What happens when Google closes a service – is this the end of FeedBurner?
6Dec12

Guest post by Rebecca Caroe, Feedblitz

Google’s business model has been to acquire services which they can integrate into their ecosystem and offer free of charge to users like you and me. One of their early acquisitions was an RSS to email service provider called FeedBurner.

It’s a handy tool, allowing bloggers to send out emails with the latest blog post updates automatically after they publish.

But now, Google appears to be slowly killing off FeedBurner’s services. Whether FeedBurner itself will cease to exist is anyones guess, as Google has given us no official word. However the future of the service is definitely becoming a concern in the minds of its users.

Since the service was acquired by Google in 2007, it has become a bit neglected. The most recent examples of this are:

  • On July 26th 2012 the FeedBurner Twitter account and blog were shut down.
  • In addition to this the Japan FeedBurner.jp domain name was lost or abandoned by Google at the end of July.
  • The metrics for all feeds were lost from September 19th when all feeds showed zero subscribers. And this outage lasted until September 24th.
  • And now they are shutting down the API as of the 20th October 2012.
  • And finally (for now) Adsense for feeds will also be shut down in December 2012.

Google has NOT said that they are shutting down FeedBurner, but the way they are slowly but surely killing off FeedBurner services has to set off alarm bells in the minds of users. Technology news website Techcrunch called it “The FeedBurner Deathwatch”.

What does this means for you?

If you use FeedBurner to distribute your blog to your readers, especially if you make money from your blog, then you need to have a contingency plan ready, because if the plug is pulled, you will lose both readers and money.

There are two obvious options open to you:

  1. Distribute your feed natively from your hosted domain
  2. Migrate to an alternative service provider

Dave Weiner (the man who invented RSS) has blogged about how to distribute your feed yourself, but if you are daunted by the techy instructions, don’t worry, there are alternatives.

Many prominent bloggers are already migrating their feeds and the FeedBurner discussion forums are busy with threads about how to cope with this new challenge.

If you are still using FeedBurner, don’t panic because it is still working; the statistics are back online. However, it’s good practice to back up your subscriber list from FeedBurner and start your RSS contingency planning now. Don’t get caught short.

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FeedBlitz is a premium alternative to FeedBurner.  Designed for bloggers and businesses who need reliable feed distribution, it comes with more features than FeedBurner, online support and also strong commendations from top bloggers who’ve recently moved their feeds.  Read the migration case studies here and here

Download the step by step guide to migrating your FeedBurner feed and try FeedBlitz free for 30 days!

 

Australia’s busiest ever online shopping day expected this Sunday
5Dec12

Via Australia Post

Australia Post opens 24/7 superstore to keep up with record online shopping and shipping demands

Australia’s leading online commerce enablers, eBay, PayPal and Australia Post are forecasting this Sunday 9 December to be the busiest online shopping day ever, with more online purchases predicted from Australian websites this December than in any other month of trade.

Approximately 2.3 million Australians are expected to visit eBay.com.au on this day alone – a 26 per cent increase over last year’s Busiest Online Shopping Day (11 December 2011).

Additional statistics for the Busiest Online Shopping Day (Sunday 9 December 2012): -

  • eBay expects 300,000 items to be sold on eBay.com.au on Sunday 9 December – 17% greater than last year’s busiest online shopping day.
  • PayPal predicts week commencing 3 December to be the busiest online shopping week Australia has ever seen.
  • Australia Post expects to deliver half a million more parcels across the country in the week following the Busiest Online Shopping day. Last year, Australia Post delivered an additional three million parcels in December alone.

To help address the spike in online shopping and shipping, Australia Post is also today announcing the launch of a new flagship superstore in Sydney CBD, which will help make the process of shipping products in time for Christmas much easier. Positioned adjacent to the Queen Victoria Building at 44 Market Street, it includes a 24/7 zone with self-service terminals, vending machine and parcel lockers so customers can pick up or send their Christmas parcels any time of the day. The superstore also features an online shopping zone with Apple Macs and iPads so customers can shop for their Christmas gifts online, in-store.

Deborah Sharkey, Vice President, eBay Australia said: “Despite positive online growth figures, we recognise that the retail industry is facing real challenges. Consumers are not spending more, they are spending differently. They are sending us a clear message that they want to shop online and mobile, alongside physical stores. The challenge for the modern retailer is to be everywhere the consumer is.”

“Retail has never been as simple for the consumer and more complex for the retailer. Leading service providers like eBay, PayPal and Australia Post are innovating at pace to provide elegant consumer solutions on behalf of the retail industry.”

Jeff Clementz, Managing Director, PayPal Australia said: “We are witnessing an increased growth in the number of Australian retailers who have opened their virtual store doors to receptive consumers. This year, consumers will be shopping across a mix of retail channels, from their tablets to their mobiles to in-store. Wherever they are shopping, consumers are looking for flexibility, convenience and security.”

Australia Post’s Executive General Manager Parcels and Express Services, Richard Umbers, said: “To make it easier for Australians to shop online and collect their parcels at a time that’s convenient for them we’ve installed new 24/7 parcel lockers in 49 locations across the country in time for Christmas. Customers can register for the free service today at www.auspost.com.au to have their online Christmas purchases delivered direct to a parcel locker location of their choice. We will be rolling out these lockers nationally over the coming year to a further 200 locations.

“More than 2,350 of our retail outlets are also open for extended Christmas hours during the week with the majority trading on Saturdays and more than 375 outlets also open on Sundays. We’re also delivering parcels on weekends to ensure people receive their items in time for Christmas Day.”

On Sunday 9th December 2012 on eBay.com.au:

  • An average of more than 200 items sold on eBay.com.au every minute
  • A piece of women’s clothing will be sold every 5 seconds
  • A DVD will be sold every 9 seconds
  • A piece of fashion jewellery will be sold every 12 seconds
  • A radio controlled toy will be sold every 30 seconds
  • A pair of women’s shoes will be sold every 40 seconds
  • A watch will be sold every 48 seconds

How to Create Email Marketing that Drives Conversions
3Dec12

Email is not a sexy topic and is often overlooked these days amongst trendier social network and display campaigns but there is still plenty of value and potential in well-managed email marketing. In fact, it is alive and well as a proven inbound marketing channel which converts strongly.

Here’s a great guide to creating an email marketing campaign that drives conversions from the team at Monetate. It is something I encourage my clients to do and part of the strategy we have employed in the launch and growth of InsiderJobs.

Intelligent Email Marketing that Drives ConversionsMonetate Marketing Infographics

The wheels are turning in Newcastle. All aboard the DiGiTal express.
28Nov12

Hunter DiGiTAlmost 18 months ago I posted My Plan for Creating an Innovative City. In it I reasoned that we needed two major breakthroughs to help Newcastle reposition itself as a centre for technology and innovation; high-speed broadband and the hosting of a major event along the lines of SxSW.

In the ensuing year and a half the wheels of progress have been turning and a passionate community of “agitators” has emerged to run with the theme. Things are starting to happen and it’s time for you to get involved.

Firstly, Gordon Whitehead launched Digital Newcastle, under the banner of The Lunaticks Society of Newcastle, in order to lobby and educate anyone who will listen. His energy and enthusiasm has been infectious.

Secondly, a taskforce called Hunter DiGiT was formed with a vision to establish the Hunter Region as a leading digital economy with a global reputation, by 2020. Their objectives are:

  • Online Participation: Encourage adoption of internet based technologies.
  •  Broadband Infrastructure: Attract commercial or government funded projects to provide world-class broadband infrastructure.
  • Digital Literacy and Skills: Encourage investment in technology education to equip the region’s transition to a digital economy.
  •  Social Inclusion: Increase digital literacy & broadband access for low income & disadvantaged groups.
  • Digital Industry: Support the growth of creative, digital and cultural sectors.
  • Reputation: Promote the regions digital and creative industry sectors and position the region as a place where talented people and start-ups want to live.
  •  Investment: Develop support networks to enable start-ups to access funds for growth.

This Friday 30 November, 2012 the vision starts to become reality as we mark the official launch of Hunter DiGiT with a special breakfast and day-long Expo.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Technology Use in the Hunter 2012
  • Why embracing digital is important to our region
  • Telehealth
  • Gov 2.0 Looking to the Future
  • Legal matters in a digital age
  • Today’s New Business Model
  • How to market to the World

Speakers and panelists include:

Brendan Brooks President of Hunter DiGiT, Tim Owen, AM, MSS MP, Isabel Boniface – Microsoft, Anthea Bill – Hunter Valley Research Foundation, Gareth Berry – Unleashed, Craig Wilson – Sticky, Matt Crozier – Bang the Table, Anthony Scully – ABC, Jason Rumianek – Hunter Medicare Local, Roger Pryor, Roderick Smith – Evescourt Legal, Nick Bowditch – Facebook, Stephen Bourne - Business & Commercial Lawyer at Mananua Inc, Tim Holloway – Deputy, Marcus Westbury – Renew Australia, Damien Mahoney – Stackla, Gareth Berry – Unleashed, Nick Bartlett – GeoOP, Wayne Schmidt – Xero, Roger Gregg – Invitbox, Tim Holloway – Deputy HR

There will also be a range of businesses showcasing their innovative products and services. you’ll be surprised to learn how much talent and how many great little innovative companies are now in Newcastle. It’s going to be an exciting day.

The team behind Hunter DiGiT have worked tirelessly to put this together and kick-start the digital economy here in Newcastle. Their doing it not for profit but because they love this town and want to see innovation and technology prosper here.

Now its your turn to get on board. What do you have to do? Just turn up. The Expo is free to attend. Meet great local businesses, hear some informative presentations and discussions. Get involved.

The wheels are now turning. “All aboard!!!”

Facts and stats for online display advertising success
19Nov12

Online display advertising is a tricky area. So many eyeballs, so much potential but is the model going to succeed in the long-term for big players like Facebook and Google or are there new threats looming? This infographic from Prestige Marketing nicely summarizes the global online display market, it’s trends and it’s best performing sectors, and throws in some nice tips for your own online advertising success.


The Future Of Online Display Ads [Infographic]

How Tablet Shoppers are Changing eCommerce
5Nov12

The original iPad was launched back in April 2010, kicking off the tablet computing era. In less than two and a half years Apple have sold over 100 million iPads. Then there are the other popular tablets on the market from Samsung, Amazon and more.

In short, a lot of us are now using tablets a lot of the time and this is having a major impact on eCommerce. This has led to the rise of “couch commerce” as most people tend to use them in their living rooms. The implications for marketers are numerous as this great infographic from Monetate illustrates.

Couch Commerce: How Tablet Shoppers are Changing Online SalesMonetate Marketing Infographics

Online Marketing Tips for Property Listings
2Nov12

Continuing my recent theme of how technology and social media is affecting and interrupting various industries, this week I thought I’d look at real estate. My family was in real estate for 40 years so its something I have been watching for a long time. I also took a lot of interest in a friend of mine who sold his Sydney home after moving to the USA by utilising social media. He said the best inquiries and the ultimate sale came from his online strategy rather than the agent.

In a buyer’s market, exposure is one of the most important factors to consider when you are selling property. There is no outlet that will give you wider exposure than the internet. Real estate agents have long been aware of this, with a recent online marketing survey finding that real estate is the industry with the most internet savvy, second only to those in the internet business itself. For individuals who have property they wish to sell or rent, taking a two-pronged approach to online real estate marketing is recommended. The use of online listings websites combined with social media marketing will reach the largest audience in the shortest amount of time.

Listing Property with Real Estate Websites

One of the primary ways to use the power of online marketing is to use websites for selling your home. Approximately 87% of Australian consumers turn to online listings before they contact a real estate agent. This means you should put forth the effort to create a flawless listing. Attractive photos, attention-grabbing headings, and a list of your home’s most important features will help your property stand out. Listings without images or any relevant information will usually get skipped over by anyone performing a specific search, so be sure to include all pertinent information.

Market your Listing Using Social Media

You may already have your listing up, but if you want to draw in the full potential range of potential buyers or renters you’ll need to start casting a wider net. This is where social media marketing tactics come into play. The following techniques can help you market your listing.

  • Property Blog – Create a blog for your property. You could use free services like WordPress or Blogger to get started, which come equipped with free templates. This helps you tell the story of your home and reach out to potential buyers on a more personal level, using video, images, and social media widgets.
  • Keyword Research -Determine which keywords are searched for most frequently by those looking for property listings in your area. You can then work these into your blog and online listing.
  • Create Multiple Accounts – Setting up different social media accounts for your property will allow you to reach out to a potentially unlimited audience. Twitter, Flickr, Picasa, Facebook, and LinkedIn can all be used to sell your property when given its own unique profiles. This is less time-consuming than it seems, because you can use the same information for each account.
  • Post Regularly – It’s tempting to set up these accounts, post your listing online, and be done with it. Yet this defeats the purpose of using social media to market your property. If you want to rent your house, use your Twitter account and blog to post interesting news for renters or personal anecdotes about features in your home.
  • Engage and Share – Interact with your audience, responding to comments and encouraging contacts to share stories you’ve posted. The more you engage with social media, the higher the likelihood that you’ll find a receptive buyer.

By combining the use of a professional listings website with your own social media marketing campaign, you can reach out to a far more diverse audience. Although it takes a bit of effort to take the online initiative, you’ll boost your chances of success in a tight housing market.

How Retail-Integrated eCommerce helps both brands and retailers
29Oct12

The traditional commerce model has been something like this:

Manufacturer produces product -> ships it to retailers -> retailer markets product -> retailer sells to consumer –> retailer orders more product from manufacturer.

As the internet has grown and e-commerce become more viable many manufacturers looked to cut out the middleman:

Manufacturer produces product -> manufacturer markets product -> manufacturer sells to consumer

This worked for some but obviously resulted in a lot of retailers no longer supporting the manufacturer. Not an ideal outcome.

Now there’s a new model to consider, Retail-integrated eCommerce:

Branded manufacturers sell online directly to consumers -> manufacturer passes order to their retailers for delivery to customer

The following infographic from Shopatron demonstrates how the new model works. Is it Retail-Integrated eCommerce something your industry should be considering?

 

NEW STUDY: Higher growth for small businesses who embrace e-commerce
22Oct12

In 2012 its amazing to still learn that many businesses are yet to embrace online as part of their marketing and sales strategy. A recent survey by Hunter Valley Research Foundation revealed that many Hunter businesses are not embracing the digital economy with rates of taking orders via the internet remaining very low and 42.7% of businesses having no website.

Contrast those statistics with a new survey report released today by American Express showing those who have embraced e-commerce are 33 per cent more likely to have reported a profit increase in the 2011-12 financial year.

Here is the full media release. I have highlighted significant points.

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GOING ONLINE MEANS GOING STRONG FOR SMALL BUSINESS
Company website and Facebook page top marketing channels

One in three small businesses have made their products available for purchase online and those that have are reaping the benefits, according to a nationwide survey.

Commissioned by American Express among more than 1000 Australian small business owners, the survey shows that those who have embraced e-commerce are 33 per cent more likely to have reported a profit increase in the 2011-12 financial year.

Those small businesses who have introduced e-sales say it accounts for almost half (45 per cent) of their revenue and the majority (55 per cent) predict an increase in this type of trade in the next 12 months.

“Small business owners who have incorporated e-commerce into their business are seeing it as a worthwhile investment and appear confident of its long-term benefits. This comes at a time when having an online presence is becoming more and more important for small businesses. In fact, Australian business owners cite company websites and Facebook pages as the most effective marketing channels,” said Amelia Zaina, Head of Marketing and Customer Engagement, Small Business Services at American Express.

Social media drives revenue growth

The American Express survey also found that social media has helped almost one quarter (23 per cent) of small business owners to grow their business – and those that attribute business growth to social media are more likely to have reported an increased profit in 2011-12 (57 per cent) than those who don’t (35 per cent).

Small business operators who use social media believe it has helped them grow their business in several ways, including:

  • Sourcing new customers (54 per cent);
  • Raising brand awareness (51 per cent); and
  • Generating new sales (40 per cent).

“These findings support the notion that small businesses who have gone online and are using social media, are seeing comparatively stronger revenue growth” Zaina said.

“While different channels work better for different industries, both e-commerce and social media can be innovative and affordable. Businesses can benefit in many ways to offset the impact of tough economic times on their business.”

Non-embracers reluctant to introduce e-sales

Despite the success of e-commerce, those who have not established an e-sales strategy are reluctant to do so, with only 12 per cent planning to sell their products and services online in the next 12 months. An even smaller number of small business owners (9 per cent) consider e-commerce necessary for future-proofing their business.

This reluctance can partly be explained by the significant proportion of respondents (40 per cent) who don’t find e-commerce relevant to their business – a view most prevalent among those in construction, finance, insurance and health and community services.

“Some small business owners also say they are not sure how to approach adopting e-commerce with their main concerns surrounding difficulties in setting up the payment platform and customer privacy issues. Seeking out information and advice on how to do this could potentially benefit their business and allay any concerns they may have,” said Zaina.

“Fortunately for small business owners, the internet offers limitless opportunities so even those who feel e-commerce isn’t right for them can make use of the online opportunities offered by social media to promote their products and grow their business.

Using Curated Commerce to Grow your Brand
22Oct12

With thousands of ecommerce websites filling every niche interest under the sun, it’s difficult for website owners to stand out from the crowd. It’s also difficult for consumers to sift through all of the online clutter to find the products that best match their personal style and interests.

A solution to both of these problems has arisen organically over the past couple of years in the form of curated commerce. Sites like Pinterest use a combination of social networking and editorial layouts to create crowd-sourced collections of lifestyle, fashion, and other niche market products.

Pinterest has already become an extremely effective marketing tool for ecommerce business owners. According to a survey conducted by the shopping cart software giant Shopify, consumers arriving at Shopify stores via Pinterest were 10% more likely to make a purchase than those who arrived via other social networking sites. Referral traffic from Pinterest matched traffic from Twitter, and Pinterest has quickly become the third most popular social networking site on the web today. This makes it a potentially valuable tool for online retailers, who can set up their own profiles and interact with consumers to boost the chances of products appearing in Pinterest-curated collections.

Other top user-curated sites include Polyvore and Svpply, which allow users to mix and match their favourite products into stylish collections. There’s nothing trendy consumers enjoy more than trying their hand at becoming stylists, which is partially why these fashion sites have boomed in popularity. In addition to user-curated sites, the world of curated commerce also includes professionally-curated collections. JewelMint is a website run by Cher Coulter, a professional stylist, and Kate Bosworth, an actress noted for her sense of fashion. They send out personalized collections of jewellery according to subscriber preferences, laid out in a slick magazine-style format.

Online retailers are sitting on a potential goldmine if they are able to crack these curated collections, which reach a wide audience of internet-savvy consumers. One potential problem for established brand names is that these collections tend to be based on unique, quirky, or new products that aren’t advertised elsewhere. Consumers turn to sites like Polyvore and Pinterest to discover something new, not to see bland advertisements from big-box retailers. To break through this barrier and harness the power of curated commerce to promote a website, it’s necessary to stay on top of trends by getting involved with these curated websites.

Most ecommerce website owners already have a Facebook and Twitter account. Joining Pinterest, Polyvore, and other sites of this nature can help retailers reach out to consumers in a different way, by sharing interests and highlighting products that have influenced the brand’s aesthetic. It’s key to walk the fine line between sharing and spamming when curating your own collections; or the collection will ring false with viewers.

Another potential benefit of curated collections is that they allow business owners to see how their customers view and use their products. Searching for your brand on a curated website can allow you to see how your customers style your items in their own collections, and which other brands or products they pair yours with. This could help you define your marketing efforts more effectively, using the visual appeal and aesthetic that appeals to your real-life consumers.

It takes a little bit of effort and imagination to start using curated commerce effectively. There’s a playful edge to curated websites, and retailers that successfully use a combination of style and originality in their own collections will reap the most benefits.