Category Archives: web

Tips on using Pay-Per-Click marketing to sell sell sell!

Today I went to a very informative course conducted by Emarketeers about pay-per-click marketing, or PPC. I learnt new jargon and ways of creating an effective online marketing campaign. We spent some time on Google Adwords. We also had a look at Facebook and how targeted it’s advertising can be. Don’t give too much away on Facebook – that’s probably how Made.com made me buy a sofabed from them because I liked Homes Under the Hammer. Granted, it’s a lovely sofabed.

Yoko sofa bed, Made.com

Sleek and sexy, right?

Anyway, I came away with some tips for Adwords success. Adwords are  those ads you see above and on the right hand side of ‘organic’ search results when you do a search on Google. They enable you to do targeted online advertising at a cost determined by you on a website used by billions!

  • Optimise your landing pages. Use the keywords you have chosen to bid on as much as possible – on your landing page, on the ad, in the headline, possibly in the display URL.
  • Target your audience by country or region.
  • Target your audience by when they’re likely to be surfing and buying your product! For retailers, this would be in the evenings after work. You can also pay attention to the time of the year.
  • Never use the ‘broad matching’ option alone when you’re starting out. Your ad can end up appearing on random search terms and you would potentially waste a lot of money.
  • Make use of display networks when you have a better idea of what you are doing. What are display networks? They are the ads you see on Google Adsense, in a box usually embedded on blogs or websites. They can be text, pretty graphics or Flash. Google sets ‘Display on display networks’ as a default; don’t let them siphon more money from you – turn this option off to begin with!
  • When you feel ready to use display networks, create a different, dedicated campaign for it so you can track it separately.
  • Use broad-matching, broad-match modifiers and and phrase or exact matching wisely.
  • Using Google Adwords keyword tool, work out which search terms won’t make people buy your product/service/information. This will help you compile a negative keyword list. So your ad won’t be triggered say, if the surfer is actually looking for help on a support issue rather than wanting to buy the actual product.
  • Please get rid of underperforming keywords that don’t generate much business or traffic for you – if you don’t, this will reflect badly on your Quality Score, which in turn makes it possible for Google to charge you more for every click.
  • Of course, calculate your cost per acquisition (CPA – a term I learnt today!) so you can gauge how much you can realistically spend on Adwords. No point spending £50 to get someone to spend £25!

The course covered a lot more ground – if PPC and online marketing is of interest to you, then do look up the Pay-Per-Click marketing course by Emarketeers.

Rightmove real estate fun, and organic thinking

I’ve recently (re)started wasting hours of my life going through the rightmove website. It’s a fun hobby I tell you.

“Can I find a house/flat for less than £60,000 within 40 miles of Waterloo?”

“Where can I find the cheapest flat north of Crewe that isn’t in a shithole (haha)”

“What can I afford for £900,000 up my street?”

It’s amusing to see listings saying “Studio flat” alongside a picture of a garage. In Mayfair. Or anywhere in the South. Taking “future potential” a bit too far, like Enron.

So what I have resolved to do is, instead of letting my youth slip away amongst pictures of decrepit and luxury houses, I’m going to blog instead. About anything. In fact it does appear that my mind thinks best while walking or on the train in the morning or about to sleep at night. Anywhere but in front of the computer.

That is exactly what Richard Watson said recently in his speech Future Minds. Amongst other things he says the best place to think is not in front of the computer. Although I have spent more than half my life in front of a computer, I agree with him. I can think of doing specific things on a computer, like emailing, buying, or saying impulse stuff like leaving a comment. However new thoughts I find are generated elsewhere – because when I’m on a computer I’m invariably doing something. Which is not conducive to clear thinking.

The unfortunate fact is that all my wonderful thoughts are forgotten once I’m in front of a computer… or even a paper notebook. I’ll try harder next time… for my sake…

For a wonderful Asian food blog, visit the Catty Life. Wonderful pics, and unsurpassed Asian foodie.

We all know how Reggae Reggae did it…

… but how about those countless other sauces? It is necessary to have massive capital to get started? I’m just curious.

There are a lot of aspects to ensuring a company makes (and continues to make) money from selling food products to people:

A bit of a random list I know; hope to find out even more over the next few weeks.

Is Google boss’ vision for augmented humanity insidious?

“Schmidt said the long term goal here is to ensure everyone lives a happier life. Central to this is information, which is where Google comes in as a company driven by organising all the world’s data and making it accessible.”

Isn’t it dangerous to trust one private company with the world’s data? Was it George Orwell who said smth like, he who controls the present, controls the past; he who controls the past, controls the future. The word accessible has such a positive meaning these days, but what is being made accessible and to whom? What is in data? What is considered information esp in the digital age are at times beyond simple comprehension – as in, why would anyone want to know that? Like how many people visit my website, what websites I go to, what I download, who I speak to, who emails me, what I search for (indeed this has been used by police to track someone’s motives) and many more I cannot think of.

Also…. one data= one culture? The homogenization of world society well under way? We’ll generally aspire to similar things and dreams? Hence widening the market across the world to keep the demand going? Things and dreams that sap time and life so that we don’t have time left to think (only on trains and planes… oh wait, there are free newspapers to distract you)?

“In the future, he remarked, “We can suggest where you go next, who to meet, what to read…What’s interesting about this future is that it’s for the average person, not just the elites.”

Another mechanism to curb human thinking and natural ability to explore? Thinking is like a muscle. Anything that directly saves labour (like washing machines) is ok – anything that attempts to save thinking should be viewed with suspicion.

View full article

Groupsite – social networking platform

Before I go to bed I just would like to share a discovery I made today: Groupsite

It is a ready-made social networking platform like Ning and SocialGo, but with more practical functionality and professional looks. One thing I’ve not seen before is ‘Key Contacts’, where your group members can list useful/important/VIP people they know, and you can get in contact with an important person on the list via the name-dropping fellow group member. The objectives list is pretty cool too. And I can download my member list on an XML or CSV file which is useful for keeping track of users off-platform. However I can’t find the Inbox/Sentbox easily although I’ve sent private msgs to other members. Hmm.

The free version which I’m currently on is sufficient to nose around and get a feel for the platform, but I can see why it may not catch on as much as Ning because it’s fairly restricted – for instance, I can only make 5 groups. OK for a small-timer I guess.

How to make more money from an arty-farty job – jack it

A new podcast from I Will Teach You To Be Rich features a young lady, Cass aka WebWallflower, who used her skills as theatre stage manager to become a freelance niche conference organiser. Apparently she was earning up to US$400 a week in her previous job, and now as a freelancer she’s making three times that and working three times less.

She really brought to light the magic of niche; she specialises in organising conferences and events just for start-ups and web 2.0 companies. Why clients hire her: she’ll take care of all the gruntwork involved in organising a conference (a/v etc), booking a venue and negotiating a bargain (apparently hotels always quote 40% over the price they’re willing to settle for), finding speakers, sponsorship… and on the day, her clients can be free to network and make business rather than take care of logistics.

She also selects her clients quite carefully – and focuses on taking on jobs that will get her more business e.g the right target market, and a good fit for her expertise and network. For example, she can organise an event for doctors or lawyers but would rather not as she wouldn’t bring as much value to the table, and vice-versa – she is not au fait with that particular market so would less likely get new clients.

She also takes investing in her business as a given – for her having a website and getting a faster computer are essentials. If you’re not psychologically prepared to pay to invest in your business, you’re not ready. It forces her to get things done/get more business since the overhead’s running!

She invested time as well, to figure out if this is the way forward. She was moonlighting whilst working 50-100 hours a week for the theatre, when it dawned on her that she was making as much money as a conference organiser in half the time!

Her main skill that she took from being a stage manager is being able to juggle plenty of proverbial balls in the air, liase with people in a friendly way, and keep the show running. Over time she’d developed a formidable database of contacts that she can call on to sell conference tickets to, or ask to speak at these conferences. She develops her business mainly through word of mouth and through the conferences she has organised – and I guess now, from interviews she’s done with the likes of Ramit. She never fails to make sure that she is noticed in conferences – despite being an introvert – and keeps her online presence alive via Twitter and Facebook.

The more she specialises, the more valuable she becomes, and hence the more likely clients are willing to pay top dollar!

Her sales pitch with a prospective client is not really a pitch – it’s a chance for her to suss out the clients’ needs. Through  information such as what they’re hoping to achieve through their conference and the sort of content/market they’re after, she’s able to work out how much they’re willing or should be spending. She also assuages their fears and make sure they know that they’ll be free to create new business and network while she handles the event’s logistics. If they’re actually not quite ready to host a conference, or are unclear about what they want to achieve, she tells it like it is and points them elsewhere! She doesn’t just hard sell. This shows her to be genuine and a source of expert advice, and in fact she’s thinking of providing a service where clients who aren’t quite ready to pay for full-blown event management to sit with her for a couple of hours to work out what they can do to organise their own forthcoming event.

As for getting paid, she either charges a flat fee and requests 50% upfront, or if she believes the conference is going to sell, and she thinks she can benefit from future business, she’ll charge a lower flat free but will take a percentage of profits after the conference.

She also advises that, to get the most out of a conference, it’s best to have it two or three times – with each time it gets cheaper to produce and will make more money, as it gets more established and punters know what they’re in for (plus the whole word of mouth effect from each successful event!).

Very useful ‘day in the life’ story to inspire us to see how we can take our existing skills and put it to use in a different capacity.  It is also another example of how starting small works, and that it’s better to be a big clever fish in a small niche pond. Listen to the full audio interview on I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

Dell sucks… until mine is here.

Dell - Yours is hereLet’s start with how Dell sucks.

After much research, I bought a Dell Studio 1557 laptop online, to make music with. 9-13 days – I can live with that. However, it eventually took Dell over a month to make and send me a laptop. I was not amused. I even tried to cancel my order, which I was told, by a human being, that it was successful – but NO! They took my money – turns out I couldn’t cancel.

After a long, fraught and annoying wait, I was underwhelmed when an automated computer voice rang my mobile to confirm the date and time of my delivery. And when the package finally arrived, it sat unloved and unopened for half a day while I got on with my life.

I didn’t even bother opening it in the end – got my partner to do it. Spied a big ‘Made in China’ label. Seemed to crawl through orienting itself into life as a laptop. Vista as well! Was not impressed.

How Dell redeemed itself

In under 24 hours I’m totally sold on this product. Specs below. My main considerations were for it to be good enough for making music, a PC (was considering a Mac… but I love PC really) and cost under £700. I’ve gotten so used to this thing now, going back to my desktop seems strange!

Intel i7-720QM(1.6GHz) Mobile CPU – 6MB L3 cache, quick mobile processor. This had only been out about two weeks when I ordered the laptop
4GB RAM
320GB 7,200rpm hard drive – 5,400rpm would be more likely to cause latency/write issues
512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HP 4570 – I like playing games; this is good enough for not-so demanding games
64-bit Vista OS

After it got into the swing of things, this laptop really shone. My desktop computers rely on wifi dongles to connect to the internet and they cut out all the time – but this laptop’s connection is very stable. The sound is great for a laptop; it’s like surround sound. The screen is wide and bigger than I expected (15″ inch widescreen). As a result it’s not as light as I would like, but considering how powerful it is (and it has a DVDRW drive), it’s acceptable. The keyboard is lovely to type on as I write this; the keys big, light and comfortable.

And the speed. It’s quite ridiculous how the speed of a computer can affect internet experience. We only have bog standard wifi and the router’s quite far away. My year-old desktop is very good, but this one is on fire – working though a Java-based website CMS in real-time, as if I’m just working through Explorer locally. I also installed Sims 3 and imported my Sims 3 files from my desktop so I can continue my game. Seems to work fine. I think Sims 3 automatically uses settings that give the swiftest gameplay, which is why the graphics aren’t as good as on my desktop – but it’s not jerky, and is definitely good enough.

I did encounter some stupid errors which presumably is due to Vista – like default shortcuts in My Documents pointing to a location that doesn’t exist and refusing to install Cute FTP despite having the right version of it.

I’ll give making music a go on this thing, after I figure out what software to use! Here’s hoping the laptop won’t slow down…

P.S: Are you looking for a Dell Studio battery for this laptop?