I have a number of issues with what Seth is proposing here:

  1. Being paid on commission implies that every function is customer facing. In any company there are support, infrastructure and secondary functions which make an organization actually work. How would you propose calculating their commission. Generally Seth, these are referred to as bonuses.
  2. Not every post, article or piece of news media is directly measurable. Example: Sunday Morning Political Talk Shows, they have a very low directly measurable audience. However their influence through syndication, media discussion is substantial. Should these shows and their hosts be measured on commission?
  3. Doing great work does not neccessarily mean that there is a definable B2C conversion rate attached to it. You often mention branding, customer loyalty and the like in your books and blog. Now you seem to contradict yourself by saying every action must have a measurable conversion to a sale.
  4. In the world of journalism it isn’t always about appealing to public appetite. In fact it is about the media informing the public, in your world I would predict that many journalists would simply write what is convenient to increase rating (or traffic).

Those are a few of my reasons that Seth Godin is way off base here. Seth, take a couple of hours off and watch Glen Gary Glen Ross then think about your post, your position and the fairly shallow insight you provided. Is that thought leadership?

Unless of course you meant bonuses and incentives rather than commission.

Boss Media Fines Licensees

So here’s some good news in the world of eGaming, specifically online poker. I read this article on EGR this morning and through I had to write a post on it. From the article:

BOSS MEDIA HAS introduced fines for poker network licencees that rely too heavily on rakeback and don’t bring in enough casual losing poker players, or ‘fish’.

The rule will focus on the monthly payout ratio of individual Boss Media licencees, analysing the percentage of winning players against losing ones. The payout ratio is calculated by dividing the total cash game winnings by the total cash game stakes recorded for each site.

Now there a few things here that I wanted to chirp about. I’ve been involved with eGaming Marketing now for 7 years, over those 7 years I have worked with alot of providers all over the world. Since it’s a fairly unregulated market in certain areas (read: full of shoddy operations) there are some pretty interesting marketing practices.

For instance I have seen “retention” marketers that rely on heavy gamblers “move” these players from one “brand” to another and call it an increase in business (that is specifically for a single company that has multiple brands or websites). Frankly I’ve seen that so many times over the years that it makes me want to vomit.

PKR.com screenshot
Image by JohnSeb via Flickr

That’s not marketing, that’s saving your own skin because the out dated marketing practices you are using are not driving in the recreational players (or in the world of Poker the “fish”). Boss Media has it right, absolutely and completely right. The fine structure they are putting in place will force it’s licencees to invest in marketing and become mainstream – appealing to normal people out there.

Far too many eGaming companies out there rely on a stock of heavy gamblers to sustain their business. When they do this they can continue to provide crappy customer service, slow payouts and treat new customers like garbage. It’s a stigma that this industry needs to get through in order for it to be come mainstream.

Think about it, if I’m a normal person and become interested in Online Poker do you really think I’m going to deposit $100 or $200 into an operation that has outdated philosophies of customer service and marketing? Those days are gone.

It’s time for eGaming and Online Poker rooms to put the customer first, market to recreational players and get with it in all areas of their operation.

Good Job Boss Media. I wish that more providers would implement similar policies and weed out the dinosaurs of the eGaming industry.

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32Red Active Players Up Revenues Down

More interesting financials from online casino operator 32Red. Looks like they had an increase in active players, which is always good (customer service and retention likely get credit for that) but a revenue drop of 11%. Here’s a brief synopsis of the interim results:

  1. Overall revenues -11.2% to £5.8m, from £6.4m at the same point in 2008.
  2. Active Casino Players +23% 14,490 over the same period in 2008.
  3. New Casino Players +19% to 9733 over the same period in 2008.
  4. 32Red now accepts Paypal transactions (one of the few to do so).
  5. Invested £400,000 into backoffice and infrastructure.

Some interesting quotes from 32Red:

32Red attributed the fall to “the challenging economic environment faced by the UK and the rest of Europe during the first half of the year”

“Despite the global recession, 32Red has managed to grow its new casino players by a record 9,733, driven in part by our new television advertising campaign that has helped deliver a lower cost of customer acquisition. 32Red is well positioned to take advantage of any improvement in market conditions.’’- Ed Ware 23Red CEO

Looks like the recession, economic climate and consumer’s fear of spending on credit continue to affect the bottom line of gaming operators. But kudos to 32Red, they have the exact right idea. Investing into marketing now is the route to go – they’ve acquired new customers through investment in marketing. Obviously a revenue slip is not what you *really* want but then again during a global recession online gaming will be hit very hard. Particularly if the operator is seeking “retail” or casual players as opposed to heavy gamblers.

They’ll be well positioned to retain those clients and activate them when spending trends begin to rise. Smart business in tough times.

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Online Gaming Revenues Flat and Dropping

Well I’ve said it before – if you do work in the gaming space this recession has been fairly tough all around. Contrary to popular belief people do not gamble more during tough times, especially online. They might drink more, smoke more and watch more movies but logging on to deposit into an online gaming site is one of the first things to go during such a brutal recession.

Another significant point that needs to be taken into account is the credit crisis and crunch in the United States. Never before in the history of the US has the state of credit been so bad. I’m also not making this stuff up – have a read of this BBC article titled: Credit crunch to downturn to quote:

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which oversees the global economy, warns that potential losses from the credit crunch could reach $1 trillion and may be even higher.

It says the effects are spreading from sub-prime mortgage assets to other sectors, such as commercial property, consumer credit, and company debt.

This consumer credit issue has caused some serious ripples in the revenue forcasts for some major online gaming organizations. In  particular:

  • 888.com casino revenues fell 23% in H1 2009
  • PartyGaming reported lossses in their Sportsbook operations and a flat line in Poker and Casino operations.

Being a marketer during a tough time like this makes life extremely difficult but my advice is to stay the course. Do not shift gears quickly and continue building during an economic downturn. If you position yourself properly you will be far ahead when the market begins to recover and you will reap the rewards.

Make a quick, myopic shift change and you will be taking steps backwards and be behind the game when recovery takes place.

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Prague Spring Anniversary

Prague, end of August of 1968. Molotov Coctail...
Image via Wikipedia

So today is the 41st anniversary of Prague Spring. Around my house growing up I had heard alot about it in snippets. It became the subject of family gatherings (especially after the adults got into drinking a bit) – to me it is a somewhat distant event that although is a huge part of my family never directly affected me.

So it was interesting that my mother decided to finally write the experience down in first person form. I read it and it made it more real to me and definitely made it make sense to me on a more personal level.

Take a few minutes and have a look at her Prague Spring Memories.

Pretty crazy stuff and pretty turbulent time.

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Yahoo Never Was A Search Engine

Image representing Carol Bartz as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

Well I’ve never been a fan of Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz and she continues to stupify me with her ridiculous statements which she holds to so dearly.

As covered over at Search Engine Land Bartz was interviewed in the New York Times. She is stunningly moronic in some of her claims:

“Yahoo, according to Ms. Bartz, simply feeds search results for people who have grown curious while reading one of its news stories or watching a video. It doesn’t generally pop into peoples’ minds as the first place to go look for answers during the course of their day-to-day activities.”

How is that possibly the case? On so many levels I would argue the validity of this claim:

  1. Yahoo was initially a search directory then a search engine then added portals.
  2. If Yahoo doesn’t pop into mind as answering questions for users, then uh, what about Yahoo Answers? What’s the point of that then?
  3. Bartz is singlehandedly dismantling Yahoo as a company with unique software technology and turning it into a portal and content company. Granted for many years they have had a content focus but Yahoo Search Marketing and Yahoo Search were always major components of their company.

“The biggest thing for Yahoo is increasing the number of pages people consume and slapping as many display ads as possible across those pages. “My fortunes are tied to my pages,” Ms. Bartz said.”

This is nonsenscial. I have an ad network. We are interested in content pages to serve advertising. Yahoo is a software technology company…er…it WAS a software technology company. How sad for Yahoo to have a such a short sighted myopic CEO.

“According to Ms. Bartz, the majority of Yahoo’s sites will go the way of Sports. In particular, Yahoo will throw investments behind its entertainment, finance and news operations. Ms. Bartz noted that there are plenty of unemployed journalists out there to pick up.”

Well Carol. Hey Carol. Umm Carol….those journalists are unemployed because the notion of traditional journalism and simply serving up that content and selling ads is not the same as it used to be. They are unemployed because many companies in this space are unprofitable.

Excuse me while I go bang my head against a brick wall.

“In addition, Ms. Bartz will remember that Terry Semel, a longtime Warner Brothers executive, was brought in before to turn Yahoo into more of a media company. Mr. Semel’s tenure was perhaps characterized more for losing to Google than anything else.”

Clearly Carol doesn’t believe the notion that if we are not aware of our history we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. I think we can revise this though at this point, Yahoo isn’t in the “losing” position any longer. It has lost. Full Stop.

“Ms. Bartz has decided to correct past mistakes by getting all of the employees on the same page and presenting a more consistent look across Yahoo’s sites. In addition, she’s trying to boost morale and get the energy of the company up again –- a task hurt by the hit Yahoo’s shares took after the Microsoft deal was announced.

“I felt bad for the employees because they think it’s a report card,” Ms. Bartz said.”

Honestly, this woman is a CEO? Of any company? Your share price is a report card of sorts, it’s the market responding to the strategic decisions being made. Clearly this is perceived as being a bad decision. Which it is. It’s a horrible decision.

In fact it’s a series of horrible decisions, capped off by myopic thinking and topped off with a healthy dose of delusion.

Way to go Carol!

Update – Just ran into a fantastic quote from the New York Times Bits Blog:

I’ve got to wonder how much running a sales force that peddles expensive software to engineers and designers has to do with running a free Web site that attracts users through branding and products and makes money through advertising.

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