I’m finally getting a chance to blog my panel session which took place last week in Las Vegas at the Shop.org conference. The session was titled “Alternative Marketing: What Happened When Etailers Dove into Blogs, Podcasting, and RSS” Moderator: (yours truly!) Panelists: Seth Greenberg, CEO, eHobbies Pinny Gniwisch, Founder & EVP Marketing, Ice.com Steve Spangler, Founder & CEO, Steve Spangler Science You can download the Powerpoint slides here. My esteemed colleague Brian Klais, one of our VPs here at Netconcepts, graciously took notes for me which I am posting below: Stephan: – Gave an overview of RSS technology and blogs – 439 million Google search results for “blog” – RSS is not the same thing as a blog, it is a way to deliver / syndicate content to consumers – Search for “trustrank” in Google for an example of how RSS builds inbound links = top rankings – Retailers can deliver news alerts, specials, new resources that have been posted to the site – VMware builds customized feed around my interests – Highlights of podcasting, moblogging, and a new buzzword “vodcasting” – You don’t have to blog to benefit from blogosphere – Voltaic has a solar powered backpack, blogging friend Treehugger blogged it, then picked up by CoolHunting then Gizmodo and sales skyrocketed – Negative buzz for Kryptonite = blogstorm – The power of link text from the blogosphere that contain your brand names profoundly impacts your rankings in Google, Yahoo, MSN. Just look at what ranks in top 10 for “kryptonite” Seth: – Seth admits this is a new pioneering area and wanted to experiment with the channel – Was able to “dumb down” the sign-up for RSS: the link to the “Bestsellers RSS Feed” beneath the Best Sellers sidebar takes the user to an instruction page. – Launched the feeds just a week ago, so too new to reveal results. Feels similar to email channel. – Affiliates could be a great application of RSS technology. – Goal for blog: build trust, keep customers coming back, build loyalty – Ran a promotion that resulted in 5% of all purchases redeeming the blogged “coupon” – In June, added “blog” to the header navigation. 5% of sitewide traffic touched blog. Conversion of those who touch blog is 2x non-blog readers. – Their “male nurse” collectible doll blog post was indexed next day by Google. – Summarized experience as the good, bad, and ugly. The good: organic search results very good, personality, good press, effective for audience. The bad: more of a diary than a dialog with customers (message boards still have a proper place), has to convey an overall company strategy, has to be nurtured. The ugly: new technology is hard to pinpoint when things go wrong Pinny: – Blogs: SparkleLiketheStars.com, JustAskLeslie.com, Blog.ice.com – 10 commandments of corporate blogging 1) Editorial – uses blog for editorial to converse with customers on jewelry advice 2) PR – PR blog talks about charity events 3) Current – hired a writer to talk about the stars and current events, talks about style, and then promotes similar products available from ice.com 4) Promotions – targeting “ice discounts” etc to target discounted jewelry 5) Customer feedback – customers can provide feedback 6) Natural search rankings – links from blog improved rankings over 2-6 weeks time 7) Sales – low volume but acquisition clear 8) Company vibe 9) Being at forefront – press is good and easy to get 10) picture of him with Beyonce Steve: – Blogs at SteveSpangler.com – Steve pulled out his flaming wallet – Steve played a funny video clip showing Diet Coke + Mentos explosion, and later gave the recipe. Was an example of a video podcast. – One of Steve’s products, “Instasnow,” got posted onto BoingBoing popular blog, and created a 3x sales outcome. Record high for that product sales. – Steve was sold on blogs, and launched – Steve had the audience rolling over with his stories of Instasnow and related fun science products. – Sales spikes were directly related to blog posts. – Played an experiment: Can I own a search market by blogging it? Tried it with “launching potatoes.” – A blog post can be 3 sentences. – Result = top 10 rankings. – Steve says to blog best selling products, behind-the-scenes information, “Did you know?” product information, lets him voice his opinion and feelings on subjects. – Podcast – can talk about what he is doing by speaking it, not writing it. – Has learned the art of linking to other blogs, and filling his posts with links. – 13% of online sales attribute to blogs – Closing tip: 1 roll mentos, 2 liter bottle of soda for the explosion experiment! Q&A: Q: How do you calculate ROI? Pinny: Don’t look at blogs from ROI perspective. Low cost. Took time to get system in place, difficult to calculate actual cost and therefore ROI. Looks at it as free money. Steve: Maybe 30 minutes per post, tries to blog a few times per week. Q: Are blogs being commercialized? Seth: They tend to be more informational Pinny: Not done for sales, more for info. Steve: Blog is a soft sell, a sense of authority, people enjoy it Q: Do you need special skills or expensive software to blog or just use Typepad or similar? Stephan: Advocates just download software (eg WordPress) and install on your webserver – free, functional. Main takeaways: 1 – Have the proper motivation of trying to provide useful customer information and sales follow – often with dramatic though unpredictable results. 2 – Experiment with the technology and gain some learnings 3 – Check out Steve Spangler’s funny science videos!
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