How wise is the crowd? feed growth! is open for article submission

Posted by tom klein November 22, 2009

Trying to keep up with digital marketing feels like chasing your tail

I’m sure you’ve noticed, if you’ve been paying attention, that we’ve, well, slowed down a bit when it comes to publishing at feed growth!

We’re currently retooling the site to make it more open to submissions and articles written by other people. After  years of writing articles about digital marketing ideas, we’re ready to open things up a little bit. There are so many great marketers out there, and despite our wish for omniscience, our readers are no doubt much smarter than any one person.

So, we’re going to put the wisdom of crowds to work.

We’ll have some minor changes along the way shortly, but feel free to submit actual articles. We’ll be sticking with the current format (just look at anything that’s in here), so keep that in mind. If you have a great idea that you would like to share with interested digital marketers, feel free to write up a short article in the feed growth format (see below), and then submit it to me at feed growth!.

We’ll edit it as sparingly as possible, and then add it to the site.  Sounds simple. We’ll see how it actually works. If you want to add more information or specific screen shots or anything, just let us know.

Oh, and for that format.

Each feed growth! article tends to follow this same format.

Paragraph 1 sort of frames the issue or the problem that the tool addresses.
Paragraph 2 introduces the tool or idea and then gives the meat of how it works, how you sign up, how you get the value out of it.
Paragraph 3 adds a fun little element or highlights perhaps well known success stories or users.

Finally, the tech morsel is the nerdy bit where you can use techspeak without concern. And, the secret sauce is intended to be the marketing principle at work or really what sets the idea or tool apart from everyone else.

Why don’t you give it a whirl?

From RFID to the Chrome OS to Rspec and Cucumber. In this tiny spot, you can speak to the left brain.

Will it aid in positioning, save you money, or maybe increase customer retention. How will this tool help the marketer?

Need to point someone to more information. Add a link right here.

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  Parlez-vous français? Increase your website’s global reach with the Google Website Translator Gadget

Posted by maggie.hunsucker October 1, 2009

google_logoIf you take a gander at your website’s analytics, you may be surprised to find that many of your visitors come from other countries.   One way to increase your site or blog’s global appeal, is to make it readable in all languages.

Thanks to Google’s Website Translator Gadget, you don’t need to invest in a professional translator or complex multilingual platform.  Simply add a snippet of code to your site, and your site content will be available in over 50 languages.

Here’s how it works.   When a visitor comes to your site, the Translator Gadget looks at their browser settings.  If it’s different than your language (the language your content is written in), a small banner will pop up, prompting the user to push a button.  Voila!  Your site is readable in that user’s language.

google website translator gadget

Google’s been hard at work making the web truly a universal platform (the launch of the Translator Gadget just so happens to correspond with International Translation Day).  This idea is free, easy to install, and doesn’t alter the look or feel or your site.   The Translator banner only appears if a foreign user visits your site – and when they do, your site is ready.

Google also released a Translator Toolkit for translating content (HTML & Word Docs) on the fly. The toolkit includes translation search and a bilingual dictionary and ratings. It's integrated with Wikipedia and Google's own Knol, making it easy to translate published articles. Overtime the system learns from the corrections users make and improves the product.

Google Translator is not perfect, nor a substitute for a professional translator, but it does help foreign visitors get an idea of your site and your offering.

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  Drop it like it's hot Sync files across your computer, laptop, and iPhone with Dropbox

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 30, 2009

dropbox_logoIt’s a common scenario.   You start a document from your work computer.  Email it yourself (or save to a memory stick) to make further edits from a home computer or laptop.  Email it to a coworker to add their stamp, who it turn emails it to another coworker, and so on and so forth.

At this point, you’ve got multiply versions of the document floating around.  Who knows if what’s made its way back to you is the final version – a dicey situation if that document in question is being sent to a client or used during an important meeting.

That’s where Dropbox for iPhone comes in handy.   Before we discuss the merits of this application, we should look at Dropbox’s core product.   Dropbox is an online file management system.   Users simply drag-and-drop files (documents, images, audio, and video) to a Dropbox folder, which uploads them to secure web server.   All files are accessible through a web browser and any local versions of Dropbox you install.   This could be your work computer, home computer, laptop – and now your iPhone.

The iPhone application is free, but it requires a Dropbox account to work.   Dropbox gives you 2GB for free, and you have the option of upgrading to 50GB for $9.99/month or 100GB for $19.99/month.  Once installed on your iPhone, you have immediate access to all your Dropbox files.   Even better, any photos or videos you take with your iPhone can be added to the Dropbox and automatically synced with your main account.   During my testing, I was impressed with how quickly my computer files synced with my iPhone.   I deposited the iPhone screenshot below in Dropbox and within a matter of seconds, it appeared on my computer Dropbox.

Dropbox iphone App mobile

Dropbox is one of the better – if not best – file management systems I’ve seen.  It’s simple and intuitive to use (seriously, no instructions needed), and it syncs files quickly and automatically (i.e. no orphan documents to worry about). Once your documents are in the Dropbox, you can further organize them into folders and if you choose, share these folders with friends and colleagues.

Upon installation, Dropbox will put an icon in your menu bar, which provides easy access and sharing of your Dropbox files. You can also elect to have notifications through Growl, so you know when a new document has been added and synced with your account.

Dropbox offers the freedom to work on documents from any computer - and not just your own. The local application is Mac, Windows, and Linux compatible.

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  Shop till you drop Use product review search engine, Wize.com, to source product insights

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 29, 2009

wize search engine logoProduct recommendation sites have evolved beyond good product/bad product reviews.   The new breed actually looks at search behavior and serves up products based on specific customer needs.

Take Wize.com for example.  It gathers and analyzes product reviews from hundreds of sites, including  Amazon, BestBuy, CNET, Target, and Walmart.  Wize recently rolled out some new features and an upgraded search algorithm.  The gist being, customers don’t have to sift through countless product reviews to find “the best dishwasher for energy efficiency” or “the worst camera for night shots”.  Wize finds these results for them.

wize product review search engine

While this is an impressive feat from a semantic search perspective, we think marketers could use a site like Wize.com to their advantage.   For example, what features are being highlighted about your product?  Who are your competitors by feature?  Not to mention, the obvious – are the reviews favorable?

Wize is geared towards consumer goods, so we wouldn’t recommend it for a service industry or general brand monitoring.   The idea here is to learn how customers are searching for/finding your products – and more importantly, what is leading to a sale.

Wize also pulls in results from social sites. In addition to customer reviews, users can read real-time tweets that mention the product they are interested in.

Overall, we're pretty impressed with Wize's offering. The site is easy to navigate, and it succeeds in being a useful shopping resource. You can search by product/brand name, category (health & beauty, electronics, etc), product type, or browse Wize's recommendations based on their own search algorithm.

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  Clean Slate Make whiteboard notes electronically accessible with the Whiteboard Capture iPhone app

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 28, 2009

whiteboard capture logoWhiteboards are still the go-to tool for brainstorming sessions.   Even high-tech geeks like us tend to stick with the original (we have three extra large, double-sided whiteboards on wheels). Problem is, there’s no easy way to transfer information from the physical board to your computer.

That’s where the Whiteboard Capture iPhone App comes in.   This handy dandy application lets you take a snapshot of your whiteboard and easily share the images via email.  Granted, you can do this with any digital camera, but Whiteboard Capture removes the legwork and offers up some great editing tools.

For starters, the application automatically removes the glare that results from the whiteboard’s glossy surface.  You can also remove old marker residue and other marring artifacts, which saves you the hassle in Photoshop later.

The result is a clean, print-ready whiteboard image that you can distribute to team members or email to yourself to upload to your own project management/collaboration software.  If you have old whiteboard images stored away on your phone, you can also filter those with Whiteboard Capture.

Bottom line, some tools work better in the analog world.   If you’re office relies on a whiteboard for meetings, sketching, collaboration, etc, here’s an easy and relatively cheap ($1.99/download) way to make that information electronically accessible.

Beetlebug Software is the development company behind Whiteboard Capture. They have another application under their belt, Picture Me, which uses "facial detection" to snap the perfect iPhone photo. Compulsive iPhone self-portrait takers rejoice!

There are a slew of virtual whiteboard applications for your computer and your phone. Popular project management software, Basecamp, comes with a real-time collaboration tool (they just call them Writeboards).

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