Patents are a source of constant lawsuits between large tech companies like Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. They’re one reason Google wants to pay $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility. And many entrepreneurs believe these documents stunt innovation rather than protect it.

Last year, 107,792 patents were issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Here are some interesting points on the history, process and recent impacts of this important component of the tech ecosystem.




Patent Wars

[via BusinessInsurance.org]

More About: patents, software patents

Nice template/contract posted.

So, you SEOed, Tweeted, Facebooked, wrote articles, did PPC, used banner ads, sent out press releases, wrote email campaigns, connected on LinkedIn, commented on Blogs, set up joint ventures. You’ve done everything possible to drive traffic to your pages, BUT you still don’t have sales (or leads or phone calls or whatever it is you wanted from that traffic). Or you’ve actually gotten traffic, but they just aren’t taking action.

There are many possible reasons, but the one you should look at first is your landing page.

In my experience, some people are so focused on driving traffic, they forget to make sure their landing page is prepared to convert that traffic.

Here is a collection of tips and tricks to create Landing Pages That Convert:

  • Split test: On my last 2 ad campaigns, look at the improvements in conversions (in this case the conversion was getting an opt-in) – this is all just from split testing and incrementally improving the landing page – everything else in the ad campaign was the same.  I used Google Website Optimizer (a free tool) and played with things like headline, colors, fonts, graphics, placement of form, opt-in button.
    • Landing page one: 45.61% conversion rate
    • Landing page two: 46.78% conversion rate
    • Landing page three:  51.47% conversion rate
    • Landing page four: 60.97% conversion rate
  • Keep It Simple: You have about 3 seconds or less to capture people’s attention. Keep the page clutter-free, and make sure the benefit headline instantly grabs them.  Don’t over share your knowledge – share enough to compel them to take the action you want. Especially if it’s capturing a lead – once you’ve got them, you’ll have time to share your expertise and build your credibility. For now, you just need to keep it laser-focused on what you need to share to get them to take action RIGHT NOW.
  • Know Your Audience: Use images and text that they can relate to and that talk to their pain. Offer them solutions they can see themselves really using. Are you targeting men, women, college kids? Are you targeting people with money for a high end product or people with lower income? You need to know your prospect inside out and your page needs to appeal to them. They need to see themselves in the problem/pain that you outlined, and they need to be able to imagine the solution you are proposing is something they can use and afford.
  • Formatting: Make sure you use bolding, different font colors and sizes, italics, lists and white space as well as strategically placed graphics to catch the eye, BUT don’t overwhelm. Draw the eye to one focal point – which is where your strongest call to action should be. I know you want them to see your testimonial, your list of benefits, your offering and your call to action, but if you draw their eye everywhere at once, they’re likely to be overwhelmed and just leave. Have one strong focal point, draw the eye there and keep it simple.
  • Forget what you like and what you think: Only results matter. You don’t have to like the page or relate to the page yourself. It just has to work. This one is tough and it’s the biggest way business owners stand in their own way.
  • Match your message: Your ad, creative, article or tweet should flow into your landing page. The message, the style, the solution, the targeting – it should all flow.  Don’t “leak relevance” in the process. If you got them to click on an ad based on a specific problem and offered solution, take it a step further on the ad. Don’t switch tactics and throw a whole new message in there.
  • Space Usage: Use the area “above the fold” wisely. It’s your most valuable real estate. Use design to enhance the page, but make sure it’s your copy that stands out and has the most impact.
  • Benefits sell: Focus on benefits, not features, in your copy. Don’t know the difference? Here’s a quick example: You’re selling a vacuum and highlighting the fact that it has an attachment to easily get into the corners. The attachment is the feature. Break it down – how do they benefit from that feature? It’s quicker and easier to get the floor cleaner – so they’ll save time and aggravation and they’ll have a cleaner floor. That’s much more powerful. Paint a picture with the benefits. “OK ladies, no more getting down on your hands and knees, hair flopping in front of your eyes, sweat dripping down your forehead, back aching, as you try to wedge your vacuum into that corner – where all the dirt naturally gravitates too. Instead, with a quick flick of the wrist just point the handy new corner attachment in the corner and suck that grime up – keep your hair, back and knees intact and pain free!” Much more powerful than saying “Great attachment for cleaning corners”.
  • Don’t play hard to get: Give your visitors exactly what they are looking for. They landed on the page because your ad, tweet, article, or SEO listing interested them.  Make it obvious and easy for them to get what they need. Make the call to action visible, the navigation simple, and the content relevant.
  • Establish trust: Use testimonials; make contact info prominent, display credibility inducing logos/certifications etc. Have a privacy policy, prominently share any guarantees, state how long you’ve been in business, list awards and accolades. Review what credibility boosting material you have and strategically use it on the page.
  • Font and color: When you are split testing, don’t ignore the font and the colors. They make a big difference in results. Use opposing colors on the color wheel to create contrast and highlight certain areas of the page.
  • Yes!: Ask questions that get your prospects thinking YES.  Examples: Do You Want Top Rankings? Are You Ready For An Explosion Of Traffic? Do You Want To Convert More Visitors? Can You Handle More Sales? Are You Ready To Ramp Things Up? Strategically place these questions on your landing page copy.

Read a past article I wrote on headlines, which are crucial for your landing page success:

Stay tuned for a future article where I will share successful (and not so successful) landing pages and tell you why they are good (or bad as the case may be).

There is no way one article can cover it all, but I’ve shared a collection of tips that are a good place for you to start!  Share any tips you have below in the comments.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Landing Pages That Convert


Remember the scene in “Minority Report” where Tom Cruise is in a mall, all the while personalized advertisements are literally calling out to him as he walks by?

Is this our digital future? How exactly does behavioral retargeting work, and does it deserve to be controversial? Search Engine Journal sat down with Adam Berke, cofounder of ad retargeting platform AdRoll, to shed some light on the business.

How ad retargeting works

“Retargeting helps companies advertise to website visitors who leave without a conversion — about 98% of all web traffic. This is done by displaying ads to the prospect as they surf the internet via various ad networks that the agency buys media from on behalf of their Business Customers. Retargeting is only serving banner ads to people who have shown at least some amount of engagement in your brand. This makes retargeting a smarter spend than most other display ad campaigns as it focuses on your brand’s engaged userbase.” Source: Wikipedia

Retargeting in a nutshell

AdRoll was founded in 2007 with one goal: to make display advertising effective, which at the time was “the red-headed stepchild to search marketing”. At the time, e-commerce and SMBs were not investing in display, as it didn’t yet have the ROI of search-based advertising.

By focusing on refining the behavioral advertising experience as well as creating a self-service platform for advertisers, AdRoll is now a San Francisco-based team of 45, growing by 10 advertisers a day, with venture funding from top-shelf VCs such as Accel and high-profile angel investor Peter Thiel.

AdRoll claims that by being able to reach 85-90% of a retargeting list, they are able to generate a true +5% incremental increase in sales with a well-optimized retargeting campaign. “The dirty little secret of retargeting is that many of the conversions that providers take credit for would’ve converted anyway. Sophisticated advertisers should work with providers who understand how to generate incremental conversions, not just deliver the lowest CPA or CPC possible.”

Apparently retargeting is effective, with the right strategy. So how do advertisers get it wrong?

#1 Mistake of retargeting

According to Adam, the most common mistake is also the most obvious: not taking the user into consideration. ”What’s surprising is how often people ignore well-established, best practices. I think marketing managers feel compelled to jam in a bunch of rich media animation and social media sharing features into creative, but what generally works best is simple, striking creative, that has a clear message and obvious call to action. People aren’t waiting around for your ad to load and animate to figure out what they should do.”

Timing is everything

Running a close second is the timing of the retargeting campaign. It can give an impression of “creepiness” when a banner ad follows a viewer (seemingly) endlessly from website to website. AdRoll advises clients to “think of cookies like email”. Imagine if you could get the email address of every person that visited your site. How do you market to your email customer base, and how often? You wouldn’t bombard your email list with hourly exhorts to buy, buy, buy– and you shouldn’t annoy your retargeting audience by doggedly showing up wherever they go, over and over.

Retargeting: Privacy invasion or misunderstood?

Retargeting uses cookie tracking, which does not identify the user nor discloses any personal information. However, some critics feel like they are being stalked not only when ads follow them, but also when the ads show the very item that they were considering purchasing, thanks to dynamic retargeting.

Adam responds “…The good news is that AdRoll is perfectly aligned with users when it comes to these issues. We want to deliver ads that are useful and relevant. … We think this is a major improvement over the dancing aliens and ‘punch the monkey’ ads users would see otherwise. (But) the last thing I want to do is to serve an ad to a person that will generate a negative reaction. That’s a waste of money for us and our client. …If you want to stop seeing ads from a particular advertiser, PLEASE opt out! That just helps us optimize.”

Future for behavioral retargeting: calling John Anderton?

Dynamic retargeting serves up personalized ads based on visitor intent data. A web surfer looking for blue dress shirts will later see an ad featuring the very same shirt he had been browsing. Today’s dynamic retargeting ad creatives tend to be “ugly”, according to Adam, often shoehorning in distorted images into static backgrounds that don’t always match the product. Additionally, dynamic ads usually require product feeds from the advertiser which break often.

AdRoll is beta testing a personalized dynamic ad service that more seamlessly blends just-viewed product images with complementary ad backgrounds, and no feed is necessary. So far he says, they’ve seen a 3x improvement over conventional retargeting.

A more realistic future: Opt-in display advertising

Imagine a world where visitors can sign up for an email list, and click an opt-in button for sales that are only available via retargeting. Or ad units that function as interactive carousels that allow the viewer to browse and shop around, in the ad.

Adam says “I think the next phase will actually involve the user. Traditionally, advertising tech companies have optimized for either the publisher or the advertiser. However, with personalized ads, the user needs to be taken into greater account. AdRoll looks forward to thinking of creative ways to give users controls to ensure they see more relevant and useful ads. This will drive better results for advertisers, who will then want to pay more, resulting in more revenue for publishers.”

Retargeting quick tips

  • Retargeting is especially effective for e-commerce.
  • If you are promoting an impulse buy, you should time the serving of a retargeted ad sooner than say, a luxury goods item, which typically has a longer sales cycle.
  • B to B is trickier as the sales cycle is longer and often isn’t an immediate online transaction. Define your transactions differently such as a white paper download or demo registration.
  • Test, test and re-test. A/B or multivariate your “free shipping” | “no sales tax” | “sale today only” offers. Segment off a control group versus a retargeted group to find out what’s really converting.
  • Got the traffic, but can’t get any nibbles? Check out 7 Things You Can Do When Your Conversion Funnel Sucks.

 

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Ad Retargeter AdRoll: “Cookies are the New Email”


Posted by Fryed7

Howdy Mozzers,

I’ve been spending a couple of weeks this summer in the Distilled office looking at the way they do linkbait in order to write up a guide on it.

Whilst researching and reading around what people had posted before, it became clear there were a handful of problems which kept cropping up why people were failing at linkbait. In this post, I hope to address some of the biggest headaches SEOs had.

We’ve Had Very Limited Success

1. No Outreach Plan

Don’t wait until you’ve hit publish to start thinking about outreach. Like a marketing campaign in itself, you wouldn’t build prototypes, injection-moulding systems and have a container load of widgets shipped across from China before you’ve spoken to and got reassurance from your customers well in advance that they’d love to buy it; ideally with pre-orders.

The same applies to linkbait.

You want to reach out to at least some of the linkerati beforehand and get your "guaranteed five links" before you even start your piece of linkbait. The good news is if lots of people are interested from the beginning and think it’s a good concept, other people will probably like it and link to it later on too.

I interviewed some of the London Distilled SEO and PR team on their tips for effective outreach. Here’s a sneak peak:

If you’ve already launched, Wiep Knol has some excellent tips for breathing life back into your linkbait here.

2. Your Concept Sucks

Tough love, but if your concept doesn’t keep your linkerati wide awake at night buzzing about what you’ve just created (or have told them you’re going to create) then your concept needs some improvement. Even in the most boring industries this is possible – harder perhaps, but possible.

Find out the motives for the linkerati being online; is it their job? Their hobby? Something they’re expert in? Perhaps offer to interview them to build up a relationship to post on your website in advance to figure out what they’re really passionate about – this will help with refining a pitch to them, even better when it’s a warm lead.

3. You’re Not Working Hard Enough

It’s simple enough. You haven’t worked hard enough. Now there may be some genuinely good reasons for that – family bereavement, hospitalization or some other horror – but most of the time it’s down the lack of effective work.

You probably need a to hire a link building trainer…

Paddy Moogan

… or get on a diet of productivity tips from the99percent pronto!

It’s probably rooted in the fact that you’re not excited enough. You haven’t got a team around you grinning as you show them the latest update or the graphics back from the designer. You haven’t got a clear purpose why you’re creating a piece of linkbait. It’ll help to identify why your creating this linkbait and what it means to people involved – that can be motivating.

My Linkbait Gets Copied by Competitors

1. You’ve Got Nothing or Little Unique

You don’t have or you’re not using something that’s unique and can’t be copied. Use proprietry data, your own contacts or something else which competitors don’t have and can’t acquire easily. It’s only a really big problem if it’s cannibalizing your links and preventing you from reaching future link targets. If it isn’t though, don’t fret too much – use it as a link prospecting tool though for future.

2. You’re Not Thinking Creatively

Don’t forget, you can still play the "first mover advantage" game if your kind of linkbait can be replicated fairly easily. That includes mashing up different linkbait tactics and hooks; perhaps an infographic linking back to an interactive tool. Try to maintain at least two different assets which are unique to you – that way you’ve got enough of a one-up over your competitors.

We Haven’t Got the Resources

This one sounds plausible, but I still don’t buy it for a second. Bootstrapped linkbait is harder yes, but still possible. You’ve just got to be more choosy in picking tactics and hooks to get links; there are some easy wins on a budget:

1. Design

If you’ve got a designer, or a designer friend or someone who’s good but not ridiculously expensive.

Designers expect money in exchange for work. That’s the way it works, even if you are on a wafer-thin budget. Look at crowdsourcing designs perhaps via 99designs or looking at the people using Fiverr for cheaper designers, at least to get in touch with them.

2. How-to Tutorials

You can’t always outspend your competition, but you can out-teach them. Think of all the countless books on learning to program, and then Y Combinator startup Codecademy comes along – I can’t wait to see what else they’ve got in store, but it’s a fantastic, interactive how-to tutorial.

3. Interviews

Provided you can put together some riveting questions and pitch an interview in a way that doesn’t tie up all their time. Wil Reynold’s Pro Tip: Call them up with Google Voice [US only. Grrr…] during their commute or other "dead time", record your call and get it transcribed.

A good time to grab top end interviewees is when they’re just about to launch a book. Hat tip to Andrew Warner of Mixergy.com for that one – when you’re in a self-promotional mood, an interview opportunity is hard to turn down.

4. User-generated linkbait

Perhaps you’ve got a small email list, blog or twitter following you could work with to brainstorm and create effective linkbait?

One of my favourite tactics is to sound out a forum, put together a skeleton outline of what the article or guide might look like in Writeboard, then let the community edit it. If you establish yourself in the community first – be human and sincere like you would be face-to-face, not a self-promotional a-hole! – then it can be a incredibly effective way to crowdsource expert content. I’ve even had my spelling mistakes corrected for me 🙂 Make sure to cite your contributors however; always be sincere.

It’s All Overwhelming and Chaotic. I can’t cope with it.

You’ve got no effective process. Try and map out the big picture of what needs to happen where before you start. With that all mapped out (
maybe even as a printed chart on the wall), you can work on the very next step. By forcing yourself to jump over little hoops and checkpoints regularly your far more likely to produce effective linkbait.

 

Linkbait

There’s plenty more tips and ideas like this in the linkbait guide, as well as a chance to get your questions answered in our Q&A Linkbait Webinar where two Distilled SEO Consultants will be answering your questions.

What’s been your experience creating linkbait? An exhausting path of misery or a thrilling success story?

Do you like this post? Yes No

“Today we’re making a change to the way we categorize link data in Webmaster Tools. As you know, Webmaster Tools lists links pointing to your site in two separate categories: links coming from other sites, and links from within your site. Today’s update won’t change your total number of links, but will hopefully present your backlinks in a way that more closely aligns with your idea of which links are actually from your site vs. from other sites.”