Friday, January 29, 2010

Charts & Diagrams, Analytics & Stats - Don't Ya Just Love 'Em?

Marketers... We're analytical animals, testing, tweaking and testing some more and we love nothing better than graphical representations of all our collated data. 

Visitor tracking apps, like google analytics and statcounter can give us some such stats in tables or graphs and they're good at what they're designed to do.

But, what about all the other vital statistics you've gathered? Can you comprehensively compare your results?
"Over 1 billion charts, maps, plots and diagrams are found in print publications each year - but only 40 million online. This huge discrepancy is a reflection of the complexity to create & publish charts online."

Craving more diagramatical information led to the creation of Chartle, claiming to offer "simplicity, ubiquity and interactivity." And in our estimation, Chartle lives up to it's bold claims.

Ok, so what can chartle do for you?

Bar Charts

Line Charts

Pie Charts

Plots & Diagrams

Business Charts

...and Maps

Chartle is very user friendly...

Choose the type of chart you want to make;

Input your data;

Change colors and background effects;

Save to your private gallery, or make public.

Optionally, embed in your webpage.

Check out Chartle - and here's an appropriate ending, lol...


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Marketing Myth Busting! If You Believe You Won’t Succeed?

If you were to believe all the Marketing Myths you hear and base your marketing strategies on them, you’ll be losing sales  - fact. Now, that’s not good for you or your business, so I’m going to bust a few myths right here.

Marketing Myth #1
‘People Buy Products at the Cheapest Price they can Find’

If that was true then companies like Bang & Olufsen wouldn’t exist; cheaper brands would have long since put them out of business.

Despite the ease of research that the internet affords - buyers are generally lazy and don't undertake full research. 

Even on eBay where it is far easier to check the relative prices of a product - people often buy a product at a higher price than they could.  So what causes people to buy? 

The most common buying triggers are:-
  • Confidence in the seller / brand
  • A high perceived value
  • Recommendations / word of mouth
  • Ease of purchase / NOT having to jump through hoops
Busting Marketing Myth #1
Establish your credentials - for example “We have over 20 years of business consultancy experience - so we know what works and what does not work in a business.”

Find ways of enhancing the perceived value of your product or service by adding extras or clearly demonstrating the value of it's purchase.

Make it easy to purchase and receive your product; don’t introduce unnecessary extra steps to the buying process, such as extra forms or complex payment methods.

Marketing Myth #2
'Offering your customers numerous different options will boost your sales'

When confronted with several options, most customers have difficulty making a decision. They often react by procrastinating - and going to a seller who offers a clearer product. 

By all means add extras, up-sells or down-sells, (in fact you Should), just make sure you clearly state what’s included in the product and don’t offer options that not only confuse, but make your selling and processing more difficult.

The human mind works better when offered the two options "buy", "don't buy".

Busting Marketing Myth #2
Only offer one product - or product package per page.  You can have a clear (and short) menu on each page to encourage multiple purchases.

If you have more than one option for a product or service - then give them different names and present them each separately.  For example you could name different levels of a service ‘bronze’, ‘silver’ and ‘gold’.  This is a widely used practice in internet marketing membership websites and proves to work well.

You should always aim at a small, easily understood product or service range.  You should be able to explain each of your products in one or two sentences.  If you can't do this - how do you expect your potential buyers to understand what they are buying?

Marketing Myth #3
'Everybody Needs My Product or Service'

Unfortunately, most people don't believe that they need a particular service or product.  Obviously with items such as video games, your youngsters will try and convince you they really, really need one, but this is peer pressure that has been built up with millions of dollars.  Much of this was spent on research into what there market wanted - and they got it right!

If you believe this myth then you also believe that you can succeed without doing much marketing or selling.  Unfortunately, despite what some marketers tell you - it doesn’t happen that way. 

If you ask any successful marketer, they may or may not be willing to admit a great deal of market research, testing and tweaking happened before they became successful.

Building a successful business is hard work - most of it devoted to finding potential customers and then matching them with your products and services. 

Even if most people can use your product or service, you still need a marketing strategy to reach them and a persuasive sales message to close sales, because you can bet your bottom dollar that anywhere there’s a lot of potential customers, there are a high number of sellers.

Busting Myth 3
Do your homework - find out where your potential customers are, what particular needs and desires they have and what they’re seeking to solve these.

Look for a narrowly defined niche market where your product or service will solve a unique need of the customers.

Design your product or service to meet these needs.

Test, Change, Test, Refine, Test, obtain customer feedback and challenge your results.

Yep, unless you're a millionaire marketer, you'll find many marketing myths that you follow and potentially lose money on.

Ok, now it's your turn. Join the conversation below and get myth bustin'!


Monday, January 11, 2010

10 Webmaster ESSENTIALS You’d Be Wise To Remember

It always amazes me how many webmasters don’t value the importance of a complete website backup (files and databases). They leave it to chance and good luck which poses a great risk to their online presence.

Can you relate to this? Read on…

Website backup is the most ignored of webmasters’ tasks, simply because there’s no immediate threat - until disaster strikes. Often, this task is delayed, avoided and generally regarded as a drag.

Many site owners just don't realize what’s at stake.

So before your website is wiped out by an unexpected server breakdown, hard disk failure, hacking, DDOS attack or some other nasty, let me share with you 10 Backup E-S-S-E-N-T-I-A-L-S you’d be wise to remember.

EXPECT the worst
Even the biggest and best webhosting companies can encounter problems; preparing for potential disaster will pay dividends later. The world wide web has never been so unpredictable. You’re simply ensuring the continuity of your online endevours.

SCHEDULE your backups
It doesn’t need to interrupt your busy timetable. Simply work out the most convenient time for you – maybe overnight when you’re away from your computer.

STICK with it
Just do it! Once you’ve worked out your schedule, keep to it. This is a tough challenge for busy webmasters, but the sooner backing up becomes a habit, the better.

EVALUATE your backed up files
After a while, test your backup files. A good backup can be tested by simply restoring it on another system. Evaluating your backup results from time to time is good way to check that you are keeping what you should keep - a complete and working backup.

NO Complacency!
After some time, your backup schedule may begin to slip; you’ll develop a tendency to forget and even intentionally miss it. Don't succumb to temptation.

Keep your backup process as quick and efficient as possible; dump unnecessary files, thus saving valuable space on backup mediums.

INSURE Yourself
A complete and up-to-date backup of all your important files and databases is your insurance policy for running an efficient website or service. No amount of cash can get you back online after an attack, without those all important backed up files.

If, like me, you’re a little lazy, consider installing and configuring software that generates fast and safe backups - without you lifting a finger. If your website is wordpress based, there are plenty of plugins that automatically backup at intervals of your choosing. There are also freeware utilities, for example Automatic Backup 2 Local  that constantly monitor and backup files, with very little use of system resources. Automation is king! But don’t become complacent.

Free yourself from the worries and anxiety of the unexpected. With your backup systems established, you can sleep soundly at night in the knowledge your websites are safe.

There’s nothing like feeling secure, just look how the insurance business has flourished over the years. But more importantly, your commitment to backup your files will not only save you from stress, humiliation, frustration, anger and guilt, but also inspire you with confidence because you know at the end of the day, your self reliance is well worth it.


Friday, January 08, 2010

10 Time Saving Tools for Web Professionals

Successful Web Development and SEO calls for a range of tools to be effective. Most professionals use an assortment of desktop and web applications, some free and some premium.

But, simply by installing a firefox browser and adding some of the 1,500 + free extensions, you can eliminate the need for many of the other apps you’re currently flitting between.

Below are ten of my favorite extensions for web professionals - in no particular order…

HTML Validator

Validates web pages to the W3C HTML standards with a simple green check in the corner of the page if the page validates, a red check if it doesn’t, and a yellow exclamation point if there are warnings. It also includes an enhanced view of source code that allows you to see where errors are within the code.

Professor X

Allows you to view header information without having to view source code. The page “slides” down and Professor X shows you the contents of the page's head element, including Meta, Script and Style content.

The Smart Marketer’s ToolBar

The Smart Marketer's ToolBar is a suite of tools and resources, originally developed by us for us, as we simply wanted everthing at our fingertips! But we had many requests to install the toolbar in other webmaster's browsers. So here it is, available at no cost for anyone to install.

IE Tab

Fed up of swapping between Internet Explorer and Firefox when testing out a web page you’re developing? With IE Tab you can view Internet Explorer in a Firefox Tab.


An advanced debugger console that lets you monitor your JavaScript, CSS, HTML and Ajax.


Web page editor that has the feel of Dreamweaver. An amazing extension for anyone doing web design that doesn’t want to fork out a few hundred dollars for Dreamweaver.

SEO for Firefox

Pulls useful market research data right into Google's and Yahoo!'s search results, including Google PR, Age, links, Alexa rank, WHOIS, and more. It also adds a few helpful links to the top of the search pages, including Google Trends, Google Traffic Estimator, and the Overture View Bid tool.

AdSense Preview

Preview the Google AdSense ads that would appear on that page. This is incredibly useful if you are considering putting AdSense on a page and don’t want to go through the hassle of signing up for an account and putting the ads up just to see what type of ads will show.

Screen grab

Takes a screenshot of the webpage and saves it as an image file. This saves a ton of time compared to the method I used to use – take a screenshot and open Adobe Photoshop to crop the image.

Server Spy

Indicates what brand of HTTP server (Apache, IIS, etc.) runs on the visited site on the lower-right side of the browser.

So there’s ten of my faves. Why not add your own favorites in the comments below?



Thursday, January 07, 2010

6 Free Tools to Optimize Images and Improve Page Load Time

It’s 2010 and most Internet users have made the switch to broadband, right? Wrong, there’s still a large proportion of the web’s population chugging along with a good old dial-up connection. This is certainly a large enough segment of potential visitors you need to take into consideration when designing your website, especially when it comes to the loading time of your webpages.

The text on your pages will generally be loaded in a very short time – even on a dial-up connection. The guilty party, when it comes to a slow-loading page is mainly due to larger images. It’s therefore very important to implement a subtle balance between use of imagery, size, quality and loading time.

It needn’t be a huge chore to optimize images and make sure pages load in the least possible time. Using image editing software, you can remove any unnecessary information in your images, thus in effect reducing the file size – without affecting the image’s appearance.

If you don’t happen to own the latest copy of Adobe Photoshop or other similar image editing software, there are plenty of great, free alternatives online.

Gimp  is probably the most downloaded free alternative to photoshop, supporting the most common file types as well as special use formats. Gimp can be used for all types of processing and handling images.

Riot - Radical Image Optimization Tool – does a little bit more than some other compression software, including ‘in place comparison’, single or dual view, saving and optimizing Gif, Jpeg or Png with a simple user interface. Riot can be downloaded and has plugins available for Gimp and IrfanView.

If you’re using photoshop, saving an image as a Jpeg with a quality setting of 8 to 10 is good enough to preserve quality, while storing at a small file size.

A frequently used alternative is to save your image as a Gif file – image editing software trims away all the color information not relevant to your image, leaving you with the smallest file size possible. However, saving in Gif format will often compromise the appearance of your image.

Saving your image in Png format will result in the smallest file size and best quality.

There are also free tools that do the work for you.

SiteReportCard will compress any Gif, Jpeg or Png file with the click of a button, returning a variety of sizes and quality levels.

GifBot accepts uploads directly from your hard-drive, or enter a url and gifbot will return a list of all the images on that page. Results are displayed in Gif or Jpeg format.

Jpeg & Png Stripper is a downloadable app which, funnily enough, strips out any unnecessary metadata from Jpeg and Png files without any loss of quality. is no longer available as a standalone app, having been integrated with Yahoo!’s Yslow - a firefox addon requiring firebug installation – However, WP is a plugin for WordPress, which runs every uploaded image through an optimization process, without any extra effort on your part.

It may take a little time to find the perfect balance between size, quality and page load times, experiment by saving to different formats and comparing quality and loading time. Your visitors will thank you when you get it right – especially those with a dial-up connection.