Posted On Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 by Tim Caspersen
So I took control of another project, setting up an AdWords account for a client. Nothing too exciting, hadn’t really done it in a while, but I’ve done it plenty in the past. So I go about doing my research, build my keywords, use some nifty tools (both created in house and available online), and got myself all set up to start the task of uploading the account.
What I forgot about is AdWords Editor. It’s a fantastic program that lets you do some great manipulation of the account. It’s available for both Windows and Mac. That’s awesome. I run Linux…
Because I function as a developer most of the time, I have the luxury/hassle of having a computer for each operating system: Linux, Windows XP, Vista, and Mac. So thankfully, I installed Editor on my Mac and fired it up. I got all my keywords uploaded, created several different ads, and set my budgets and bids for them all.
And here’s where the beauty of Editor comes into play. I was working on some longtail keywords, adding geographical locations and such. The client has several locations and so services a vast expanse of the east coast and a good bit of the west. Naturally, I decided to use the names of the states and their abbreviations. Seemingly easy, but in my speed as I was assembling the keyword list, something in my brain told me the abbreviation for Connecticut was CN, as opposed to CT. Blame it on lack of sleep, lack of caffiene (ran out of coffee two weeks ago), or just lack of attention, but I did it. Because of the way I had my keywords structured, this little blunder made it’s way into over 600 keywords.
Imagine trying to fix that by hand, it’d be ridiculous. I’m very busy as is, and I was doing all this work on Sunday, what should be my one day off, and it was already 10pm.
Editor to the rescue! After yelling several obscenities at my mistake, my friend Steve, who’s much more familiar with AdWords and Editor than I am, suggested I just do a find and replace…
No way it could be that easy, but what do you know! After banging my head against my desk a few times, I quickly changed all 600+ keywords in a matter of seconds. Then I created a few new ads, applied them to all of my adgroups across my four campaigns, and finished up my work before 11pm.
Now if only Google will make Editor for Linux…
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Posted On Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 by Tim Caspersen
It’s been quiet around here the past few weeks, and that’s because a good portion of our group has made a giant move from North Carolina to Philadelphia, PA. It was an important move for us, and gets us set up to take on new opportunities and experiences.
Hopefully from here on out we’ll be more diligent about posting as we’re all getting settled in our new location. Stop by later in the week to see what’s going on with us.
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Posted On Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 by Dean Karasinski
Hello folks. First let me apologize for the space between posts, we have realized that writing everyday can lead to some pretty boring and non-informative posts. We want to provide to you great content and interesting stories.
Are you designing for your clients or for yourself?
Recently I have had the pleasure of designing a web page for a client. The design is very different than anything I am used to. It is a very professional, straightforward serious website and it needs to communicate that. My first draft I liked a lot, it was creative, colorful and was in my usual style. I sort of knew that it wouldn’t be right for the client but I though “once they see it this will be what they want”. WOW. I was so wrong. I basically received an email back telling me everything that was wrong with it and that they were very disappointed with my work. I felt terrible. So i started thinking about my process and I realized that I was not designing for the client at all. I was designing something that I liked to look at and that I was designing for myself. No wonder they hated it.
I took a look at my notes and compared it to what I had created. I basically took nothing that they said into consideration. They wanted a left nav and I gave them a top nav. They wanted a certain type of picture browsing, I gave them another one. They wanted a wave in certain places, I put it only where I thought it was good. No wonder that they hated it.
So, I went back to the drawing board. I did a complete redesign and I have to admit every single step of the way was a struggle. I must have tried 1000 different design options in each space. But I found out that I don’t settle for a design that I am not happy with and I kept trudging along until I nailed it. I sent it to the client and she sent back “You nailed it!” I can’t tell you how good that actually felt to go from them being disappointed to them really loving it. I also learned that I can still design for someone else while still keeping my own style, that’s why they chose us in the first place because they liked what we brought to the table.
If you ever find yourself in this position just take a step back and make sure that you are giving the client what they want, not what you think they want, there is a very big distinction there.
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Posted On Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 by Caren Romanyschyn
There’s a whole lot more to blogging than just writing a couple of posts a week. I mean, you could just rely on that, but you’re not going to get much exposure that way. What you really need to do is create a whole online persona and image that people can use to connect you to your business and/or products. Now, we’ve already talked about Social Media and the wonders it does in effortless promotion, but there’s more that you can do. And best of all? It won’t cost you a penny.
One of the things you can do to increase your marketing reach is to read other people’s blogs. I know, you’re actually going to have to research – such a drag. You want to look for blogs that pertain to the same subject matter your blog writes about. Why? Because you want to comment on their posts. In order to write informed post comments, you have to know what you’re talking about as well as have a general knowledge and understanding of what the blog is talking about. Informed post comments are important because they help you create solid backlinks, which are used to elevate your ranking in Google. The more backlinks you have, the better your rank. But before you go commenting on every blog you can find, you should know that the quality of the page matters. So you can’t just write comment after comment on every page you come across and expect to move up the Google search ladder. It doesn’t work that way. Not only do your comments need to be informed, but they also need to be posted on reputable sites. The more well known the site, the more weight the backlink carries.
Ok, so you’ve got a few backlinks under your belt – now what? Because you’re only taking the time to comment on posts relevant to your own blog (right?), the people whose sites you visit are likely to check out your blog. And guess what? They’ll probably leave you a comment or two, filling out your comment section, and making your blog look pretty impressive in the process. This will spread your name around your target market, where it matters most, and you might even make a few contacts in the process. One thing to note: make sure you leave your contact info and a link to your blog when you comment. That way, traffic from the blogs you comment on will flow over to your blog, essentially providing you with a steady stream of free traffic. What did I tell you – free is good!
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Posted On Monday, September 14th, 2009 by Matt Fern
Monday: It means two things. Number one is that I am writing another post to you lovely people again and Monday Night Football (that should be an ESPN commercial.) And to be honest I am much more excited about football tonight then I am about writing this post, but who can blame me? The games on tonight should be high scoring blowouts. But I guess I should stop talking about football and get on with why I’m here.
Where would we be without Facebook? Facebook has exploded over the past few years and it is everywhere. I remember this summer being at a baseball game watching the fifty year old women chat on Facebook the entire game. With 250 million users on Facebook, there is a lot of potential there. The problem with all this potential traffic is that it might not be the best market for you. Creating Facebook ads can be tricky. I have lightly dabbed into it and really didn’t look to deep into it and lost money rather quickly. There are some steps and considerations to take before you start advertising on Facebook.
First of all, and possibly the most important is to make sure you get your target market right. Make sure you are targeting the right age group, location, sex….. There are multiple options for you to choose from. The narrower your target market the better your chance of you making a profit. You want to make sure the right people are seeing your ad, even if that means creating many variations for your ad.
Creating different variations of your ad is a smart thing to do anyway. It keeps things fresh. Different pictures and different wording will help in the long run. Every person is different and running different ads on Facebook will help you figure out what ad variations work better with targeted market.
Facebook can be tricky but can also be very rewarding. I’m looking forward to going more in depth with it and turning a profit. Maybe in the future I’ll talk about this more but it’s pretty simple and self-explanatory. Just do some tweaking and some good ol’ trial and error, but you can have some fun on Facebook. Enjoy. Talk to everyone later.
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Posted On Thursday, September 10th, 2009 by Matt Fern
****I know I’m posting this a few days late but as much as Las Vegas is a fantastic town, wireless internet is hard to come by. And I refused to pay $15 a day for internet. So I wrote this on the plane ride to Vegas****
Well it’s another glorious Monday and as much as I want to complain about having to write a post, I’m on a flight to Las Vegas so I can’t complain. So I would just like to apologize for the post I’m about to post because honestly I have completely checked out. But anyway I’m writing to you today about the Amazon tax. I know it has already been touched on but there is some new info that I am completely against so I figured I would share.
So as you’re probably aware that the “Amazon Tax” finally got pushed through in North Carolina a little while ago. (I think Tim wrote about the tax earlier) As soon as NC legislation mentioned that they were going to try to pass this tax Amazon.com (and others) pulled its affiliate program out of NC. Now this affected numerous people. Ranging from small businesses that specialize in affiliate marketing (One owner told me that his profits have sunk 50% since the bill was passed) to college students trying to make some extra money for school.
So now that the law has passed and Amazon has pulled its affiliate program out of NC you’d figure everything would be fine right? Well not so much. NC’s department of revenue is going after companies like Amazon stating that “the state loses at least $200 million a year in uncollected sales tax from such businesses.” So NC wants money they think they deserve and I am dying to know why they think Amazon and other companies owe them money. Amazon dropped its affiliates in NC before the tax was pushed through but yet the NC government thinks that companies like Amazon owe them money.
So let me start my rant about why I think Amazon should be left alone and not bothered, after all the NC government is screwing Amazon out of a lot of money as it is. So ok let us start with Senator David Hoyle. He has been quoted as saying that he is completely for the NC government going after Amazon for money they believe is owed to them. Now if we look at Senator Hoyle, he is 70 years old and makes over 200 thousand dollars a year (http://people.forbes.com/profile/david-w-hoyle/19915) Now this tax does not really effect people such as Senator Hoyle because he is by far not in our generation. At 70 years old I can’t see the Senator doing a lot of online shopping; now I could be completely wrong. All I am saying is that the younger generation does quite a bit of shopping online and that the older generations do not. So naturally the older generation is not going to see eye to eye with us on the whole internet thing. Another reason is that the senator makes over 200 grand a year, so even if David Hoyle was involved in affiliate marketing losing a couple of thousand of dollars would not affect him. See my name argument with this tax is that it does not the generation that is in politics right now. All the Senators and people in the House of Representatives are in an older generation then us. They don’t see the internet as a tool for young small businesses to get a head start and expand their businesses. They just see that there is a way for the government to make more money so they say “hey let’s take advantage of this.”
So let’s look at the problems this tax has caused. Before they passed the tax companies like Amazon pulled its affiliate programs out of NC, causing many small businesses to lose profits. So now instead of promoting small businesses they are shutting them down. Causing numerous people to downsize their small businesses or even shut down. And on top of that NC is attempting to sue Amazon. So let me get this straight: In an economy that is supposed to be supportive of small businesses they have shut the door on numerous small businesses and now they are attempting to sue a large company, in which will cost them lots and lots of money. So if they sue Amazon sure the NC government will make some money, but at what cost. If Amazon get sued they will lose lots of money and be forced to lay employees off to save money, further weakling the economy even more.
It boggles the mind how the government thinks. They plan on gaining money from passing this tax when in reality they are causing small businesses to lose money, cut employees, and crippling the economy. Now I would just like to state that this post is completely my opinion and the fact that I am on a flight to Las Vegas with a few cocktails in my system. Now I just hope I can find some free internet so I can post this today.
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Posted On Wednesday, September 9th, 2009 by Chris Cremen
Since Google now owns Performics, they are obviously pushing to bring it more in line with their other products. First, they made publishers set up payments through AdSense. Other than the fact that now we only get paid once a month instead of twice, that move doesn’t really bother me that much. But just like I knew they would, they are trying to force us to start using a Google Account to login. And this is really pissing me off!
Like most people, I use several of the services Google offers. I have several Gmail accounts (both personal and professional). I even use iGoogle, despite its awful name. Then there is AdSense, Analytics, and AdWords. And for a very short period, I even used blogger. All of these products use Google Accounts. But the only problem is not all of them use the same one. So anytime I go from one Google product to another, it tries to keep me logged into the same account. I never really liked this, but this was never a major problem for me in the past. But now that Google is moving towards making Google Accounts required to log into Performics, this is going to be a major inconvenience for me. And yes, I called it Performics and always will. Google Affiliate Network is just too long to say and GAN just sounds like something you would catch from a Tijuana hooker. “Sorry guys, I would love to go out drinking, but my GAN is flaring up real bad.”
Every morning I run a report to get a broad overview of where my accounts are at. This requires me to be logged into both AdWords and Performics. So now that Google tricked me into switching my Performics logins to Google Accounts by making seem like I couldn’t log into my accounts unless I did, each morning I have to log into AdWords, start running a report, and then log out so I can check my Performics accounts. Then once I am done with that, log back into AdWords.
Now, all those times that I switch from one Google product to another, I get annoyed that I have to hit a log out button each time because it tries to log me in under a different name. So I thought maybe there was some setting in the Google Accounts that would keep this from happening. Maybe a setting that made it so that just because I was logged into one Google product, I wasn’t logged into all of them. There are people out there that I would let check my Gmail account for me that I would not want looking in my AdWords account or my AdSense account, so this just makes sense. But no, there are no options like that that I could find.
So I thought I would just contact someone at Google and see if there was a way to do it that I just didn’t see. Word to the wise: never try to contact Google through anything other than AdWords, because it’s just a giant clusterfuck. I ended up posting something in the “Affiliate Network Help Forum.” There, a Google Employee under the name Kariyushi said, “There is a green box below the login boxes that says ‘Stay logged in.’ Uncheck it. Other than that, you will have to log out/in each time you want to switch Google Accounts.” So I have to hit sign out every time. Is it sad that this bothers me so much that I am considering using different browsers to access different products so that this doesn’t affect me? Maybe use Internet Explorer to access Performics, Firefox to access AdWords, and Safari to access AdSense? But screw Chrome. I think Google already has enough information about me already. Now if you excuse me, I have to wrap my computer in more tinfoil.
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Posted On Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 by Dean Karasinski
People always use the cliche phrase “No one ever said it would be easy”. I, for the most part, completely disagree with that as most things come easy to me but there is one thing it is holding true for and that Client Acquisition and Networking. I have been talking to people and reading books trying to figure out the “best way to do it” but the only thing I have figured out is that there is no best way. Sure there are strategies and great tips but you have to practice them and you have to make sure they work for you. The only way to actually do that is to go out and use them on real people.
Trial and error my friend
It’s the most nerve racking part of the whole process. You feel you have read and absorbed most of the information you have been seeking, it’s starting to repeat itself. So you figure, OK time to go to work and make this happen, you psych yourself up and say “OK I am ready” you get to your networking event or client meeting and you start talking. You can literally hear yourself breaking down and spewing out verbal diarrhea and it’s dripping down your face.
Terrible right? Well don’t feel bad because it happens to everyone. You feel like an idiot, yes, but it is not the be all end all. Just look at it as a learning experience you can now say that you have done it and move on to trying it again. The key here is repetition, you are going to hear NO alot and at first your are going to mess up a lot it takes time to craft your story and your pitch and your persona and so on. Eventually it will all come together.
A Numbers Game
Absolutely. The more people you go through the more clients you are going to get. There are some who argue that yes it is a numbers game but you can increase the number of sales you make. And I say to them how… It takes courage to just get on the phone unsolicited and call up a company and try to get them to switch to your services, it’s not for everyone but you should try it. The point is you have to go after a form of client acquisition that is for you and plays to your strengths.
Keep Your Head Up.
Think about it this way. Who else do you know that is trying to craft and carve a life for themselves? Probably not too many people. You are already ten steps a head of them because they have settled into a job. They are most likely not willing to step outside of their comfort zone and try to give it a go on their own. Simply by talking to people and making business calls you are improving yourself, a little social skydiving if you will.
Keep at it
The main thing is to keep at it. Sure it sucks being told no, or being hung up on, or not even getting a chance to talk to anyone, but that is just the nature of the game. By doing this over and over again you will get better at it and you will eventually get your first yes. Think of how great that will feel? I will leave you with this little tidbit that always inspires me. Colonel Sanders (yes the chicken guy) received 1,000 consecutive no’s before he made his first sale. 1000 in a row! How many of you would have even gone to 1000? What would have happened if he didn’t get the sale on the 1000th? He would have gone on until he got a yes. How awesome is that? It keeps me moving when I am feeling frustrated.
Please share any stories you have with us and maybe we can share tips and get a cool discussion going.
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Posted On Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 by Caren Romanyschyn
I really hope you’ve been working on your online persona lately, because it’s time to get networking! People want to know what you’re up to, and creating a well-rounded online profile is a big part of that. So if you thought you could just skate by on a few lines of text, you’d better reevaluate.
Ok, so we’ve talked about setting up a Facebook profile, right? You want to make sure you have one set up for you, the promoter, so you can create a Page about your business and/or products, but you also want to let your fans know a little something about you. It’s a lot easier to attract potential fans to your business if they can put a face with a name. The more accessible you are, the more likely you are to gain friends and fans with ease. Otherwise, you’re just that creepy stalker guy on Facebook that no one wants anything to do with. So get out there and let people know what you’re doing, what products your promoting, what sales you’re running, etc. Status updates are crazy important when it comes to Facebook because they run on your News Feed, which is the first thing people see when they sign into Facebook. A good Status Update can draw people to your Page, and the more people who see your Page, the more fans you can potentially get.
Facebook is pretty cool when it comes to making Pages because they operate pretty much like a standard profile page. You get a Wall that you and your fans can post on, Info to let your fans know about what you’re advertising, Photos, Discussions, and Links. As a Page admin, you can even add a Fan Box to your site so you can let your current loyal followers know about your Facebook Page. Facebook lets you suggest your Page to your friends so that they can become fans, which (as we’ve discussed) helps expand your advertising reach. If that approach is a little too laid back for you, Facebook also offers personalized paid ads that you can use to attract fans. Another admin perk is that you get access to a tracker like Google Analytics, called Insights, that allows you to see who is interacting with your Page. Fan interaction is broken down into many levels, including Sex, Country, Language, Post Quality, Reviews, etc.
In my opinion, the best part about setting up a Facebook Page for your business is that you can import an external blog to your page. Basically, you import your RSS feed through Facebook, so that every time you write a new post, it shows up as a Facebook Note. These Notes show up in the Facebook News Feed, which is visible to all your friends. Facebook just added a new feature that allows you to link your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Why is this relevant? You know how your Facebook Page automatically pulls your new posts from your blog? Well that wealth of information is now funneled through to Twitter. Just think of it as one less thing you have to worry about.
What’s my favorite thing about social marketing on Facebook? It’s FREE!
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Posted On Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 by Chris Cremen
Gmail had yet another problem yesterday, once again making it so millions of people couldn’t check their email. Apparently, Google took some servers down for maintenance and that caused the remaining servers to become overloaded. While they did come out and apologize for the downtime, it’s still unbelievable that they are having problems keeping Gmail from going down. Gmail is currently the third largest web based email service. I can’t remember ever hearing about Yahoo Mail or Hotmail (the top 2 email services) going down, but I doubt this will slow down Gmail’s growth in the long term. For some reason, people have a huge loyalty to Google that just boggles my mind.
Were you one of the Gmail users that couldn’t access the email because of the blackout? I know I wasn’t. I didn’t even know there was a blackout until I saw it last night. How did I manage not to be affected, you ask? Well, it’s because the blackout only affected people trying to get their email through the Gmail interface. The IMAP/POP servers were still running just fine. It seems like those servers work on separate routers and therefore were not affected by the blackout.
Since I have multiple Gmail accounts, I got tired of logging in and out all the time. I used the Gmail Manager extension for Firefox for a while, but now I use Mozilla’s Thunderbird. Remember how easy Firefox was to use over Internet Explorer? Well, Thunderbird is like that compared to Microsoft Outlook. As a matter of fact, setting it up with Gmail is super easy. You just do File -> New -> Account. Then, there is a Gmail option. Just put in your Name, the Email address, and click Finish. You will then put in your password and it will download your mail right to your computer. No more having to login to Gmail just the read a message, just open Thunderbird and it’s right there. And just like Firefox, you can download different Extensions and Themes.
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