Ineffeciency or Effeciency of US Postal Service

I mailed my taxes recently and sent them with delivery confirmation. I went online to get the confirmation and found that the one I sent to Hartford which is 2 towns or about 8 miles from my house took nearly twice as long as the same first class envelop going to Oregon.

Note that the Oregon letter actually beat the expectation of the postal service.

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Flight to Africa Rant #2 – Virgin Atlantic Missed Opportunity

In my previous post I mentioned I was researching flights. I had a buddy tell me he had flown Virgin Atlantic to the continent previously and suggested I check them out. So I went to “The Google” and entered “Virgin Atlantic to Nairobi” seemed like as simple and informative enough query. The results are horrific – rant below the image.

1. The paid listing to the right is total crap. I gave you a destination – why can’t you message to it. Maybe I would have free movies on my flight to Nairobi – well at least the London leg. This is why paid search fails so often.

2. The highest organic listing has a horrible snippet – I bet they got a gold star for ranking #1 with that. That is why you need to check the snippet. I click anyways and encounter another of my pet peeves – I am on the Nairobi page, from a Nairobi query – why would I want a flight from London to New York. Just a bit of coding would make life easier.

3. The #2 listing is a 404 error. Hello wasted opportunity.

4. The #3 listing is yet another 404 error – do I need to comment?

5. The #4 listing – wow – a special offer – but damn I am 2.5 years too late – why can’t it roll over to a new offer or a generic page – if anything should 404 it should be that page.

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Flight to Africa via Los Angeles – Possible Milage Run

I have been asked to keynote an event in Kenya in June. Was looking at some flight options and trusty United thought a good route would be for me to do the following:

Fly from JFK in New York to Los Angeles
Fly from Los Angeles back to the east cost to Newark (the other NYC airport)
Wait nearly 12 hours then fly from Newark to Brussels
Brussels to Nairobi Kenya

Would be nearly 3 days to get there and a ton of miles but I think I may just do the Continental Flight and cut out the coast to coast adventure. Can’t be take some of the stupidity out of these applications?

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Conflicting Ad Messages

Was on a blog today and saw the following conflicting ad messages – one warns against being the next JC Penny or Overstock and the other is pushing buying links… interesting.

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Interview – Key Points to Launching Global Web Site

I did the following interview with my good friend Anne Kennedy after the panel discussion with at SES London in London on February 22, 2011 with Andy Adkins Kruger. Anne has a great way of teasing out the relevant nuggets of information that recap the session.

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Interview with Exchange 4 Media – Delhi India

I did the following interview after the panel discussion organized by Exchange 4 Media with some of the top Indian Digital Marketers at ‘Digital 3.0: A Roundtable on Marketing Strategies in a Digital World’ in Delhi India on January 17, 2011. As you would expect, some of my comments were controversial – especially when I suggested many old fashioned agencies deserve to die for not evolving their services.

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Scolded for not writing

This week at at SES London I was scolded by a few people for not writing more frequently.  I will try to do better… I have been insanely busy on a few client products and the forthcoming “Voice of the Consumer Data Management System” brilliantly code named “VOCDMS” – may need to do some crowdsourcing on the name ;-).   Hard to explain to clients when they see me writing on and not delivering their research documents.   I got yelled at for the article last week on India’s Digital Opportunities in Search Engine Land since it came out the same day I was late on a research report on a similar topic.

Obviously some of you actually read some of the crazyness that I write and others actually look forward to and that is very humbling.   So for those who care,  I will work harder to live up to your expectations.

I was given a laundry list in London from some folks and will try to write these posts – if there are others please let me know in comments, via Twitter or email or dare I suggest real human interaction and call me?

  • How to leverage Co-Optimization for your business
  • Deeper recommendations for global domain management
  • How to effectively mange a global SEO team
  • My favorite underwater photography destinations

Also, seems like there are good learnings from some of my rants – one will come today about airline SEO 😉

So I will try and your encouragement helps so keep it coming!

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Continental Airlines Elite Access – Too elite

As usual, the family and I went on our year-end diving trip.  This time we went to the Dominican Republic.  Since United and Continental have merged we took advantage of the direct 4-hour flight from Newark.   In the past 10 years since I swore off Continental I have only flown them twice out of necessity.  The last time back from India where it was a less than pleasant experience.

The problems started when we checked in at the Elite desk in Newark airport.  The first was despite wanting to talk to a human that is typically offered in the Elite Access lane, the woman insisted that I use the kiosk.  This worked ok – for my boarding passes but then had to find my reservation number and enter it to get Motoko’s and then it was not letting me get the kids since they were not elite flyers.   When I asked how to get them they told me to swipe their passports as if I should have known this backdoor trick.

Things went well until I noticed they did not tag my kids bags with “priority” tags to make sure they get unloaded first.  While it does sound a bit elitist it does make the difference when you actually get them and how long it takes to get out of the airport – which is important when you have warm beaches or a car service waiting for you.
When I asked why they were not tagged like Motoko’s and mine they told me they were not elite flyers and not eligible.  They are on the same reservations with two elite flyers – I explained this means that now the two elite flyers would be waiting and her response was – she does not make the rules.  I asked it I could add them to our ticket and was told they were already on theirs and nothing she could do.    As expected, our priority bags were the first ones off and 30 minutes later the kids bags came out resulting in us getting the second bus to the Hard Rock Hotel 45 minutes after the first shuttle left.

On the flight back home Motoko and I checked all the bags under our names and they were all tagged properly – ironically, in Newark they were the last ones off.
I understand the kids are not elite but if you are on an elite ticket and traveling with the elite status traveler you should be able to get at least your bags tagged.  The same is true for boarding rules.  They announced that you should board with your highest status/row in your group.  When the kids tried to board with us (even with telling then they were with us) we were told they were not mind readers and they will let them board this time.
In tough financial times you should take care of the loyal.  Yes, if my kids were flying alone they should be treated like cattle the way all airlines treat the non-loyal occasional traveler.  However, it is often inconveniences like these that will cause a very loyal high mileage flyer to shift to another carrier that actually reciprocates that loyalty.

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Social Rewards and the Awesome Sanyo Dual Camera

Last Thursday following the last day of SES San Francisco I attended a launch party for the brilliant new company Social Rewards started by Joe Morin and Mike Uesugi. I think they have a winner with this company since it effectively connects brands to consumers and leverages Word of Mouth to help spread the word about new products and services faster than you can with traditional media.

The night kicked off with Joe announcing they would be giving away over 50 cameras and assorted other prizes. Everyone likes to win things but the last thing I needed was another  camera. I have 3 on my desk now not to mention thousands of dollars worth in my underwater photography set up.    Another problem – all of my cameras except 1 are Canon. I have been loyal to Canon for over 25 years. I did cheat last year and buy an Olympus waterproof that I use on dive boats and my wife uses in a housing for underwater photography – only because Canon did not offer one.

Honestly, I now know this Canon loyalty kept me from looking at other products. I would have never thought of Sanyo until I saw the impressive display at the event of all of the dual format cameras and people taking pictures with them that evening.  After looking at the dual format concept I got to thinking about the implications for underwater photography.

Well, I was a lucky winner of on of the Sanyo VPC-CA102YL Xacti Dual Video & Digital cameras.  Ok, Sanyo, need to work on your product naming conventions.   It is a very cool camera. I was going to buy a Flip video (simple name) and put it in a waterproof housing to take with me next month to snorkel with the manatees but this camera is perfect. I can video these beautiful animals in addition to just taking pictures with my normal underwater rig.

Upon returning home from San Francisco my son had tickets to the Giants & Patriots football game and saw the camera on the table an he wanted to take it with him since he thought it was a very cool camera. Unfortunately it was not charged so he had to go without it. Need to make sure he does not steal it and take back to school.

After playing with it a few days it is actually a great piece of equipment. It is full HD video with zoom and the sound quality is excellent.  In addition to video it takes 14 megapixel still photos. The beauty is that it is small enough to just throw into your computer bag or glove box to always have with you. On top of that it works well with the Eye-Fi data cards (won one in bingo at the party too) with onscreen collaboration with the functionality.

I will post some pics and a video in the next few days when I have time to process them but I did want to say thank you to Sanyo and the crew from Social Rewards for both a great party and introducing me to this awesome product.

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The Impact of Social Media on Search Marketing

Kate Maddox from B2B Magazine released a story today outlining key findings from a recently completed study on The Impact of Social Media on Search. This study was a collaboration between B2B Magazine and Business.com. I was not able to find the full story – once I do I will post a link.

The survey was designed and conducted to explore how marketers are integrating social media with search marketing and the collaborative results.

According to survey, the top goals for social media marketing are:
• 81% – building brand awareness
• 77% – increasing traffic to a website
• 67% – generating leads
• 66% – providing deeper engagement with customers
• 57% – improving search results

It was very interesting to read how B2B Marketers were using using social media to improve their search results:

• 48% – to drive inbound links through various social media channels
• 45% – social media accounts to increase rankings on major search engines
• 40% – monitoring social media conversations to influence organic SEO
• 26% – monitoring social media conversations to influence keyword purchases

The impact on links is interesting since many of the social media sites actually use no follow tags negating the value of the links from social. Note, I have seen a lot of incremental links from influencers who have been reached via social media that generated links that do pass value.

I am very intrigued by that last reason – to influence keywords purchases. I am waiting to see the full report for me details but this is something we are really focused on at Back Azimuth. By mining the chatter in social you are really able to understand current voice of the consumer to better understand context and needs before they show up in historical search data.

They were then asked what has been the impact of social media on their search performance.

• 44% – impact has been positive
• 28% – impact has been neutral
• 27% – impact was unknown
• 1% – impact was negative

I was curious what they are measuring since most companies are still struggling with how to measure social let along measuring the collaborative impact of each on the other. The article indicted that 41% are not currently measuring the impact of social media on their search performance. The 59% that are measuring the impact the most common metrics were:

• 37% – organic search rankings (assume the organic rankings of social media content)
• 30% – number of inbound links (30%)
• 23% – search volume for brand or keyword phrases
• 22% – search marketing conversion rates

In terms of actual impact the research asked where they are seeing the most impact of social media activities:

• 35% – seen an improvement in organic search rankings
• 24% – increased in search referrals
• 15% – increased click-through rates in paid search campaigns

The survey also looked at how companies are using search to enhance their social media efforts. Of the 70% that are using search to influence social media performance:

• 54% – search for conversations about their company’s brand or products on social media channels
• 42% – perform search engine optimization on their social media content
• 37% – search for conversations about their competitors on social media channels
• 13% – place social media links in paid search ads

The key metrics used to measure social media marketing efforts noted in the research:

• 55% – visits to websites
• 48% – number of fans, followers and “likes” on social media networks
• 35% – number of mentions about a company or product
• 28% – and number of retweets

The article mentioned another nugget when they asked about the level of sophistication of the companies SEO performance:

• 39% – program needs improvement
• 27% – program is somewhat advanced
• 26% – program is adequate
• 9% – program is very advanced

It is great that we finally have some data to help with the integration of these two key tactics. Some of the findings are interesting since they are B2B where this type of adoption and integration is less common. This data also help support many of the recommednations I made in my article on integrating Search and Social Media.

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