Day 13: SXSW - More from Angela’s Sessions

Monday, March 10, 2003

Traffic Jam: Making Web Sites Popular and Profitable

Speaker June Cohen (, wrote “The Unusually Useful Web Book”

Keep visitors around longer

  • Study your traffic logs to learn what works
  • Make choices intuitive. Try user testing with friends, family. “Don’t Make Me Think” book.
  • Label things clearly. People don’t want to click on something they don’t understand.
  • Improve site search. and others provide good site searches. Customize results for common searches. (Need search for Crafty Goat.)

Bring them back more often

  • One word: email. Accounts for up to 75% of traffic to sites! Start collecting addresses now. Put “enter email” form on front door. Experiement with format, frequency. Mail early in the week and overnight. (Include more info on new website features when sending out monthly Mensokie email.)
  • Fill a need. Provide something your users want.
  • Update more often… maybe! If you’re just updating, but not letting anyone know, it’s won’t do any good. Can kill yourself making updates, but only matters if people actually care.
  • Run promotions
  • Become the homepage (hard to do)

Attracting new visitors

  • Get referrals from search engine. Important to reach people when they’re thinking about you. Focus on specific pages — not whole site. Copy what high-ranked sites do. Important to list key words as title of page and heading of page (marked as heading), as well as in content. Get other subject-related sites to link to yours. If all else fails,
  • Get referrals from (hand-edited) directories. Email sites, perhaps even paying expedite fee. They look to see if site has what it claims to have, and whether it works in major browsers. These referrals give credibility and sometimes help ranking in search engines.
  • Get links from other sites. Best way to do so is to ask for them.
  • Advertise — online and offline. Buy keyword-related links like Google’s. Best way to advertise is online, because people don’t remember it long enough otherwise. Email lists are good.
  • Inspire word of mouth. Get users to tell a friend. Emailing friends works. (For OKMensa quizzes, have ‘Send a score’ email.)
  • Lure existing offline customers. Put URL in SIG file.

Improve site speed

  • What causes pages to be slow? The page is generated slowly (sites that create dynamic content per user); the page is transferred slowly (too many images, too much content); the page is drawn slowly (coding errors).
  • Reduce page size. Don’t make text be an image. Determine what features really make an impact.
  • Increase bandwidth and server capacity.
  • Clean up the HTML. Nested tables bad. Image tag height and width help, since browser can reserve a space for image while loading other things.
  • Overhaul backend code

Increasing Traffic

  • It’s not just a marketing problem! You don’t have to have money.
  • It’s a cross-disciplinary task: Collaborate!
  • Put someone in charge
  • Set a goal, so you know when you’ve achieved something.

Advergaming: Engaging Essence of the Brand

Panelists Jane Chen (yayacom), Dave Madden (Wild Tangent), Glenn Thomas (Smashing Ideas).

Game play lasts 5-10 minutes, so the advertiser is rewarded by more than the average 30-second spot, and the customer is rewarded by enjoyment of the game. People spend a lot of times playing games. If you can integrate immersive experiences into the game, allowing product to be contextually featured, your advertising is successful. 60% of people do play games, and online gaming growing constantly.

Games can add a level of education and customer loyalty to already-existing customers (already at your website). And customer are often willing to give up more personal info to play a game. Can be used for customer acquisition too. Fruit Stripes gum gained 10-15% sales in 1 year, only marketing online.

Games are targeted towards customer experience. The advertiser is the one benefitted by a straight ad; the customer can benefit from fun gaming. As opposed to TV ads where the advertiser is breaking into what the customer actually wants to see, with gaming, the advertisers are the ones offering what the customer wants. Reach someone in their mindset and in what they do best.

Targeting groups: 51% of gamers online are women. So it’s not just teenage boys. For guys, competition is big, emailing friends to try & beat them. For women, collaboration is good — how can we get better? Personality tests & ways to improve are also big… especially emailing friends to compare, contrast results. The market selects the game — xtreme sports for genx, etc. For children, boys like action/adventure. Girls like printing out & sharing. Gender competition (boys vs girls) is also big for children.

Biggest expense of gaming is art. Lots of testing involved with online distribution.

Sweepstakes & giveaways: ( Cheating & security is a big issue. Make sure it works properly before you put it out; otherwise, you could end up in a situation where you’re legally obligated to give away prizes. Games are important for sweepstakes, because it makes sure they get the right message. If you see a Coke giveaway at the grocery store, with a prize of a Jeep, you’re not sure whether the Coke or Jeep is being advertised. People are more willing to give correct personal info for a sweepstakes. People are willing to tell friends about game/sweepstakes if it gives them more chances to win. Also beneficial in sweepstakes is the co-sposorship aspect — prizes may be donated if it’s advantageous for the donator, and they may also help advertise the sweepstakes.

Create integrated advertising campaign: the look and feel of the online and offline content should be similar.

Video games making more than movie industry now. Approx 10% of American leisure time spent on games. Possibility of selling co-sponsorship, i.e., Jack Daniels logo on pool game.

Screentime app (Flash) allows creating updateable desktops. Message box notification saying a new game is available.

In Print: From Passion to Publish

Speaker: Kevin Smokler. Topic: How to get into the professional publishing industry.

An agent isn’t necessary until almost the very last step. No agent will agree to represent a first-time author on a fiction book until the book is finished. If you want to write a non-fiction book, you need a track record in the area. You need to write elsewhere (national magazines, local magazines, newspapers, web) for a couple of years on that non-fiction topic in order to really be considered.

Start small. Write longer blogs and essays. Consider sending one of these essays to a related publication.

To get published in a magazine, don’t send ideas for articles and follow the normal freelance process. Read the magazine. If you find something you like, write the author and tell them you like it and that it’s encouraged you to be a subscriber. If you can establish a relationship with that author, then you can eventually write them and mention you’re working on a piece about such-and-such. They might be interested and want to see it. Then you’ve got an author at the magazine reading your material.

Another option is to find out where else authors that you like are being published. They probably have some smaller credentials listed, in which case you can try to submit something to the smaller magazine, which is probably more likely to publish you.

Develop a thick skin. It’s like dating — don’t get your hopes up too high in the beginning. Don’t get too discouraged when it doesn’t work. Keep an editor’s name when they reject you. Write back and tell them you’ll send them something else soon. Then write an encouraging note when they do a good job editing a different story. They’ll have a favorable impression and remember your name the next time you send them something.

Be generous with your time. Volunteer to be a technical editor or do something else free for a zine or another publication. They’ll be happy to publish you and will help you out as they move up.

If you’ve got a blog, and want to use it as a portfolio-builder, try to blog about whatever you want to write about. If it’s food, write your blog about food. Writing a daily blog helps you develop your voice and helps your discipline. Might also want to have samples of your work that are available, in case someone’s looking for an article to use tomorrow.

Let people know you are a writer. Represent yourself as a writer. Do readings and open-mike nights. Take a note-pad and sign up people for your mailing list. Maybe you only get one person to sign up, but that’s the person who will buy your book. (Something to remember for Crafty Goat craft show or other offline sales - need to have a mailing list sign-up sheet.)

Self-promotion! Sell yourself and be confident. Make and use connections and take whatever opportunities are provided.

Online journal to look up: InkBlots