Archive for October 2011

Web 3.0 Marketing   Leave a comment

The key driving factors to Web 3.0 marketing include browsing habits, browsing methods, more intelligent information, the experience you are looking for, and the openness of the Web. Web 3.0 marketing is the convergence of new technologies and rapidly changing consumer buying trends.

Live, streaming video is outpacing static video, and companies like Twitter, Plurk, and Jaiku are growing much more
rapidly than Blogger, WordPress, or TypePad. The Web 3.0 marketing world is where customized, intelligent information
is available at our fingertips, on any device, from anywhere in the world.

Components of Web 3.0 Marketing

Microblogging: is the ability to share your thoughts with a set number of characters. People are busy with limited time, so why not get right to the point of the story in 140 characters or fewer? Examples include Twitter, Plurk, and Jaiku.

Virtual Reality Worlds: are places users visit to interact with others from around the world in a 3-D setting. Meetings are being conducted in these spaces, and trade shows are being replaced with virtual reality shows. Examples include Second Life and Funsites.

Customization/Personalization: allows visitors to create a more personalized experience. They are starting to expect their name to appear at the top of Web sites, personal e-mails, and even advanced checkout options that suit their buying habits. As the Web becomes more and more intelligent, personalization will be the norm. Examples include SendOutCards, Google, and Amazon.

Mobile: plays on the fact that there are billions of cellphone users throughout the world. This number is much larger than those that use PCs. Consumers are surfing the Web and purchasing products right from their mobile phones. They are also using their phones and becoming instant journalists by shooting raw footage of random acts. Examples include iPhones and BlackBerrys.

On-Demand Collaboration: allows users to interact in real time by looking over documents, collaborating,and making changes in real time. Software as a service also fits into on-demand collaboration as it allows users to leverage only Web-based solutions. Examples include Google Docs, http://www.Salesforce.com, http://www.Slideshare.net, and http://www.Box.net.

Web3.0 Marketing Technology

-A system to send voice broadcasts to mobile phones, and one that will also send SMS (text messages). (www.trumpia.com).

-A Web-based customer relationship management system.  Salesforce.com.

-An all-in-one solution for capturing leads, managing sales, and garnering affiliates. http://www.amazingshoppingcart.
com is a great place to start.

-A solid team (or individual, to start), whether in-house or outsourced, that knows programming. This person should be able to develop applications, be able to work with open-source code, and ideally know how to program in Second Life. Check out http://www.RentACoder.com for ideas.

-platform to virtually communicate and collaborate across a company. My all-time favorite company is Google. For instance, Taz Solutions, Inc. company.

Heat Maps   1 comment

Analyzing and understanding heat maps has numerous benefits. The data  is a proof as to where visitors click or do not click, providing useful information when designing landing pages. Data is also helpful in determining optimal advertisement placement, reduce abandonment of shopping cart, maximize conversions of online forms and predict how visitors will use the site.

In traditional heat maps, the brighter the colour the more clicks a specific area is receiving. This is effective as it shows the degree to which people are interacting with live elements on a  website and how a design and site structure can be improved by understanding what elements users are truly interested in, as opposed to those areas where users only consider clicking.

But heat maps alone do not show us all of the information needed for true optimization, as they tend only to track clicks on links. Coupling heat map data with more detailed analytics lets us track and visualize mouse movement and page or mouse clicks that are not links (non-clickable elements). In essence, we get a deeper understanding of how users are experiencing a page as a whole, not just where they click.  How helpful would it be to know if users are hovering over links (often called hover time), and how often? If that information were available we might be able to determine how compelling the anchor text of certain links are, even if users did not actually click them, and how they might be improved.

We can also determine the time from when a page loads until a user clicks a certain link. This is helpful in determining if the placement we’ve chosen for a specific design element is optimal or if it should be brought into greater focus (above the fold, for example) to increase the number of clicks.

What heat map analytics can show with great clarity is not just how well a Web design, its layout and structure are performing in terms of clicks but also help us make modifications based on seemingly unrelated information, such as the referrer. For example, review the highest volume entry pages by comparing the best and worst performing pages. Then use heat maps to determine the relationship between the top referrer of  those pages and clicks and lack of clicks. Once the worst offenders are found, multiple variables and landing page approaches based on the source of traffic can be tested.

Reviewing the activity of visitors from different referral sources is but one of the ways heat maps can be used. Clicktale, for example, offers statistics to its users based on existing customers versus new visitors, and customers who made a purchase versus those who did not. You can segment by absolutely anything. For example, age, gender, location or compare specifics such as bachelors in their 30’s versus mothers versus teenagers.

Analyzing data provided through heat maps can be cumbersome but keep these points in mind during analysis and when
drafting suggestions and recommendations:

–Areas that receive few clicks could be removed. If users don’t find them important they may be more of a distraction than providing help. If you’re hesitant to leave sections empty, simply replace them with something entirely different to see if that leads to more interest on the part of users.

–While identifying areas that receive the most attention is useful, particularly for those responsible for optimizing content,observing the areas after they click to those destinations is perhaps even more useful. For example if users do not click anywhere after arriving on a page they may have hit a dead end. Try to turn those endings into new beginnings by offering content suggestions or product recommendations.

The job of a Web designer — or anyone responsible for optimizing the user experience — is to maximize interest in the site and its products or content while maintaining usability. The challenge is to balance aesthetics with function. To achieve this you must give website visitors a direction; guiding them where you want them to go.

Google TrustRank   Leave a comment

Google TrustRank is the degree to which Google trusts that your website will be valuable to visitors if presented as a search result. Google will place your website highly in search results if it has a good TrustRank . TrustRank is earned the same way as PageRank: is by receiving links from other sites. The age of a site also increases its TrustRank.

The PageRank found on the Google toolbar, is updated only every two to three months, so the PageRank you see today could be very different from the page’s actual PageRank, which is tabulated daily by Google.

Google penalizes websites that sell links by crippling their ability to transfer TrustRank and they do not inform penalized websites that they have lost the ability to pass TrustRank to other sites. Most of the links that are sold today are from penalized pages and have absolutely no value to their buyers.

-Google gives the most TrustRank to sites that have links from well linked web pages.                                                             -Google does not allow sites that sell links to pass trust but shows no indication of the sites that have been disallowed to     pass trust.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                -A site has a high TrustRank if its links are from websites that, to the best of your knowledge, have never sold links.

If a site looks professional, has been around for sometime, and doesn’t have anything spammy written on it, it is likely to be in good standing with Google and will transfer TrustRank properly. If you search for a particular term in Google , the top 40 results definitely have TrustRank and the top 10 results definitely have a lot of TrustRank. Remember to search for competitive terms. Do not search uncommon terms even the top 5 results may not have a lot of TrustRank.

Beacuse Search engines is a high-volume search and these are the top 10 results for it, we can immediately feel certain that each of the 10 results has a good amount of TrustRank. Therefore, any of them would be good targets to approach about acquiring a link on their sites.

Now lets try a less common search: search engine marketing. Here to the top 10 results have quite good TrustRank. When you see a lot of ads come up around a search, it usually means that the search seemed worthy enough to other businesses that they were willing to invest money in it. That’s a sign that the search is competitive and the top 10 results probably had to earn their spots on the first page with a healthy amount of TrustRank.

Lets try to search for a much less competitive phrase: search engines list. Because the search is obviously not an especially common one, these sites do not have enough TrustRank to approach for getting links.

Try to get a lot of websites to link to your website that
–Have many inbound links
– Have never sold links
This will give your site TrustRank and cause Google to send it traffic.

Posted October 20, 2011 by Anoop George Joseph in Internet

Tagged with , , , , ,

Security Threat in Social Networking   Leave a comment

A message from one of your friends appears in your in box, sent via a social network site that you use regularly. The message promises a big deal and points to a Web site you’ve never heard of. You click the link—and the next thing you know, your PC is misdirected to a phishing page that steals your log-in details or to a drive-by download site that infects your system with a password-stealing Trojan horse. And your friend says that she never sent you the message. This is a security threat in social networking.

Whether the culprit is a fake LinkedIn profile page that serves up URLs leading to dangerous Web sites or a bogus Twitter message that purportedly comes from a friend, social networks are rapidly becoming the newest medium for malware attacks. As operating systems and applications became harder to hack directly, online criminals came to realize that it was much easier to fool people into clicking bad links, opening dangerous files, and running malicious software. They also figured out that the most effective place to exploit the trust that naturally exists between friends and colleagues was within the mechanisms of the online social networks themselves.

By now, most Internet users are savvy enough to recognize spam e-mail. But what about a spam tweet that seems to come from someone in your circle of friends and links to a page that looks almost exactly like the one you use to log in to Twitter? A week may go by, and suddenly the data thieves who now control your account begin sending messages with URLs—some of which perform drive-by downloads and infect the recipients’ PCs with malware—to everyone in your social network.

Facebook and MySpace users have already had to deal with a number of worms and other nasties that are designed to spread independently of any action taken by the account holder.

If you think that details of your social networking account may have been stolen or compromised in some other way, report your suspicions to the site’s support team immediately. Change your password frequently, and avoid clicking message links that purport to transfer you back to the social network site. Instead, to get back to your account, type the site’s address directly into your browser

Make Money with Facebook   5 comments

With the number of Facebook’s  users increasing everyday, businesses of all types are realizing they have a big opportunity to make money with Facebook the world’s largest social network.

It is important to understand that Facebook is not your traditional e-commerce channel and should not be used as a direct
marketing tactic. The hundreds of millions of Facebook members have joined to share their personal stories through updates, images and videos within their social network not to buy products. Utilizing the social network as a sales channel is not a bad thing but should be handled carefully. Aggressive behavior does not pay off.

Develop a strategy for connecting with your customer base. Your strategy should be about quality not quantity of people that “like” your page. Taking the time to develop relationships with your fans, creating engaging content and measuring results are the three essential steps to an impressive return on investment.

-Engage with those who like you page: Start with an interesting and compelling Facebook Page that differentiates your business from the competition. Apps are a good way for any business serious about marketing on Facebook to create a unique experience that helps you stand out. From sharing videos to contests, Facebook Apps are among the most used features on the platform. Add in the ability to share with friends and a strong Facebook App can have a huge impact.

Creating a separate tab that helps business owners showcase their products or services is the right approach. Constantly posting your products on your Facebook  wall will turn people off, resulting in a sharp increase in the number of people “unliking” your page and, therefore, dismissing your brand. Creating a low-risk high-reward option for your customer is important, so always think like your  customers when implementing any new Facebook idea. There are thousands of amazing apps on Facebook and visiting the Facebook App Directory is a good place to start.

-Engaging content: Facebook uses the news feed optimization formula  to decide what content shows up in a user’s top
news feed, this formula  is tied to Facebook’s current news options (top news vs. most recent) .

Facebook news feed optimization has become a new type of  SEO. If you like or comment on updates from one particular
Facebook page often, you are likely to see that business’ status update in your top news feed (the default setting) on a regular basis. The formula called EdgeRank, looks at affinity score (how often the user interacts with the page), weight (how many comments or likes a post has), and time decay (how recent that update was posted). In many respects, this is not unlike link building.

If you post content on your page that does not follow the above formula you are wasting your time, as updates will not be seen by your fans. Before you press the share button, reread the post and make sure you are asking for engagement. For example, if you are thinking of launching a new product, ask the opinion of your customers.

If you are just starting out and have very few people following your page, Facebook advertising is a great approach to reach the right people at the right time. Advertisers can request that ads are served based on what your customers have said they liked in their profile. Example, you can promote a new brand to people on their birthdays, based on information from those user profiles. Before launch, Facebook will even show the number of estimated reach so as to not waste marketing dollars advertising to those less likely to engage.

-Performance: Your Facebook Page, Facebook Insights offers valuable customer information. After reviewing age, gender and country of residence you can enhance or change your current Facebook strategy. Using this data, you can decide which content works best, the audience you are currently reaching and where improvements can be made. In the end, it’s all about making social connections with your target audience.

Search the Internet   2 comments

When we search the internet many of us will use Google, the most popular search engine. Google is not necessarily the only way to find things on the internet, or the best. Very often the information Google displays will not include what you are looking for. When it’s important to find the best information on the internet the trick is knowing where to start looking,  and using other search engines.

Google became successful and the reason the results aren’t as good as they should be, Google is working out how useful a site is. Lets take an example,  there is a popular website in a specific niche and lots of people link to that site then Google thinks it must be fairly authoritative one and that deserves to  go near the top of the list of search results when people search that site on a particular keyword. This new way of deciding which sites to list first, and the indexing of  as much of the internet as possible,  put Google ahead of it’s competitors.

This popularity led to a lot of people asking owners of other sites to link to their own, or setting up ‘link farms’ where lots of sites link to each other, trying to boost the ranking of particular ones. That is why spammers sign up to forums and never write anything, instead listing their own site address in the member profile. This is why you sometimes find results on Google aren’t so relevant to your search.

There are other search engines that can be useful. More importantly, there are many specialized search engines that deal on a particular type of information. Most modern web browsers have a search box and you can usually choose which search engine they use.

What is the question?  Different search engines will provide different results, and organize them differently. Google place Wikipedia at the top of the list and has pages of information to go through. Answers.com provides a long list of information that includes Wikipedia, but also reputable sources of information such as Britannica. Bing provides categories such as Biography and Family tree, which can hep find the right information. For a good overview of facts Answers.com provided the best result.

When the question is really a question, it is worth typing the whole phrase into a search engine. Google will give plenty of solutions; answers.com will give a single answer. Ask.com will come out with similar results to Google, and Bing will provide the least  useful results.

Bing can be very useful if you are searching for a company. It will display the sponsored results and  UK customer services number, quick links to most important parts of the  UK website and a box to search within that site.

Google has an advanced search  option, and it is possible to restrict  a search to certain sites. This feature is provided by most search engines.

Search Images: Google and Bing have similar image search options. Type the words into their image search tools and it will display a list of preview pictures that can be clicked to see full-sized versions. It is possible to narrow down the results by size, colour and other options. For photos for your website visit photo sharing site flickr for images that are not copyrighted. Choose ‘Advanced  search’  and tick the box ‘Only search within Creative Commons Licensed content’. An additional option finds images suitable for commercial use. Flickr is also useful to find images taken in a particular place, since it supports ‘geotagging’ where images can have their geographical location embedded in them.

Search Moving Pictures:Clicking videos in a list of Google results will open a new page on it’s video site Youtube, so you have have to switch between sites. Bing will play a video when the mouse hovers over it.  There are links on the left side of the page allow certain sizes or quality of videos to be shown or from specific sources such as Youtube.

Right Price: Search engines can be used when you are looking to buy a product online  and searching for the best price. There are many price-comparison sites, but ordinary search engines can help. Google and Bing have a ‘shopping’ link on their front page that will help you find the best prices on a product. Search for a specific product and Bing will give links for reviews, support and prices making it easy to find the right information, the shopping link list retailers and their prices. Google’s shopping home page lists things other people have searched for. Bing’s home page allows you to browse categories.

Map Service: Electronic maps can be very helpful. It can be used to find an address, see a satellite view of an area or plan a route between two locations. Bing has its own map service,  you can type in a postcode to find the nearest station. You can also plot a route between points is simple and dragging a route with the mouse can make it go via specific places.

Google maps is useful for finding businesses- type in an address or a query. In Bing you will have to click the Find businesses link.

SEO Translation   6 comments

SEO Translation  is localising a site to make it as visible as possible in the target language and culture and achieve higher rankings in search engines.

Companies grow by extending their product line, another way is to expand their service line to include more geographic regions. Doing so presents several challenges for these businesses and search engine optimizers who server them.

There is a big difference between making a site accessible in multiple languages and taking a business to new regions. It is useful to consider the basic organization and thoughtfulness toward how users in languages other than your own react to content and design; much more is required for those going multiregional.

Multiple Languages: Managing multiple language versions of a website and making sure localized  content appears in search results pages is straightforward,  it is just like optimizing a site. When it comes to leveraging translated content for SEO, suggestions include making sure the page language is obvious, each language is discoverable and paying attention to URL naming.

Search engines use content of the page and navigation as primary signals to determine the language of the page. So, the page content and navigation should be accurately translated. Researching language-specific keyword search volumes will ensure the terms you are using are those that provide the most value to your users and your overall SEO efforts. Another thing to remember is several dialects can be in use in the same region.

The ability to separate the site into languages or regions if similar languages, will enable the creation of language specific sitemaps that, in turn, enables search engines to discover more of the site. Interlinking the various languages  will also provide search engines with cues that additional content  is available for indexing. It is better to have a dual language speaker to translate content, automated content translation always doesn’t make sense.

Local Sense: Initial reaction may be to purchase as many relevant country-code top-level domains (ccTLDs) or internationalized domain names (IDNs) as possible, the acquisition requirements are too demanding and the investment too costly. ccTLDs and IDNs provide a strong signal to users and search engines that the site is explicitly intended for a specific country.

Most business are using subdomain or subdirectory for translated content. Example, instead of domain.in, we can use in.domain.com. One has to find out how different regions or countries abbreviate their individual languages.

While server location is a signal to search engines about a site’s intended audience, it is in no way definitive, as many websites use distributed content delivery networks or are hosted in a country (not the one being targeted) with a better infrastructure. Consider mapping a subdomain that includes translated content to a Web host in that particular regional area.

Search engines do provide a way to designate that a site is intended for a specific country. Google Webmaster Tools provides geo-targeting capabilities – all that is required  is to select the appropriate country. This feature can only be used for sites with a generic top-level domain however, such as .com or .org. Sites with country-code top-level domains such as .in are already associated with a geographic region. If no information is entered in Google Webmaster Tools, Google will make geographical associations based on top level domain (.com) and IP address of the web server from which the context was served.

The best way to inform user and search engines that a website is intended for a geographic area and a language, is to be local. Use addresses and phone numbers , acquire links from local sites, and set up local profiles through Google Places.

Avoid certain with regard to site structure or page names. Example, stay away from URL based parameters such as yoursite.com?loc=in.  Location based meta tags or HTML attributes are rarely used  for geo targeting.

Spaming in Social Networking Sites   1 comment

Spaming in social networking sites is a serious problem.  Criminals, as well as direct marketers, continue to clog mailboxes with unsolicited bulk e-mails such as spam and phishing in the hope of financial gain. So far their strategy is straightforward, namely to send out a vast numbers of  unsolicited e-mails in order to maximize profit on the tiny fraction that falls for their scams. Their pool of target e-mail addresses is normally based upon data harvested with web crawlers or trojans, sometimes even including plain dictionary-based guessing of valid targets. Social networking sites (SNSs) might change the playing field of spam attacks in the near future. SNSs contain a pool of sensitive information which can be misused for spam messages, namely contact information (email addresses, instant messaging accounts, etc.) and personal information which can be used to improve the believability of spam messages. A successful extraction of sensitive information from SNSs would result in spam attacks that are based upon a pool of verified e-mail addresses. Thus messages may have higher conversion rates, increasing the success rate of spam.

Gaining access to the pool of personal information stored in SNSs and impersonating a social network user poses a non-trivial challenge. Information extraction from SNSs introduced elaborate methods such as the inference of a user’s social graph from their public listings or cross-platform profile cloning attacks. The leakage of personal information from these platforms creates a remarkable dilemma as this information forms the ideal base for further attacks. The main obstacle for large-scale spam attacks on basis of SNSs are the various access protection measures providers offer to keep sensitive information private or at least limit access to a closed circle of friends. Our friend-in-the-middle attack overcomes this obstacle by hijacking HTTP sessions on the network layer, which the majority of SNSs
providers fail to secure.

FRIEND-IN-THE-MIDDLE (FITM) ATTACKS: friend-in-the-middle attacks as active eavesdropping attacks against social networking sites. Our FITM attack is based on the missing protection of the communication link between users and social networking providers. By hijacking session cookies, it becomes possible to impersonate the victim and interact with the social network without proper authorization. While active eavesdropping attacks against web services are well studied and known for decades, these attacks have a severe impact in combination with social networking services. SNSs session hijacking attacks enable more sophisticated attacks on SNSs, which we outline in the following. Moreover, SNSs providers are responsible for a major share of today’s world-wide-web traffic.

(A)HTTP Session Hijacking Attacks on SNSs. As a precondition the attacker needs to have access to the communication between the SNS and the user. This can be achieved either passively (e.g., by monitoring unencrypted wireless networks) or actively (e.g. by ARP-spoofing on a LAN). The adversary then simply clones the HTTP header containing the authentication cookies and can interact with the social network, unbeknownst to the SNS operator or user.

As a precondition the attacker needs to have access to the communication between the SNS and the user. This can be achieved either passively (e.g., by monitoring unencrypted wireless networks) or actively (e.g. by ARP-spoofing on a LAN). The adversary then simply clones the HTTP header containing the authentication cookies and can interact with the social network, unbeknownst to the SNS operator or user.

One can observe that if HTTPS is used at all, today’s biggest SNSs provider use it solely to protect the credentials during login. As with traditional eavesdropping attacks, the attacker is able to use the web service to its full extent from the victim’s point of view. However in the case of our FITM attacks, further scenarios become available, which are specific to SNSs:

-Friend injection to infiltrate a closed network

-Application injection to extract profile content

- Social engineering to exploit collected information.

The rudimentary security and privacy protection measures of SNSs available to users are based on the notion of “friendship”, which means that sensitive information is made available only to a limited set of accounts (friends) specified by the SNS user. Once an attacker is able to hijack a social networking session, she is able to add herself as a friend on behalf of the victim and thus infiltrate the target’s closed network. The injected friend could then be misused to access profile information or to post messages within the infiltrated network of friends.

By installing a custom third-party application, written and under the control of the attacker, it is possible to access the data in an automated fashion. Among other things, an application has access to sensitive information (birthday, demographic information, pictures, interests, etc.) and in case of most SNSs also to information of friends of the application user. Third-party applications such as online games have become a popular amusement within SNSs, and hiding a malicious application without any activity visible to the user is possible. An attacker might install the application, take all the data needed in an automated fashion and remove the application afterwards. This would be completely undetectable to the user and most likely to the SNSs providers as well. Whereas social engineers traditionally relied upon context-information gathered through dumpster diving or quizzing people over the phone, with FITM attacks the context-information harvesting process becomes automated. We thus claim that FITM attacks allow sophisticated social engineering attacks. Two such social engineering attacks based on information extraction from social networking sites are context-aware spam and social phishing, which we describe in the following.

(B)Context-Aware Spam. Context-aware spam can be generated from data harvested with FITM attacks, increasing the effectiveness of the spam. Three context-aware spam attacks which might be misused: relationship-based attacks, unshared-attribute attacks, as well as shared-attribute attacks. While the first attack is based on relationship information, the two remaining variations use content extracted from social networking sites such as geographic information or a user’s birthday.

(C)Social-Phishing. Phishing is a common threat on the Internet where an attacker tries to lure victims into entering sensitive information like passwords or credit card numbers into a faked website under the control of the attacker. It has been shown that social phishing, which includes some kind of “social” information specific to the victim, can be extremely effective compared to regular phishing. For example such information might be that the message appears to be sent from a person within the social environment of the victim, like a friend or a colleague from work.

With automated data extraction from social networks via FITM attacks, a vast amount of further usable data becomes available to attackers. Prior conversations within the social network like private messages, comments or wall posts could be used to deduce the language normally used for message exchange between the victim and the spam target. For example, a phishing target might find it very suspicious if the victim sends a message in English if they normally communicate in French. Another example are extracted pictures that could be included in the spam and phishing emails to increase their authenticity. Extracted pictures could for example be used to send invitations to shared “photo albums”, including a link which promises more pictures given that a user enters his social networking credentials.

Social Spam Attacks: Spam and phishing messages via FITM attacks can be delivered using one of various approaches.
First, the social network itself might be used for sending the spam, e.g. by writing the message to other users’ walls, or by sending it via private messages. However, if used on a large scale this approach is most likely to get detected by SNSs providers who already implemented a number of anti spam strategies to protect their networks. Out-of-bound messages mean that traditional emails or other forms of sending messages besides the SNS are used to deliver the spam and phishing messages. The traditional email spam is enabled through the availability of real email addresses users make available to their friends. Hence, if the spam attack is carried out over email instead of the SNS platform, these malicious messages cannot be detected by the SNSs providers.

Mobile Buzz   Leave a comment

The buzz around mobile applications, mobile design and mobile advertising can distract Internet retailers from their core mission, which is to sell products. Today’s most successful e-commerce merchants, however, understand how to best use these technologies and platforms to increase revenue and deepen engagement. The most effective way to do that is by using mobile as a supplement to an existing website’s  promotional efforts.

Sensibility:For several years now, online retailers have anticipated and prepared for a dramatic rise in mobile commerce. Many have gone so far as to invest in elaborate applications or optimized their websites specifically for smartphone and tablet users. What the Internet retailing community has learned in the past year, however, is that
consumers are still unsure about making actual purchases from their mobile devices.

Smaller screens, unfamiliar interfaces and slower load times are but a few of the obstacles facing both users and merchants.

As a result, today’s retailers must remain relatively cautious with their mobile strategies. The “all-in” approach is no longer advisable, as evidenced by the fact that most merchants receive only about 2 percent of their overall revenues through sales made directly from mobile devices.

That percentage is sure to increase over time, making mobile a vital component to the success of every e-commerce enterprise in the future. The key is in knowing how to supplement a company’s existing online presence through the implementation of a well-conceived mobile strategy.

Augmenting sales through the mobile channel — rather than relying on sales directly from mobile shoppers — is the best approach for merchants to take in the current environment.

Visibility:Most of today’s smartphone and tablet users rely on their devices for searching, browsing and gathering information, and not necessarily making purchases. Mobile consumerism is still very much a work in progress, but the
convenience of finding a business’ Web pages while stuck in traffic or in line at the bank is a significant draw for users.

Before investing in mobile applications that only a handful of users may utilize, business owners should ensure that their companies are readily available through mobile searches. At the very least, that will require a noticeable presence on Google and Bing – most fundamentally creating a Google Places page that includes all of the information that a user might need. To take it a step further, business owners will want to enlist the services of comparison shopping engines, making their products and prices available to mobile shoppers in real time.

Mobile customers may not intend to make purchases directly from their smartphones, but they will very likely want to research products, compare prices or simply find a brick-and mortar establishment. Make the process easy for them, or they will move on to the next option without hesitation.

Proactive:Most retailers think of mobile as a vehicle for customers to find them, but too few consider the flip side. The mobile channel is also ideal for merchants who want to increase their visibility, and SMS or text-message marketing is an
effective tactic for doing just that. Incorporating the mobile channel into a marketing plan requires significant effort.
E-commerce websites should require that an option to include mobile telephone numbers is available on each registration form, and the most successful companies know how to use that information advantageously.

The idea is not to be intrusive but accommodating. Ways of doing that may include sending out discounted deals via SMS,
or conducting contests exclusive to mobile subscribers. Any tactic that invites engagement through the mobile channel is a viable strategy — but they should not be limited to building applications or optimizing websites.

A proper SMS program should be viewed not just as a potential way to communicate and cultivate a relationship but also as a relevant connector to other aspects of your brand experience for a customer.  It can include alerts, branding
messages, discounts, exclusive content, etcetera, but it works best when it is combined with a mobile website and is relevant to the message, works in conjunction with push notifications in apps or contests and sweepstakes to activate
sponsorships or a social media presence.

If you’re considering getting involved with SMS marketing, vendors to evaluate include Mobile Storm, Trumpia, SumoText and CallFire.

Awareness:The mobile landscape is constantly changing, which makes strategizing all the more difficult for merchants. The best course of action is to gain an intimate knowledge of your audience before considering a mobile application or
optimizing your company’s website.

Both options may require a significant investment, and might not be completely necessary depending on your company’s
vertical. A flashy application for the iPad can be an alluring prospect but makes little sense or a business whose core users are not yet tablet-savvy.

Customer research is an essential element in the process, the goal being to gauge your visitors’ needs based on their habits. Surveys provide the best insight into user behavior, as do simple analytics and even A/B or multivariate testing.

Try taking a look at the way your customers are interacting with your website on mobile devices and optimize for that. Look at referrals from search, opens and clicks from emails, affiliate and social media paths to your site — even QR codes. All are things that you can first quantify, then determine how valuable that type of mobile user is. You can optimize the most important pieces first with the long-tail customer types becoming fast followers.

A company’s most effective mobile strategy will depend on what is determined through this research. Whether it be an app for tablet or smartphone users, a mobile-optimized upgrade to an existing website, a brand new microsite or some variation of them all.

Google+   Leave a comment

Google+ social network  home page just like Facebook consists largely of a news feed or a ‘Stream’. The Stream is organized a little bit differently to Facebook though- stuff that you’ve hit +1 on commented on previously will rise to the top of your feed if there is a new comment. So Google knows that you are interested in becoming more visible.

Like Facebook, you can make a status update, or share photos, video and your location. Unlike Facebook, you don’t have to do it on your own profile to make an update. There is a drop-down ‘Share’ menu in the upper right corner which allows you to share from any Google+ page. So you don’t have to open a new tab to share something, or navigate from the page you are using.

There is another menu on upper right for notifications. This works similarly to Facebook in that it changes colour when you have a notification, and drops down when you click on it. Unlike facebook, you can reply to comments within that menu.  So you don’t have to navigate away from whatever you are doing.

Circles: Google  reckons that ;people have different “social circles”. When you add someone on Google+, you put them into at least one circle using a drag and drop down system. Sometimes you might want someone in more than one different circle,  ‘family and ‘friends’. You just need to drag and drop into a second circle.

Categorizing people into groups can be done on Facebook, but it is hidden within Facebook’s  settings. Google+ makes creating those filters easy, so you don’t have to share anything with anyone you don’t want to. Every time you share something on your Stream, you get to choose which people to filter in or out.

Sparks: You can search for anything that interests you, and any Google News that applies to that interest will show up in your Sparks news feed. In short, Google+ is doing some simple keyword and tag search

Hangout: is Google’s video chat feature. When you start a Hangout session on Google+ , it starts you default webcam and broadcasts  video to your circles. It opens up in a pop-up window.  You can invite people to join the video chat.

Google+ Android App: Android users can download an app to assist them while they are away from their keyboard. It has just five icons on the main screen- Stream,  Huddle, Photos, Profile and circles. There is a bar across the bottom of the screen that tells you if you have any notifications.

Using Huddle from the Android app is a handy way to communicate with a group of people- it is basically a reply to all email function.

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