The Last Original Idea - Is A Winner

During November and the early part of December, my book "The Last Original Idea - A Cynic's View of Internet Marketing" was one of 110 books nominated to participate in 2010 Small Business Book Awards, Reader’s Choice edition at Small Business Trends.

With my book only becoming widely available the 1st week of November, we were at a distinct disadvantage, but through the use of Social Media (marketing) by reaching out to the books' FaceBook fans, my twitter followers, my LinkedIn Connection and yes my standard email contact list, we were able spread awareness of the competition and receive enough votes to secure a top 10 finish (7th place) overall and a 2nd place finish in Marketing Book category.

2010 Small Business Book Awards - SmallBizTrends.com
2010 Small Business Book Awards - SmallBizTrends.comWith this win we were featured in a press release, received a valuable link (for SEO purposes), were granted bragging rights and the right to display these two banners.

The Last Original Idea can be ordered on-line at:
Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

The ebook version will be available some time in January.

Socialize 2011

I'm thrilled to announce that I've been asked to moderate a panel at the inaugural Socialize Conference in New York City on March 31 - April 1. My session (tentatively called) Measuring Social Media will take place on the second day of the conference.

One of the big pleasures of being a moderator at this conference is that I get direct input on who will be speaking on the panel unlike many other events where I've moderated sessions. While the conference did make some specific recommendations, I was allowed to vet them and to add my own recommendations. Together we have come up with a knock-out list of panellist. So far 3 of the 4 invited panellists have confirmed and will be posted on the events website once everything is finalized.

Based on my discussions with the conference organizers and a look at who's confirmed as speakers so far, this event has the potential to become one of the definitive conferences purely focused on all issues and challenges surrounding using Social Media for business. While there are a lot of great Internet/Search marketing conferences out there, Social Media is a mere stream at these events and not the main focus. To give people an even more important bonus, a Gold Pass to this event is only $395 an amount significantly lower than other 2 day events.

So if you're interested in Social Media, or are going to be in New York at the end of March and this event to your list of things to do. And I hope to see you there.

And yes I will most likely be doing some kind of book signing at the event. I'll be working on those details more as the event nears.


How Big is Your Social Media Pond?

We all want to know if we’re a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big a pond and that’s what Social Media analytics is all about. Yet, never in recent memory has something that so few people understand commanded so many different measurement tools. The people in the industry tout their Klout , Twitalyzer , PeerIndex, etc. scores like they’re magical numbers. We can be grateful for the most part people no long use the number of followers as their measuring stick.

Yes, businesses of all sizes are starting to “invest in social media” as if talking to customers and providing good customer service is anything new. And with all business investments we start talking about the ROI (return on investment), and the need to quantify the success of the efforts. I agree with this desire, but the reality is throughout history, it’s been impossible to measure the ROI of these factors beyond happy customers almost always translate into better sales.

While I don’t have issue with the measurement tools (as many industry thought leaders seem to), I do take issue with how organizations take these numbers and use them to compare the “success” or “influence” of their customer engagement in social media.

To stress this point, I’m going to pick on my favourite tool of the hour Twitter.  Despite being around for several years, the last 12-18 months or so have seen more tools hit the market to measure peoples Twitter influence then anyone can keep track of. Organizations are now regularly looking at peoples Klout or Twitalyzer scores before hiring people, having them speak at events or simply in-house to measure the success of their  Twitter marketing efforts.  This is where these tools are being misused.

While the tools clearly show you how one specific Twitter ID is doing compared to all the other Twitter ID they are tracking (what percentile it is in), people are missing the big picture. They haven’t told you how big your specific pond is. These tools use a variety of different measurement factors in their algorithms and being high in one or two factors can have a dramatic impact on your score, yet your audience (pond) is so small that in reality it’s like saving 5 out 6 people think I’m a genius when surveying my immediately family (BTW it's my sister who doesn't agree).

Case in point for several weeks (even as I write this), my Klout score (@aknecht =  73.22) was higher than Oprah Winfrey’s (@oprah = 72.8). Does this mean I yield more influence and have a greater impact on the world through what I tweet then Oprah? Of course not, Oprah is followed by over 4.5 million people while my meagre following of around 1,700 are not even on the same planet. Yet, there are companies/organizations who make these blind comparisons on a daily basis which is simply wrong.

What these numbers simply mean in my opinion is that my influence amongst all my followers is comparable to what Oprah’s influence is on her audience. What is missing is the multiplier effect. If she were to tweet something that would have an impact on a mere 0.1% of her audience then 4,500+ will respond and if I were to do the same 1.7 people will respond. Ultimately both Oprah and I are reasonably big fish (there are bigger ones) in our own ponds, the difference is the size of our ponds.


Pioneers of Web Analytics

When it comes to the pioneers of web analytics I’m not talking about Google Analytics not even AW Stats. At a recent conference address, my first slide showed who I consider the real pioneers of analytics. For the 3 seconds this slide displayed, the attendees had a puzzled look on their faces. I quickly explained that the images were of Noah, Moses and Augustus Caesar. I didn’t dwell on this slide and quickly moved the talk forward by 2,000 years to the counting of newspaper subscribers. I merely deferred the slide to a later hallway discussion or future blog post. A few took me up on the hallway discussions and I’ll assume most others preferred to wait for this blog post. So here it goes.

While it may be difficult for most people to see the correlation between these biblical and historical characters they in their own way set a standard for a specific type of analytics and to which many us still practice today in our interpretation of web analytics data.

Understanding Noah‘s (as in Noah & the ark) involvement in analytics appears simple. He counted the animals coming on board the ark. “Two zebras, two lions, two bear, etc. of each species.” This is what we’d call in today’s world exact counting or taking inventory. Noah new exactly how many animals were loaded onto the ark out of how many potential species.

This was not a simple task, but a basic check list and quick eyes made his job easier. Yet in today’s world on analytics, once we get beyond accountants and inventory bean counters, where does this play a role in web analytics? The people who practice the Noah version of web analytics are the ones still focused on absolute counts (even when it is nearly impossible to achieve). They’re focused on counting page views and visits as if an increase or decrease in these numbers has a magical effect on the companies bottom-line.  While this may be an appropriate measurement for a site that makes its money solely on display advertising (sold by thousands of page views CPM), it isn’t applicable to most modern websites today and needs to be shelved.

We all should know the story of Moses as well. He delivered the message of the 10 plaques to Pharaoh in Egypt, led the Children of Israel to their freedom and helped them wander the dessert for 40 years before climbing a mountain and disappearing forever. So where’s the influence on modern analytics?

Moses’ training in analytics was more than his counting of sheep while in exile from Egypt, while he led the Jewish people for 40 years on at least two separate occasions he took a head count of his followers (as commanded by God). Yet instead of following Noah’s lead of an exact count, he counted the heads of only males “From twenty years and above, all those who are capable of fighting, you should number them, you and Aaron" (Numbers 1:3). It’s from this count, that he was able to extract the total size of the population and not just how big an army he was amassing.

In modern times, we call this a poll or audience sampling. This is very close to how modern analytics are calculated when we only count (and track) people who accept cookies. Modern web analysts know that they can’t count the entire population, but by taking a high sample count (typically around 80%) they will get statistically relevant data on user behavior, what’s working and not working on the site, and can easily identify areas for improvement. Yet even with this large sampling, bosses still want the absolute count just like Noah did. So how do you manage requests like this? Do you tell the boss “If audience sampling was good enough for Moses and God it should be good enough for you?”. Of course not, if you like your job, instead point them in the direction of political polls. For example, in the USA during the 2008 presidential campaign, leading newspapers and both political parties were taking polls of typically 2,000 – 3,000 people out of an estimated electorate of 150 million (0.001%) and accurately reflect the outcome of the election (within their margin of error of 3% 4 out 5 times).

Augustus Caesar
August Caesar not content with basic audience sampling want to know the movement of this people in the land of Judea. So instead of taking the time to correlate where everyone came from to where they were living (not a small feet without modern computers) he made people return to their town of birth to be counted. This set the stage for the famous story of poor Joseph and his wife pregnant wife Mary.

What was actually done with the data from this census is no longer known, yet it established a basic principal which we all need to follow to properly optimize our websites. This is the principal of segmentation. When and where possible by segmenting our web analytic data, we get a better understanding of user behavior when we know, where they are coming from (both from a referring site perspective and geographical location), who they are (male vs. female, age, etc.) and where they are going (why did they come to the site), then just measuring exact counts (the Noah method), or basic audience sampling (the Moses method).


Vote for The Last Original Idea - A Cynic's View of Internet Marketing

We were a late entry in the Small Business Book Awards competition, but we're hopeful with your help we can either win or at least draw a lot more attention to our book "The Last Original Idea - Cynic's View of Internet Marketing".

So please click on the graphic below to visit the page and don't forget to cast your vote. If you're up to it, you can vote daily.

If you haven't purchase your copy it yet, it's available on Amazon.com


The Last Original Idea Contest by A. K'necht & G. Rockstein

Free Pass to SMX Toronto

In case you missed it, back on October 15, 2010 my first book “The Last Original Idea – A Cynic’s Guide to Internet Marketing” became available. Now we’re launching a huge contest in honor of the book - “The Last Original Idea Contest” – yes, hardly an original idea.

6 Months Free
As I point out in the book, there really aren’t any new ideas in marketing, just different tools that make it so simple to screw things up (if you don’t know what you’re doing) in record time. Yet we managed to pull together some of the finest Internet marketing tools available (worth thousands of dollars) as prizes for one incredible contest. Prize vendors include Raven Tools, SEOMoz Pro & gShift Labs.

6 Months Free
The premise is simple, tell us what you think “the last great original idea in marketing” was and why in 350 words or less or create a video (maximum length 2.5 minutes) to say it in. We’ll be posting them on the book’s website on December 1 and then using the not so original Facebook Like button, it will be up to you to get people to vote on your entry. The winners will be voted on by people from all over the world until January 31, 2011. 

6 Months Free
It’s that simple and no purchase necessary. There are a few other minor details which are posted on the contest entry page .

I’m also hoping to launch a book tour in the New Year as well, so if you’d like to be part of the Last Original Idea tour just let me know.


Environmentally Friendly Publishing

On November 18, my first book “The Last Original Idea” became available for ordering as a paperback. Within a few weeks, an ebook version of it will become available for Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. It will also eventually be available on the Apple’s iTunes for ordering. From my perspective the reality of the effort from conception (an idea that had been festering in my brain for nearly a decade) to the book physically being published, is a major accomplishment. Yet my personal concern for the environment got me thinking “perhaps I should have only made the book available as an ebook”.

If one reads about the latest trends in ebook publishing you’ll see a fantastic growth rate for ebooks with the inevitable prediction that the future of words being printed on paper as a form of publishing is facing certain death. Environmentalist frequently join in on this discussion by referencing how many trees are being cut down daily around the world to support the paper industry and how ebooks help reduce this trend.
On behalf of the “The Last Original Idea” we took these three steps to appease our own personal environmentalist side.
  1. Brevity – we could have easily added lots of fluff to our book (more pictures), excessively sized chapter headings, larger margins, meaningless rambling on within the text to increase the number of pages of the book. Instead of being a trim and fit 100 pages, it could have easily been inflated to 150 or 200 pages without containing one iota more of insight or information.
  2. Print on Demand – we chose a print on demand publisher. By choosing to have the books only produced when people order them, we ensure that no paper is wasted by printing large quantities of books that may or may not sell quickly or that ultimately must be returned to the publisher for destruction. This process not only reduces the demand on paper, but also for the ink and electricity required to run the printing presses, amongst other things.
  3. Eco-Libris (http://www.ecolibris.net ) - We participated in Eco-Libris which means that we arranged to have 100 trees planted in honor of the book being published and that it is printed entirely on recycled paper. Given the brevity of our book, unless it becomes an international best seller selling millions of copies; we have planted more trees than will be consumed in the printing of our book.
For those who believe that ebooks are still an environmentally sound choice consider these points:
  1. How much pollution including heavy metals was used to create your ebook reader?
  2. With the constant fear of oil shortages (a non-renewable resource) and rising oil prices how much plastic (created from oil) is required to meet the annual demands of the ebook readers?
  3. And what will you do with your ebook reader when it becomes obsolete? Perhaps you’ll ensure that the few valuable metals in it are extracted before the remainder is sent to a landfill?
While we can’t deny the convenience of ebook readers (multiple books on one devise taking up no shelf room) there is still something to be said about the tactile feel of paper on your finger tips and the ability to read without worrying about dust/sand getting on your book or forgetting to charge the battery of before a long flight. When was the last time you had an author sign your Kindle? While we make no claim that ebook readers are not the natural evolution of the printed paper page, we do remember early failures like the Apple Newton and firmly believe that paper books will be with us for a long time to come.


How I used Social Media to help Preserve & Restore the Past

Be warned, this isn’t one of my typical blog posts.

As an amateur genealogist, I have warm memories of the many hours I spent with my late father, documenting our family tree and listening to many stories from his pre-Holocaust childhood in Nowy Dwor Poland.

These efforts put me in touch with many of the survivors of the town and their descendants of my father’s home town of Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki. One common concern that these people raised was the condition of Jewish Cemetery in Nowy Dwor. There was garbage everywhere, there was little to no signage indicating even what this land was once. There were open graves and even many bones of our ancestors exposed. Locals would often hold picnics on cemetery grounds as well unaware that Jews had ever lived in the town let alone that they made up 50% of the pre-war population.

While some local Poles got involved a few years back by having some of the bones reburied by a Rabbi from Warsaw it wasn’t enough. So late last year when I was contact by Ze’ve Shaked who’s family was from Nowy Dwor as well, with an ambitious plan to preserve, protect and restore the Jewish Cemetery in Nowy Dwor I was thrilled to apply all my Internet marketing knowledge and skills available to help this project.

We deployed a combination all the Internet had to offer including emailing all those who I was in contact with over the years (email marketing), creating a website (http://www.nowydworjewishmemorial.com) documenting the project, creating  a Facebook page (http://facebook.com/NowyDwor) to bring people together, contacting appropriate bloggers to write about the project (link building) and to help spread the word. We used Twitter to promote the website, Facebook page and the blogger’s posts. With this effort, we gained support and helped raise the necessary funds ($40,000 US) for the first two phases of project. The first two phases were : 1) to fill in the graves and fix the grading of the Cemetery to counter the effects of 60 plus years of erosion; 2) to have a fence built around the entire property to protect it from squatters etc.

The $40,000 US came form people across the world (US, Canada, UK, France, Israel, Poland and other countries). While $40,000 may seem like a small amount as with all things we need to know the target market size. Following WWII there were perhaps a few hundred Jewish survivors from this town. While now combined with their descendants the numbers may be nearly a thousand, it is still hard to reach everyone even with all the social media efforts. This doesn't mean that Social Media doesn't work; it’s that Social Media is limited by only reach people who are interested in a subject.

There are many people out there who have ties to the same ancestral town, but are not involved in genealogy or on-line research of this town. That’s why at times even with the most successful Social Media marketing efforts, you still need to get out there and to it old style. It's through face to face old fashion networking, and contacting reports that we can to put this story in front of those people who are able and willing to help fund this project whether or not they have a direct tie into the town of Nowy Dwor Poland. A lesson that all organization need to remember when contemplating their own Social Networking marketing plan.

The project's goal now is to simply raise as much money as possible to help fund the building of a memorial and if possible to help fund the excavation of more tombstones from beneath the various streets and side-walks of the town.

Believe it or not you can help out without spending a dime. Please help this project by sharing this article via your social network, your favourite social bookmarking site and secondly if you like by making a donation at http://bit.ly/95wcIm


PubCon Discount Save 20% & More

Once again this year I'll be speaking at PubCon Las Vegas (Nov 8 - 13) and again this year they are providing their speakers with the opportunity offer their network of people (blog followers, Twitter Follower, LinkIn & Facebook friends, etc.) with a discount of 20% off the registration price. The only condition is you must register by October 20th and use the discount code of  rc-3361615.

Now here's the more part, as part of PubCon's promotion if you use the discount code I'll earn a 10% of your registration fee, but in return I'll give you a signed copy of my up-coming book "The Last Original Idea - A Cynic's Guide to Internet Marketing" at the conference assuming it is released on schedule. If not I'll mail you your copy.

What a sweet deal 20% off one of the best search marketing conferences and hands down the best networking conference in world plus a copy of my new book. It's not going to get much better than this.

Here are descriptions of my two sessions at PubCon and I hope to see you there:

Wed. Nov 11 10:15 - 11:30 am
Interactive Site Reviews: Focus on Organic

Thurs. Nov. 12 10:15 - 11:30 am
Convergence of Online Marketing and Analytics


gShift Labs - Product Review

Last week I had the privilege to visit the offices of gShift Labs in Barrie Ontario (ideally located in the downtown right across the road from the main beach) and was given a guided tour of their optimization tool by Chris Adams. gShift has positioned this tool for (and along the way coined the phrase) “web presence optimization”.

Now I've personally know Chirs and Krista (President of gShift Labs) from their earlier days with a start-up known as CGK which developed the first SEO friendly CMS called "Hot Banana". While their involvement with Hot Banana is behind them, they've taken their understanding of the needs of SEO community and have developed a new tool for the evolving industry.  What makes this optimization tool different than others (such as Rave Tools or SEOmoz tools) is that it is multi-focused.  gShift’s web presence optimizer isn’t just for helping you optimize a site from a SEO (search engine optimization) perspective, while it has components to help you do that. It goes beyond SEO and provides information on how social networking efforts are impacting website traffic (requires integration with Google Analytics). Is your organization heavily invested in Twitter? gShift helps you track the impact of tweets by retweets and includes a component that integrates with your bit.ly account. In essence gShift has (through APIs) integrated their product with most of the popular analytic tools for measuring social media. While their current set of tools for measuring social media may not be as powerful as the single purpose Radian 6 or TrackUr, it does bring together multiple tools to provide one stop reporting.

gShift also provides recommendations on where you need to focus your optimization efforts, be it a new press release or blog post or on site factors (better title tags, h1 tags etc.). You can even use its built in schedule feature to create a list of optimization "To Dos" and then have them appear as an annotation of the various report screens as they are completed.

gShift over the next few weeks will be releasing new features to further help site optimizers. This includes a content submission utility to help submit your blog posts to social bookmarking sites (such as digg) and Twitter. An additional new feature will be a integration into Wordpress.

The one thing that does separate out gShift form other tools is its reporting features. While most optimization tools generate great reports for the technical team, the reports are too technical for senior management forcing people to cut and paste various components into formal senior level reports. gShift’s reports are designed to simplify the complex data used by the technical team into easy to understand management reports that any VP can understand without any hand holding.

Overall this looks like a great product. I was also introduced to a series of planned upgrades roughly scheduled within the next 6-12 months. While I can say WOW and I can’t wait for these, I’m under an NDA not to talk about them at this time.

While I don't have any screen shots at this time, if you're interested in seeing this product for yourself, be sure to visit their site and sign-up for one of there Webinars (http://www.gshiftlabs.com/).


SEO & Stop Words - Writing for Search

Over the years while teaching various Search Engine Optimization (SEO) courses I've been asked many questions about writing SEO copy, or as I prefer it writing for search.

On thing I always stressed is that you first write for your human users (your real audience) and secondly for search engines. This is where an internal battle usually starts about how it should only be for the human users and never for the search engines. To which I reply, fine but without the search engines your human audience is going to be a lot smaller. Once we get over this hurdle, our course conversation usually turns to the issue of duplicate content.

Yes duplicate content and how all work on website/blog has to be original and what that truly means. I try to explain that Google tries strip out all code and just look at the words in the copy. It then compares it to other copy in its index and then has to decided if its original vs. duplicate and if duplicated which one to include in its index. Not a simple task.

While most of us think of duplicated content only occurs when articles are syndicated or if you are incorporating RSS feed content etc there is another and a legitimate reason why you might need duplicate content and why Google should punish you (but they might). This happens for legitimate reasons with big organizations who run country/regional specific websites. For legal reason, marketing or simply management it is very possible for a organization to run multiple unique sites (unique URLs). For example several English language sites target specifically at the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc. (same of course is possible for other languages).

The reality is when developing sites in this configuration and to reduce costs, internal documents (white papers, corporate profiles, product pages, etc.) are frequently merely duplicated. So how can you avoid the possible SEO penalties of duplicate content. It's by tweaking the content of these pages. Yes, you can and should adjust the words to reflect the cultural linguistic subtleties of each region, but that usually won't be enough. You should consider at least rewriting the introductory paragraph and a few lines throughout the article. Always take into account the surrounding text on the page (side bars & navigation). Are these unique to each site? Of all the words on the page about 20% should be unique to avoid possible duplication penalties.

One technique, that many people try and fail with, is to merely change some of the connective words. For example changing "also" to "furthermore". These simple changes don't affect the meaning of the content and make life easier. Unfortunately to search engines like Google and Bing their algorithms are programmed to ignore these words along with the basic words "a", "but", "the", etc. (For a detailed list of stop words see: http://www.link-assistant.com/seo-stop-words.html.

 So, if you have to re-purpose content for legitimate reason, the re-purpose it, but budget a little time to make a few reasonable changes that will content reasonably unique.


Prep for the Bing bot

Microsoft last week announced that it is going to unleash a new search engine bot within the next few months (currently scheduled for Oct. 1) called "Bingbot" http://www.lbi.co.uk/blog/bing-to-launch-bingbot/.

For many who use java script based web analytic tracking tools (i.e. Google Analytics, Omniture, Webtrends Ondemand, etc.) this new bot will  go unnoticed and have no impact on your web analytics reports. However those out there who are using traditional server access logs (web logs) its time to prepare.

By now you should have a bot filter that removes most non-human (bot) traffic from your primary analytic reports. Don't wait until the new bot is out there to update your list update it now.

The new bots name is "msnbot/2.0b" and will replace the old "msnbot". Consider this an addition to your list. If Microsoft follows its old pattern of renaming bots or that the behavoir of other search engines, there will be at least a couple of days overlap where you site could be visited by both . This way your reports will remain unaffected when the new bot comes into play.


The Impact of Google SSL Search

Running under the radar of most people was last week's announcement from Google that you can now conduct searches via SSL (secured socket layers). For those not familiar with this protocol it is a secure layer that encrypts the data going between two computers and is most commonly used on ecommerce sites to ensure security during the transaction phase and on some sites when forms are being completed.

You can see Google's secured search at https://www.google.com - once their you won't notice anything different except at the start of URL is https instead of http. You might now be wondering what's the big deal with Google using SSL and why does this post include the word "Impact" in it. So let's get down to it.

Over the past 6 months or so, there has been a lot of talk in the news about privacy when using the web most notably in the spotlight lately has been Facebook. Also, people are getting concerned that Google is gathering too much information about them and this includes what they are searching on. By introducing the secure search option the actual search query you made before clicking on a listed website in the search results will no longer be passed to the site on the other end of the click (commonly referred to as the "referrer"). This referrer information is a staple source of data for every web analytics team everywhere and this is where the impact starts and people's misunderstanding goes astray.

First off, Google still knows what you searched on and which search results you clicked on. It's their software after all. All that you are doing is hiding your search terms from the site you went to visit. This referrer information has been available almost from the beginning of the web. It has allowed people to analyze (web analytics) their website traffic, perfect their search engine optimization project and optimize search ads. While this might seem selfish, its not.

Let's look at it from an SEO perspective. By continually reviewing which terms from organic search drive quality traffic to a site, companies can put more effort into these good terms and less in the terms they thought were appropriate and didn't bring the appropriate traffic. By not focusing on the inappropriate terms, they will start dropping in the search results for these terms and get out of the way from the people searching these terms which clearly are not interested in the companies products or services and thereby not wasting the searcher's time.

The same can be said to paid search ads. By focusing on the right terms, users will only see ads that are appropriate for them. No need to waste your time surfing through inappropriate ads or sites.

While many people believe hiding your search terms from sites is a good thing from a privacy perspective, I beg to differ. The Internet and the web were created in an open framework which has allowed it to grow at incredible rates. Every time someone comes out with a proprietary tool or works in the shadows, growth is slowed. Yes privacy is a good thing, but what are you searching on that you need to hide these terms? Are you scared for example that a company that makes widgets will know you searched on "blue widgets" before coming to their site?

So let's leave it at that. Google is offering secured search to make people who are paranoid more comfortable, so they can keep up their market share of online search. They still have all your data on how, what and when you searched for something. All that secured search is doing is hurting the companies you're visiting financially which in the end may translate into higher prices.


A Different Type of Presentation

Yesterday, I learned how to give a new type of training presentation, as my life in the web-world took another turn, as I completed recording 14 lectures for the University of San Francisco. Before I get into the details of the lectures, I need to take a step back.

Right from the beginning of my web career, the currents of economy have helped me along as I "tripped & stumbled" my way through life. I didn't set out to 20+ years ago for a career in web consulting or search marketing. Frankly they didn't exist yet. I did use one of the ancestor of the Internet (bitnet) back in the mid 1980's while attending the University of Waterloo and fell in love with email and Usenet groups. It was the opportunity that presented itself when the first ISP's starting popping up that drew me back to this evolved/evolving technology. Just after I had immersed myself in all it had to offer in the early 90's, I started telling friends all about it and before long they were recommending me to their bosses as a consultant to help them understand the potential that the Inernet (specifically the web) had to offer them.

It's hard to remember that there was a time when major corporations didn't have email nor websites. Yet there was and to many young web and search marketers it seems like ancient history because they never experienced it. It was during this time, that I expanded my knowledge and started speaking about the Internet at corporate events and conferences.

As the role of the Internet & web evolved so did my career & business. So when I was approached a couple of months back to become one of several lecturers for a new on-line certificate being offered by University of San Fransisco on Search Marketing, I could say know and so my career has evloved again.

I'm a veteran of the conference circuit having spoken and keynoted at more conference than I can count. I've been teaching something to adults for more than 1/2 my life off & on including Webinars, numerous web analytics courses, Webtrends training, SEO coursed etc. through my company, yet yesterday sitting down in a recording studio in front of a teleprompter was revelation. I really didn't think it would so different than teaching a small class or giving a talk at a conference. Well I now have a new respect for TV news anchor people. I really couldn't believe how difficult it was to keep my eyes focused properly, to keep my head straight, to keep my energy up, too pace the lectures perfectly, etc. As such under fire I got to learn a new skill and while not expecting to perfect it at least coming close to something much better than acceptable.

It will be a few weeks until the sessions are edited and I'll get to see the final product. I do hope they are great and that I get more chances to continue to develop yet another skill I've learn as I've tripped & stumbled along the "Internet Super Highway".


2 Weeks 2 Conferences and What I Learned

It's been a crazy couple of weeks for me. First I attended, spoke and moderated sessions at SMX Toronto (Arpril 8 &9) and then with just a weekend to recover I head down to Dallas to Attend PubCon (April 13-15). While I had hope to drop in on the PubCon training sessions on April 13, sadly conference calls and a work hang over from SMX Toronto, kept me away until the evening networking event.

By attending these two conferences back to back I discovered a few things. Here at the Toronto conference which was paired with eMetrics many of the SMX attendees were gravitating to the eMetrics sessions (despite not having the combo pass) and the SMX analytics sessions (I spoke on one and moderated another) which very well attended.

A PubCon, the web analytic focused sessions were not well attended. Perhaps it was the time slots (my session was the last one on day 1) or some of the topics pitted against them. Regardless simply talking to people at the PubCon show there seemed to be only a small interest in web analytics and greater focus on Social Media.

Once thing I also discovered at SMX/eMetrics while most people were using Google Analytics, they were also using one of the other major tools (Omniture, Webtrends, etc.) to get more advanced information. At PubCon most people I spoke to seemed content with their Google Analtyics. Perhaps this explains the minimal interest in the subject matter. People seem to believe that all they really need is Google Analytics and that it will tell them all they need to know.

This concept was stressed at SMX by the keynote speaker Avinash Kaushik when he said "Google Analytics has more in it then any company needs, so you don't need to spend money on the other tools" (I'm paraphrasing of course). Of course most of the people at this conference gasped & groaned at the comment realizing that measurement of specific KPI and paths to conversion are critical in the continual evaluation and improvement life cycle of a web site and are absent from Google Analtyics

The biggest highlight of the two events was the Day 1 keynote at PubCon by Scott Stratten (from Oakville, Ontario) President of Un-Marketing (twitter ID unmarketing). I met Scott for the first time last fall in Las Vegas and despite living 30 miles apart and only catching glimpses of each other at different events where we both speak, we finally managed to hook-up in Dallas. His keynote was simply the best keynote of recent memory at any conference and may very well be the best one I've ever heard. What set this keynote apart was not the content (the content was great), but his style. True to what Scott preaches in his tweets, he didn't talk to us (or shout at us), but he grabbed a chair sat down and proceeded to have a conversation with the entire audience. No one even noticed that they couldn't get a word in until the Q&A portion, because the gems and insights that flowed from Scott's mouth were so captivating. From what Scott told me, it sounds like his upcoming book (due out this fall) will follow the same style. I just can't wait.

As with all conferences, you get out of it what you put in. By speaking, moderating and attending sessions, I picked up lots of new ideas and techniques to apply to clients. Yet the best part of both of these two amazing events was what happened out side of the sessions room at the various networking events. The connections, the exchange of ideas in an unstructured manner - yes in conversation provided even more applicable knowledge and insight. It is this face to face meeting and conversations that can't be replaced by on-line lectures and it is why I always try to find the time and budget to attend as many high quality conferences as I can.

Right, I'm not booked into any events in the short term, but I'm hoping/planning on SES Toronto in June and the main PubCon Las Vegas is November, plus with a little luck perhaps another 1 or 2 before the year is over.


SMX Toronto

Well SMX Toronto is finally here. Sessions start tomorrow and I've got a full slate.

I'll be moderating 2 sessions:
- Organizational Readiness: where we'll look at how you get the whole organization to play nicely
- Post Click Behaviour  & Landing Page Optimization: This title speaks for itself

Both sessions, have expert in the field and I know will be fantastic sessions.

I'm also speaking in 2 sessions
- What is Search Analytics and Why Should I Care?: I'll be talking about tracking off-line conversions
- A site review session with Barbra Coll - get there early for a chance to have your site reviewed.

Even if you don't attend on of the 4 sessions I'm involved in, be sure to get my attention and say hi.

Also, next week I'm heading to Dallas Texas for PubCon spring. This is another 2 days of information packed sessions and I'll be speaking on Off-line conversions once again.

Follow me on Twitter @aknecht for live conference updates and I'll do my best to get a few blog posts done as well.


Upcoming Events

I'll be speaking and moderating a few sessions at various up-coming conferences. Here is the most current list of events where you can here me speak. Yes I'm bragging but all these events are great events and worth attending.

March 31, 2010 I'm in Toronto at Marketing Magazine's - Search Engine Tune Up on a panel discussing the future of search.


April 8 & 9, 2010 I'm speaking on 2 panels and moderating another at SMX Toronto. I've on this conference's advisory board so I can ensure you that this conference is going to be great. As well I can offer you a 15% discount to the event. Simply use the code knecht15 when you register to receive the discount for SMX Toronto.


April 13 & 14, 2010 I'm heading down to Dallas Texas for PubCon Spring. I'll be on a panel on the second day discussing web analytics and how to leverage all this great info to improve on-line marketing campaigns


So I hope to see you at one of these events and if you are attending any of these events be sure to track me down and say hi.


Twitter Training for Business

My company K'nechtology Inc. has just released two more dates in February for our live interactive twitter for business training program. The reviews from the January sessions were fantastic and several people who couldn't attend the sessions in January ask for some more dates.

We hope these sessions will be just as popular as the January ones, so check the website for the new dates and I encourage you to reserve your spot as soon as possible. If these dates don't meet your requirements please let me know.

Here is just one of the many comments we received about hour Twitter sessions:

I was impressed by a thorough and complete introduction to Twitter and it's applications for business. I feel ready to apply the knowledge I gained through his succinct and practical explanations of Twitter and related topics - all in just one hour! If you think you'd like to Tweet, take this course, you will be glad you did.

Dr. Kyra Gerber
Courtyard Chiropractic Clinic
Toronto, Ontario

WebTrends Engage

This week I'm off to New Orleans to participate in Webtrends Engage. I'll be giving a talk/workshop on Tuesday about the importance of tracking phones calls generated by web traffic and tracking it back to their original marketing source.

This address is in partner ship with Mongoose Metrics. I've been working with them since October and have previously address the importance of integrating the data captured by call tracking software into corporate web analytic reports.

I'm really looking forward to this address as the people at Webtrends have also really stepped up to support this talk and have recognized the importance of this type of integration.

As a user of Webtrends since their original version 1, I can't wait for this conference and the opportunity to gather more information and innovation to continue to support my companies Webtrends clients and update our Webtrends training material with the latest product innovations.


Up Coming Conferences

While the list isn't finalized my list of speaking engagements over the next few months promises to keep me busy. While I've spoken at some of these events in the past it will be the first time for me at the Webtrends engage event and the Fanshawe College's "Turning Clicks Into Customers".

Here's the detailed list with dates. I hope to see you at one of these events and if you're there be sure to introduce yourself.

Webtrends Engage - New Orleans - Feb 1 - 4
Executing Social Media - Toronto - Feb 10
Fanshawe Colledge - London, Ontario - March 1
SMX Toronto - April 8-9

I'm also on the conference board for SMX Toronto. So while the topic of my conference address isn't finalized, I can assure that I'll also be moderating a few sessions as well.

Twitter Training Program

I'm happy to announce here in my blog that my company K'nechtology Inc. has just launched a 1 hour on-line twitter training seminar.

What separates out our training session from most on-line Twitter training programs is that is live and full interactive. Most others are either recorded video podcasts or a PowerPoint presentation. While these are fine for most people, from our experience not all people can take this form of training and apply it immediately without some trial and error.

By having a live sessions, users can ask specific questions relating to their needs and have them answered in real time.

K'nechtology is offering these courses at the inaugural price of $25 per person with a maximum number of 10 people participating per session. No date has been set when the price will be increased, but you can be sure at this price demand will be high.

While you may feel comfortable using Twitter on a personal level or even for your business, think about recommending this program to others. I know I'm constantly being asked "Why should I being using Twitter" or "How do I use Twitter" or anyone of hundred different questions.

  • Here is a list of just some of the topics covered:
  • Basics of Twitter;
  • Choosing the right Twitter Account ID;
  • Monitoring your Twitter account
  • Twitter terminology;
  • How to develop a following of both existing clients, potential clients; and
  • More effective Tweats through article linking and the use of "hash tags"
Best of all, I will be personally conducting first few of these session. So I know they'll be information packed and those attending will be able to hit the ground running (tweating). If you have any questions of this training seminar, drop me a line.