Friday, May 28, 2010

Conversations on the Future of Ad Agencies

As technology has taken a bite out of the creative work that ad agencies did for so many years, there has been a lot of discussion as to whether agencies are headed for extinction or what the new role of the ad agency is.

Recently, I was interviewed for an article in Advertising Age -- where I talked about the DIY Marketing trend and how it has taken a slice of the traditional ad agency pie.  I later had to come back and add the REST of my comment that didn't make it into the article -- that agencies have tremendous opportunities in this new world of marketing.  You'll want to check out the comments just to see how emotional some of the responses are.

Now, check out this article over at Research Access where our resident expert, Steven Salta from Ascentium Corporation, The Experience Agency™, gives us his thoughts on the future of advertising and agencies.
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"I'm Not Some Chick You Just Boned" and Customer Feedback in the Same Sentence -- REALLY?

Leave it to Bill Maher to do exactly that.

Are transaction surveys going the way of the pop-up blocker?  I wouldn't be surprised if they were.

Read Vivek Bhaskaran's latest commentary on Research Access.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Are We Practicing "Infographics" Like the Cavemen?

If you haven't had the opportunity to check out the new Research Access Blog,  I encourage you to visit.

There, you'll find brain massaging articles, essays and information on research from some different perspectives.

Last week, Alex Gofman, Vice President of Moskowitz Jacobs Inc. wrote an interesting essay on early graphic "infographics" a visual representation of information.

After reading this article, I found it interesting that we seem to be evolving somewhat full circle as we strive to take quantitative data and make it more consumable by the use of presentations, video, slides and other visual "infographics".

Read more about infographics at Research Access...

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ResearchAccess - Online Resource for Market Research and Customer Intelligence

I am very excited to invite you to the launch of ResearchAccess - An online resource for to discuss, learn and share ideas and thoughts on Market Research, Customer Intelligence and in general the science of feedback. You are receiving this email because you've signed up or expressed interest in one of our core products and services  -  Survey Analytics.

As part of the launch, we are giving away a free book - Online Surveys for Dummies to the first 500 subscribers to the site.

We also have a Free iPad for you!  -

Forward Thinking Content:
We've lined up a great group of writers, thinkers and practitioners to contribute to the site:
  • Alex Gofman -- Author the best-selling book "Selling Blue Elephants" and Pace University professor.
  • Andrew Jeavons -- Managing Director of Nebu -- Contributing writer for ESOMAR Research World
  • Steven Salta -- President of Ascentium
  • Mike Pitchard - President of 5 Circles Research
Research TV:
An online Video only channel focused on online research, its future, tips and tricks that make it work. We will be conducting a series of interviews as well as showcasing great tutorials on different aspects of Customer feedback, market research and analytics. Here's what is playing currently:

Contributing to Research Access (and getting free PR):
We realize the success of ResearcAccess is fundamentally dependent on you (well - ok on traffic but you get the point) - To that end, we are making a few channels of visibility available to everyone:

Contributing Writers - We plan on regularly inviting guest authors, thinkers and practitioners to post on ResearchAccess - If you'd like to contribute regularly please see this link:

Industry Voices -  We plan on introduce another section on the site that is dedicated to CEO's of companies in the Market Research and Customer Intelligence business. More information here:

Research TV Interviews - We plan on getting a series of interviews of rock-stars in the MR and Customer Feedback business. Please see this link below to be considered interviewed.

Thanks for listening. If you'd like to subscribe to updates to ResearchAccess:

Twitter: @researchaccess

You’ve Had the Ask. Now Here’s the Listen!

A Google search on your company or brand is elementary in this digital era and finding a mention on a blog or a re-tweet on Twitter is still pretty simple. Point is: finding and counting brand mentions are easy – the next step is something researchers have not quite harnessed yet, until now.

Social Voice, recently devised by the social media market research experts at Peanut Labs and Conversation Strategies, represents the next generation of market research. A product designed for researchers by researchers, Social Voice allows researchers to scientifically measure opinions registered in social media.

While there are many programs available to monitor customer sentiment, Social Voice provides the necessary variables to transform unstructured social media conversations into data that mirrors traditional survey research data. Grounded on scientific fundamentals, Social Voice empowers researchers to:

  • Now easily access social media data…

    • Gather millions of records from thousands of website sources.

    • Take advantage of Social Voice data quality processes that identify only quality data.

    • Obtain continuous sentiment scoring for every record.

    • Utilize over 1200 predefined constructs as well as custom constructs tailored to meet each client’s needs.

    • Apply unique processes…

      • Choose the quantity and diversity of data that meets specific needs.

      • Use the same statistical programs applied to survey data.

      • Apply similar modeling to all data sources.

      • Produce data tables that match desired outputs.

      • Standardize box scores to exact specifications.

A call to all researchers out there, Social Voice speaks the same language as traditional market research. What is the difference, you ask? It uses social media conversations as its source of information – going beyond social media monitoring, researchers can now conduct fundamentally sound “social media market research” by both asking and listening.

About the Author: Sean Case leads the market research division of Peanut Labs, Inc. This includes managing the company’s client services, sales and marketing team. He has over 15 years of experience in sales, management and operational development both inside and outside the market research industry and brings over six years of experience within online market research.

Monday, May 24, 2010

WEBINAR: Effective Use of Online Survey Tools in the Innovation Process

Webinar Presentation
Thursday June 17th, 2010
9:00AM PST

Looking for ways to bring innovation to your company without going over budget?

It’s been proven that customer-driven innovation requires a steady flow of real insight from real customers. However, to be successful, the right questions and techniques must be used for each stage of innovation. If used correctly, cost-effective online survey methods can become an essential tool to consistently deliver new, valuable products and services.

Join Survey Analytics and Planning Innovations for this one-hour webinar on how cost-effective online tools can be used throughout the innovation process to identify needs, explore solutions, and validate concepts.

1)       How can online surveys be used in the discovery process to fuel innovation?

2)       How should your survey techniques change throughout the innovation process?

3)       What kind of questions can actually limit your ability to innovate?

This webinar will answer these questions and more as well as provide a forum to discuss specific challenges.


About the Presenters:

Dorian Simpson founded Planning Innovations in 2002 to help technology-driven companies launch successful products and services through focused innovation management and planning. He has significant experience in both engineering and marketing to help build the bridge between these two critical innovation functions.

Esther LaVielle is a Senior Account Manager at QuestionPro and Survey Analytics, which was started in 2002 inSeattle and is now one of the fastest growing private companies in the US. Prior to her adventure at QuestionPro she spent 3 years as a Qualitative Project Manager at the Gilmore Research Group.
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DIY Research: Has Self-Service Killed Traditional Market Research?

By Nancy Pekala Director of Online Content Editor, Marketing Researchers

Today’s market researchers are finding themselves in the middle of a do-it-yourself world. A variety of low-cost research tools and services are now available and are becoming increasingly attractive to clients, product managers and service delivery professionals alike. A shift away from full project outsourcing to self-service seems to be now underway. To understand how this paradigm shift will be affecting market research professionals in the present and future, Marketing Researchers spoke exclusively with two thought leaders in the industry:

Vivek Bhaskaran, Founding Member and CEO of Survey Analytics, one of the industry's leading providers of web-based research technologies. As Chief Executive Officer, he plays a key role in defining the company strategy and using technology and innovation continuously to maintain its leadership in the industry.

Dr. Sanja Licina, Senior Director of Talent Intelligence and Consulting with She is leading Personified’s cutting edge talent management consulting efforts and is responsible for building progressive thought leadership models that provide insight into the current workplace, talent market, recruitment, diversity and employment branding.

Below is a full transcript of the discussion, which also is available in podcast form at To hear more insights from Vivek Bhaskaran and Dr. Sanja Licina, register for the AMA’s free Virtual Event, “Unveiling Marketing Research's Future Online”.

Link to Podcast Page

Link to Full Transcript

Link to Marketing Researchers newsletter article

Link to Full Marketing Researchers newsletter

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Research TV: Trends and Challenges in Research

Guy Currier runs Market Research for Ziff Davis Enterprise.   Vivek Bhaskaran and Guy discuss some of the biggest trends and challenges in market research today.

To see the video and read more interesting articles and essays on market research click over to Research Access.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Max-Diff Scaling is a Great New Way to Really Measure Importance

One of my favorite types of questions is the "importance" question.  Questions like: "How important is it that your car makes a statement about you?"

Rating how important an attribute is to your audience is critical when developing marketing messages.  But the way we analyze these attributes always seems to fall short.   This is where Max-Diff scaling comes in.  Think of it as a conjoint "lite" for when you want to measure preference and trade-off without the hassles of pricing, features and benefits.

Want to know more?  Check out the video featured on our new space Research Access....

Additional Links:

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Friday, May 14, 2010

May 2010 Consumer Trends Focus on the New Expression of Status

One of my favorite resources for overall trend information is Trendwatching.

Although they focus on consumer trends, we are all consumers and the trends they feature here are a precursor to how purchasers and buying centers within the industrial world will be seeing the world.

This quarter's trends are:

  1. Bigger and Better: Consuming the most and the most expensive.  No middle of the road with these consumers.  If they have it, they will flaunt it.  Don't forget about the global marketplace.  China and India like to consume as much as the West.  This is a terrific niche opportunity for those companies that are in the luxury business.

  2. Generosity:  Humans are a funny animal.  If the economy is down and you can't flaunt your cash with cars, furs and gold - then be generous and flaunt THAT.

  3. Greener and less consumption: Green is still in and, following in its footsteps is the idea of unconsumption -- consuming less.  Focus your new product and service development in areas where consumers can feel like they will get many uses out of what you offer.

  4. Being in the know and having skills is hot and trendy.  This trend gives whole new meaning to "who you know" being more important than what you know.  The idea is to be included in the inner circle of trends, tools and resources and then lead other people to the goodies.  Another extension of this trend is brands, products and services that help your audience build their skills and expertise.

  5. Connectivity as a trend is on the heels of being in the know, being part of the inner circle.  Relationships and knowledge is built and shared between communities.  Products and brands that help people connect and build their relationships will do well in the coming months.

Read more on these and other trends in Trendwatching's latest report.

Source: One of the world's leading trend firms, sends out its free, monthly Trend Briefings to more than 160,000 subscribers worldwide.
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Getting What you Need From a Survey A Primer on Using a Survey to Gather Information

Why do a survey?

The basic purpose for conducting a survey is to gain information to help with planning and marketing decisions.  Whether your business involves a product or a service, having reliable information about what your customers want is essential.   A survey is an objective tool for obtaining this information through asking questions to a sample of your current or potential customers.

What type of survey is best?

There are two basic types of surveys: self-selected and statistically valid random sample.

  1. A self-selected survey is a written questionnaire distributed through the mail, a newspaper or magazine, or simply left at a counter for someone to complete.  In each case, the respondent chooses to participate (i.e. selects himself or herself).  This type of survey can be politically wise if a company wants to make a statement that anyone who wants to participate in the survey can choose to do so.  There are also times when it is valid to seek the opinions of people who care enough about your business that they are willing to share their ideas.  However, self-selected surveys are not appropriate when you are looking for a reliable reading on what your total customer base or target audience is thinking.

  2. A statistically valid, random sample survey is based on scientific principals that make it possible to predict the responses of a total population, within a given error range, based upon a random sample of that population.  The key here is that proper random sampling techniques must be used to assure that everyone in the population has an equal chance of being selected for the survey.  Most valid random sample survey processes do data collection through phone calls or by in-person intercepts.  The size of the sample determines the level of accuracy for a survey.  The industry standard is a random sample of 200 (for any population over 2,000), which provides an error range of +/- 7% with a 95% confidence.  In marketing research terms, this means that in 95 out of 100 cases where 50% of the population says “Yes” and 50% says “No” the results will be accurate for the total population from which the sample was drawn with an error range of +/- 7% (as the percentages become further apart – i.e. 40% and 60% the error range decreases).

A survey will be as valuable as the care taken to develop its focus and content.  This is why a survey process is so important.

The planning workshop

The first step, and to my mind the most important, is to have a planning workshop to discuss, and agree upon, the goals and specific information needs for the survey.   This is the time for each person who will be using the survey results to provide a list of information needs.

The project manager, or project team, determines who should participate in this workshop.  It may also be valuable, and sometimes politically wise,  to do one-on-one interviews with people deemed to have a special interest in the outcome of the survey who will not be attending the workshop.

Choose a setting that will be relaxed and comfortable, and allow two to three hours for the workshop   This is not intended to be a formal, kick-off meeting where tasks are assigned, but rather a place for laundry-listing and discussing what is desired from the survey.

Information needs tend to exceed what can be effectively accomplished in a single survey, so the planning workshop is the place to reach agreement on priorities, as well as content.

Subjective input for an objective research tool

A representative sample of those being surveyed should be consulted prior to writing the survey questionnaire.   Even though goals and specific information needs have been established, there may be issues, concerns or semantics that need to be understood and addressed.

A focus group discussion is an effective method for pre-testing subject matter and being sure that the survey addresses issues that are relevant to those being surveyed.   The focus group discussion also checks out the language of the questionnaire to be sure those who will be surveyed will easily understand it.

A few years ago, I was doing a survey for an update of a comprehensive park plan for a Washington city.  In a focus group, we learned that, while the public appreciated the many new neighborhood parks, they were disturbed that no restroom facilities were provided in most of these new, small parks.  This was not intended to be an issue to be surveyed.  When the subject was included in the survey questionnaire, it turned out to be the top priority spending choice among those surveyed.

Designing the survey questionnaire

The survey questionnaire is developed based upon the information gathered in the individual interviews, planning workshop and the focus group discussion.

Once the draft questionnaire is written, the project manager decides who should review it.  It is essential that the project manager (or someone designated by the project manager) be the final arbiter of the precise content and language of the survey instrument.  There are word connotations and personal agendas behind opinions, and a consultant’s time should not be used to settle internal agency disagreements.  My preference is that any number of people can review the draft, but one person makes the final decisions on any edits.

Data Collection

There are several excellent local data collection companies.  What is important is that a professional data collection service is used for fielding the survey.  A professional interviewer (as opposed to volunteer or a student) is paid to get through each interview as efficiently and courteously as possible.

Before the data collection begins, I always meet with the interviewers and train them by reviewing each question and explaining the types of responses that are likely.  The first few calls for each interviewer are monitored to be sure that words (especially names of places and people) are pronounced correctly, the probing is done appropriately when the respondent is hesitating, and that responses are not being biased in any way.

Analyzing the data and preparing the report

A well-written survey report should include a clearly stated purpose and methodology.  Someone not well versed in statistics should understand language, and the conclusions and recommendations should be documented in easy-to-read tables and charts.

An Executive Summary precedes the detailed report and provides a stand-alone piece that can be widely distributed.

Using the information obtained from a survey

As a consultant, nothing is more frustrating than to do a good job for a client only to learn the information was left on the shelf because people weren’t sure how to translate the information into action.

I encourage my clients to have a follow-up workshop where the results of the survey are explained and discussed, and a strategic plan of action is developed.

About the Author: Carolyn Browne Associates (CBA) has been a successful consulting firm in the Seattle area for over 25 years and specializes in community involvement programs, marketing research, facilitation, promotion and community education projects for a broad range of public agencies and private clients. Carolyn Browne Tamler, principal of CBA, has managed comprehensive programs with special focus on city planning, public transit, environmental issues and public works projects. She is also a fine researcher and freelance writer.  You can also learn more at
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Monday, May 10, 2010

Slider Scales Add Flash—and Improve Data Integrity—in Online Surveys

The traditional Likert scale—where survey participants specify their level of agreement with a statement (i.e., agree strongly, agree, neither agree nor disagree, disagree, disagree strongly)—is the most widely used scale in survey research. But does it provide the most accurate answers? And are there more engaging survey measures available?

Some experts believe the Likert scale is a rather imprecise instrument. A participant’s true opinion can lie in the spaces between the allowable answers and even beyond the traditional end points. Some suggest other scales may be better at enabling survey respondents to differentiate their opinions.

Adobe Flash, now widely adopted, gives researchers the opportunity to produce question and answer styles that incorporate a greater breadth of answers, as well as enable animation and interactivity. One such measure is the Slider. Sliders look engaging and offer a degree of interactivity beyond merely answering questions.

In an effort to determine how this Flash-based alternative compares to the standard 5-point Likert scale in terms of data collected, level of respondent engagement and respondent satisfaction with the instrument, Survey Sampling International (SSI) recently undertook a research experiment. The results are available in a new White Paper titled “Slider Scales in Online Surveys.”

SSI’s experiment dealt with two questions about the Likert scale:

  1. Equivalency of ratings: If item A is rated “agree slightly” and item B is also rated “agree slightly” does the respondent agree to both items to the same degree? Is the Likert Scale too blunt an instrument to detect the subtle differences between items?

  2. The spaces between: Is there some level of agreement between “agree slightly” and “agree strongly?” Is there some level of agreement below “agree slightly?” Do we force people to state something that is not their true opinion because we offer too few alternatives?

In SSI’s experiment, a random subset of respondents was presented with a 5-point Likert scale and four statements. After completing the exercise, respondents were asked to what extent the instrument allowed them to accurately give their opinions. Subsequently, respondents were presented with the items again and offered the opportunity to re-score each item using 5 points above or below the original stated answer. Interestingly, with this expanded scale, a large number of people elected to change several of their ratings.

From SSI’s results, it is clear that survey participants have a finer definition of agree and disagree than the Likert scale allows. The Slider allows researchers to collect a greater granularity of detail than they can with the Likert scale. Furthermore, respondents who used the Slider scale reported higher levels of satisfaction with this instrument as a means of capturing their true opinions.

In today’s sampling environment, researchers are increasingly vying for respondents’ attention, and data integrity is a constant concern. A move toward more engaging and interactive question and answer formats can help address these issues. Sliders are one Flash-based alternative to traditional Likert scales that is well worth considering.

For a copy of the white paper “Slider Scales in Online Surveys,” with full study results and to voice your opinions on question and answer formats, go to

About the Author: Pete Cape is Global Knowledge Director for Survey Sampling International. SSI provides access to more than 6 million research respondents in 72 countries. Sources include SSI proprietary panel communities in 27 countries and a portfolio of managed affiliates. SSI can potentially access anyone online to give their opinions via a network of relationships with websites, panels, communities and social media groups.
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Friday, May 7, 2010

Cooperation not Competition

In Business, we talk a lot about competition. We create “compete” strategies and work to undermine other companies’ products and services. This is certainly understandable- Businesses exist to make money and in any finite game, there is a conserved quantity of spoils. More for me implies less for others. Sure, one can expand the pie but even then one can want “one’s unfair share” to use a phrase used half-jokingly (and half-seriously) by people in Business.

Yet is this really sensible, logical, or borne out by evidence? In his groundbreaking 1986 book No Contest, Alfie Kohn argues against the idea that competition is part of human nature and on balance positive. In the “I win you lose” scenario, Kohn argues, we all lose and mediocrity emerges. In Kohn’s view, cooperation, not competition, is the motive force behind progress.

In a world so defined by adherence to and belief in the mythology of the “Market, “ in which “Intellectual Property” is seen as sacrosanct, in which ownership of property is the end towards which people strive, such a thought seems heretical. Labelers will refer to it as “Communism” and dismiss it accordingly.

Yet most of us follow these principles in the one area we testify as most important: family. Do we compete with our wives, husbands, and children? Or do we cooperate? Do we compare who has more money or power or do we share according to the needs of each? Does love move us or does constant discord?

That’s personal you say, not business. But then why do we during “team meetings” and “morale events” refer to our colleagues as family?

And think about something perhaps more important: The environment. As corporations start thinking about sustainability, environmental stewardship, and the future of the planet wouldn’t it be great if they cooperated instead of hoarding their ideas as “comparative advantage.” If for instance, a paper company invented a technology to cut down less trees, wouldn’t it behoove us all if they shared it with others? If car companies found innovative ways to burn less gasoline, wouldn’t it be amazing if they shared these innovations with others?

Next time you ponder ways to create large, great outcomes in your business think about cooperation not competition. You might find great success and, ultimately, be happier.

Romi Mahajan · President - KKM Group
KKM Group is an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

Individualized Mass?

Am I the only one that finds irony in the fact that thousands of people stand in the SAME line to buy the SAME device from the SAME company at the SAME price because said device allow them to enjoy personalized and individualized experiences?

Is there not irony in the fact that companies that offer personalized experiences on the web still sell advertising with a bulk, homogeneous calculus called CPM?

Will the next generation of Marketers win awards for rediscovering the “mass market?”

Has there been a paradigm shift towards individualized Marketing or is this just another cyclical fad?

I honestly think the jury’s still out.

Romi Mahajan · President - KKM Group
KKM Group is an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

Grapple Shows That Customer Research Can Be Fun

I recently took a survey that asked some questions about where I thought the research "industry" was trending. Were market researchers gaining more or less respect?

This question made me think of the impact that technology, social media and overall sharing of information has had on how we collect information. If you think back to say 10 or 15 years ago -- it would not have crossed your mind to video tape your exploratory research. If it had crossed your mind, those hopes would soon be dashed by the production cost.

But not today. This is my most recent example of market research being used as a backdrop for a marketing message.

What have been your experiences with video "research" and it's advantages, disadvantages and uses?

About the Author: Ivana Taylor is CEO of Third Force, a strategic firm that helps small businesses get and keep their ideal customer. She's the co-author of the book "Excel for Marketing Managers" and proprietor of DIYMarketers, a guide for small business marketing. Her blog is Strategy Stew.   You can reach her directly at
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

To ask or not to Ask? That is the question.

There are two broad schools of thought – “Listening to your customers is the most important activity you can do” and the proverbial Henry Ford quote – “If I asked my customers what they want, they simply would have said a
faster horse.”

I came across a couple of very thought provoking ideas and discussions:

TED Conference – Malcolm Gladwell talks about Howard Moskovitz – how he changed the way Consumer Packaged Goods companies did segmentation and cluster analysis:

The final analysis from my standpoint is – Asking customers what they want vs. analyzing their needs. Obviously the latter is actually what you really want to do. In our own business, we come across many clients every day that want “feature x” – We also have to think hard about _why_ they need feature X – that is the larger question.

Vivek Bhaskaran

President and CEO – Survey Analytics

As head of privately held Survey Analytics, Vivek is responsible for all aspects of strategy and direction.

Survey Analytics iPad App Approved.

We Wanted to give you a quick update on the iPad app. Apple has (finally) approved the app after forcing some modifications.

Download this app:

1. You'll need an account on the Survey Analytics platform to try this out.

2. Please email aditya [dot] bhat [at] surveyanalytics [dot] com - he can create an eval license for you.

3. You must use the "short url" for the survey ( - here abc becomes the survey key on the iPad App.

4. There are 2 other settings that need to updated on the survey:
a) Setup Interactive Mode on the survey :
b) For iPhones the survey width has to be set to 320px - for iPad - the default width is fine.

There are a couple of other CSS/UI tweaks that can be done - to make the fonts larger etc.

5. Finally, if you plan on repeating the survey (after the survey is finished) then you'll need to setup the "Thank You" link to go back to the survey URL.

A detailed help video is available here:

If you are going to use this for a Free Pilot project we ask that you agree to the following:

a) Case Study that we can publish in the next 30-60 days.
b) A quote from you on how the pilot went.

Thanks - and pls feel free to reach out to Adi if you have further questions.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Optimized Copywriting: Get Web-Traffic-and-Sales “Votes” for Your Site

I know, you're going to look at this copywriting article and think "What's this got to do with surveys?"  It's really all about increasing response rates and engagement.  Not only that, but "viral" surveys are the latest trend -- so read on and see what you can pick up that will make your next survey sing.

Over the past couple of months, we’ve focused on ways that you can use copywriting to increase targeted traffic and sales, including these posts:

Each of these posts shared ways to create copy ON your site to boost targeted traffic and sales. Today, we’ll share tips on submitting optimized descriptions to other sites to strengthen your inbound linking strategy and boost your site’s money-earning potential.

What is Inbound Linking?

A “link” is hyperlinked text that leads a site visitor from the page he or she is viewing to another page on the Internet.

An “inbound link” is hyperlinked text that links from a page on Website A to a page on Website B; that link is considered “inbound” to Website B. One of the best ways to get inbound links pointing to your site is to submit your site to relevant directories. More about directories a little bit later!

Benefits of Strong Inbound Linking

At a high level, you can picture each inbound link coming in to your site as a vote – a vote for the quality of your content and site, overall. At its most basic, search engines take note of and reward sites with plenty of inbound links by giving them better placement in the search engine results pages. This makes your site easier for prospects to find – and significantly increases your potential for sales.

Now let’s alter the “link as vote” analogy. Rather than thinking of inbound links as votes, think of them as references. And, do you know what’s most important about references? Their quality!

If you were applying for a job, which of these would you want? Ten top quality references from respected experts in your field – or 1,000 references from people with no reputation or expertise in your field? The answer would be the 10 quality references.

The same is true when obtaining inbound links through directory submissions. It’s better to have fewer directories that are of high quality than to submit your site to thousands of poor quality directories of no relevance.

Foundation Directories

If you’re new to inbound link building, consider submitting your site – along with an optimized description of your products and services – to these top quality directories:

1)   DMOZ (free)

2)   Yahoo! Directory (fee based)

3) (fee based)

4)   Best of the Web (fee based)

Be sure to choose the most accurate category for your listing and write a clear, concise, optimized description of your site that fits within the word or character count allowed by each directory. You’ll also want to add keywords to your business name, if allowed.

Then, once you’ve gotten your company listed in the top foundational directories, see which of these second-tier directories have categories that make sense for your company:

1)   GoGuides

2)   JoeAnt

3)   Skaffe

What’s Next?

Take a look at your website. What content do you have that would be of interest to other people? What specific target audiences would be interested in that content? Brainstorm a list and have it ready for next month, when we’ll share how to use that content to boost traffic to your site.

Next month, we’ll delve more deeply into inbound linking opportunities.

This month’s opportunities:

Knowledge is power – this month, you’ll be filling any gaps in your understanding of link building.

  1. Read through the Search Marketing Terms Glossary

  2. For more information about the benefits of inbound linking campaigns: Link Building Services

  3. Here’s a review of a terrific e-book about link building strategies

  4. Bonus: read back issues of the newsletter here: to learn more

Burning question or comment? Email me at

About the Author: Leslie Carruthers is President of The Search Guru, a best practices full services Search Marketing firm creating breakthrough results for their clients since 2004. Leslie can be reached at 440-306-2418

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Green or Gold?

Romi Mahajan · President - KKM Group
KKM Group is an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

The Corporate World is awash in a Gilded-Green. The Green is clear- environmental sloganeering; the Gold is equally clear- profit. The conflation of the two, money and morals, is a tricky one and ultimately rings disingenuous. That the relentless pursuit of profit and single-minded devotion to economic growth has directly lead to anthropogenic climate disaster cannot be forgotten nor should the baby-steps being taken by corporations be trumpeted as a new, sustainable mode.

When things seem to clear to us, too obvious, too comfortable (for instance that we can continue to make super profits and protect the planet) they should be suspect.

When someone tells you to buy a carbon offset and that too charges a nominal amount to do so, it should be clear that huge problems cannot be remedied by easy steps.

When oil companies broadcast commercials about their fierce love of the environment and simultaneously invade the Earth more deeply to find what’s left of the Planet’s oil, one should realize immediately that they are attempting to dupe us.

Until it’s too late.

Marketers and PR Professionals are carrying much of the water for these deceptive forces. That we do so is blight on our profession.
The status quo is not a good one.

And sooner or later we’ll need to retrain ourselves. We’ll have to be able to speak to the Press or to large audiences about our shrinking companies and our reduced profits. We’ll have to boldly discuss measures we take to ensure our workers’ health and welfare, to in fact increase our spending on things that matter. We’ll have to talk about these things with our characteristic verbal dexterity and smiling faces.

The good news is it won’t be subterfuge. Because when we discuss these things, we’ll know at a deep level that we are talking about security, sustainability, and the real possibility of progress.

When will this switch happen? The sooner the better.

Victor’s Justice

Romi Mahajan · President - KKM Group
KKM Group is an Advisory company focused solely on Strategy and Marketing in the Technology, Media, Agency, and Luxury Goods sectors.

At the edges of the Law is the notion of “Victor’s Justice,” that the victor in a war applies different rules to the behavior of his enemy than to himself. In the famous Nuremberg trials, the Allies exempted certain aspects of the bombing of civilians from being designated “War Crimes” because they themselves had indulged in this while prosecuting the War. Similarly on the other side of the Globe, in the Tokyo Tribunal, the dissenting judge Radhabinod Pal accused the Allies of applying Victor’s Justice by retroactively declaring certain activities of the Japanese Accused to be illegal.

Related to this is “Vae Victis” (To the Vanquished One, Woe), that the loser must face severe consequences including the post-facto abrogation of treaties and other agreements by the Victor.

Stripped of complex garb, these concepts are known well to people in the world of Business. In this world, a common situation is analogous to the dispensation after a war: the winner in a battle for market share gets to impose its rules on the less fortunate and the loser has to face dreaded consequences including bankruptcy.

But in matters of perception, Victor’s Justice plays out in an equally fundamental way. In Marketing, we see it all the time.
When a company does well in the market and makes a lot of money, we tend to think of its Marketing as high-quality; when a company loses in the economic game, we tend to think of its Marketing as poor. At the time, however, the Marketing artifacts are built, we aren’t able to make the same sort of definitive judgments because we think of good Marketing as that which has led to success, while success is determined after a period of time has elapsed. In other words, we have no pure way of judging Marketing as we might, for instance, be able to find a poem beautiful even before it has found success by way of publication or wide-dissemination.

We do this because we believe in Victor’s Justice despite its patent unfairness and the obvious tautological flaw- success implies successful marketing because successful marketing leads to success.

We apply our rules ex post facto and never form a corpus of “truth” to which we stick. That is why Marketers are themselves lambasted- because we also shift our ground.

When will we have the courage to stand up for the defeated, to be able to declare a piece of marketing that has not led to commercial success still a great piece of marketing?