At its first-ever U.S. press conference, Spotify unveiled on Wednesday a new app platform that allows third-party developers to use the streaming service’s music library and community. Although the apps are only available in beta versions right now for desktop computers, a company executive told Mashable that Spotify will be “everywhere” in the future, including on mobile devices such as the iPad.

“Spotify will eventually be ubiquitous, especially as more users want music on tablet devices. Music lovers want music everywhere, including when they drive their car,” said Ken Parks, Spotify’s chief content officer and managing director for North America. “Based on how well the desktop apps perform, we are very open to the future. A music store will also come.”

A music store would allow members to purchase songs directly from the service could also arrive. This feature is already available for European Spotify. For now, Spotify is partnering with companies such as Rolling Stone, Last.fm, Songkick and tunewiki to provide apps that will make the site more engaging for users, from allowing them to access song lyrics to purchase concert tickets. Parks confirmed that some users will start to see the apps automatically pop up through Spotify as early as next week.

Overall, Spotify’s business model is following a path similar to Facebook’s, starting first as a website before expanding to mobile and third-party apps. In September, the company rolled out social integration to Facebook and has attracted new members ever since.

Spotify has been under pressure recently from competitors such as Google Music, the recently-unveiled free service that allows users to upload, share and browse songs, and then listen to them on the go via cloud storage on Android devices. However, Park said he’s currently more concerned with “providing new ways to keep users engaged on the site and growing that user base” than standing out among competitors.

Parks also noted that the more people remain engaged on the site, “the more likely they are to return and pay for a premium service.”

Spotify members can use the site for free for the first six months and later opt-in to premium packages for unlimited access.

A preview of the new Spotify apps is now available for download.

More About: Music, spotify, Spotify apps

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Brett Miller is the president of Custom Software by Preston (CSP). For more than 10 years, CSP has impressed clients with highly effective software solutions and teams of multi-talented software engineers.

It might seem obvious, but effectively communicating your project needs to software developers is more than just important. It could actually mean the difference between a project that achieves its objectives and one that does not.

Having an idea in mind and being able to discuss it intelligently isn’t always enough to efficiently communicate all the critical nuances and required details. I strongly recommend that clients produce a requirements document to facilitate agreement among stakeholders, and in turn, to communicate that information to members of the development team.

SEE ALSO: HOW TO: Hire a Designer or Developer

Below are some techniques and exercises that can be used to help you document the vision for your software project.  Chances are you’ll discover new details and potentials that you hadn’t even considered before.

The good news is that you can’t do this wrong.  The key to success is to take the time to thoroughly dig into your thoughts, identify vital details and pinpoint the scenarios you need to account for. Spending the time to be thorough at this juncture could end up saving many hours of development, which translates into fewer headaches and lower costs.
 


Let’s Get Started


  • List a few websites you like. Is it the aesthetics or the functionality? Is there something you do not like about any of the websites?
  • List a few competitors. What do you like and not like about their websites?
  • List three adjectives. Give the developer three adjectives to describe the look and feel of the user interface that you would like built — for example, sophisticated, modern and edgy.
  • Input and Output of the application: Identify the information that’s entered into the application, manually or automatically. Also identify the information that the application produces.

Existing Applications


  • Documentation: Wherever possible, gather all the documentation (development codes, executable app, notes, documentation, etc.) and have it available for the developer.
  • Process Detailing: Your developer will need access to a live account to better understanding existing software. Even if the process is currently handled manually, providing details (and examples) on the specifics will give your development team a solid point of reference.

Application Users


  • Planned System Users: Categorize them into types when needing certain application capabilities wherever possible.
  • Features Needed: Describe the major features you want.

Add details to the major features categories identified above:

  • Where is this feature accessed and how is it used?
  • What are the different scenarios of usage, and if this happens, then what else can occur)?
  • Who is the capability designed for?
  • Why do they need to be able to do this?
  • Is this capability optional, due to cost or some other factor?
  • What additional details can you add to the feature list?

    • Internal vs. External: Which project responsibilities will be handled internally instead of having a development team work on it? (examples: drafting requirements, writing verbiage, testing, hosting, marketing, graphic design, etc.)
    • Internal Staff Capabilities: How technical is your staff to use the advanced features of the application?
    • Defining Success: What defines success on this project — affordability, user friendliness, aesthetics, simplicity, information organization or some measured combination of those factors?

    Final Check


    Has everything of importance been identified, categorized and explored in your documentation?

    Seasoned software developers have been through this analysis process many times. Your efforts to produce as much of this information as possible in advance will aid their efforts to reach your project’s goals. Complete this documentation as thoroughly as possible and you will find yourself well on the road to project success.

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, TommL

    More About: Business, contributor, developers, features, software development

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    Posted by Dr. Pete

    Old water pumpYou’ve finally finished that epic blog post [infographic, LOLCat, Thundercats remix…] and tomorrow morning you’ll unleash it on the world. So, what should you do between now and then? You could take a nap, sure, or you could start priming the social pump early. Here are 5 tips for how to put your network to work before you need it…

    i. Be Genuine

    This is the pre-tip that makes all the other tips work. I honestly hate giving social media advice, because I find that just about every “Always do…” or “NEVER do…” has an exception. There are people who can Tweet out the same link 10 times a day and see great returns. There are others who can talk about nothing but what they eat for breakfast and get 10,000 happy followers.

    What’s the difference? Sincerity, and a little moderation. If you’re genuine, believe in what you’re doing, and aren’t just trying to game the system, people will forgive the occasional over-indulgence. Just like we all deserve to eat a bit too much for the holidays, we’re all allowed to get carried away when we’re passionate about something we’ve created. Just do it because you mean it, and try not to overdo it.

    1. Participate

    It’s sad that I have to say this one out loud, but priming the pump starts long before the eve of your launch. The first word in social media is “social” – if you just create an account on every platform, broadcast your own links, and never participate, you’ll get no results. The only exception is if you’re already famous. The rules that apply to Kim Kardashian don’t apply to you. Life isn’t fair.  If you’re already famous, congratulations – you can go read another post now.

    The usual argument is “I don’t have time.” If that’s true, fair enough – focus your efforts. Better to spend quality time on one social network than just throw links at ten. Even one solid network you actively participate in can create amazing returns.

    2. Pre-Announce

    You’ve got a post scheduled, and you’re itching to click [Publish]. Why not share that excitement? Even if you don’t have a link yet, let people know you’ve got something great in the works. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a Tweet like this:

    Sample Tweet

    Of course, please see Section (i) – for this to work, you have to mean it. If you’ve never been psyched about anything, or you send out this message twice a day, you’re going to sound like an ass. The best way not to sound like an ass is not to be an ass.

    3. Be A Tease

    This is the advanced form of pre-announcing. Did you ever watch a movie preview and it was so awesome you stopped caring about the movie you actually paid to see? Studios are great at turning short versions of their work into teasers – take the best minute or two, put it to dramatic music with a booming voiceover, and Bam – magic!

    So, why not take a couple of the best bits of your post and pre-release them? It could be a bit of a copy, a piece of data, or even an illustration. For my recent dupe content mega-post, I posted this on Google+ just for fun:

    Sample Google+ Post

    I’ll admit it – this was a tease. I wanted people to think “Wow, I wonder what that post is about?” The trick, and the art, is to give people something of value (no matter how small). I honestly thought the quote was funny, and I wanted to share it. Of course, the other trick is to make sure that you don’t waste all the good bits in the previews, like almost all romantic comedies of the past 5 years.

    I also did a bit of a post-post teaser, using the opening illustration:

    Sample Google+ Post

    I could’ve just as easily made that a pre-post teaser, but I was a bit afraid to waste it. I sometimes get a little too attached to my mediocre drawings. It’s all part of my charm, I imagine.

    4. Create Buy-in

    Have you ever seen someone post a survey asking for data or topics for a post? The magic of that tactic isn’t just that other people are helping create your content – it’s that each one of those people has just bought into your post. As soon as they provide data or feedback, they’ll want to know what you’ll do with it.

    The trick to this one is that you have be specific and create something interesting enough that people want to participate. I’m not a big fan of Tweets like this:

    Sample Tweet

    Don’t get me wrong – it’s a perfectly valid thing to say, and it lets people know you’re human. Just don’t expect your boredom to result in someone else’s interest. If you want participation, you need to structure it – create a survey or even a simple poll, ask people for data, and generally get them invested in your idea.

    It doesn’t have to be complicated. While working on a recent slide deck, I Tweeted this:

    Sample Tweet

    Looking back, it’s a combination of teaser + participation – by asking people’s opinions, I was trying to get them both interested and invested. Ultimately, participation is just another facet of social influence and a way to impact people in your network.

    By the way, if you want to know which caption won, tune into my free webinar on Tuesday – “Future-Proofing Your SEO: 2012 Edition” (see what I did there?)

    5. Pre-Reciprocate

    If you’re good at social media, you’ll thank the people who help you and try to help them back. If you’re great at social media, you’ll help them before they help you. Be active the day(s) before you put out an important link – talk to people, re-tweet/Like/+1 their URLs, and generally make yourself seen. Social media is all about perception. You don’t have to be online every waking minute, but it never hurts to look like you are.

    Now You Know

    Those are all my dirty little secrets, and my social media life is now ruined forever. Seriously, I fall back on Tip (i) – I can say this out loud, because I’m sincere. Yes, there’s method to my madness, and I probably scheme more than most people realize, but I also love what I do.

    You can game social media to a point, but real success in the social world is ultimately a reflection of you. If you don’t care, neither will anyone else. If you’re excited about what you create, why not let your excitement be contagious?

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    ONWARDsearch released and infographic yesterday called SEO Salary Guide: For Top 20 U.S. Markets that shows you which U.S. markets offer the highest number of SEO-related jobs and what the salary ranges for those markets are. You can download the guide in PDF form here. Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal

    Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal





    Rachael Gerson spearheads the Analytics division at SEER Interactive. Follow her on Twitter @rachaelgerson.

    Over the past eight months, Google has steadily released one revolutionary new feature after another. On March 17, the company announced a new version of Google Analytics. Up until this point, users could decide whether they preferred to stick with the old interface or switch to the new one. However, Google recently announced that the old version of GA will be turned off in January 2012.

    If you’re not already familiar with the new version, take the next few weeks to get comfortable with it. To help you get started, let’s review the top 10 features of the new Google Analytics.


    1. Dashboards


    Dashboards got a much needed overhaul in the new GA. Users can now create up to 20 personalized dashboards, developing widgets and formats that make the most sense for them or their company. For instance, each company department could develop its own distinct dashboard to quickly access site performance statistics that relate to department goals. Keep in mind: Dashboards can only be shared by users on the same login.

    At a minimum, these four widgets would benefit the average user.

    • Visits – Timeline (can also include Metric)
    • Goal Completions and/or Transactions – Timeline
    • Source/Medium – Table
    • Bounce Rate – Timeline

    2. Keyword Clouds


    Rather than viewing a long list of keywords to spot trends, users can now evaluate a keyword cloud. This cloud makes it easy to visualize top keywords based on different user-selected criteria, including visits, bounce rates and pages per visit.


    3. Real-Time Data


    In the past, Google Analytics data was typically delayed up to 24 hours after the visit. For the first time, GA offers a real-time data solution. With its real-time reports, users can view the activity on the site as it happens, drilling into the top active pages, top referrals, keywords and geographic locations driving the traffic. In addition to monitoring current activity on the site, these reports can also be used to test campaign tracking prior to launching campaigns.


    4. Site Speed


    When Google released this report several months ago, it required additional code to be added to sites. Now speed reporting is standard on GA, and doesn’t need extra code. Use the site speed reports to get information about average page load time.

    Why is this important? A slow site can have a negative effect on quality score for paid search, so visits can cost more to a slower site. Google has also indicated that site speed may be an important factor in organic search rankings. Additionally, a one-second delay can result in a 7% reduction in conversions. Use this report to monitor site speed and avoid these issues.


    5. Search Simplifies Navigation


    GA has activated menu search, a phenomenal usability update. The tool makes it easier for users to quickly navigate to the proper report. Google also created an account search that lets users directly access the correct profile, rather than scrolling through hundreds to locate the right one.

    GA also introduced the ability to switch between multiple profiles while staying with and maintaining the settings of the same report. Previously this could only be done using a Firefox plugin.


    6. Webmaster Tools


    The new integration incorporates Google Webmaster Tools data into Google Analytics. Using this tool, users can get a better sense of which Google property (web, image, local) drove site traffic. Similar to statistics provided to paid search advertisers, Webmaster Tools provides impressions, average position and CTR data for GA.

    Although the numbers are not 100% accurate, they can be used to evaluate relative trends and to provide insight into data lost due to Google’s search update. Although the Webmaster Tools report is in Google Analytics, it’s limited to a single part of GA.


    7. Social Engagement


    Use Google Analytics to track how visitors interact socially with your site. A 2010 study showed 54% of small and medium-sized businesses said they already use or plan to use social media, and 17% planned to increase their social budget again from 2010 to 2011. With more companies making a push for social, it makes sense to analyze social site interactions.

    GA’s new social reports break down how many of a site’s visitors are socially engaged with the site, itemizing which social source and action occurred. That way you can determine how many of your visitors +1′d site content vs. how many Liked it, as well as the pages that prompted this social action. Social plugins ShareThis and AddThis easily integrate with Google Analytics, passing information on social interactions back to GA with minimal changes.


    8. Visitor Flow & Goal Flow Visualization


    Flow Visualization was announced in October, but only recently started rolling out to most users. Flow Visualization consists of two reports: Visitors Flow and Goal Flow. The Visitors Flow report can be used to visualize the “flow” of visitors through the site, while the Goal Flow is an improvement on the original Funnel Visualization reports.

    The Goal Flow report is especially valuable, as it simplifies evaluating a conversion funnel. Have a checkout process six pages long? Now you can determine at which page people are abandoning their carts. Then improve the process and save the sales.


    9. Event Tracking


    Prior to this new feature, any goal interaction with a site that didn’t result in a new URL needed to be tracked using special code to create a virtual pageview, which resulted in inflated numbers in GA. For the first time, Events can be used as goals. Want to find out how many people downloaded a PDF? Interested in knowing how many visitors viewed more than 30 seconds of a video on your site? Now users can easily track these events without affecting other metrics.


    10. Multi-Channel Funnels


    The Multi-Channel Funnels are a series of reports intended to help provide attribution information. For example, a person visits your site first from a paid search ad, then from an organic search listing, then from a link in Twitter, and finally from an email link. Therefore, which channel should get credit for the conversion? With many analytics platforms, the credit goes to the final funnel, thus, the email marketing campaign.

    Multiple reports in the new Multi-Channel Funnels allow users to view further back than the final channel. Now GA shows every interaction a user had with the site in the 30 days prior to conversion. Using these reports, departments can take credit for their assists to conversions, and companies can make more informed decisions about which marketing activities have the highest ROI.

    These are just a few of the many great advancements made to Google Analytics with the new rollout. While there are still several features missing (such as the PDF and email export functionalities, percent comparisons, missing graph by week option, etc.), Google is constantly striving to correct these with future iterations of the platform.

    What’s your favorite feature in the new Google Analytics?

    More About: contributor, features, Google, google analytics, trending, web apps

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    Early this morning, Adobe announced that it has entered an agreement to purchase Efficient Frontier, which will become part of Adobe’s Digital Marketing Suite. Efficient Frontier is a leader in social, search, and display marketing that utilizes multi-channel optimization to help clients maximize advertising budgets. The multi-channel optimization process utilized by Efficient Frontier leverages extensive […]

    Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal


    It’s almost that time of year when everyone goes crazy for deals. That time of the year when people spend hours shopping online.  This is the time of year when a lot of new Advertisers enter the space, this means that you as a PPC manager or Agency have to step up and go above and beyond […]

    Follow SEJ on Twitter @sejournal





    spotify office

    Spotify is kicking off its first-ever U.S. press conference in New York City on Wednesday, promising a big announcement about a “new direction” for the company. Although the company declined to comment on what to expect at the “What’s next for Spotify?” event, a PR rep told Mashable that “so much is coming.”

    The latest rumor is that Spotify will launch an “app finder” with apps that allow users to buy concert tickets, look for song lyrics and read reviews, all while listening to songs. Spotify is also rumored to expand its application programming interface (API), so third-party developers can make Spotify’s music library available to their own users for a fee.

    CEO Daniel Ek will serve as master of ceremonies, and there should also be a special guest or two. Since this is Spotify’s first big press event and it’s not typical for Ek to address the press in this manner, we’re expecting this to be big.

    We’ll be bringing you the latest news from the event in our live blog below, starting at 11:45 a.m. ET.

    UPDATE: The big news is, as we suspected, that third-party developers can now create apps on the site.

    You can watch the live stream below, using the password l0vemus1c

    More About: Music, spotify, streaming, trending

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    This is the expanded version of my talk at Startup Marketing School in NYC. You can learn more about the series here. In a world that seems to have gone social media crazy, it’s important to not lose sight of the end goal. Businesses are built to acquire new customers and generate profits. It may […]

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    Posted by Justin_Vanning

    Hey there Mozzers! Today I'm going to talk about how to link your new Google+ Business Page to your Google AdWords account so you can start utilizing the new social extension feature.

    As we all know, Google+ has been hard at work lately trying to increase their user base and trying to close the gap between them and Facebook. Over the past few weeks they have moved one step closer by rolling out their Google+ business pages – basically the equivalent to Facebook business profiles.

    Now, before I go any further, I want to state a quick disclaimer; social extensions are brand new within AdWords and the folks over at Google are still ironing out the kinks. There are still many questions around how they will evolve over the next several months, but for now I will do my best to explain what social extensions are, how to set them up, and what they can do for your PPC performance.

    What Are AdWords Social Extensions?

    Social extensions within AdWords are Google's way of annotating your Google+ follower count to your PPC ads. Here's what it looks like in action:

    Pretty cool, eh?

    Now there's 2 types of Social Extensions that Google rolled out with, Personal and Basic. The example above is a Personal social extension. It shows you how many people within your Circles who have +1'd either the landing page or the Google+ Business Page. When the Basic social extension is shown, it will show you how many people across the web have +1'd the landing page or the Google+ Business Page. For example, if Roger Mozbot does a search on robot wheels he might see an ad that has the Basic social extension, "300 people have +1'd this". That means that 300 people across the web have either +1'd the landing page or the Google+ Business Page.

    How Do You Set Up Social Extensions?

    1. Setup your Google+ Business Page

    The first thing you need to do is setup your Google+ Business Page, if you haven't done so already. Our Chief Community Wrangler, Jen Lopez, set ours up and told me it was quick and painless. But, if you need some help on how to set up your business page, check out this article by Search Engine Land.

    2. Verify your site

    In order for Google to verify that you are the owner of the Business Page, you need to do two things.

    3. Activate social extensions in your AdWords account

    After completing the first two steps, go in to your Google AdWords account and click on the "ad extensions" button, then make sure you are viewing "social extensions" and click "new extension".

     

    Now you'll have to paste your Google+ Business Page URL in to the box:

    After saving the new social extension, it may take a few days for Google to approve it. It will say "pending review" until it has been approved and then the status will change to "eligible". Now your ads should start showing social extensions. W00t!

    What Are The Benefits Of Setting Up Social Extensions?

    So now that you have everything set up properly, you're probably wondering what type of impact the social extensions will have on your ad performance. I can tell you that I have seen a nice bump in CTR on all of my ads that have been shown with the social extensions. The data is pretty preliminary since Google is only showing social extensions on a limited basis, but so far, the results look very good.

    After setting up everything correctly in your AdWords account, if you want to see how the social extensions are performing, follow these simple steps:

    • Click in to one of your campaigns that has enabled social extensions
    • Click on the "ads" tab
    • Click on the "segment" drop down and select "+1 Annotations"

    In the above screenshot you can see that while we only had a handful of impressions showing with the basic social extension, it has a much higher CTR then our standard ad. I reviewed some other ads within our campaign and am seeing a significant bump in CTR on all ads that were shown with either the personal or basic social extensions!

    We know that these social extensions are still in their infant stages at Google, and I'm sure Google will be making some tweaks to them as they gather more data. But for now, there are several unique advantages you will have by turning on social extensions in your AdWords account.

    • Most advertisers still aren't utilizing social extensions so you can roll out with them before your competitors do
    • It only takes a few minutes to set up, it is free, and it will instantly give your ads more credibility and trust by having the social annotations appear within them
    • While the results are still very preliminary, it appears that ads with social annotations are generating higher CTRs
    • Increase the number of +1's you have on your Business Page since users who +1 your ad will count as a +1 to your Business Page

    I hope you find this post helpful and can get some value out of turning on social extensions within your AdWords account. If you have already turned them on and are seeing results, please feel free to share them with me. Also, if you have questions, please let me know and I'll do my best to answer them. 

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