Category Archives: Best Practices

How to Get on Starbucks Wifi. Every Time.

t-shirt from ThinkGeekI love free Wifi. We all do. Except when we can’t get on. Sometimes their default login page stubbornly refuses to appear.

Your friends will tell you, “Oh, just type in, or any site and the page will pop up.” Except that doesn’t always work. And restarting your browser works about 80% of the time.

It’s that one time you really need to get online that the login page refuses to load, right?

I have a simple trick that works on any browser for getting online. Use localhost. Localhost is sort of a default IP address for your computer. Its your computer’s home. [Learn more about localhost here] It’s easy to access it. Just type in That’s one-two-seven-dot-zero-dot-zero-dot-one. Easy.

On some machines, using will work just as well. On FreeBSD and some Macs, the default mapping is for reasons too technical for my feeble brain to grasp.

On newer machines, you can also simply type http://localhost and it will change it to the numeric values. The main thing is, this always calls up the login page in a Wifi environment (not just Starbucks; use it anywhere Wifi is being finicky).

Stop using testimonials. Now.

Never use fake testimonialsI know. All of you marketers out there want to include testimonials on your micro sites, landing pages, online media and Facebook pages. Don’t. I’m begging you not to.

“But, Dave! Consumers are more likely to trust another person’s review of a product than what the brand says about itself!” Aha! You said review, not testimonial. That’s the distinction. It’s the word testimonial. It’s poison and you should endeavor to stop using it. The general belief among consumers regarding testimonials is one of skepticism:

Reviews and comments are genuine; testimonials are not..

Most people believe testimonials were written by the company, and that names in the testimonials are probably those of employees, their spouses, etc. At the same time yes, consumers certainly trust each other’s words over that of brands.

Worse still, do a search for the phrase, “testimonials are fake” or “I write fake testimonials” and you’ll see that many marketers and companies wondering if they should write fake testimonials. They are often answered by others who not only admit to using fake testimonials, they recommend using them as traffic drivers! Make no mistake; it is illegal to use fake testimonials. [See the Lanham Act, Title 15]

This makes the fix simple. Never use the term testimonial in your marketing. Use “reviews” or “comments” instead. This is especially important in the headers above the content. Headings appear in search and search engines use them to help organize data and give you smarter results. Consumers search on the term “reviews” constantly. Testimonials rarely shows up high in search. That alone is a reason to use reviews as the heading. And please, only use real reviews from your customers.

What terms have you found to be effective?

Additional Reading
30 Ways You Can Spot Fake Online Reviews [The Consumerist]
How to Spot a Fake Testimonial []
When Fake Testimonials Cost a Company $300,000 [The SEO News Blog]
Fake Testimonials & the Ethics of Freelance Writing [Grow Your Writing Business]
The Legal Ramifications of Posting Fake or Paid Reviews Online [PracticeDock Blog]

Why Everyone Leaves Your Site

bounce rateWhile I like this post on bounce rate, I disagree with the author’s statement that bounce rate is simply, “…the most basic expression of dissatisfaction with your site users can give you.”

No headline relevance
The author missed one reason for bounce rate that may be the most common cause, but few SEO pros write about it: What the user sees on your site may not match the expectation given by the ad banner they clicked on.

In other words, they aren’t dissatisfied with your site per se; they are dissatisfied with the advertising they clicked on. As an example, I recently read an ad for a retail product that was all about price and comparison to the competition. I clicked on it, expecting to learn more why this product was superior to its competition. Instead, I was sent to a microsite that had no mention of price or competition. It was more of an immersive experience type of site and not at all what I expected to land on.

The fix is simple: Ensure that your online advertising messages are in sync with the page it is linking to. The payoff must be there for the user or the user will be confused, frustrated and have a lower opinion of your brand.

No content relevance
Another way the ad banner can increase bounce rate (which is bad), is by not sending to the proper page in the site. Too many times, a company will spend countless hours creating thoughtful and helpful landing pages that go unnoticed because the ad sent everyone to the homepage instead of directly to that relevant content.

The fix for this is also simple: Ensure whomever purchases your online media knows about landing pages. It’s perfectly OK to send a user 3-5 levels deep in the site from an ad. Better still, make the landing page into a subdomain and purchase a domain name for it.


How I’ll be using Google+ for businesses

Google+Google+ has an innate advantage over Facebook in its use of Circles.
Far too many writers are viewing this as a bad thing, it being anti-social, leading to cliques, etc. I do not hold to this view.

Circles allow for one thing Facebook is notoriously poor at: the hyper-targeting of content.

If I have a product with say, three vastly different audience segments, I may choose to do generic, bordering-on-bland messaging that appeals to all of them, or I may opt to write audience-specific messaging with their unique needs in mind.

Circles allow us to message in precisely this way.

Instead of creating Circles like “Fans”, “Influencers” or “Brand Ambassadors” which will be the unfortunate recommendation of many a social media agency, we should create Circles based on audience segmentation and personas.

Now that’s hyper-targeting your content.

Gmail Labels Saved My Life

I love Gmail. Love it, love it, love it. However, despite its amazing internal search capabilities, it’s still sometimes hard to find important email. I’ve been on Gmail since the beta first launched (thanks to my old friend Kevin Fox). As a former Information Architect, I loved the labeling feature and have experimented with labeling over the years. My goal was to find the optimal labels that would enable me to find crucial email quickly. I began with a few obvious ones. At the time I was only running, so most of my labels were centered around the blog and the various content fans would send me.

  • Fan Mail
  • Hate Mail
  • UCG Images
  • UCG Videos
  • UCG Links
  • Link of the Day

Helpful at the time. But now I run 14 sites including 3 blogs, and host sites for several friends. I needed more structure and labels that included more of what I was doing. I will spare you the in-betweens and get right to where I netted out today. I find this labeling structure to be pretty solid for freelancers, agency and digital folk, writers and developers of all kinds.

  • Domains (Any information from domain registrars about a domain)
  • Registration (Used for log in info, registration emails and license keys
  • Freelance (Used for first contact with a new client to remind me who they are)
  • Supplier (Because I hate the word ‘vendor’)
  • Content (Copy, strategy, presentations, etc.)
  • Assets (Media, photos, videos, etc.)
  • Need (Used when I get a project, but don’t have all the information I need)
  • Follow-up (An extra measure in case I forget to add this to my to-do list app)
  • Complete (Job is out the door)
  • Financial (Billing, invoices, receipts, statements, etc.)

Finally, I use color as a helpful indicator. I use all red with white text for Need and a soothing blue with dark blue text for Complete. Green for Financial. These little details really help. Don’t believe me? Label 10 emails with Need in red and see how important they look! What about you? What labels do you use?

How to Run a Great Digital Conference

LessConf custom fortune cookie

I’ve been speaking at digital conferences since 2001, and I’ve spoken at everything from social media cons to usability cons to Linux cons to sociology cons, so I have a really good feel for what makes a Digital con good or bad.

I just attended the LessConf in Atlanta; one of my favorite cons to date. Limited to 225 participants, LessConf breaks rules. Leaders Allan and Steve really get it and get what their crowd is into. Every day was a surprise, from having speakers talk about how they failed with their startups to afternoon ice cream trucks to giving onstage wedgies to audience members (yes, you read that right).

Only at LessConf can you get an onstage wedgie

A few weeks prior, I attended a large digital conference in Manhattan—let’s call them “MoreConf”—that had Fortune 500 CMOs speaking—and clearly an enormous amount of money behind it. Yet had it not been for outstanding presenters, the bigger conference would have been an epic fail.

What made the smaller conference so awesome and the well-funded one so full of suck? Plenty, it turns out.

LessConf MoreConf
  • Ample WiFi
  • Lots of plugs for laptops
  • Comfortable, modern seating
  • Hashtags posted on site in advance of conference
  • Sensible finger foods (sushi, pizza) easily eaten with plasticware
  • Swag bag with stickers, PopRocks, local deals, custom fortune cookies, animal crackers, a toy and a notepad
  • Four free t-shirts
  • Hour-long lunch breaks and networking
  • Breaks with coffee, ice cream and local pastries
  • Ample bottled water, juices and sodas
  • Opportunity to meet all speakers and each other
  • No WiFi
  • No plugs anywhere
  • Cramped, inflexible seating
  • Hashtag mentioned 2 hours into conference
  • Foods that are hard to eat with plasticware (steak, asparagus, chicken breasts)
  • Swag bag with pen, notepad and a magazine
  • $25 for a t-shirt
  • Half hour lunch breaks
  • No morning or afternoon breaks
  • Water coolers provided by Google
  • Apart from Q&A, no interaction with speakers

I could cite several more examples, but I’d prefer to leave you with some words from LessConf promoter, Allan Branch. I asked Allan what he thought made LessConf different from other cons.

“We wanted to make the conference we’d want to attend. It’s more like a party than a conference in some ways. If you take away two or three things from the speakers, that’s great. But if you leave with 30 new friends, that’s what it’s all about.”