Day twenty saw a rush of activity on the Lactivist Blog; comments from readers simply poured in. At the same time, I put up two new milk bank shirts and received not only a generous offer to solve my site analytics problem, but also personalized help getting the solution in place.
(If you're just catching up with this series of articles, be sure to swing into the ongoing discussion thread at the Small Business Ideas forum. You'll be able to link to each day's article and participate in the discussion going along with it.)
Day twenty must have been the day that the Lactivist blog caught some folks attention because all of a sudden, I found myself buried in reader comments awaiting approval. I'd had comments come in since the site went live, but usually I saw one come in every day or so. Day twenty saw my inbox flooded with more than a dozen comments awaiting my approval.
It's important to note that the comments for my blog are all set to pre-moderation. While that means that people might need to wait a bit to see their comments added to the site, it also helps take care of blog spam issues. Blog spam basically shows up when humans or computer programs visit blogs and leave comments with a URL in them for the sole purpose of gaining a new incoming link to a site and increasing search rankings. These comments and links are seldom on topic and usually do nothing more for a blog owner than clutter up their content.
Most blog programs, Blogger included, allow authors to set their blog comments to pre-moderation. That means that no blog comments will be posted without being approved by the blog owner. This might take a bit more time in terms of getting content up, but it saves plenty of time in cleaning out junk.
The interaction going on at the Lactivist blog was encouraging because part of my online marketing plan relied heavily on building a community atmosphere that encouraged repeat visitors. The fact that my readers were taking the time to respond to my posts showed that they were becoming vested in the site, which made them more likely to return down the line. Since the blog is occasionally used to to plug new products or to promote existing products, repeat visits will be vital to my long-term marketing goals.
Viral Marketing Still at Work
Day twenty was also a good day for finding new links coming in to the site. The thirty day project got picked up on Online Marketing Focus by Webdepart, Not Just Code, FreshYields and The Obligatory Blog. I also came across some older blog posts by Rob Syvertsen, The Emerging Standard blog, and The Rabbit House. The most entertaining blog post of the entire series though came from Canadian Andrew Goodman whose timing was off, but whose choice of photos was hysterical.
New Milk Bank Shirts
Day twenty also saw me adding a few more shirts to the Milk Bank collection. I'd had repeated requests for more shirts that got the human milk bank advocacy message across with humor, but that could be worn by non-donors. On my own, I came up with a new one that reads "Does your cup runneth over?" and got that one online. Then I read a blog comment from a reader that suggested I add "Take These to the Bank!." That one struck me as funny because I had proposed that exact shirt to some friends during the first week of the campaign and they all looked at me like I was nuts.
When a reader suggested it, I had to laugh and pointed out to Robert that I wasn't the only one with a strange sense of humor. The kicker was that when I told him the shirt idea this time, he thought it was funny. (Just like a man. Not funny when you come up with it the first time, but let someone else suggest it and suddenly they're a genius.) Since the shirt idea was getting laughs this time around, I went ahead and added it as well.
On another level, I was still working with Dan Mowry of TheTShirtZone on some design ideas for milk bank shirts. There had been some interest from the milk banks in developing a shirt that could be used to promote all of the North American milk banks. My idea was to create a concert style tee that had a design on the front that featured a drop of milk with a baby cradled inside and the text "The Saving Lives One Drop at a Time Tour." I then planned to setup the back of the shirt for a "North American Tour" where I could list all of the cities that had milk banks on the left and the date they were opened on the right.
Analytics Finally Get Fun!
A few days back I commented in one of my articles about my frustration with the limited analytics that I'd been stuck with. I was waiting for Google Analytics to open up their free accounts again, but in the meantime, I didn't have a lot to work with. The good folks over at ClickTracks saw my article and contacted me to offer up their services to help me get The Lactivist in better shape to analyze.
The timing on this was perfect as I was already at the Search Engine Strategies show in Chicago. Since ClickTracks was exhibiting there, CEO John Marshall spent some time with me getting ClickTracks Pro Hosted set up. The beautiful thing about using the hosted version was that ClickTracks would be able to track my traffic across all three sites.
With cheap analytics like I had been using, I was losing referral information as people crossed sites. For instance, I could tell that someone came into the Lactivist blog by typing "breastfeeding in public" into Google, but if they linked from the blog to the store, I lost that referrer information and had no way of knowing if they ended up looking at, or purchasing products. With ClickTracks, I could setup one set of data that tracked all three domain names as if they were part of the same site. This was going to open up worlds of new data for me.
Admittedly, the free use of the ClickTracks Pro Hosted service booted me out of the whole "shoestring entrepreneur package" as the service starts at about $180 a month. That said, ClickTracks also offers small business level analytics at more affordable prices (about $50 a month) and gives a credit to businesses that wish to upgrade their service over time. That means that even small businesses should be able to afford ClickTracks once they start to become profitable.
By the end of the day, I already had some data showing up in my ClickTracks account. A great example of that was when I noticed in the "What's Changed" report that traffic from the Making it up blog had suddenly increased dramatically. I followed the link and found that my new Little Britain inspired "bitty shirts" were causing a bit of a stir. Since keeping tabs on what folks say about your company is a vital part of online reputation management, I responded and bookmarked the page to keep tabs on what public opinion is.
My new analytics were working. Finally, I had enough data to be dangerous. ;)
Coming up on day twenty one, I get a chance to not only read over more press release information but also to start talking strategy in terms of when and where to pitch the story. I also get half a dozen new shirts posted and talk Robert into helping me get cpshop set up on the server and then spend ages getting it to look good.
Jump to Day twenty-one.
(Want to read the entire 30 Day article series at once? Download the free 30 Day ebook!)
December 13, 2005
Jennifer Laycock is the Editor of Search Engine Guide, the Social Media Faculty Chair for MarketMotive and offers small business social media strategy & consulting. Jennifer enjoys the challenge of finding unique and creative ways to connect with consumers without spending a fortune in marketing dollars. Though she now prefers to work with small businesses, Jennifer’s clients have included companies like Verizon, American Greetings and Highlights for Children.
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