info@golden-fire.com     (484) 85-SPARK  

Goldenfire Productions Blog

More trouble for Microsoft Silverlight

Trouble first started with the 2008 Sumer Olympics for Microsoft Silverlight, The MS alternative to Adobe Flash. NBC choose Microsoft Silverlight to transmit it’s tv coverage of the Olympic games to the web, at the time, leaving older apple and linux users without a player to view the video streams, and countless headaches for  windows users who had to download and install the Silverlight player for the first time. 

By the 2008 NFL season NBC jumped ship and switched back to Adobe flash for video streaming citing the stat 98% of internet-connected computers have flash.

Now Major League Baseball is making the same move, leaving Silverlight for Flash. After one year of using Silverlight, MLB switched back to Flash due to problems plaguing Microsoft’s player. Saturation of the Flash player along with some major glitches that happen at last years opening games, made cause for the switch. 

Silverlight still provides coverage for NBA, NCAA events though CBS College Sports, and provides streaming for Blockbuster’s MovieLink and Netflix’ Instant Watch. Video services such as Hulu, ABC video player, Youtube, Vimeo, and countless other embrace flash technology for their online video players.

How were your Q1 email rates?

 

E-mailThe first quarter of 2009 has ended and we are already moving strong into Q2, but have you looked back at your email campaigns? How were the Q1 email open rates? Unique clicks? Conversions?

Have you looked at your metrics to see how your year has started? How you compare to last year? 

If your open rates are down, it may be too easy to say, it’s the economy, but this is just an excuse for lower than expected numbers. 

Even if sales are slowing, your email campaigns need to retain current customers, and nurture the leads you do have. Make your email campaigns count for as marketing budgets shrink, your campaigns need to become stronger.

 

Take advantage or trigger initiated email campaigns, and auto responders to keep your site visitors in touch with your message and products. Invest now in analytics to know where your visitors are going and how to steer them in the right direction. Use abandonments to your advantage and follow up with users by email with product information and offers from which they had interest in but did not buy. 

If your Q1 was less than stellar, make Q2 count, and focus on your customers and keep your email campaigns targeted.

Twitter Traffic Explodes…And Not Being Driven by the Usual Suspects!

Comscore reports 

 

Twitter seems to be just about everywhere these days, infiltrating pop culture and challenging traditional communication channels as people answer the simple Twitter question, “What are you doing?” Many people have hopped on the Twitter bandwagon – from businesses to celebrities to professional sports players to President Obama.

Over the past several months, we at comScore have watched how quickly traffic to Twitter has exploded. Worldwide visitors to Twitter approached 10 million in February, up an impressive 700+% vs. year ago. The past two months alone have seen worldwide visitors climb more than 5 million visitors. U.S. traffic growth has been just as dramatic, with Twitter reaching 4 million visitors in February, up more than 1,000% from a year ago.

twitter-chart1

Read the rest of the article at Comscore.

Flash Facebook API

flash_facebookWith the Adobe Flash Facebook Integration API your flash applications can now interact with Facebook.

From Adobe:
Deliver rich, social experiences on the web

The Adobe Flash Platform and Facebook Platform provide the ideal solution for building rich, social experiences on the web. Flash is available on more than 98% of Internet-connected PCs, so people can immediately access the applications, content, and video that enable social interactions. The Facebook Platform is used by millions of people everyday to connect and share with the people in their lives. Together, both platforms allow you to:

Share: Create rich interactions for users to share with friends.
Have fun: Make games social; let users compete against their friends.
Connect: Let users connect to your RIAs with Facebook Connect.
Solve problems: Build RIAs that harness the power of community.
Reach people: Reach millions of Facebook users through social distribution.

The new ActionScript 3.0 Client Library for Facebook Platform API, fully supported by Facebook and Adobe, makes it easy to build applications that combine the strengths of the Flash Platform and Facebook Platform.

Get the code: http://code.google.com/p/facebook-actionscript-api/
Learn more:  http://www.adobe.com/devnet/facebook/

Google AdSence performs new tricks with Twiiter

twitterAdvertising Age is reporting Google has teamed up with some advertisers to offer a stream of their “Tweets” onto Google’s content network. It appears that Google has designed special AdSense ad units that pull the five most recent Tweets from @turbotax (under a limited test) and displays them on publisher sites.

Intuit, the maker of TurboTax is trying to drive new followers to their Twitter feed. 

The concept of aggregating tweets and syndicating them on web pages isn’t new, but one has to wonder if tweets work as PPC adverts. Normally tweets are aggregated via side bar widgets or other implementations on a website. 

Marketers will need to quickly find an answer to how valuable is a twitter follower and if one can use Twitter effectively to find new customers over customers who already have an invested interest in your brand.

AdSence Optimized Ad Serving may not be a great idea, unless you are Google

Check out your Google AdSence account and look for the following recommendation from Google. 

gogleoptimize

The alert box reads:

Increase traffic by showing your best ads most often
Ad groups using the “Rotate Ad Serving” option shows ads roughly evenly. However, an ad group’s best ad typically performs about 15%-50% better than the ad group overall. To maximize traffic, we recommend using the “Optimize Ad Serving” option, which balances showing new ads to determine their quality and showing ads with high clickthrough rates more often.

In short, Google will determine your better perfuming ads and run them more than the lower performing ads. This is great if you are looking for traffic to reach your website and that’s the only metric you are tracking. Google delivers more ads that will result in more clicks to your web site, and Google will be rewarded with your PPC invoice.

What’s the downside?
If your campaign is not monitoring conversions from your PPC campaign, there isn’t a big downside. Traffic is reaching your site, maybe your ads start to get throttled if you are reaching the top of your daily allowance, but overall not a bad situation. Your best ads are being shown.

If you are looking for conversions, you may have shot yourself in the foot. If the lowest performing ad brings in 200% more conversions or purchases than your top clicked ad, you can quickly see the problem. Your best performing ad, which brings in revenue for your organization is not being shown as much, and Google is reaping the benefits of all the traffic from the high CTR ad, not your sales department.

 

Lesson to walk away with

  • Set up your website to track conversions from your PPC and your CPM campaigns to best inform yourself as to what is reaching the market and what is benefitting your bottom line.  
  • Monthly, at least, spend the time to look at your analytics and PPC reports to make sure customers are reaching the destinations and conversion are taking place. Make adjustments to the campaign and creative as necessary. 
  • Don’t be afraid to test, but make sure you are testing properly. (Using the ad optimizer isn’t always bad.  But make sure your priorities are well defined) 
  • If you are not sure what is working best, ask for help. A proper Search marketing vendor can make your campaigns work more efficiently.

Email marketing and getting around images not loading by the email client

As an online marketer I sign up for a lot of email newsletters to keep an eye on what other marketers are doing. As you can image my spam folder get filled up, but not deleted as I occasionally will sort through the spam to find to email communications and campaigns that find their way into the spam folder.  Of all the emails that I receive, one approach to email marketing is in my top rules of what not to do.

The approach I’m referring to is the email campaign or communication that does not use any live text, but images to place the selling message into.  I’ve pulled out an example from my spam folder to show. 

Kohls email with Images loaded
Click image to view larger

Kohls email with Images loaded

            
Kohls email with images not loaded
Click image to view larger

Kohls email with images not loaded

These images are of an email from Kohls department stores.  Upon loading the email into the preview pane of my email client (apple mail) we are presented with large white space and image symbols.  The bits of Live text on the email are all in the footer with standard boilerplate CAN-SPAM opt-out instructions.  The marketing message is not available to the reader without images.  

     
PopCap Games email without images loadedClick image to view larger

PopCap Games email without images loaded

     
PopCap Games email with ImagesClick image to view larger

PopCap Games email with Images

This next example is from PopCap games. 

Notice this communication makes use of live text much more effectively. In fact, by switching between the images loaded and images not loaded examples, you will notice very little use of text in graphics. Proper alt tags are used for the header and main image as well. 

How can Kohls and marketers like it improve their email campaigns?

To prove that we as email marketers can move away from solid graphic marketing emails to a better solution, I took some time to quickly re-build the Kohls email into a proper mixed live text and graphic email.

  
Kohls live text email without images loaded
Click image to view larger

Kohls live text email without images loaded

  
Kohls live type email with images loaded
Click image to view larger

Kohls live type email with images loaded

By using inline css styles and spliced images I was able to quickly get the Kohls email to be close to the 100% graphic version they sent out.  With images not loaded, a email recipient can read the message of the email enough to make a decision if they wish to click a link, or click the load images button on the email client to see the email in full graphic state.

On this email we were even able to bring in the direct to site navigation at the top of the email which before was just text in a jpg using image maps.

I understand that stores like Kohls have campaigns where a lot of emails go out, if not daily. A simple template system and proper html coding will make your open rates increase, and return better ROI then having your images not viewed at all.
 

Rules to follow:

  1. Place as much live text into your emails as possible.
  2. Careful use of CSS and your customers will not notice a difference in the designs.
  3. Code the emails to be cross browser, cross email application compliment. Not al email clients are the same. (office 2008 does not use background images, yahoo email will not render past 8 nested tables)
  4. Test your email with images off.  (use the web developer toolbar in firefox or send to your email client and do not accept images)
  5. If text is in a graphic, try to have it elsewhere in live text (Use alt tags, on buttons that say click here, have a text link on the page as well)
  6. Make your designs simpler. Don’t spend too much time to design a masterpiece of layout design to have it not looked at or a total of 30 seconds.
  7. Set up a html template system to cut down on design and coding time.

Tracking Flash Events in Google Analytics

gaforflashYou want that all flash website, or looking to see how users progress through a flash application, but have been told time and time again that your analytics program can’t track flash. By itself your analytics package can not, but with some creative coding and careful planning, you can have full analytics from flash in most web analytic platforms. 

As Google Analytics is the platform choice for small businesses, lets look at how to set up flash for event tracking.

By using the javascript tracking tags on your site, Google Analytics allows you to track flash actions along with other javascript actions. From menu selections, ajax reveals, you can get creative with what you are looking to track. You can even set your flash video players to track how long a user watched a video. 

Option 1:

Use the _trackPageview function

You can assign a page filename to any Flash action with this function, and enter that filename into the appropriate goal or funnel step. Important: Please note that your Analytics tracking code and calls to _gat._getTracker must be placed on the page above the call to _trackPageview.

  1. To track an event, call _trackPageview() with an argument specifying a name for the event. For example, calling: pageTracker._trackPageview(“/purchase_funnel/page1.html”);
    will cause each occurrence of the the calling Flash event to be logged as though it were a pageview under the name /purchase_funnel/page1.html. The argument must begin with a forward slash and be in quotes. 
  2. The event names may be organized into any directory style structure you wish. The path/filename argument to _trackPageview need not represent an actual URL on your website.

 

Flash Code Examples
on (release) {
// Track with no action
getURL("javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/folder/file.html');");
} 
on (release) { 
//Track with action 
getURL("javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/folder/file.html');"); 
_root.gotoAndPlay(3); 
myVar = "Flash Track Test"; 
}
onClipEvent (enterFrame) {
getURL("javascript:pageTracker._trackPageview('/folder/file.html');");
}

 

Option 2:
tracking-flash-google-analyticsA more advance option is to use the open source Google Analytics for Adobe Flash Component.

The GA for flash tracking component enables you to track specific events and functionality in your flash movies and seamlessly communicate with Google Analytics for tracking. It gracefully handles any DOM issues that could cause problems in other types of flash tracking using GA. 

For tutorials on how to implement GAforFlash into your Flash applications visit these sites. 

http://code.google.com/p/gaforflash/
http://www.hmtweb.com/blog/2009/02/how-to-track-flash-in-google-analytics_08.html
http://www.insideria.com/2009/02/using-google-analytics-within.html

GE ecomagination flash Showcase

Ecomagination website: http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/#/augmented_reality

FLAR Toolkit: http://www.libspark.org/wiki/saqoosha/FLARToolKit/en

Twitter Games

twitterlogoWith Twitter exceptional growth, 1,382% year-over-year growth in February 2009, has not only been for those looking to detail their days. A few ambitious folks have developed games for Twitter. 

Twivia (@playtwivia)
Twivia will ask a trivia question and the first person to @reply the answer gets points, specified in every Tweet. The answer is tweeted to all so you are not left wondering if your answer was correct. 

Tweetbomb (@tweetbomb)
Tweetbomb will pick a random twitter user (from it’s followers) for the Tweetbomb followers to ping. Players/ followers are then to @reply with absolutely no text to the username chosen. The chosen Tweetbomb recipient hope to gain new followers and it should ad a new fun time activity to your afternoon.

BeatMyTweet (@beatmytweet)
BeatmyTweet  is a another puzzle game but this time sends a scrambled word out. Players are then to unscramble the word jumble and reply with the answer.