Important Martech Tool – Node-RED – Flow-based programming for the Internet of Things

My article is on VirtualAdClub.com –

This is interesting, Node-RED looks easy to use and should give us the ability to do a whole lot of interesting data amalgams that can provide next generation results for our clients. What’s it got to do with MarTech? It provides us an easy, fast way to do data mashups and more.  This will be an important tool in your arsenal.

Read the article at https://virtualadclub.com/node-red/

How to Buy a Domain Name for Your Business

<Disclosure: I work for Namemedia, as Senior Engineer for Afternic.com, the premier marketplace for the secondary domain name market in the world.  As such, I tend to recommend Afternic and other Namemedia services.>

The Business Owners Lament: “All the good domain names are already registered.”

Yes, indeed, the initial land grab in the domain name market has been over for some time.  Most of the really good names are, indeed, already registered.  That doesn’t mean that they aren’t available, though.  You need to look on the secondary market.

Before we go any further, I should define a couple terms:

  • Primary Market – names that currently are not registered.  These are available via the traditional registrars like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Register.com, eNom, etc.  Search these guys first, in case the name you need for your business is available.
  • Secondary Market – names that are already registered but available for sale are often listed through the secondary market at sites like Buydomains.com. These “premium domains” are held by either domain investors, or currently owned by one of the registrars may have re-registered the name when the initial registration expired.
  • Domainer, or Domain Investor –  a person or company who buys and sells domain names, treating them as investment properties.  Domain names are analogous to real estate investments…but the real estate is on the Internet.
  • SEO – Search engine optimization – specific coding, content and onsite tactics designed to ensure that your site is visible in Google’s “natural search” rankings (in contrast to Google Adwords, which are paid placements).
  • Organic Traffic – traffic that comes because someone typed a specific search term into a search engine such as Google or Bing.  Type in “candy” as a search term…the results that you see in the middle of the page are “organic results”
  • Direct Traffic—traffic that comes from someone typing your domain name directly into the search bar—that is typing “candy.com” versus doing a search for candy
  • TLD – top level domain, for example .com, .edu or .org are all TLDs, in fact they are three of the originals.
  • ccTLD – a country code TLD – such as .co.uk or .it *(Italy).

As I note above, search the primary market first, and if the name you need is available, buy it.  Domain names do not get any cheaper than this…if it’s there, pat yourself on the back, because you just got a bargain.

What’s a good Domain Name for my business?

Ah, the age old question.  It really depends what you expect your site to do for your business.  We may want a site name that fits with our companies brand or name, such as “SmithSeptic.com” or perhaps we want something that is more descriptive of the service we provide, such as “SepticPumping.com”.  For local businesses, I often recommend they go with something that is both descriptive of their service as well as their location, like “WalthamSepticPumping.com” which will give them a lot of help in terms of SEO.

Increasingly it is the case that savvy businesses are pursuing a “multi-domain strategy” to ensure that they are found by prospective customers. So, in the example above, a smart business owner might opt to purchase “SmithSeptic.com”, “SepticPumping.com”, “WalthamSepticPumping.com” and other, related, terms such as “AffordableSepticPumping.com”  It is also a good idea to purchase multiple TLDs: e.g. buy the “.net” along with the “.com” and other variations of your desired names.

Things to consider:

  • Don’t limit yourself, you can (and in some businesses, should) have more than one domain name.
  • Short domain names are easier to remember than longer domain names.
  • Some names are just too long to be worth discussing.  Last week we had a request for “AdamsRoofingandConstructionRepairinMelbourne.com”.  The guy gets points for trying to hit all the relevant keywords, but the chance of anyone, ever, typing that into the address bar of a browser correctly is minimal. Not to mention the extra paint he’d need to get it put on his truck.
  • Some domain names are too broad.  If you are a lawyer and your work is almost exclusively done in Waltham, buying Lawyer.com would be a waste.  Think more along the lines of “WalthamLawyer.com”.

The Secondary Domain Name Market

So you didn’t find a decent domain name in the primary market.  Not to fear, there are still plenty of great domains available; you just need to look on the secondary market.

The first reaction I usually here from business owners about the secondary domain market is that “the prices are so much higher!”  Indeed, versus a primary registration,  “aftermarket” names will be priced higher.  The reason is simple: good domain names have value.  Great domain names have even greater value.

Consider how you acquire customers, and what you currently pay to acquire the customers. If you typically spend $50-100 per new customer acquired in direct mail, advertising, or radio, for example, an investment of $5,000 that yields you just 20 customers per month, just 5 per week, will cost you about $20 for the first year and likely much less in subsequent years.  Quite a bargain—and since research indicates that nearly half of all smaller businesses are not online—your presence may also help you to win customers away from your competitors who are not online.

In business, we’re always after great value.  If the right domain name is important to your business, then paying for the best is going to be worth it.

To get started, you’ll want to go to Afternic.com (the site I work with) and start searching.  Don’t buy the first name you see, really do your homework and see what’s available for sale and try to find the perfect domain.  We’re currently listing 3,596,444 domain names and it’s a pretty good bet there’s a one (and likely a whole lot) that will meet your needs in there.  You’ll see that there are filters on the left hand side of the site; you likely want to add some filters to your search to cut down on the list of names displayed.

Once you distill your list of names down and you’re ready to buy, you’ve got a couple of options.  Most of our domains have a “Buy Now” price – that’s a price that the buyer has agreed to sell the domain for immediately.  No haggling, no problems.  You just click the button and the domain purchase process begins.

We also support auctions and often you won’t see a “Buy Now” button so you’ll be able to make an offer.  You can also participate in closing soon auctions of domain names, etc.

Personally, if I want a domain name, I buy it then and there if I can.

You may also want to pick up the phone and call the account managers for assistance; they’ve helped thousands of business owners find suitable online monikers over the years and they can also offer you advice about “next steps” once you’ve secured the perfect domain name.

What’s This Domain Really Worth

Before you make on offer on an Auction you might want an assessment of what the domain name is really worth.  We offer a team of domain appraisal experts who will give you a nuts and bolts assessment of the domain’s real market value.

As with many of our other services, this is also available as a separate service, even if you are looking at a domain we don’t have listed.

I Want a Specific Domain and It’s Not Listed

I think this is one of the coolest features of Afternic.  We offer “Afternic Agent Service” which means that we will locate the owner of any domain and make an offer on your behalf.  This is tremendous for a couple reasons:

  • The service can be anonymous, which we sometime need in business
  • Our experienced agents know how to find the owners
  • They are highly experienced in negotiating domain sales
  • They make deals happen

Purchasing Your Domain

When you’ve clicked that “buy now” button or you have won your domain auction, the domain name escrow process begins.  Afternic’s secure process protects both buyer and seller—ensuring that no money, nor any domains change hands until the transaction is verified. The secure transfer is included with any purchases made through Afternic.com or BuyDomains.com, but you can also utilize Afternic’s secure escrow service for any domain transaction.

Random Boat Show Thoughts

The Edgewater 35ex

I should (hopefully…fingers crossed) have a vidcast from the floor of the boat show for you tomorrow.  Depending on my ability to edit it down into something approximating a coherent effort.  Which is a bit of a tall order, seeing as I shot the whole thing on my iPhone.

The good  stuff will be in the video.  But for now a few random observations:

  • Attendance appeared to be on par with last year.
  • Admission price was less, at $13 per adult, including a magazine subscription to Motor Boating, Yachting, or Ski.
  • Lots off smaller booths this year with non-marine products like knives and such.  Other semi-marine products like “Rescue Tape” also had fair presence.
  • They had an “Affordibility Pavilion” – one notable entry among the 16′ ski boats there was the 18′ Maritime Skiff, coming in with a price tag of $29,000.  That’s a whole bunch of money for a bay boat.
  • On the other end of the hall, the bigger power boats were smaller this year.  42′ seemed to be about the biggest.  The prices, however appear to have continued to grow, economy be damned…
  • Boston Whaler had a ’37 Outrage that looked like the space shuttle, with a price in the same ballpark at $449,000.  Question: aside from Powerball Winners and the AIG Bonus Brigade, who can afford that kind of stuff?  And who wants to sling a bleeding bluefish over the side of a boat in that price range?
  • Sealegs: it’s a boat with wheels.  Insert your own snark here…
  • I ran into my ex-Brother in Law Brad Pierce and his son Bill at the show – hadn’t seen them in something like 16 years.  Wonderful to see them after 16 years!

Say What You Do For SEO Success

Jeff Bennett had a great post yesterday about a shop that had changed their name to take advantage of the customer’s common name for them

I said it absolutely made sense and I fully agree.  Indeed from my experiences @ NameMedia this is exactly the way it is.  I learned first hand the power and impact of generic names as we built our media business.  It costs a lot of money and effort to create awareness for nondescript names and brands.  It is hard to break through the clutter.  Brand building today has to take into account a lot of things and generic and descript names have proven to rise to the top in Google.  The Shopkeeper surely gave me an astute rationale for changing the shop name.

The domain name is one of the key SEO characteristics that Google uses in the algorithmic results.  Hence if you want to perform well in a certain local, like Sutton, on a particular keyword, like Septic Cleaning, I’d consider buying that domain name and pointing it at a n optimized landing page for that town and keyword.  If I wanted to perform well in the another town, I’d do another landing page.

So even though my business name might be “Cahill Septic Cleaning” I could still get the google juice from Sutton Septic Cleaning, plus any of the surrounding towns.  Then I could also watch my analytics package and see what type of traffic I am getting from those domains, to see if they’re worth the yearly fee.

The good news is that most localized landing pages are available. Think about investing in them today!

Red Sox Ticket Prices, StubHub and Ace Tickets

Back in the day, I used to go to Red Sox games…lots of Red Sox games, as many as 30 or so a year.

In the past couple years, not a game.  In fact, I’ve never taken my two daughters.  Prices obviously enter into this – read this on the pricing thisyear from ESPN

Following an across the board freeze of all ticket prices in 2009, approximately two-thirds of the tickets at Fenway Park will stay at 2009 levels or increase by $2 for the 2010 season and no single price category will increase by more than $5. In 2010, 63% of the tickets at Fenway Park will be $52 or less, with the lowest ticket price remaining at $12.

For many of you, you’re saying, that’s not so bad, go for the $12 tickets.  That’d peg you immediately as someone that has never been in the bleachers at Fenway.  It’s traditionally not a place for your kids…at least not for my kids.

The real rub in my mind is that I can’t get tickets to the games I want, such as the May 7 game against the Yankees without going through a scalper like StubHub or Ace Tickets.  Both have hundreds if not thousands of tickets to that game.  Meanwhile, Redsox.com, the official box office has none…not a single ticket for the game.  This, just ONE DAY after tickets went on sale.

So how’d that happen?

You see in 2007, Stubhub.com signed a 5 year deal with MLB to resell tickets.  On the face of it, the deal was to allow fans to resell their tickets.  Are we honestly to believe that thousands of Red Sox fans waited online Saturday and then changed their mind on Sunday and are now selling their tickets.

No, obviously not.

The big question here has to be asked of the Red Sox: are you providing tickets directly to StubHub?  If so, then that ought to be figured into the average cost of ticket prices.

If this is the case, then the Red Sox and MLB have found an excellent way to increase revenues, without having to face the bad PR of drastically increasing ticket prices.  Also, if this is the case, then both the Red Sox and MLB need a trip to the woodshed.

I fired off an email to the Red Sox box office:

Why is it one day after tickets went on sale, games such as the May 7 Yankees game are unavailable from your site, but StubHub has hundreds if not thousands of tickets.  Do you sell or in any way provide tickets to StubHub?
As a fan, this situation is not acceptable.

What do you think? Should fans be forced to buy their tickets from secondary sources?

Kind of funny to think that StubHub’s motto, “Sold out? Not us…”  when for MLB for this is definitely a Sell Out.

(Note: I contacted the Red Sox via email on Sunday and as of the publish time of this post, have not received any sort of reply).

When Your Product Stinks…

I was using a product the other day and it was a real disaster.  It prompted me to think that somewhere, someone was showing up to an office where their task was to market this peice of crap.  From that thought, this list:

If your product stinks,

  • If your product stinks, you won’t engage customers, you’ll stalk them.
  • If your product stinks, the only thing your customers will engage in with you is arguments.
  • If your product stinks, customers won’t “friend” you, they will “foe” you.
  • If your product stinks, you will have more “word of mouth” than you ever possilby wanted.
  • If your product stinks, it’s not fireworks and balloons when you have an announcement, it’s pitchforks and bonfires.
  • If your product stinks, you don’t have users, you just have the “used.”
  • If your product stinks, you don’t have customers, you’ll have victims.
  • If your product stinks, you won’t need to watch what you say, because no one will be listening anyways.

The Advent of the Micro-Celebrity

Admit it...you want to be the object of attention!
Admit it...you want to be the object of attention!

Welcome to our brave new world…it is a place in which style triumphs substance, and appearance supercedes truth.  A place where the personal myths we create become truth, and are rechristened as “personal branding.”

We are in the age of the micro-celebrity. The era in which we don’t need to be fully rounded individuals, where simply being the “thought leader”, guru or expert in a certain online niche is enough.  Warhol was right, we indeed will all have our 15 minutes of fame.

Deep down, we all really want to be the Paris Hilton of our own personal fiefdom.  We’d all like to have red carpets rolled out for us, to have a tribe of fauning syncopants to “me too” our every post.  We want everyone to realize what utter geniuses we really are.

The problem is that in online communities, like sewerage treatment plants, it is not only cream that floats the the top.  It is easy, at least for a time, for the poseur to assume a position of stature within a community.  The good news is that over time, and as the community matures, the fraud is generally identified, the true experts eventually become evident.

So how do we become that micro-celebrity in our online community?

  • Be a good citizen – it’s not all about getting involved in the latest falderall.  Take the time to welcome newbies, answer the simple questions, and generally be available.
  • Correct The Incorrect – I see oh so many “accepted truths” that are absolutely incorrect.  Perhaps they fit for one situation, but not for the one in question.  Don’t let it pass, but do so in a way that builds the corpus scientia, without starting a flame war.
  • Discuss and Accept –  We don’t know everything…and we’re learning all the time.
  • Give Credit – It’s easy to do, and everyone likes to be appreciated.

I’m tempted to add a list of what not to do, but instead I just offer this advice: before you are the teacher, you must first be the student.

5 Lessons from a Social Media Campaign Gone Horribly Wrong

Jim Louderback of Revision3.com has a great article up at JackMyers.com entitled “Murphy-Goode Wines Social Media Campaign Goes Horribly Wrong” about the companies recent trip to the Internet woodshed over their handling of I-celeb Martin Sargent during a recent online spokesperson ballot.

While the specifics are generally quite funny…Jim gives us an excellent list of 5 takeaways that any of us who might consider a Social Media campaign ought to commit to heart:

Respect the Wisdom of the Crowds: If you’re going to solicit entries from the internet, and then ask people to vote, then you need to at least pretend to abide by their selection. Murphy-Goode built a framework that would have let them finesse this. All they had to do was put the top ten vote getters into their top 50. Even if they had zero intention of ever giving Martin or the other nine a job, they should have – at a minimum – given them some recognition for winning the popular vote.

Know Your Web Stars: You may have never heard of Martin Sargent. But he’s an extremely powerful web celebrity – both because of his own following, and his influential friends. If John Stewart, Tom Brady or Britney Spears had entered – or even Wine Spectator editor James Laube — you can be sure they would have been treated with kid gloves. Martin got snubbed and snubbing sucks. But Martin was powerful enough to get a (well deserved) revenge.

Monitor Constantly: While running a social media campaign, keep a close eye on what the social-sphere is saying about your brand. Use Twitter search toolsTweet DeckTrendrrbacktype – among others – to keep track of how your campaign is doing. And when you notice something going awry…

Fix it Fast: As soon as “Martin-Gate” began to spread around the web, Murphy-Goode should have jumped in and fixed it. Perhaps they could have added a 51st finalist to the list. Or maybe they could have expanded the competition to end up with two winners, a winery choice and a people’s choice. Rapid action could have saved this campaign. Even an apology and am “I’m Sorry” would have gone a long way to repairing the winery’s reputation. Instead, company representatives responded with lame platitudes like “You’re too famous” and called Martin overqualified for the job. That just served to fan the flames – particularly because one of the top ten finalists was Rachel Reenstra, former Animal Planet and HGTV show host.

Don’t be half-assed: But here’s the biggest slap to the face of everyone who created, watched, voted and even paid attention to this online kerfuffle. As the story got out, it turned out that some of the candidates for the temporary position were actually sourced by recruiters, who told them that “the online votes were relatively unimportant.” That’s the worst thing that ever could have gotten out. Today’s engaged social network users are no less passionate than the millions of Iranians that flooded the street when their votes were ignored. And they’re far more connected as well. Be honest, be authentic and be real. Murphy-Goode, alas, tried to pull a fast one. But on the internet, it’s extremely hard to be opaque.

I think the big thing here is this: if you’re going to do a campaign that is designed to look and feel “democratic” you better be prepared to accept whatever the results from the people are.  Otherwise you’re going to have a lot of people feeling very disenfranchised, and in the end, that’s worse than not having done the campaign at all.

How NOT to Research a Story – USA Today

(Disclaimer: I work for Namemedia, Inc. who is one of the largest owners and resellers of domains in the world.  I don’t work in that end of the business, and I don’t speak for them.)

I picked up an interesting article today via David Churbuck’s Delicious.com feed, from USA Today with the salacious title “Cybersquatting’ crooks profit on marketers’ brand names.”

Now I hate cybersquatting, but I have to say this, which I said yesterday and have said ad nauseum over the years: your domain name is a business asset.  A corollary to that would be that you need to protect it, just as you would any business asset.

Simply put, if you’re planning to launch a new brand and you haven’t secured the appropriate domain names that are associated with that brand, you are a fool.  At the very least, you’ll be increasing the value of something you will most likely need to buy at some point.  So do your homework!

The thing that ticked me off about this article was the fact that it appearred as though the writer had written it right off a Marketing Association press release. It showed almost no thought about the issue, and in appearance, seemed to aim at driving home a single, shop worn idea: cybersquatting is bad.  Wow, hold the presses.

There are several other sides to this, none of which are considered, mentioned, or apparently, even though of.

  •  What happens when I own a domain and one of the big guys decides to create a new brand using the same name, such as yesterday’s example of Blatz.com.  Are we proposing that even with “prior art” I should reassign the domain to them, simply because I otherwise might be considered “cybersquatting?”
  • Is it not the companies responsibility to protect their own brand?  There is plenty of history with people setting up shopping sites under unused brand name inspired domains.
  • If you didn’t buy a particular domain, you cannot consider revenues made on that site “lost revenues” associated with your brand.
  • The assumption underlying this article is obvious, that sales made via third party shopping sites, etc. necessarily would have gone to the brand with which they might have appeared to be associated.  In my experience,  such sales are generally more casual impulse buys.  

Here’s the part that makes me really annoyed:

They drive people to a “squatted” site via e-mails or through paid search. Once they’ve led someone there, they hope to steal credit card information, spur clicks on ads to skim revenue from online ad networks or sell fake products, such as pharmaceuticals or pricey handbags.

Since when did USA Today decide it was a nepharious act to show advertising to people on your own website, in hopes that they might actually click on it?  Is that not THEIR OWN REVENUE MODEL?  Further, is not email or paid search also condsidered marketing?  Why would marketing one’s own website be considered “theft?”

Listen, I don’t cybersquat and I don’t condone it, but this article is simply ludicrous.  USA Today, stop phoning in your work…

Personal Branding Reviled…Oops…Revisited

The rumination du jour on the Twitterverse is Personal Branding.  Endless links to blog posts about how to pimp your personal brand, monetize it or sell it to the highest bidder seem to appear by the minute.  Today, I tweet:

Personal Branding is an artificial edifice that is antithetical to the transparency and authenticity expected in Social Media Marketing.

That’s it.  You pimp the brand you, and you’re going against all that we seem to say is important in Social Media Marketing.  Phil Sheard presciently asked what my thoughts were on where the line really is (understanding that deep down, I don’t think all personal branding is bad…).   My answer:

As Popeye said, “I ams who I ams…” I’d draw the line at trying to create a persona that isn’t genuine for financial gain.

I’m a New England Yankee.  That means I expect to be able to take people at face value.  It also means that I realize that for the most part, I’m going to be disappointed.  So perhaps I tend to draw the line a little too far to the conservative side.

Okay, I’ll admit it. We don’t need full “transparency” into your life.  I don’t need to see pics on your blog of you doing body shots off an asian hooker in Vegas right next to your latest masceration on marketing.  By the same token, it is unrealistic to be using all possible avenues simply to tell the world you’re the greatest.