Five Tips in Choosing a Perfect Domain Name

For most of our assignments, a domain name is already part of the equation. Sometimes, however, we get a project where we have the chance to invent a domain name for a website, blog, or a new product launch. The problem with coming up with a domain name isn’t the registration process. It’s fairly inexpensive and straightforward to purchase one. The challenge really is coming up with a domain that is memorable and appropriate for your business and brand.

Domain names play a key role in online (and offline) visibility and popularity. A few things to consider: Avoid hypens, shorter is better, make it easy to spell, stick with .com extensions, and use a domain name generator.

Avoid hypens. Hypens make it harder to verbally share your domain name. You’ll get tired of always having to say repeat yourself.

Shorter is better. Shorter names are easier to remember and will fit better on a business card or outdoor billboard.

Make it easy to spell. Avoid using numbers or letters to represent words, such as “2” to mean “to” or “u” to mean “you”. For example, instead of Flowers2Go.com use FlowersToGo.com. And don’t even think of using CarpetCare4U.com.

Stick with .com extensions. Dot com domain names are by far the most popular. And they are perceived as being more credible. How many websites do you visit that have .TV‚ or .biz, or .us? One more thing – Most web browsers default to adding a .com to the end of a web address when someone types in the name of website. If someone types in “WhiteHouse” in the browser bar, Internet Explorer will automatically go to “WhiteHouse.com” and not “WhiteHouse.gov”.

Use a domain name generator. I like to use NameStation.com when brainstorming potential domains. This site has various tools to help you come up with domain name suggestions, generate hundreds of names based on selected keywords, and check the availability of thousands of domain names in minutes.

If you like what you see and want even more advice on your social media and interactive marketing programs, contact us .

Gain More Twitter Followers

Want more Twitter followers? Use these tried-and-true methods to gain more followers today. First, there are written and unwritten rules for using Twitter. One of the unwritten rules is to follow people who follow you. So, carefully choose who you follow (making sure you share common interests) and begin building a rapport with them on Twitter. People follow people who like them.

List your Twitter name in directories like Twellow, which acts as a Yellow Pages directory for Twitter accounts. It’s a great way to get your name out there and be found when people are looking for others to follow. You can add yourself to 10 categories, relevant to either yourself or clients and make yourself visible within the marketplace. For PWB, we listed ourselves under categories such as B-to-B Marketing‚ Demand Generation, Branding, Integrated Marketing Communications and others.

Use hastags for trending topics and get involved with conversations. The hashtag #Michigan is used for news about Michigan. Detroit’s WXYZ morning news show uses #EarlyRisers and #backchannel hashtags during their morning show. People can chime in and tweet live during the news..

Promote your Twitter account on marketing materials, both print and online, such as your email signature line, Web site, business cards, store signage, print ads (tip: use a QR code to make it easy for people to visit you immediately using their smart phone).

Remember, at the end of the day, it is quality not quantity of followers that’s important. It’s better to have 100 loyal followers who actively retweet your messages and participate in your discussions than to have 1,000 random followers who don’t contribute. At PWB, we can help with social media strategy and execution. Want to get noticed online? We can help.

Don’t Make This Business Mistake on Facebook

Facebook rolled out a new service a few months ago called Facebook Places.With it, Facebook is taking on Foursquare by offering a location-based business check-in tool. Like Foursquare, Places lets people share their whereabouts with their friends by “checking-in” to a business using their mobile phones. Whether it’s a cool tool or a creepy way to share way too much information is a debate for another post.

For a local business it makes sense to have a Facebook Place in order to track people who are stopping by at your office, store, or business. Facebook allows a business to merge their Page and Place listings. Don’t make the mistake of merging the two without first considering the implications. Let’s examine the pros and cons.

Benefits of merging include:

  • One central location to manage your Facebook fans and activity.
  • The ability to offer Facebook “Deals” When people check in to your business via Places, you can offer them coupons or promotions. Macy’s, for instance, is offering a 20% discount off select merchandise when you check-in.

The drawbacks of merging include:

  • You can no longer choose a default landing tab. All the hard work that went into creating a customized “Welcome” tab optimized for conversions with calls-to-action, branded content, videos, etc. is no longer effective.
  • The merged listing looks different than what fans are used to. The central focus is on the Bing map and the links previously located on the “Info” tab. The wall posts are now obscured.
  • Once merged, you cannot go back to separate Place and Page listings. So, even if you wanted to test merging the two to see if the pros outweigh the cons, you cannot.

It’s up to you to decide whether the pros outweigh the cons. Have you merged your Page and Place listings? What would you like to see? Should Facebook offer the option to unmerge? Let us know your thoughts.

4,356 Channels and Nothing On

In recent years, there’s been tremendous buzz regarding the rise of social media as a marketing tool. Many have championed them as the future of marketing communications (mostly the self-appointed gurus of social media marketing). But the reality is, this phenomenon isn’t really anything new –  there’s ALWAYS something new in the zoo when it comes to marketing communications. Yes, Facebook has 14 million users. But according to the 2008 Census, there are about 116 million households in the U.S., so maybe direct mail will experience a numbers-fueled renaissance, if the social media logic holds true.

As we’ve tracked and explored social media for our clients, we’ve uncovered one key truth – these exploding new media channels are simply that; channels. Much like traditional advertising, search, direct marketing, or other tools you have to use them wisely, and integrate your message across media. Sure, you can Tweet all day, but if your tweets don’t support your communications strategy, who cares? And if your audiences aren’t on Twitter, you’re just talking to yourself.

I participated in a recent marketing panel where an audience member asked, “What should your blogging strategy be?” This question perfectly illustrated my point – your blogging strategy should be derived from your marketing strategy, which should be derived from your business strategy. If your goal is to regain perceived leadership in the X segment of Y industry, then your blogging strategy should support this position. Conversely, if your marketing strategy is simply to increase natural search, your blogging strategy might support this initiative with lots of keywords and links into your main web site.

While we’re on the topic,  Twitter has been referred to as “micro blogging”. So perhaps the goal of your tweeting should be to attract attention to your blog additions? And here’s an idea, if you’re running a PR push on a specific program, that integrates with a paid advertising push on this same program, then MAYBE your social media efforts should tie in to that?

There’s a reason this stuff is called Integrated Marketing. Consumers of information don’t treat these channels as wholly separate – why should we as marketers?

Story Telling

During a recent meeting with a partner we were discussing the shifts in media, the rise of social media, our thoughts on a print resurgence and more when I realized – it’s about the story, not the channel. With apologies to Marshall McLuhan, the medium is NOT the message. Yes, the medium influences how you deliver your message, but crafting a story that takes the buyer on the journey from awareness to purchase is key.

Think about it, as prospects become aware of and eventually consider and purchase your products they need different types of information. At the early stages they’re becoming family with your product and perhaps your company. Are you reputable? Do you have good quality? Are you priced right? Then as they move into selection they’re evaluating whether this product or service will meet their needs. Will it fit? Does it function like they want? Is it available in their favorite color? The story can even extend into repeat purchases (the best kind of customers) where they had still more needs for information. Have you improved the product or service? How? Does this present any challenges? Any benefits? Is it still affordable?

Whether you’re using advanced tactics like Twitter, or tried-and-true modes like print advertising or direct mail, spend some time thinking about your story BEFORE you invest a lot of time considering media channels. The story may even suggest the channel.

Social Media: Should or Shouldn’t I?

LOTS of buzz in marketing about social media – Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube. Seems like everyone wants to talk about these channels lately. For business-to-business marketers, I must admit I’m skeptical about many of these tools. I hear lots about Twitter, but find it rather hard to imagine what it could do for b-to-b branding or demand generation. Ditto FaceBook.

But blogs seem solid. They deliver timely content, fuel search traffic, and give marketers an opportunity to get into content areas that they couldn’t do in traditional channels and so much more. Certainly, effective blogging isn’t without its challenges. If you’re going to commit to a blog, keep it fresh. If visitors see that the last update was 3 months ago, they likely won’t be back. I’ve seen this with my personal blog – consistent fresh content delivers traffic. I heard a comment at a presentation the other night that also rang true, “If you’re a good writer, blogs are a good idea.” Just because you CAN publish easily via a blog, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Have someone with a solid writing background either author, or at least edit content.

YouTube is another interesting channel. All talk of “viral marketing” aside, YouTube is a simple, low-cost way to distribute video. Have a cool new machine tool you want to show people? Shoot a nice 30 second video clip, stick it on YouTube, and post a link on your website. Done. No muss, no fuss.

But Twitter and Facebook – while they may have applications in consumer marketing, I really don’t see how the effort/results ratio is worth the distraction.

Study Dubiously Says Social Media Has Little Impact on Online Retail Purchases

A joint study by leading market research firm Forrester Research and GSI Commerce concludes social media has almost no impact on online purchases. Their data shows less than 2% of online purchases were the result of people coming from social networks. Mashable says of the study, “All those marketers who are rushing to increase their social media spend take note: social media has almost no influence on online purchasing behavior.”

Okay. Let’s examine this carefully and see if the headline and researchers are jumping to a conclusion. Mashable’s review of the report doesn’t get into what Forrester’s methodology was, or the limitations of their methodology. I believe the study is looking at the wrong metric to measure the effectiveness of social media. The report says only 2% of people making purchases online arrived from a social network. Sure, but how about the people that were exposed to a business’s social media activity and then at a later date made a purchase online? Or, how about the fans that had a favorable impression of the business because of their social media presence and then purchased offline?

Businesses use social media for different objectives – not always about an immediate sale. And using social media as a direct sales channel is ineffective. People don’t want to be pitched to. Businesses should use social media for customer service, build loyalty, be a resource and offer information. Direct online sales is not the metric to use to gauge the ROI of social media.

If a business wants direct online sales, there are more effective online strategies for that. Paid search, for one.