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Tim Peter

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March 31, 2014

Key Trends You Must Know: The 10 Top E-commerce and Digital Strategy Posts (March 2014)

March 31, 2014 | By | No Comments

Key trends for March 2014Can you believe the first quarter is behind us? Seriously, we’re already one-fourth of the way through the year and, while these Spring days are getting longer, they seem to go faster too. Seems like a good time to step back and see how you’re doing — and what you might have missed so far, don’t you think?

To help you catch up, here are the top 10 posts this past month as determined by your fellow Big Thinkers. Check ’em out when you get a chance.

  1. The clear winner this past month was “How to Use Emotion and Storytelling in Digital Marketing” from my Travel Tuesday series. But, don’t let the series throw you. Emotion and storytelling matter to customers across all verticals, not just travel. Your digital marketing can only improve if you incorporate appropriate emotions and effective storytelling into your campaigns. Don’t believe me? Well, the popularity of this post — it’s the 5th most popular post on the blog this year — suggests your fellow readers (and competitors) agree.
  2. It’s no secret that most Thinks readers pay close attention to e-commerce and digital strategy trends. Which explains why these 5 E-commerce Trends Worth Watching This Week and the collection of the 10 Things You Need to Know: 10 Top E-commerce and Marketing Strategy Posts for February tied for the #2 spot.
  3. Another Travel Tuesday post snuck into the top 5, this one looking at the 4 rules of social marketing for hotel marketers. As is usually the case, most of the examples listed actually work across verticals, so are wroth reviewing regardless of your industry.
  4. My review of “The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies” by MIT professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee came in at number 4. I cannot stress enough how important this book is, not just for marketers, but for anyone wondering about the future of work, learning, and commerce in the 21st century. Excellent stuff.
  5. Guest editor Megan Totka brought everyone this great look at 6 Simple Subject Line Tips for Boosting Email Open Rates, which makes the list at #5.
  6. I call my weekly podcast Thinks Out Loud, and its episodes tend to be very popular. That’s certainly true for Episode 65, which explored Internet Marketing to Millennials (Gen X and Boomers Too).
  7. Another trends post, 6 Key E-commerce Stories Worth Reading this Weekend, attracted lots of attention.
  8. And Thinks Out Loud scores another entry on the most popular posts, with Episode 66, The Future of Social and Mobile Marketing is Happening Right Now.
  9. A collection of The 7 Fastest Ways to Improve Your E-commerce Effectiveness was among the most popular and shared posts this past month.
  10. And last, but not least, was a list of my Tools of the Trade: A Process (and 6 Blogging Tools) I Can’t Live Without, which detailed, as you might guess, both the tools I use to produce this blog every day and the way in which I actually do it. A pretty healthy number of you seemed to enjoy it.

There you have it, Big Thinkers, the 10 top e-commerce and digital strategy posts from March. If you like this list and want to see more like it in the future, or posts that drill down on any of these topics in more detail, be sure to leave a comment below.

You may also enjoy these slides from a recent speaking engagement, “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results”, here. The talk was my most popular presentation on Slideshare this past month (as well as very well received by its audience):

Finally, if you’re interested in learning even more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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March 6, 2014

10 Things You Need to Know: 10 Top E-commerce and Marketing Strategy Posts (February 2014)

March 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

Big ideasKeeping up with everything that’s going on in e-commerce and internet marketing every day is next to impossible. No matter how many blogs you try to read, how many emails your review, or how many conversations you have, it’s inevitable something will slip through the cracks.

To help you keep on top of all the changes in e-commerce and internet marketing, here are the top 10 posts your fellow Big Thinkers found most valuable over the last month:

  1. Mobile continues to grow at ridiculous rates. No, really, really ridiculous. As this post, Holy Crap! Mobile’s Even Bigger Than You Thought, notes, major brands see greater growth from mobile today than they saw from desktop e-commerce a decade ago. And don’t let the “Travel Tuesday” fool you; the same changes are happening across most verticals.
  2. Many companies have turned to guest blogging as a cornerstone of their link-building activities. But with Google’s recent statements about the value these tactics offer, it seemed like a good time to ask “Is Guest Blogging Dead?” The simple answer is “no,” but this complex topic is worth a longer look. Check out the whole post for more.
  3. User-generated content, ratings and reviews represent another topic making significant waves lately. Which is what led me to ask “Will Review Sites Be the Death of Brands?”
  4. Improving your customer’s online experience remains huge to your overall business success. The most important question you can ask to improve that experience is the subject of this next post, “What Makes You Think Your Customers Care About You?”
  5. I may have mentioned mobile’s importance a time or fifty. Curious as to the reasons why? Then check out this post, “It’s Time You Take Mobile Seriously. Here’s Why.”
  6. Keeping up with all the changes in digital marketing and e-commerce is rarely easy. But these 42 essential blogs and news sources I read religiously not only offers a helpful list of content, but a process for managing the volume, too. Worth checking out when you get a chance.
  7. I had the pleasure of moderating a panel at HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference a few weeks ago and shared 10 essential digital marketing strategy lessons from the event.
  8. If you’re not into reading, check out the two most popular Thinks Out Loud podcast episodes from last month, “Why Friction-Free E-commerce Matters” and “What Internet Marketing Strategy Isn’t.”
  9. Responsive web design plays a huge role for many businesses as part of their mobile strategy. The key question though is “Is Responsive Web Design Right for Your Brand?”
  10. Finally, if you’re conducting any social marketing and find yourself asking “where are the sales?” you owe it to yourself to take a look at this post, “Why Doesn’t Social Shopping Work?”

I’d also recommend you take a look at my slides for “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Internet Marketing” on Slideshare. Not only was it the most popular presentation there this month, but it fleshes out many of the topics in this month’s top posts:

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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February 6, 2014

Your 10 Favorite Topics This Month (January 2014)

February 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

Top content on Thinks - January 2014

Wait a second… how in the world have we made it through the first month of 2014 already? Is it just me or did the last four weeks fly by? Oh… for you, too?

See, I knew it wasn’t just me.

Anyway, as I do every month, it’s time to take a moment and reflect on your favorite posts from the last month. Here’s what you all loved in January:

  1. By far, the most popular post in this past January was a Travel Tuesday entry that asked
    “What’s the State of Hotel Reputation Management?”
    Even more impressive when you consider that it only went live with 4 days left in the month. Of course, that’s no real surprise given that reputation management represents the single most effective way to improve your brand’s digital marketing.
  2. Another Travel Tuesday post takes the #2 slot, this one looking at the “4 Lessons You Need to Know from Google’s Affluent Traveler Report.” Good stuff.
  3. Another big entry from January explored “Trends Shaping E-commerce in 2014: Internet Everywhere.”
  4. “The Minimalist Guide to E-commerce Strategy” was another very popular post, this one coming in at #4.
  5. It’s no secret you all like reading about where digital is heading. Which explains the popularity of this post: “What Your Customers Expect from Mobile and E-commerce in 2014.”
  6. OK, so maybe Yahoo’s not in such bad shape after all. How else do you explain the popularity of this post that asks “Should You Still Listen to Marissa Mayer?” Apparently, you all feel Ms. Mayer’s got a few tricks up her sleeve yet, too.
  7. Mobile commerce will be huge. Well, not just huge, but HUGE. Emphasis, unfortunately, on “will be.” Despite some impressive growth—and significant projected going forward —today there’s still plenty of opportunity. Which led me to ask, “Why Isn’t Mobile Commerce Bigger?” And, you all seemed to find the answer interesting.
  8. For many marketers, search isn’t a marketing channel; it’s the marketing channel. But, given most business’s reliance on search (and, more specifically, Google), it’s worth asking, “Should Marketers Really Trust Google in 2014?”
  9. The Internet continues to shape organizations in myriad ways, including whether employees work in a centralized office, from home, while traveling, or some combination of all three. And, the popularity of this list of the “3 Key Things to Remember About Remote Work” suggests many companies continue to have questions about how to make remote work, um… work for their organizations.
  10. Finally, despite having only gone live with a couple of days left in the month, episode 59 of my Thinks Out Loud podcast, “Are Your Customers Ready for Mobile Commerce?” (along with episode 57, “Internet Strategy in a Changing World”), attracted lots of attention in January.

I’d also recommend you take a look at my slides for “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Internet Marketing” on Slideshare. Not only was it the most popular presentation there this month, but it fleshes out many of the topics in this month’s top posts:

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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December 16, 2013

Five by Five: Thinks Most Popular E-commerce and Internet Marketing Posts 2008-2012

December 16, 2013 | By | No Comments

Happy anniversary ThinksWe’re beginning to wrap up the year here around Thinks Central. But I don’t want to miss an important event: Our anniversary. That’s right, Big Thinkers. Your favorite little ol’ e-commerce and marketing blog (well, this blog, anyway) is 9 years old this month. Give or take[*].

Over the course of those 9 years, I’ve published more than 1,750 posts, received some 3,400 comments, received many hundreds of thousands of site visitors and pageviews, and gone through roughly 387 laptops (I may be wrong about that last number).

Anyway, to commemorate this occasion, I thought you might enjoy the 5 most popular posts from each of the last 5 years (2008-2012; I’ll have a full list of the most popular posts of 2013 next week). To determine “most popular” posts, I’ve selected those posts that had significant traffic, better-than-average bounce rate, and large number of social shares. Each post is listed by year and includes its overall rank, too. As a sign of the value of having “legacy” content or “tent-pole” content on your site, many of the oldest posts on the blog continue to gain traffic and, as a result, tend to rank highest in terms of overall traffic. Something to think about as you optimize and enhance your site in 2014.

Without further ado, I offer you The Most Popular Thinks Posts (2008-2012). Enjoy!

Top Posts From 2008

  1. The most popular post from 2008, and still the #1 most popular post overall on the blog is Smart companies use Twitter. Here’s how.
  2. Another biggie, I Heart Zappos – The best customer service story you’ll ever hear (#4 overall)
  3. A very popular look at your need for a website: Is your business still invisible? Why? (#6 overall)
  4. For a long time, the most popular post on the blog was this review: Comparing Jimdo to SiteKreator, Webnode, Weebly and WordPress (#7 overall)
  5. Visitors consistently enjoy this look at how to set up your first business blog (#12 overall)
  6. Twitter was a big topic back in 2008, as this shows: What’s the business value of twitter? (#14 overall)

Top Posts from 2009

  1. This next one is a hugely popular post straight through to today and is frequently among the top 15 most-visited pages each month: 5 Questions About Landing Page URL’s (#2 overall)
  2. This look at the downside of social media still offers some good tips. (#15)
  3. Another post that continues to do well asks: What does an A/B test look like, anyway? (#17)
  4. One of my personal favorites: What are the best tools to improve online marketing? Here’s a hint: Who cares? (#20)
  5. Another slow and steady, but still popular post that continues to do well each month: 4 Steps to Create Great Content For Your Business Blog (#23)

Top Posts from 2010

  1. A big entry from my (on-hiatus) “Small Business E-commerce Link Digest” series: Improving web analytics to improve your business (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – July 9, 2010) (#10 overall)
  2. Good look at analytics tools and theory: What’s the best tool to measure your website? (#45)
  3. First entry that falls outside the top 100, but also my first detailed look at the value in mobile… from three years ago. Just sayin’: Is Amazon’s $1 billion in mobile sales enough to convince you? (#105)
  4. A very popular guest post: Jumpstart E-Commerce Sales with These 5 Easy Tips (#107)
  5. Good question: Is it possible to fail too fast online? (#112)

Top Posts from 2011

  1. A consistently strong performer. Keeps climbing in popularity year after year: Subdomains and Subdirectories for Branding (#9 overall)
  2. I can’t lie. I love this post: You Don’t Need a Website (#26)
  3. Another guest post. Ironically enough, it’s about the value of guest posts: The Benefits of Guest Posts For Your Small Business Blog by Carol Wilson (#36)
  4. Good insights into SoLoMo: Learning 21st Century Social, Local, Mobile and Video Marketing From a 19th Century Company (#51)
  5. Another exploration of social: Social media marketing is a good idea: Reason #324 (well, it’s #54, not 324, actually)

Top Posts from 2012

  1. Good content marketing tips: A dozen useful content marketing best practices worth reviewing (#27 overall)
  2. Good overview and another personal fave. Glad it made the list: Building your brand story (#32)
  3. Great tips: 5 amazing mobile strategy tips from HEDNA (#46)
  4. Excellent guest post: Guest post: Four Keys to Increase E-commerce Exposure in 2012 by Nii Ahene (#49)
  5. And another “Small Business E-commerce Link Digest” entrant: 9+ tips for improving your website’s effectiveness (Small Business E-commerce Link Digest – March 23, 2012) (#54)

Well, Big Thinkers, I hope you enjoyed this look back as much as I did. But don’t worry. I’m not getting all nostalgic on you. Look forward to more great e-commerce and Internet marketing content tomorrow (and the next day. And the next. And the next…)

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

  1. The Secrets Behind “It’s All E-commerce” for 2014
  2. The Zen of Digital Marketing Strategy
  3. 7 Steps to E-Commerce Heaven
  4. Today and Tomorrow: Mobile and The Changing Customer Journey
  5. Warning: Mobile Drives Booking Costs Up and 4 Ways to Prevent It (Travel Tuesday)
  6. Mobile Makes E-commerce Even More “Frictionless”
  7. 3 Key Trends for 2013

Here’s a little history. I originally launched Thinks over on Google’s Blogger service, way back in December, 2004 (you can still view the retired old blog here). Back then, I focused less on marketing and business, to avoid any conflicts with my employer. Instead, I posted slightly snarky observations about Web culture, technology, and really anything that caught my interest.

In December, 2005, I moved the blog to a self-hosted WordPress site (the very one you’re on today, although I switched hosts in November 2007 when my old hosting company folded its tents and vanished in the middle of the night. No joke. You can read about the aftermath here, if you’re interested).

In June, 2006, I launched a second blog, called “TravelStuff,” on WordPress.com to catalog developments in the world of online travel distribution and e-commerce (I worked for a hotel company at the time). Much like the original Thinks, I avoided too much direct commentary about the industry to avoid any conflicts of interest. That content evolved into my current “Travel Tuesday” series. Both the original TravelStuff items and new weekly “Travel Tuesday” posts are now hosted within Thinks but you can still view all travel-related content separately via the TravelStuff.TimPeter.com domain.

And, there you have it. The complete history of Tim Peter Thinks in a nutshell. Hope you enjoyed it. And I hope you keep coming back for more in 2014 and beyond.

Tim Peter

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July 15, 2013

3 Reasons Why Blogging Still Works for Marketing

July 15, 2013 | By | No Comments

Blogging still works as a marketing techniqueIt’s no secret I’ve long been a fan of blogging for business. And, for the most part, I still am [*].

But in prep for announcing this year’s Blogging All-Star Lineup (you can see last year’s list here), I thought I’d give you three reasons why blogging still makes sense for your business:

  1. Your customers have questions that need answering. Customers, regardless of what they’re looking for, continue to begin their journey with search. And those that ask their friends (either IRL folks, or those they know only through social networks), typically rely on well-informed individuals. Guess where those well-informed folks get their information.
  2. You have answers for those questions. I’m sure you do. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be world-class (though, it helps). What you do have to do is a.) know more than your customers do and, b.) don’t overstate what you do know. A big part of your brand story is based on what’s true about you. Your customers are smart. They’ll see through BS. Just tell the truth about where you’re able to help and the people who need that help will find you.
  3. You want to rank well in search engines when people ask those questions. Not much to say about this one.

Blogging isn’t a panacea. It isn’t a silver bullet. It isn’t the Holy Grail. But in an era when many happily flit from technique to technique in hopes of finding a panacea/silver bullet/Holy Grail, it’s amazing how effective a well-structured blog that focuses on answering your customers’ needs works for many, many businesses.

Now, check back tomorrow when I announce this year’s Marketing and E-commerce Blogging All-Stars, the folks who share what they know to help your business grow.

Interested in learning more about e-commerce and digital marketing? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of strategy, digital marketing, and e-commerce, including:

[*] – Of course exceptions exist. But, for many businesses, I think you should probably blog for your business. (I’m open to hearing about edge cases; let me know your reasons against in the comments).