SAGA Zone – The Social Network for Over-50s

If you thought social networking was only for the young, you’re wrong. Today sees the launch of SAGA Zone, a social network for over-50s, created by the insurance and travel company SAGA.

In a four month trial, over 13,000 users signed up to SAGA Zone signifying that the Internet is not only the domain of the young. In fact in the UK the elderly make up 30% of all time spent on the Internet, a study by OfCom has shown.

Click here to visit SAGA Zone and be sure to pass this on to any 50+ person who enjoys using the Internet – this will right up their street.

Is Google Phone On The Way?

Google PhoneI’m a big fan of Google and especially its attitude toward making its services accessible to all so I’m getting pretty excited about the rumour going around the Internet that the Google Phone is due out in the first quarter of 2008. Google has already made the web largely accessible to computer users and is now extending their ethos to mobile phones.

But, what is the Google Phone all about? From what I gather, Google will first release software that will be compatible with the hardware from phone vendors before actually releasing it’s own range of phones. This last bit is still a bit foggy but it seems the software release is imminent.

The software will bundle Google Mail, Google Maps, Search and YouTube for video-sharing. However, the best part of this software is that it will be ‘open’ so that developers can actually build additional phone features.

What does this mean for you and me? Just that we’ll get access to some of the best free web applications on our mobile phones.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets – The Viral Games Web Site

National Treasure: Book of Secrets, the new Nicholas Cage movie, is the sequel to the 2004 movie National Treasure and is due out later this year.

The official website is packed with the movie trailers, info about the story about the movie but the better site is the games site sponsored by Mercedes Benz here. However, rather than the usual dull advertising banners, Mercedes Benz have advertised within the games.

For example, there are 2 games based in London; in one, the action game called Thames River Race, you drive a Mercedes Benz along the Victoria Embankment avoiding buses, black-cabs and other obstacles.
The puzzle game called Break Into Buckingham, a game very much like Tetris, involves destroying symbols to unlock the gates to Buckingham Palace. One of these symbols is the Mercedes Benz star.

The prizes are impressive, with a chance to win $50,000 in the London games and for all 5 city games the chance to win the $50,00 plus a Mercedes Benz!
The site is viral as one of the other cities is unlocked every week, revealing the games specific to that location. This week, running to the 24th of October, is London and the other cities are Cairo, Paris, New York and Washington D.C.

All in all, a great fun site packed with fairly unobtrusive branding and great viral games.

Let us know if you win the Merc!

When is the Best Time to Kick Off your Email Marketing Campaign?

What is the best day of the week to kick off your email marketing campaign?

Historically, marketing or sales emails that land in your customer’s (or potential customer’s) email inbox on a Thursday morning are shown to have the best conversions.

The thinking behind this is that most office workers, who have regular access to email, start to ‘dial’ down from Thursday morning onward. Thursday is the almost the beginning of the weekend; we’re past the middle of the week and the weekend now looms, getting closer and closer!

Psychologically, this means that our minds are getting set for more fun activity and less actual work. This in turn means longer time spent on the computer doing non-work stuff like reading friends’ emails or checking out the latest on Facebook.

But can we narrow it down even further? A recent survey/study done by a news organisation states that it’s exactly at 3:27PM on a Thursday afternoon that we really begin to switch off from our work. So, could we get better results if marketing/sales emails are timed to land in email in-boxes late on a Thursday afternoon? We’ll try it out and let you know!

Contextual Advertising on your Web Site using Google AdSense

Although there are a number of contextual advertising schemes out there Google AdSense remains our favourite, primarily due to the ease of setup and implementation.

But first, what is contextual advertising? As the term suggests, this is advertising, or ad placement, based on the content of the site that the ads will appear on.

For example, at cynergise.com we write articles on Internet marketing so most of the ads that appear on our site are related to Internet marketing. However, there is more to it than that; Last week Sol wrote an article about how blog owners can strengthen relationships with their readers using certain blog-comment plugins for WordPress. Some of the ads that displayed for this article had to do with relationship-building and how to find the perfect life-partner! Not quite what we had in mind! However this was quickly remedied by adding filters to our AdSense account blocking out those advertisers.
To get a better idea of what contextual advertising is, take a look at the Google AdSense ads in the middle and right-hand columns of this site – you may need to scroll down the page a little to see them – you’ll probably see ads on AdSense, Google AdWords and other Pay-Per-Click schemes. Look at some of our other articles and the ad will change to reflect the content. If your site is about sports, it’s likely the ads displayed will be related to sports in some form or another.

So, how do you get started with Google AdSense? As with all things Big-G, it’s free to sign up and after a brief evaluation period of your primary web-site your account will be activated. There are, of course, terms and conditions that your web site has to follow and as long as you play by the rules your web site will be serving up relevant ads to your web-site visitors in no time.

After you’ve signed up and your account activated, you’ll be able to sign into your account, set-up how you’d like Google to pay you (although this can be deferred to a later date) and start setting up your ad campaigns. Everything is very well documented and it’ll only take a few minutes using the wizard to set up the colour and dimensions of the ads so they fit in with your web site. The AdSense wizard then presents you with a block of code which you insert into your web page at the location you’d like the ads to appear.

And that’s it – once the relevant ads begin to appear your web site visitors will hopefully be clicking through to other related and relevant sites.

So how do you, the web site owner, generate revenue? Google AdSense is a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising scheme which means that you as the publisher of the ads gets paid every time an ad on your site is clicked on. The revenue generated varies from click to click as advertisers ‘bid’ on certain keywords and a sliding scale is used depending on the maximum bid per keyword.

I’ll be writing more about this and on how to implement Google AdSense code in your web pages in new articles in the near future.

To keep up-to-date be sure to sign up for our FREE Internet Marketing tips newsletter using the sign up form on the right.

Byron Review – UK Government to Review Internet Risk to Kids

Young kids today face a completely different world to that experienced by their parents. In fact, even only a short time as 10 years ago kids weren’t exposed to the kind of media they now have easy access to.

Always-on access to the Internet has brought many risks to children and these are now to be assessed under the Byron Review here in the U.K. Dr Tyra Byron, a clinical psychologist, will head the review process that will also look at other media including video games.

To learn more visit The Byron Review site and get involved in the Call for Evidence by clicking here (closing date 30th Nov 2007).

.mobi Domain Auction Generates Over £400,000

The .mobi domain is now only about a year old and many didn’t take it seriously on launch, especially considering that its meant to address the mobile-website market and it really didn’t make sense that a user would have to key in 4 letters on their mobile phone keypad for the domain as compared to the 3 letters of all the other Top-Level-Domains (TLD), like .com, .net .biz etc.

However, dotMobi, the company managing .mobi domains, has just auctioned 5,500 ‘premium’ .mobi domains like bank.mobi, insurance.mobi, download.mobi, currency.mobi and others for over $850,000!

Seems .mobi is being taken very seriously now.

Web Analytics – A Look At How Visitor Information Can Be Collected

Last week I wrote about why every web-site owner should be tracking their web-site visitors using web analytics.

This week I look at the manner in which site visitor traffic information can be collected.

There are two ways of collecting traffic data from a web site:

  1. Log files
  2. Page-tagging

Web servers generate reports about every site they host. These are known as log files and before page-tagging came along, this was the most popular way of collecting and analysing web-site usage information. The use of a program, generally known as a Log Analyzer, is required to work through the raw data produced by the server.

Page tagging involves a piece of code, usually Javascript, being inserted into a web page and a callback being made every time that page is requested. We advise most of our clients to use this method as it’s sufficiant for basic traffic analysis and easy to implement.

There are advantages and disadvantages in both methods and it comes down to the web site owner to make the decision which method suits their business better.

The advantages of using Log Files are:

  1. Raw data is readily available as every server generates reports
  2. Because the data is raw, any Log Analyzer program can be used for analysis
  3. Can be more reliable as some web users ‘turn-off’ Javascript on their browsers and these visitors cannot be tracked by page-tagging

The advantages of using Page Tagging are:

  1. No need to invest in any analysis programs (or the overhead in running them) as Google provides a free-to-use tool called Google Analytics, an easy-to-use, web-based graphical tool that provides fairly in-depth reports of site traffic
  2. If you run Google AdWords campaigns, these can be linked to Analytics to provide in-depth reporting on your campaigns
  3. Flash media can be tracked e.g. if your site hosts ads that are created in Flash
  4. Whereas Log Files are more readily available to companies or site owners that own the web server their web site is hosted on, page-tagging is available to just about anyone.

I hope this information helps you in making a decision on which method suits you best. If you require any more information get in touch with us via our contact form…

Microsoft reveals Office Live Workspace (OLW)

Microsoft extended its web strategy by unveiling Office Live Workspace (beta), an online sharing repository for Office documents. Not what many thought would be Microsoft’s answer to Google Docs, this service actually extends Office to the online space.

To use OLW, you need to have a registered version of MS Office 2003 or 2007. The site provides 250MB of space to share documents with other users, though does not have the ability for the user to create or edit documents. Microsoft says OLW will play nice with other office suites too, though there probably will be some compatibility issues.

It’s a smart play by MS as users will still need to own a registered copy of Office as will any other users who they may want to share documents with.

Personally I think OpenOffice used together with Google Docs can do the same job with these added advantages over OLW:

  1. Neither I nor the users I share docs with have to pay anything as both OpenOffice and Google Docs are free to use
  2. Google Docs doesn’t have a cap on space as opposed to OLW’s 250MB which won’t be enough for serious users.

Which would you use and why: MS Office/OLW or OpenOffice/Google Docs for your business? Post your comments below…

What is Web Analytics and why you should be using it for your web site

For every web site owner, web analytics should make up a vital part of the Internet marketing strategy.

Web Analytics refers to the study of the browsing habits of visitors to your web site. Gathering and analysing such information like that can help you to understand how visitors behave on your site and to then tailor the site so that you can maximise its objectives.

For example, if you’re selling a product, you’d want to test out different sales pages to see which performs the best. Using web analytics, you’ll know how many visits are made to each page and where the most sales are made.

If you have a site with articles and you generate revenue through pay-per-click ads on each article page, you’ll want to know which articles draw the most traffic and why. Knowing this will allow you to tailor your articles to draw more traffic and therefore more clicks on your ads.

Ultimately, web analytics helps you to understand the performance of your web site and how to serve your target market better.

Next week: Web Analytics in-depth .

Planning your party using a social network? Watch Out!!

As the new university and college year has kicked off, many are kegging up for the ‘freshers’ parties. Planning parties using social networks like Facebook and MySpace is becoming popular due to the sheer ease with which it’s possible to get invites out. But there is a dark side to this…

Considering the ‘open-ness’ of such networks, gatecrashing with the motive to steal is becoming widespread. Laptops, mobiles, iPods, Blackberrys, PSPs and other popular electronic wares make for easy picking whilst the owner is busy looking down into a bottle or passed out on a sofa.

It’s reported that a party organised on MySpace earlier this year cost an extra $40,000 as various items went missing the morning after.

What is RSS and how can it help you market your site?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary and is a way to get information out to subscribers of the RSS ‘feed’ automatically. As your site is updated so the feed is automatically updated also. ‘Feed readers’ or ‘feed aggregators‘ are used to view the feed items, which usually include the item headline and a summary of the text all linked back to the site containing the article/content.

So how would RSS help in marketing your site? If you have a web site that publishes new content often, RSS can be very beneficial to your customers or clients who like to be kept informed of what your company is doing. For example, yours could be a company that produces software – vendors and users of the software can be kept easily informed of updates through a RSS feed. Or you may run a club where you have weekly live performances – regulars can be kept updated of the latest performances via RSS.

So all this serves to make information from your site/company easily available without your needing to actively send out emails, e.t.c. to keep interested parties informed. Since feed items are linked back to your site RSS can drive traffic back to the site regularly where you could provide details of new products or sale offers e.t.c.

Click on the Cynergise rss button below to see how it works…

Don’t Sacrifice the Success of your Web Site by Choosing Price over Quality

Getting a web designer to build you a web site is like buying any other service – you get what you pay for.

You could pay anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to just a few dollars for a new web site today.

However, by choosing the cheapest designer, are you really getting what you need? This is an important question. Do you require a web site just because everyone else seems to have one or is there any real value in having one? For example. can your business benefit by having an effective online presence?

Today’s web designer needs to wear quite a number of hats to be able to build an effective site for their clients. Because the landscape of the Internet is ever-changing, designers must keep abreast of the latest developments in server-technology, scripting languages, database-technology, open-source options, success-stories, search-engine-optimisation and general Internet Marketing as all of these are likely to have a strong impact on the success of a web site.

As with all other professions, this knowledge comes with a cost attached to it. A designer who knows and applies this valuable knowledge when creating a quality web site is likely to have a higher fee than one who has only the basic skills to put a site together.

Which would you rather have building your site?

Deal Or No Deal website at dealornodeal.com

Deal Or No Deal is one of those games on TV that just gets viewers hooked. The game itself is simple enough but it’s the human drama that the chosen player goes through that makes for compelling viewing.

Now there’s another way to get hooked – www.dealornodeal.com, the official web site. It hosts the usual stuff; game downloads for the desktop and mobile phone, mobile phone ringtones, news about each show, the ‘Deal or No Deal’ hall of Fame, how to get tickets for the show, information about Noel Edmonds, a little quiz to see if you’ll get the Banker’s respect and a forum for fans to discuss anything and everything ‘Deal Or No Deal’ related.

Unfortunately, the site itself doesn’t seem to capture the poignancy experienced when watching on TV, which I believe is what really pulls viewers in to watch every day. The forum, where most die-hard fans are likely to spend the most time, hasn’t been designed, aesthetically, to match the rest of the site and so loses even more of the atmosphere the site needs to retain. As branding goes, not enough effort has been made on the forum.

Rather oddly, when on the forum page, the sub-menu doesn’t work, and so the only way to get away from the forum is to go to the Home page, via the ‘Home’ link, from where everything is once again available.

All in all, a bit of a rush job on this site.

Go to www.dealornodeal.com to check it out.

Will Facebook survive past 2008?

Facebook is the Internet’s current darling. Everywhere you go people are talking about it, about how they’re finding long lost friends and getting back in touch with family around the world. Practically everyone I know has a Facebook presence, including some in Third World countries where good Internet access is sporadic at the best of times. Facebook has taken the world by storm; But is the storm about to pass?

What is the appeal of Facebook? The primary pull must be the ability to find and re-connect with long lost acquaintances, be they family, friends or work-mates. It’s easy to keep track of what everyone is doing and to drop in a comment or two on their ‘wall’. Why bother with email addresses when you can compose and send a message from within Facebook itself? Create and update your photo gallery and let your ‘friends’ see them and comment on photos. Use one of the thousand applications to interact: play a game of Mafia or Scrabulous or ‘bite’ a friend as a Vampire or Werewolf. Send a friend a ‘drink’. Join a group, or groups, that match your interests. There are a lot ways to interact with your ‘friends’ on Facebook. As viral ideas go, this social network is king at making them work.

But the question is: What real value does it bring in the long term? After the initial buzz of spending hours and hours doing, and let’s be honest here, pretty much nothing that has added value to one’s life, what next? Will there be another web site that can offer the same ideas and more? Of course there will be. That’s the nature of the Internet. It’s ever changing, like the ocean, and the next tide will bring a new social network that does much of the same and much much more. Users will slowly start to migrate away from Facebook to the newest, best social network of the moment and take their ‘friends’ with them.

This won’t take long to happen. As it stands, access to Facebook has been banned by various government agencies in the UK, US and Canada as well as by numerous private corporations worldwide. Employees were beginning to spend thousands of work-hours on the site costing everyone millions. However, work is where most people get their always-on Internet access, so all those thousands of workers will be looking out for a new network or site that hasn’t yet been picked up by the IT department. So, how long can Facebook survive as-is? If it is to make it past the next tide it needs to change what it offers to the users. Add more value so even government agencies and corporations can reap some benefit of having their workers spend time on it.

Do you belong to another social network that offers more value than Facebook? Disagree with my thoughts? Tell us about it below.

Do you respect your own web site?

With the advent of so many social networks like Facebook, Bebo, MySpace etc, many web site owners are losing focus when it comes to their Internet marketing strategy.

Because such social network sites make it easy most of the marketing is done, primarily, through them and this is foolhardy.

Whatever reason your web site exists; to sell products, raise awareness of your services etc, it needs to be at the centre of your strategy with multiple traffic sources leading back to it.

Why? Because that’s where you, as the web site owner, have full control over content and how it’s presented to your potential or current customers. It’s where you can reinforce your brand and make sure that the next time they come directly to your site and not via Facebook or something similar. It’s also where you can capture their email addresses so you can now market directly to them, tailoring your offers to make them more attractive.

And remember, social networks come and go – you may have experienced some success using them at present but the moment they’re sliding downhill and hemorrhaging users you’ll have to repeat all that hard work on the next big site, where your market has migrated to.

It makes more sense to drive traffic to your own site and keep them there so you don’t have to keep chasing after them.

How Barack Obama raised over $50million for his Presidential campaign using the Internet

So far this year, Barack Obama, the Democrat hopeful for the United States presidency, has raised over $50 million for his campaign, a lot of it using the Internet.

How? Well, firstly he launched his own social network, at MyBarackObama.com where his supporters can sign up to plan events, meet up and, importantly, donate to his campaign chest. Taking low denomination donations of around $5 and up, he has ensured that any and all of his supporters can contribute. This has allowed the Barack Obama campaign to raise more money to date this year than any other presidential candidate for next year’s election.

Secondly, Obama has a very active presence on all the ‘happening’ social networks: Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, as well as his own web site at BarackObama.com with a very smart email-capture form on the home page. The site itself is clean and very informative.

On Facebook, he has 139,481 friends/supporters as well as a Obama Campaign application. The Facebook application description reads

The Obama application puts the most recent campaign video and news on your profile and in front of your friends. It also enables you to easily communicate with your friends in early primary states where support for Barack is especially important.

Facebook, a network both Sol and I will be writing a bit about in future articles, is the most popular social network today and Obama’s campaign manager clearly knows how to leverage it.

Search for Barack Obama on YouTube and you’ll get a list of various videos posted by his campaign as well as by supporters.

His MySpace page is one of the cleanest I’ve found on MySpace – most pages are so congested with all sorts of flashing stuff that MySpace is something I very rarely visit these days. It has a good amount of information on the man himself along with photographs, video and a blog.

So what does all this mean? Obama’s tapped, successfully, into the ‘now’ generation. He’s reaching the grassroots at their computers, where more and more people are spending their free time, quickly out-pacing the TV.

Nothing gets information out faster than the Internet and evidently it’s not too bad at getting money in quickly either!

Using Descriptive Domain Names To Drive Relevant Traffic To Your Web Site

For a while now Internet marketers have known that using descriptive domain names increases traffic. What am I talking about?

Consider this domain: http://www.freechickenandcoke.com/ This domain name pretty much says it all, “free chicken and coke”.This is a promotion being run in the US by Chick-fil-A, a fast food restaurant, in conjunction with Coca Cola where the user can register to be sent a coupon for a free chicken meal and a Coke.

The advantage of using a domain like this is that users need only take one look and will know whether it’s of any interest to them or not. They don’t need to visit a web site with a vague domain name to figure out if it holds anything of interest. Essentially, having a descriptive domain removes a step for the user and the goal of any well managed web site is to get relevant information to the interested user in the quickest way possible.

This is especially true for web promotions, like the one above by Chick-fil-A. The aim is to drive traffic to the promotion as quickly as possible, and at that only relevant traffic e.g. a vegetarian who drinks fresh juice is unlikely to bother with this promotion.

Using a descriptive domain also makes it easier to conduct a viral campaign, as a catchy domain name is far more likely to be passed around amongst friends than a vague one. The very fact that the domain name is descriptive nullifies the need to explain the promotion, which will make it speed along faster.

Can your business improve by running a web promotion and what descriptive domain could you use?

30 Days of Night

To promote their new horror movie “30 Days of Night”, on the Internet, Sony Entertainment have created a web site at www.30daysofnight.com. On the site are 2 ways that they’re promoting the movie and other wares:

  1. An online multi-player game
  2. A email capture form

The free-to-play online multi-player game is crafted in such a way that players can team together and the object is to stay alive for 30 days. This is literal: the game plays for a total of 30 days and every 6 days that your team stay alive a new level is unlocked.
As marketing goes this is pretty brilliant as it means you, as a player, are marketed to constantly for a total of 30 days (providing of course you don’t die at the fangs of a vampire before then!).

The second, more conventional method is the email capture form where you sign up to the Sony entertainment newsletter and are sent periodic mail regarding news, updates, DVD releases e.t.c., from Sony Pictures.

(You have to be 18 to play the game)

Apple slashes the price of the iPhone

Apple Corp. announced it’s slashing the price of the iPhone, their uber-cool Internet phone.

Apple has dropped the 4GB version altogether and reduced the price of the 8GB model to $399, approx. GBP197, $200 less than when the phone first launched in July.

Although the 4GB version has been dropped, the remaining stock is still on sale at $200 less than the launch price, at $299!

Check out the iPhone at http://www.apple.com/iphone/