Monday, November 24, 2008

Because Web Design for Idiots was unavailable...

After about an hour of fumbling helplessly through the shelves of Barnes & Noble, I picked out Web Design for Dummies by Lisa Lopuck. The book is divided into sections that are meant to follow the basic workflow of building a website. From there, the sections are divided into chapters based on specific subjects. This format helps because the book builds on itself but remains extremely easy to navigate. If you need to re-read something, you know exactly where to find it.

As far as content goes, I don't claim to have any expertise in Web Design (I mean, look at the book I chose), but I didn't see anything that I could identify as false on the technical end of the book. Moreover, the sections that dealt with design elements (which I do know something about) were very nicely articulated and supported with appropriate images, graphs, etc. When I first started reading, I was a little afraid that it would be all theoretical information and no tech stuff, but I was pleased to find that the book contained a good mix of both disciplines.

The author's stated audience is people who have little or no experience in the area of Web Design, and are looking to become professional web designers. I thought this was pretty specific for a Dummies book, but I don't think that anything was lost in the assumption of a certain readership. I can't argue, either, that the book is definitely geared toward beginners.

Aside from the sometimes disconcerting references to the web design company that the reader is supposedly starting, I found Web Design for Dummies extremely helpful. My plan, in approaching Web Design, was to find a book that would lay out a wide scope of the field, and give me an idea of where I want/need to go deeper and learn more. I think that Web Design for Dummies has done a good job of accomplishing the first step in this plan. It is not by any means comprehensive, but it does give a beginner the lay of the land, and that is definitely important.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Truth About EMail Marketing by Simms Jenkins

I found The Truth About Email Marketing while browsing through the business section at Borders bookstore. I pulled it off the shelf to take a closer look because, quite simply, the book was sticking out a little bit, and the teal cover caught my eye. Upon scanning through the table of contents and reading Truth #1, the author, Simms Jenkins, immediately grabbed my attention in the introductory paragraph when he described how people typically rolled their eyes and made “spam” comments as soon as he told them his job involved email marketing. I would certainly have rolled my eyes about spam as well! After reading the introductory paragraph standing in the aisle at the bookstore, I decided I would give Mr. Jenkins the chance to change my mind, and I hoped to gain an understanding of his perspective upon finishing his book.

The Truth About Email Marketing is organized into what the author calls the 49 Truths of e-mail marketing. These truths are divided and grouped into 11 sections, with titles such as “The Truth About Why Email Works” and “The Truth About Measuring Email Performance.” Every “Truth” is only 2-3 pages, and this format lends itself to the reader; each “Truth” flows logically into the next, and this makes the book both a fast and an easy read.

Throughout the 200 pages, Mr. Jenkins very effectively describes: why e-mail marketing is a valuable tool; how e-mail marketing provides the highest return on investment (ROI) of all marketing strategies; how to create and grow your contact list; best practices; the truth about privacy and the CAN-SPAM act; and where e-mail marketing is headed in the future.

I would certainly recommend this book to marketing students; they could gain perspective on a new technique they may have not otherwise considered, and they can then bring that perspective to whatever new company they continue on to work for. I also recommend this book to ANYONE currently employed in a marketing position; Mr. Jenkins’ ideas are concrete, proven effective, and most importantly, they have measurable objectives. This book ‘makes the case’ for anyone on the fence about whether or not to fit an e-mail marketing campaign into their budget or to increase an existing e-mail marketing budget.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Affiliate Millions

Affiliate Millions

How would life be different if you were able to earn thousands of dollars each month from the comfort of your own home? It seems to good to be true and sounds a lot like the scams you see on TV. It sounds like another get rich quick scheme that people fall for right? Well not always. In MKTG 670 we have been learning a lot about e-commerce and how to use it to earn money. I decided that in my search for a book for class I would look for one that might help me earn money from home with little supporting capital and time constraints. I found "Affiliate Millions: Make a Fourtune Using Search Marketing on Google & Beyond."

This book began by introducing the main author who had found success using search marketing techniques to drive affiliate marketing campaigns. The author, Anthony Borelli, was your average working business man with a 9-5 that was not fulfilling. Borelli decided to try affiliate marketing as a side business and soon began to earn enough that he was able to make his affiliate marketing campaigns his only job.

After introducing himself Borelli fills us in on the affiliate marketing environment. We learn the definition of affiliate marketing, search marketing, click-throughs, affiliate networks, and many more. We also learn Borelli's 10 step approach to successful affiliate marketing.

10-Step Approach
  • set your sights on success
  • learn as much as you can about affiliate advertising
  • learn as much as you can about search marketing
  • join and affiliate network
  • join affiliate programs
  • learn how to manage your search campaigns (hardest part)
  • don't let mistakes get you down
  • invest in and grow your programs
  • manage your business like a business
After outlining this 10-step approach Borelli breaks down his steps into three areas and expands on how to complete each step while sighting examples from his own business success. The first area is Getting Started, the second is Launching Your Advertising Campaign, and the third is Managing Your Marketing Campaign.

Borelli also stresses how important it is to make sure that you treat your endeavor into affiliate marketing like a business. You must learn about it, make smart and creative decisions in your campaigns and build a reputation with advertisers to make sure that you can sustain your efforts. You must also be able to weather rough patches along the way.

I thought this book was great for beginners who were looking for basic information about affiliate marketing through search. It did a good job of defining the affiliate marketing industry and gave a clear picture of how one person was successful at his approach. I think however, that if you are serious about starting your own affiliate business you should do more research and look to multiple references to build your model and find success.

Web Analytics - An Hour A Day: Book Review

Web Analytics: An Hour A Day
Avinash Kaushik

I am a numbers geek. My current job consists mainly of sifting through numerous amounts of data, mining and modeling it, and then telling a story with it. Since I deal with huge amounts of data, I was interested in reading about analysis strategies for a field that seems to equate to an almost endless amount of it.

The author, Avinash Kaushik, has an extensive background and experience in the subject. He currently authors a well known blog in the web analytics community called Occam’s Razor at Additionally, he regularly gives presentations on the topic. I also read in the forward that 100% of the proceeds for this book are being donated to two charities for cleft lip and palate surgeries in underdeveloped countries and Doctors Without Borders. If that doesn’t show that his main agenda is in sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with readers, I don’t know what would.

The layout of the book is broken out into what I would consider two main parts. It first builds the foundation that includes basic things you need to know about web analytics and then goes into some business theory as a basis for interpreting the results. The second part of the book then breaks out all of your web analysis tasks into a seven month exercise that uses a different topic each day or two and encourages you to spend an hour a day on each task, hence the title.

The audience the book speaks to is very broad. Every business oriented person can learn from this book; however the entire book would not necessarily be applicable. For someone who would be more of a user of the data, which would be myself at this point since I don't have access to this specific type of data, the beginning sections where much more valuable then when the books starts delving into the technical applications.

One of the main points of this book is to be able to create actionable analyses with the data. This really resonates with me, because I also believe that is one of the biggest disconnects when you are in a data centric job. You can look at things a million different ways, create charts, graphs, ratios, percentages that are all really nice and can make a great report to upper management, but the bottom line is that’s great, now what.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. It has a great foundation of concepts that are relevant to all audiences and then the detail needed to get to the hard core analytics for those who need it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Google AdSense for Dummies

This book is a great help manual for learning and using AdSense. Google AdSense, the get rich scheme of this decade... I found it very helpful in my sorry attempt to make a few bucks from a blog and website. I’ve been intrigued for the last two or three years, that people can make money by having a popular website. I have a blog and played around a little with Google AdSense and wanted to find out more about it and understand how it works, especially since Google continues to grow profits while Yahoo struggles.

The book is all about Google AdSense, the do’s and don’ts; how to set it up and suggestions to optimize content, and search capabilities. Other topics in the book include how to use AdSense for RSS feeds, and mobile devices, all about the AdSense referral program, how to administer and manage AdSense and helpful tools associated with AdSense.

It’s a typical ‘For Dummies’ book, so you have the yellow and black look and feel with the funny cartoons and hints etc. I’ve used a couple of other books on technical topics from this series and they were helpful so I am used to the format and style of the series.

The author Jerri Ledford is a freelance writer on business and technology subjects over the last 15 years. She’s been published in notable publications, such as, Network World, Intelligent Enterprise, and Information Security Magazine. She also develops and teaches technology training courses for both consumer and business users, including topics on security. She has a blog on and author of books such as, SEO – Search Engine Optimization Bible. She is very qualified to write this book.

If you want a step by step process of setting up and understanding Google AdSense, this book will be valuable. Simplicity, structure and scalability help this book to be a good reference manual as one dives deeper into understanding and working with Google AdSense. I really liked the hints, helps on creating ads, and even AdSense for video capabilities. The recommended tools such as Google Analytics also helps to really get a handle on your website and incorporate Google AdSense.

One of the only problems with the book, even though it was published in 2008 is its a little outdated already. There is a whole chapter dedicated to Google AdSense referral program which is no longer in existence now. So, while the book is very helpful and explains a lot, it is incomplete due to the fast changing and adjustments of the AdSense product itself.

I think this is a good book for basic and introductory learning with Google AdSense. Since I consider myself a newbie to Google AdSense this book helped me to start off at a slow pace in understanding how it works, and how to apply it to my websites and blogs. I’ve made $3.54 in my Google AdSense account since I started my account a couple of years ago. I’m expecting that number to jump now that I’ve gained some useful insight with this book. In addition, there are few links listed that were very helpful for AdSense and related topics that I found very helpful and interesting from the book.

AdSense Sandbox
AdSense Preview tool
AdSense Calculator
AdSense Notifier
Adsense Heat Maps
Another heat map
AdSense Accelerator
AdWords Traffic Estimator and Bid Tool
Keyword Tools
Keyword-Ranking Tools
AdSense Blog

Click by Bill Tancer Reviewed by Katy Neville

Who knows all your secrets, your vices, or your inner most thoughts? Is it your best friend, your husband, or maybe your hairdresser? We would all like to think that we have a close confidant that we can share every secret with, but the truth of the matter is, most people don’t allow their true feelings to be expressed all the time. Thanks to the virtual world that has all changed.
Bill Tancer has discovered the brilliance behind Google, Yahoo, Ask and many other popular search engines. Search queries are quickly becoming the gatekeepers to societies’ deepest secrets and interests. Instead of turning to a person in times of need, many people are turning on their computers. Once logged on, Bill Tancer and many other data enthusiasts are presuming “we are what we click.”

Tancer works for a company by the name of Hitwise. Hitwise tracks internet user’s actions, search words used, demographics and more and then stores the information in a data base just waiting to be interpreted and investigated. This service is a data lover’s paradise. The program used can pull up the top searches regarding any subject in any time period. The possibilities are endless with the amount of data provided by Hitwise.

This book investigates portions of Hitwise data. One of the most interesting articles, from a marketing standpoint, was Chapter 3: Prom in January. Timing is everything when launching a marketing campaign, and if you truly are a good marketer you pride yourself on knowing when to start promoting your product to certain demographics. When thoughts of promoting prom dresses comes up, many professionals believe that right around the launch of the prom season should marketing begin, March, April, and May. But, if anything that Tancer is saying could be true this assumption would be too little too late.

Tancer, along with the class, also had the gut feeling that prom interest should peak around prom time. That’s why when faced with a search query presenting “prom dresses” as one of the top search terms in January did he start his full on promenade investigation. Tancer was faced with the question, “Shouldn’t our Internet behaviors be somewhat consistent with the way we behave in the real world?” (Tancer, 53) This belief turned out to be false in prom dress shopping as well as many other things.

The culprit to the early prom dress query was magazines. Publications such as Cosmo Girl and Seventeen Prom were hitting news stands as soon as New Year’s resolutions were being made and featuring the “latest” prom fashions. These publications in turn were shaping the way young girls planned their seasonal ball. More teens were in search for the perfect dress not weeks before the big event, as previously thought, but up to four months in advanced. This was the golden ticket for marketers.

The prom theory is just a glimpse of what this book is about. Tancer provides readers with so much interesting data, but never dwells. He can hold your attention, but not bore you. I believe if you are looking for a different type of book that will help you view search engines and internet society in a new way this book is for you. If the saying we are what we eat is true then I’m sure Bill Tancer would like to assume we are what we click. Lucky for us he is the one reviewing all of the clicks, we just get to read about the interesting selections.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide

Weighty analysis may make the pages slow to turn, but it’s worth the heavy lifting.

A sky’s-the-limit azure book jacket on Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide promised to “transform [my] business by looking at specific practices for integrating Web 2.0 into what [we] do. I flipped through the pages and saw that the book closely examined sites like Flickr, Facebook, Amazon, and Google. On the whole, I was hoping to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon and how exactly I could use Web 2.0 thinking to build an online marketing strategy for a startup manufacturing company in Colorado Springs.

O’Reilly Media, publisher of this and other computing manuals, is the creation of Tim O’Reilly, a strong advocate of open source software. He is also the man who coined the phrase “Web 2.0” in 2004. The foreword by O’Reilly describes his vision of Web 2.0 as the phase in which the internet realizes its true potential through technology’s “transformative power” based on “harnessing network effects and the collective intelligence of users to build applications that literally get better the more people use them.” Sitting on the Barnes and Nobel carpet with this book in my hands, I was inspired and intrigued.

Shuen’s formidable grasp of Web 2.0 as an economic phenomenon is apparent in her deep analysis of network effects. This book is written for business people who are trying to get their arms around what Web 2.0 is and how to incorporate network effects into innovative business models. The challenge for readers with limited economics experience is to keep up with the torrent of financial models and terms.

As a trend, Web 2.0 is dynamic, exciting, and interactive, but at times, Shuen’s thick analysis threatens to choke the life out of it. Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide is targeted toward those readers who are still not quite convinced that the commerce of collaboration is something they can use. For my part, I was looking for more concrete strategy, and less proof that Web 2.0 is a good idea in the first place. Still, chapter six (more value added here with a link to Shuen's blog) offers a solid 5-step program for making Web 2.0 work for business.

It took quite a bit of slugging my way through dense explanation, web economics curves, and the network effect, but I found the strategy guidelines to be helpful:

1. Build on Collective User Value – Allow users to collaborate and collect information to share. In analyzing how to do this, take into account cash flows and explore the possibility of modifying cost structure to reward top contributors and monetize their contributed value as quickly as possible.

2. Activate Network Effects – Even “tippy” markets may not be a zero sum game. Proliferation of online businesses and consumers continue to add value and critical mass.

3. Work Through Social Networks – Systematically identify ways to increase viral, interactive, or social influence/referral factors of your business. Know how to make use of social network’s structure, even if you’re not contributing a new platform to it.

4. Dynamically Syndicate Competence – Use mashups (like this one from or viral distribution of protected intellectual properties. In other words, make information available to competitors, ecosystem partners, users, and others to share what you do well.

5. Recombine Innovations – There are opportunities (such as those with Build-A-Bear) for online-offline cooperation partnerships and collaborations that add value for all parties involved. Find them. Explore ways to fashion “recombinant” tried and true business models with new models.

On the whole, A Strategy Guide is well-crafted with dense, deeply analytical explanations of Web 2.0 models and strategy, but fails to capture the dynamic drive of Web 2.0 itself. It is, after all, a business text—not a blog post. I recommend it, but this book's slim size belies the weight of its analysis.

The book's cover price is $24.99. You can buy the book electronically from the publisher for $19.99.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR

I selected this book because of two reasons. First, the title “The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly,” is attractive to me. I have heard people talked lots about online marketing and e-commerce, but I never found an easy but valuable book to start to understand what people actually do online. And I am curious about the “new” rule and how to implement marketing strategy through blog and podcasting. Online marketing area is what I am not familiar with, although it’s the hottest topic in marketing. After the interesting title caught my attention, I went through some book reviews and found 76% of reviewers gave it five-star rate and most people said it provides an easy to understand yet comprehensive view of the new online marketplace. An easy-understanding book for novice in online marketing is the second reason.

To me, the book's greatest value is its comprehensive and practical analysis of new media tactics and channels, such as blogs, podcasts, videos, search engines, online media rooms, and more. “The internet is not so much about technology as it is about people.” David goes beyond technology and explores the ramifications of the web as it pertains to people. This is the most valuable part of this book for people without IT background, like me but also want to harness the power and take advantages of the internet-driven world. The book is structured like a blog, and divided into three sections: 1) How the Web Has Changed the Rules of Marketing and PR, 2) Web-Based Communications to Reach Buyers Directly, and 3) Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules. In the early chapters, David takes a high altitude look at online marketing options, showing us how they developed, why they're important, how they work, and why they work. In later "Action Plan" chapters, he jumps into the trenches and shows us how to actually use the tools and implement programs. Throughout, he uses detailed case studies to illustrate not only the programs but the amazing results they can achieve.

Although I must admit that I found Parts I and II of the book a bit dry to read, they do an excellent job of providing insight into the ideas behind marketing, delves into the differences between the old and new rules, and providing a general understanding of each of the marketing avenues listed above. But for Part III, "Action Plan for Harnessing the Power of the New Rules," is where the book comes alive for me. It's there that we transition from the passiveness of discussing philosophy into actually putting the New Rules to work for you. At first we learn how to build a marketing plan, and then we transition into creating the content for our marketing materials, the kind of content that will distinguish you from the rest and earn your potential buyers' respect and loyalty. From there we move on to each of the avenues previously mentioned, giving each a chapter of its own so that we learn how to utilize each of them to great effect, always keeping the customer's needs and wants at the forefront of our thinking. I believe this book is also useful for Mr. Biggs. What we are doing is what is talking in the book!

The only downfall to this book will be the passing of time. Because of the very nature of the media that he writes about, the book's shelf life is going to be short. This book provides a great foundation and I am sure David's own blog will keep us in the know as it and other things progress. I genuinely recommend this book to all those who hope to understand how the e-commerce world works, what kind of weapons you can get online and how to make good use of them to earn profit.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Design and Launch your own e-commerce business in a week...sounds simple, right?

Let's start by giving this book credit. It does give you the steps on how to begin your own e-commerce business. However these steps are very generic and could have been found easily trough an online search. The book reminds me of the Geico commercials, "So easy a caveman could do it." There are plenty of parts of this book where I think their targets audience is cavemen. For example, there is a section that explains to the reader the need for a telephone, telephone service, and waste basket. The majority of the book is below the reading level of MBA students. The authors discuss simple marketing decisions such as target markets and market share. True, this information is important for any business. Unfortunately for me, I chose to book hoping it would focus more on the computer/internet aspect of developing an e-commerce business and the office decor and general marketing principles. And to be honest, I probably should have realized this before investing time in reading this book. However, I did not, hence this book review blog.
Outside of the first half of the book which should have included crayons and a coloring section, there are a couple e-commerce tips that can I did enjoy. The first was the turnkey solutions. Speaking for myself, I knew very little about where to begin in creating a website. The book offers several turnkey solutions such as to help a beginner on their way. My complaint is that this information can be found through a simple google search and this book does not provide any input outside of the site suggestion. The second part of the book I did enjoy was the interviews with successful e-commerce businesses that started from stratch. some examples are,, and The book talks about learning from other websites when creating your own. Pick out what you like and dislike and customize yours to your clientele. This is a fairly simple thought but I think it can be overlooked.
In summary, this book has a purpose. It's purpose, however, is not in an MBA classroom. It is for beginners, not only in the e-commerce world, but in business in general. I would suggest a title change to highlight this fact. "Design and Launch an E-commerce business in a week" led me to believe it was a book solely on e-commerce and for someone with average knowledge. Everyone has a different level of knowledge and you can decide on your own if this book is for you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Farce to Force Book Review

My Going-in Position
I selected this book to help round-out my understanding of e-commerce, specifically to help generate some general principles to build e-commerce strategies from. I purchased this book from Amazon because the description seemed intriguing and the one customer review was very positive. My expectations for the material included finding indications of successful strategies with detailed case studies that could help me identify both the pitfalls and the recipes for success.
The Book
The title of this book implies that it spans the period of internet upstarts, inflated potential and prices, the market crash (Farce) to the point of solid business practices, effective strategies, and successful e-commerce business (Force). It does not. This book appears to have been written between 1996 and 2002. There are no examples of truly successful e-commerce/e-business strategies, because at the time of the writing there were few, if any in existence. None of the companies she looked at had a clear vision of the future, or of what long-run success would look like.
The author doesn’t discuss weblogs at all, includes little about the potential of chat, and doesn’t see the full potential of advertising as an income generator or as at targeted marketing tool. She assumes that big businesses will potentially shut-out small businesses on the web, and she focuses on many problems of the past that have now been reduced to small hurdles or less. Reading this book would be much more tolerable if the author had stuck to the facts and not injected so many false prophesies into her writing. An example that identifies both her key assumptions and touches on some of her other positions follows:

We have several more years to go before the Internet is organized
efficiently and technology is affordable and practical for e-commerce. And it
will be longer than that for buyers and consumers to reorient fully and
completely their traditional buying practices, psychology, and thinking to use
the Internet for their everyday needs. This is true for all countries,
especially the United States… Pg. 9

The portion of the book that is dedicated to strategic planning is the most interesting and relevant part of the book, but it offers more questions than answers, is fraught with generalities, and relies on a frustrating number of dated examples. Her guidelines for creating and implementing an e-commerce strategy tend to be general in nature as well, and identify common brick and mortar strategies that have been infused with some e-commerce-specific considerations. Overall, the strategy portion of the book is the best part, but still fails to deliver anything that is truly new or unique about e-commerce.
My Recommendation
This book was written during the early stages of internet maturity, and provides no significant lessons for the current marketplace. I have to question the motivation of both the author and the publisher who released this obviously outdated book in 2006, without so much as updated notes, references, or insights to make it relevant in the current marketplace.