Tim Ash’s Presentation on Trust Unravels Before Our Eyes

Velaro and Site Tuners scheduled a webinar yesterday titled Improving Online Conversions By Building Trust and Personalizing Messages. Tim Ash was supposed to present but unfortunately the event was grounded because of technical issues and they wound up canceling the webinar.

There was a chat client within the presentation viewer and it didn’t take long for audience members to start cracking jokes. Watch as the audience turns on the presenters – here’s the chat transcript as it happened.

Monica T: Good evening
Matt S: hello!
Glenn M: or good morning depending on where you are calling in from.
Bob H: hello
Sam H: hello
Monika S: Hello
Chris R: Hi from Calif
danna c: hello from Dallas
Jim R: Hello from Texas
Bas S: Netherlands
Y A: Hello from TN
Tom C: Los Angeles
Glenn M: SF Bay Area
Mark J: Hi from Las Vegas
Steve W: Hello from PA
Monika S: San Diego
LIndsey K: Oakland, CA
Chris W: hello from Utah
Bridget S: Hello from Minneapolis
Per H: hello from stockholm
Justin M: Hi from San Diego
flo b: hu from montreal
Michelle K: Panama City, Panama
Solon C: Hello from Irvine, CA
Bob K: Hello from Atlanta
rowe m: Santa Monica
Renee B: Hello from Wisconsin
Matt A: Hello from Optimizely in San Francisco!
Richard A: Richard Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Mike C: Hi from the moon
M A: Hello from Roseville, CA.
Wendy H: hello from Brentwood, TN
Gerald B: Hello from Irving, TX
Glenn M: Hey Matt Atlhauser. We love Optimizely.
tal h: hi from Silicon valley, CA (san mateo)
Matt A: Thanks Glenn!
Bob H: I do not see a picture. has this started yet?
James K: helloo from Chicagoland!
David N: Unable to select Connect for internet audio
M A: I keep being invited to choose a different audio device even though I can hear the elevator music.
ROBERTO A: Hello to everyone from Italy!
Wayne A: Helooo from Philly!
Cindy T: Hello from sunny San Diego!
Nell K: Hello all!
Glenn M: @Matt – Tell Dan Prosper says hi.
Joshua L: Hell from USA
Michelle K: The system keeps telling me my passcode is invalid.
Nicole v: Hi form Holland!
Morgan S: Hello from very hot Atlanta.
Alex K: HI from Canada
Bas S: hi from holland as wel
Bas S: Very bad sound here
Alan M: Audio not working
Marcos T: Hello from Sao Paulo/Brasil!
Cindy T: nobody really talking yet i think
danna c: audio not working
Claudio C: hello from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Chris R: i hear breathing / typing?
Cindy T: i hear background sounds
Joshua L: can not hear on the phone
Chuck B: Hello from North Dakota
Brian F: Hello from Massachusetts, USA
ALICE S: Hello from Connecticut.
Alan M: NO AUDIO
Alex K: guys, be patient
Nicole v: Something goes wrong there
tal h: no sound , no picture .. is that what should be now ?
Bas S: any video streaming or just audio ?
Chris R: chillax
N S: no audio won’t connect
corey s: is anyone speaking yet
Solon C: this isn’t working…..just hear background noises
Alan M: any plans to fix the audio
Tim B: Are we supposed to be hearing anything yet?
Monica T: no audio, no video
t r: i hear crickets in chicago
Matt S: can’t hear anything either
Chris R: same crickets in LA
Dan A: My trust is waning
Wayne A: whoa, this is soo informative!
Glenn M: I am seeing session dtails and how to listen. sound is nothing but it seems to be working as I am hearing person breathing and now talking in background.
Suzanne G: i can hear Clare
Bil G: I just heard, “Can you go find out if Michael can hear me?”
Claudio C: We can hear someone speaking
Joshua L: same in Baltimore
Chris R: Tim rocks… he’ll make it happen
Tim B: We can hear you, mysterious lady.
adina t: I think I can hear Clare too
LIndsey K: no audio
Michael S: I was able to hear also
Joshua L: no audio
M A: I’m not hearing anything anymore.
Chris R: we have audio, no one is talking…
Monika S: no audio
t r: I hear nothing
danna c: no audio here
Michael S: I am on the phone
Michelle K: Hellloooo, can’t get into the teleconference, it keeps telling me I have the wrong passcode.
corey s: patience fellow listeners
luis h: Can’t hear anything
ROBERTO A: Sorry, I heard the music before but I don’t hear nothing since music stopped
tal h: somethings happening
Jelena U: wow, here it is
Chris R: let there be slides
Tim B: Michelle Korn, can you stream it online?
Claudio C: I can see a black screen now
Lynn G: is there audio through the computer or do you need to call in?
Glenn M: So a priest, a minister and a rabbi walk into a bar . . .
ALICE S: isn’t this fun!
Sultan G: no audio here in Canada
Suzanne G: ditto
Chris R: lol Glenn
Nicole v: whoohooo!!
Michelle K: I’d have to try w/ my laptop as I don’t have my speakers hooked into my desktop.
Krissy M: way better than working
t r: I have a picture of the presentation but it sounds like some one is talking underwater.
Margaret M: i agree
ROBERTO A: Apollo 13, can you hear me?
Monica T: no audio
Claudio C: This webmeeting was sscheduled to start at 3:00pM EST…
Joshua L: I can not hear
Alan M: just background noise
M A: I have video and background noise but no speaking.
Jim R: Houston we have a problem
N S: still no audio only visual
flo b: no audio
Jim D: No one is talking yet!
Joshua L: same
Brian P: say something so I know if I have audio or not….
Wendy H: just background noise
luis h: I hear some heavy breathing
Alan M: so much for velaro
adina t: did you start the presentation?
Casey M: Hello everyone and welcome to the webinar. We are having some difficulty but hope you will hang in for a couple minutes while we work things out.
Glenn M: @Roberto. Houston, we have a problem.
Claudio C: It’s already 3:07 PM E.ST
chris m: Speaker:can you speak. I think it is working.. say few words
Jo G: hoping for a replay with all the trimmings
Tim B: Luis, luck you.
Nell K: Fix the audio.
Alan M: signing off soon
Joshua L: I can hear in the backround
Chris W: No sound!
Jared S: alot of energetic fingers for this point in the afternoon
Jim D: I can definitely hear people moving around in the background.
luis h: Yep, bkgnd noise
Claudio C: Good luck
Krissy M: writing notes for my boss is going to be epic
Jo G: yay for followup!
Cindy T: is somebody supposed to be talking?
Pat T: I cannot hear anything…
Wendy H: the slides are moving but no one is talking
Alan M: Is any one reading this
Chris W: I hope they do a recording of this that works
M A: Just heard phone tones
adina t: I can not hear you too
Lynn G: is there audio through the computer?
Sultan G: chocking sound!
Florence A: I can not hear anything
Kevin C: heard you
Chris R: yes, now
Suzanne G: yes
Claudio C: Tim Ash rocks!
Bil G: no one can hear anything
M A: Heard her
Brian P: I hear you!
Sultan G: we can hear you
Matt S: heard that
Debra C: yes now
luis h: yes
Robert P: we have sound
Molly T: I heard you.
adina t: yes now I heard you
Flavia C: yes
Jo G: heard something
Krissy M: we hear you
Glenn M: heard that
Chris R: heard woman…
Solon C: i heard you
Justin M: yes
Nicole v: no we do
Tim B: Let’s all just be patient. =)
James K: Audio works via phone here..
Joshua L: i heard that
Alan M: Can not hear – lots of background noise
t r: Just heard clare
danna c: heard you
M A: No more talking?
Em L: i just heard something
Mike C: heard it now
Debra C: now nothing….
Jared S: we have a caffeine pandemic on our hands in the chat room
Chris R: mysterious woman, say something
Alan M: are you planning to reschedule
Vladmir D: Greetings from mother Russia
Brian P: its gone now
adina t: But I think you should start from the begining
Edna C: greatings from MEXICO
ML O: Just heard, “Q”, you can’t hear me at all on the phone line but not my computer speakers.
Joshua L: same
luis h: Can you hear me now? haha
Sam W: Please speak again
chris m: Clare. we can hear U ..
Kristen W: We have no audio either!
Jo G: lol luis
Florence A: I hear a droning sound
Nina D: I see about our presenters but can’t hear anyone, hear something though
ML O: No, can’t hear luis.
Mike C: Clare? U there?
John M: I think they need some audio optimization
ROBERTO A: I heard a voice! The voice told me to go through the desert and save the people of Las Vegas from perdition…
chris m: say something in French
Vladmir D: I hear nothing
Monica T: No audio. Sorry guys, I’m off to watch CSI.
Tim B: ML, you need to have things turned WAY UP on the comp speakers.
Gert C: Greetings from Dallas! No audio…
Chet F: #technology
Joshua L: i herd clare
Jason S: i hear some typing
Michelle K: Hello
luis h: Merde! That’s French for “I can’t hear anything”
Jim D: It’s like somone’s laptop is the live mic, not the one they think is live
Chris R: i’m not trusting the “building trust” webinar…
Dan L: WUK?
Viki B: lol
luis h: hahaha
Michelle K: I can’t use my laptop, b/c it knows I’m in session on the desktop.
Jane D: no audio via internet connection and just called in to the dial in number as well, still no audio. 10 minutes later………
Michelle K: Why won’t your teleconference work???
John M: The audio may need some “tuning”
John H: Hi from Oklahoma
Vladmir D: Time to hit the bottle again
Dan L: This is my favorite webinar ever!!
ML O: Again, just faint background noises of people working…
Jared S: #office_space baseball bat to computer screen
Michelle K: And I don’t want to shut it down on my desktop b/c who knows if I’ll even get back.
Alan M: This is not “Humanizing the Online exsperience”
Michelle K: LOL
Brian P: Hellllooooo? Bueler….Bueler….
Chris R: i have audio running on pc and phone, neither is working
Jason W: wonder if this is cheaper than go2meeting
ML O: with the person typing the loudest/closest.
M A: @Vladimir, are you still in Odessa?
Vladmir D: In Russia, webniars come to you
Chet F: haha
ALICE S: I am learning so much.
Carolyn R: Not building much trust here
Gert C: I truly understand mechanical errors from all my own presentation goof-ups. LOL

I guess that’s what you get for trying to offer some free content! I’m hoping they reschedule so we can hear what they had to say but had to share the comments from the peanut gallery.

Carfax is Running a Negative Campaign and Doing It Effectively

Carfax instills fear and manipulates consumers into doing its will. If Carfax were a political candidate, watchdog groups would be crying ‘smear campaign’ for its advertisements.Thankfully, the presidential candidate hype machine and the inevitable campaign commentary won’t start in earnest until the February so I’ll call it what it is: strong arming. And successful at that.

Carfax’s target market in this case is used car dealerships. They could have run ads in industry publications extolling the virtues of carrying Carfax reports and the benefits to conversion rates (and they may for all I know.) Rather than take the kind and gentle approach though, they are bullying customers with TV ads.

Instead of entering into a debate with dealers, they reach out to the dealers’ customers and play to the oldest and most political motivator around. They use fear. They describe all of the awful things that could be lurking in a car’s history and how a Carfax report can protect consumers from dealers. Then the muscle comes in when they tell you what to do about it. Just ask your used car dealer for a Carfax report. “Show me the Carfax” is their simple call to action and it really puts their dealer customers in a bind. After all, any reputable dealership with nothing to hide would surely offer prospective customers a vehicle history report, free of charge. Right?
The unspoken implication is that if you don’t ask them to ‘show me the Carfax,’ they’re going to take advantage of you. By raising the expectations of consumers, Carfax is putting the squeeze on dealers and having the dirty work done for them by concerned car shoppers.

This is the kind of half truth tactic that makes political campaigns so unbearable. In this case, there’s no denying that it works. Just don’t expect a lot of a lot of ‘across the aisle’ collaboration from dealers if an alternative service becomes available.

Bonus use for bulk link lists

In a follow up to yesterday’s post on evaluating potential linking sites in bulk, here’s one more way to use your new lists of links

Once you’ve pulled down all of the links from a round up page like social-media.alltop.com, you’ve got a list of authoritative sources on a niche topic. If it’s a subject that you’re interested in keeping up on, you can create a Google Custom Search Engine based on your list.
Then, when you’re interested in what the social media pundits have to say about a news item, or if you’re interested in finding posts that combine a specific idea (say coffee for example) with your niche’s point of view, instead of doing a general Google search and getting all kinds of results, you can restrict your queries to your handpicked list of experts in that niche.

http://www.google.com/cse?cx=017565783639329627654%3Auqjfczpkwha&ie=UTF-8&q=coffee

And don’t forget that you can add advanced search operators such as date range to your CSE search by appending the results URL

Batch link evaluation

When link building, it’s often necessary to gather a large list of targets for a campaign. Here’s one way to quickly get some good URLs, with basic metrics attached, without pulling them one by one.

Let’s say you’ve got a new infographic about coffee and you’re trying to find a list of blogs that would potentially be interested in posting about it. The first step is to find some pages that list the kind of blogs that we’re after. Lists like these are popular on the web so we shouldn’t have too much trouble. Google is a good place to start, either by searching for round up posts or by using the SERPs themselves as a list. Also try Technorati, DMOZ and Alltop.

Once you’ve got a page with a bunch of links listed, copy the URLs. It’s often easiest to use a tool like SEO for Firefox for this. Right click the page and select SEO XRay.

The SEO for Firefox plugin overlays some data on top of the page you’re on. Select external links and export them as a CSV file.

If you need to clean up your list to filter out duplicates, ads and other irrelevant links, pull open your CSV with Excel. Then copy them to your clipboard for the next step.

To add some quick evaluation metrics, try backlinks.in. It’s a tool built on SEOMoz’s Linkscape data and allows you to evaluate up to 1000 URLs per day in bulk. You get page MozRank and the number of backlinks for each URL, which can help you prioritize your potential link targets.

Paste back into Excel and you’re set to start pitching!

*Update – see a bonus use for batch link lists here

Hacking LinkedIn for Research

LinkedIn.com is as close to a comprehensive business directory as there is and usually reveals a lot about a company’s make up. But if you’ve ever tried to track down business leads, site owners or potential partners, you’ve probably had trouble locating the right person to contact at some point. Try this trick to get more names out of LinkedIn and locate that key person.

Let’s say you’re trying to get in touch with Pixar to show them your new promotional product. You start by searching for “marketing pixar” in LinkedIn’s search box.After browsing the results, you think the person with the title “Marketing and Promotions at Pixar Animation Studios” would be the perfect one to contact. By clicking through you can see work, education and connection details but the name of the contact is listed as private.
Bummer. Without a name it’s difficult to go much further. Here’s what you do.

Scroll down the mystery contact’s profile until you see the section labeled “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” You’ll see the names of other people that are closely associated with your contact.
Try clicking on a few of them. If you find one that’s in your network (even a 3rd degree contact) you’ll see their profile page.
Going back to our Pixar example, viewers of our target’s profile also viewed the Director of Worldwide Publicity. Since we apparently have some friends in common, I’m able to click through to her profile.

Once I’ve got Robin’s profile page open, I can scroll down to her “Viewers of this profile also viewed…” section. Because she’s closely associated with our “Marketing and Promotions” target, chances are that person will appear in her list. And she does! Using the title that we saw on the private profile page, along with background info that is available on private pages like education, we can confidently match the two and identify the mystery contact.

Depending on her privacy settings, you can now click through to her detail profile or just note the name and do some additional research on Google.

And that’s it. It’s one of those tips that doesn’t work every time but it may help in your research. Happy hunting!

Overhead at the SEOmoz Pro Training Event

SeoMoz’s Pro Training Series wrapped up yesterday and I learned a lot listening to these company insiders talk shop. Here are a few of the quotes overheard during the event that are worth repeating:

On responding to negative reviews

“Remember that the unhappy customer isn’t the audience for your response.”

David Mihm @davidmihm

Using Google Analytics effectively

“Top level performance measures aren’t helpful. Look at micro conversion events to find what is happening with your business.”

Joanna Lord @joannalord

Business process

“When SEO is institutionalized, it dies on the vine.”

Marshall Simmonds @mdsimmonds

Keyword targeting in content

“After you’ve built pages for high- and mid- volume keywords, use tools to keep the super long tail words in front of you as you write your content. Including them naturally within your copy can help in aggregate.”

Tom Critchlow @tomcritchlow

Visual distractions on landing pages

“If it doesn’t directly contribute to the current transaction, get rid of it.”

Tim Ash @tim_ash

“Rankings are a milestone, not the goal.”

Seth Besmertnik @besmertnik

Waiting for Google to reward your big link

“Authority links don’t always add instant value.”

Wil Reynolds @wilreynolds

Building links manually

“Your best links are the ones competitors can’t get.”

Rob Ousbey @robousbey

Designing link bait

“Ask your audience about linking to your content before you write it and do it on the phone.”

Rob Ousbey @robousbey

Encouraging community participation


“Reduce the friction to participate.”

Rand Fishkin @randfish

Writing headlines that stand out

“Use active language and include references to current events.”

Ian Lurie @portentint

“SEO strategy is product strategy”

Laura Lippay @lauralippay

On @bhendrickson‘s new LDA data on language usage on-page

“Remember 45 minutes ago when we thought that links were really important?”

Rand Fishkin @randfish

Presenting data

“The sexiest report is a phone call.”

Will Critchlow @willcritchlow

“Engage people, not sites.”
Tom Critchlow @tomcritchlow

Here are the slides from the presentations at the event.
http://www.seomoz.org/dp/presentations-seminar-2010

A Dangerously Level Playing Field

It seems like all my posts lately have been about Google Reader in one way or another. So let’s keep it going!
Just a small observation today: when reading posts in Reader, all posts are presented in the place and in the same way. That’s a good thing for info-holics but it can also be dangerous.
For the most part, the text formatting, professional graphic design, additional content and the overall ‘feel’ of the source site is stripped away in Reader leaving you with just the article itself. That’s great for avoiding distractions, especially when you don’t have to contend with mortgage ads or the dreaded auto-play videos that some sites insist on using. But some of those things (professional layout, the content that surrounds the article, etc) are indicators of authority that you just don’t get in Reader.
If you’re like me, you organize Reader feeds using folders. That puts all of your sources for news, which have varying levels of trustworthiness, in the same place with very little to distinguish between them. In Reader, all sources are presented equally.
That’s good news for small publishers or business that offer RSS feeds – your content will appear right alongside the big time news outfits. It’s dangerous to consumers who are digging through a large volume of news in Reader. Without a good mental filter, it’s easy to take in all of that information as if it’s been reviewed by an editor and appropriately vetted when in reality it can come from any rube with a laptop.
I put myself in that category and have caught myself reacting to information before considering the source carefully enough. It’s especially tempting to take news and run when it’s niche or industry content that major outlets might not have or if it’s breaking, juicy news. (See Brett Farve’s latest retirement proclamation, based on second hand emails and spread via Twitter.)

Google Reader as an activity hub

I’m an unabashed Google Reader fan. Reader is considered to be a best in class web-based feed reader. But it can be so much more than that. Here are a few ways that I use Reader other than tracking my favorite feeds.

Bookmarking
Using the “Note in Reader” bookmarklet, I’m able to save any web page and organize it in Reader. Tags keep things tidy and I’m also able to add my own personal notes to remind myself why I saved it in the first place.

Custom Search
Because I’ve gathered all of my favorite authors and other sources of content in Reader, the search feature can be really useful. I have a lot of feeds and don’t get around to reading all of the posts. In fact I usually skim the headlines for interesting items and use the “mark all as read” button generously to keep things clean.
Using search, I can focus a query on my favorite sources of info rather than the whole web. For instance, I read a lot of tech blogs that post dozens of times a day. If I’m looking for a review on a new product or a commentary on a new website, I’ll use Reader’s search to get the info from sources I trust, and quickly.

Brand Monitoring and Sharing

After using a variety of tools to create persistent search feeds, I use Reader to collect and share interesting items. Irrelevant results are a part of persistent searches. Rather than trying to fine tune my queries too far, I add my own human filter to the rough results to make sure I’m keeping only the quality items.
Using Reader, I scan the headlines of the items that come through and open the ones that look interesting. If the item passes the my quality check I add a label, which puts it in the ‘keep’ pile. The rest go unlabeled and stay out of the way.
The result is an ultra-clean set of persistent search results. And because I’ve labeled them, I can share them with co-workers on a web page (manage subscriptions -> Folders and tags -> view public page), in a ten-foot display format (subscription menu -> View in Reader Play), or as a new RSS feed. For stubborn email users, I can use Feedburner to deliver those items by email too.

Discovery
The team behind Google Reader has made great strides in this area lately. Because Google knows so much about you (which scares some people but doesn’t bother me much) it can make pretty good suggestions about what you’d like to see. Reader’s Explore bar gives you suggested posts and suggested sources of popular stuff related to your interests.
If you find that you’re sorting through too much clutter, you can try PostRank for Reader, which further filters suggestions by giving them a popularity score based on other users’ behavior. If you have a lot of feeds or if your feeds post frequently, it can be especially useful.
You can also try typing a topic into the ‘Add Subscription” box and find new feeds that way.

More Reader Ideas
Besides reading blogs, I also use Reader to:
-Watch for new Craigslist and eBay listings for things I’m interested in
-Find interesting things to share on Twitter
-Get notified when there are questions on Yahoo Answers that I could comment on
-Refresh my desktop wallpaper with the best photos on the web
-Monitor the occasional Woot Off (although Reader is usually too slow to catch the elusive BOC.)

Add to all this the fact that the regular feed browsing features are amazing too and it’s no wonder I’m in Reader most of my work day.

So bad it’s good, so good it’s bad: when campaigns turn on you

The performance of a Marketing campaign is difficult to predict. There are just too many variables: vehicles used, frequency, the mindset of the recipients, unforeseeable marital scandal by celebrity pitchman, etc.
It’s no wonder that sometimes we get completely unexpected results.

The Cult Status Effect – Execution that is so bad, it becomes a meme of sorts, spreading the word much further than if it were merely mediocre. A lot like winning the lottery, these rarely happen on purpose. It worked for The Snuggie, The Doyle and Devoe Real Estate Team and the Montgomery Flea Market but pursue this strategy at your own risk. Most bad commercials or ads simply die out quickly and anonymously. Or worse, you could become…

…The Punchline – The worst kind of viral ad. This type of message gets remembered and passed on for all the wrong reasons. What seemed like a good idea on paper becomes the bane of your existence. Bad campaigns are notoriously hard to live down once they’ve picked up steam online.

Too Much of a Good Thing - Like mom said, Halloween candy is wonderful but too much will give you a stomach ache. Growing up in Minneapolis, we visited family in Chicago on a regular basis. In Chicago, I remember hearing the catchy jingle for Empire Carpet – “5-8-8; 2-3-hundred… em-PIRE!” and thinking that it was a fun ad.
Now Empire commercials are aired in the Twin Cities and I hear their ads every single day on TV and on the radio. My nostalgia-hazed memories of Empire have been replaced with an intense loathing for the cursed song. (I realize that Advertising 101 says that repetition is good and even annoying ads work if they’re memorable. There is a line though and Empire has crossed it.)
If the Empire ads are not familiar, think Presidential campaign ads or football TV commercials for men’s prescription medication. You get the idea.

Extenuating Circumstances – Some things are simply out of a marketer’s control. No matter how good an ad campaign is, it can be sabotaged. A classic example in the news today is Toyota. Their recent ad campaigns have been eye-catching and effective. (Even their Prius campaign, which is a little creepy, delivers their message well.) But all of that is undermined by safety concerns resulting from massive recalls.

It’s good to remember that while we do our best to influence our marketplaces, persuasion is an unpredictable field that sometimes yields strange results.

Domino’s Pizza Turnaround: The Missing Ingredient

By now you’ve probably seen Domino’s Pizza’s commercial where they admit that their pizza was terrible. They’ve grabbed a lot of attention with this bold tactic and I give them credit for daring to be so transparent.

For all the things they’ve done well here, the story still seems less than genuine to me. They forgot one thing: the scapegoat.
They show chefs and executives reading all the negative feedback, swallowing hard and going back at it with a new enthusiasm. After a big group clap, they unveil the new pizza recipe that tastes way better than before. Does anyone else see the problem here?
The people delivering the new pizza are the same people that made the old pizza. Why should we trust them to do any better this time?
Domino’s almost got it right. But if you’re going to admit your product stinks, heads have to roll. We need to know that the problem has been identified and eliminated. There has to be a ‘new management’ moment that makes us feel like things are truly different.
Ending the ‘pizza makeover’ that way might not have been as uplifting but it would be more believable.

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