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February 28th 2011 Uncategorized Debuts Development-As-A-Service Platform For Javascript, HTML5

Comments Off on Debuts Development-As-A-Service Platform For Javascript, HTML5 is today introducing Cloud9 IDE, a fresh cloud-based development platform for JavaScript incorporating HTML5, and supporting Python, Ruby and PHP.

The environment aims to enables developers to easily build, test, debug, and deploy Web and mobile applications with a minimum of technical skills and time required.

If the name of the project (Cloud9 IDE) rings a bell, you may remember that it merged with Mozilla Skywriter, a Web-based framework for code editing, back in January 2010.

February 28th 2011 Uncategorized

Oscars: The Social Network Wins 3 Academy Awards

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The Academy Awards show was last night, and The Social Network won 3 Oscars, after being nominated for 8

The Social Network was up for: Best Picture, Best Direction, Actor in a Leading Role, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, and Music (Original Score). It won Best Adapted Screenplay, Film editing, and Music (Aaron Sorkin, Angus Wall/Kirk Baxter and Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross respectively).   

Last month, The Social Network won 4 Golden Globes for Best Director, Screenplay, Best Score, and Best Picture, Drama. It  had been nominated for 6.  Jesse Eisenberg, the actor who portrayed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, was nominated for the Best Actor, Drama award, but lost out to Colin Firth for his performance in the film, The King’s Speech. Andrew Garfield, who played Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Christian Bale for his performance in The Fighter. 

Awards The Social Network Has Been Nominated For and Won

The film missed out on any wins at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, though Eisenberg was nominated for Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Leading Role. 

At the Oscars, The King’s Speech won Best Picture, Tom Hooper won Best Director for that film, Colin Firth won Best actor for it, Wally Pfister won Best Cinematography for Inception, and Lora Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick also won Sound Mixing for Inception. 

Read our review of The Social Network here.

February 28th 2011 Facebook, Social Media

Email Marketing & Social Media Interview: Kristin Hersant of StrongMail

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Kristin Hersant As a long time and trusted marketing agency, TopRank Online Marketing gets to work with some amazing B2B technology and SaaS companies. One of those companies is StrongMail.  Today Kristin Hersant, VP of Corporate Communications joins an esteemed group of marketers and thought leaders ranging from Guy Kawasaki to David Meerman Scott interviewed here at Online Marketing Blog.

Kristin is a firecracker of smarts and energy towards online marketing. Her company StrongMail is the leader in an array of email marketing and social media marketing services. Read on to learn more about the future of Email Marketing and its intersection with Social Media:

Please share a bit about your marketing background and StrongMail. What types of companies do you serve?

I have held a variety of B2B Corporate Marketing positions spanning from program management to event marketing, PR and marketing communications. The industries I’ve worked in include internet advertising, online marketing, desktop software, enterprise software and magazine publishing, which have all contributed in one form or another to my position here at StrongMail. I joined StrongMail in 2004 and have loved every minute of our explosive growth since then.

StrongMail provides email marketing and social media solutions to some of the world’s biggest brands including InterContinental Hotels Group, Travelocity, Viacom, T. Rowe Price and Zappos. Our solutions offer the highest ROI of any enterprise email service provider, which means that we make a lot of sense for B2C companies sending over 1 million messages per month and offer exceptional ROI for companies who send over 5 million messages per month.

How did StrongMail get into the social media business?

StrongMail became a social media marketing provider in 2009 through a series of strategic acquisitions. First we acquired PopularMedia, a Sequoia Capital backed company with a suite of social media products that we integrated into our platform. We currently offer Social Studio, a suite of social media marketing tools that is comprised of a referral marketing platform (StrongMail Influencer), a content sharing tool (Social Notes) and a social media management tool (Social Direct.)

Last year, we also announced the acquisition of two NY-based web firms that we combined to form StrongMail’s new boutique email and social CRM agency. This compliments our suite of technology tools with the strategy and creative expertise that brands need to effectively leverage the channel. All of our social offerings are available either in conjunction with or separately from our email platform, and our social media clients include Castrol, and Discover Card.

A big challenge for many email marketers is deliverability. What are some of the common issues companies are facing?

Controlling spam has become a major problem for ISPs worldwide. On average, 90% of all email sent is categorized as “unsolicited commercial email” or spam.

When you narrow that down to look at the burden on one ISP, of the 8 billion email messages that Hotmail receives globally each month, 5.5 billion are blocked at the gateway and 1 billion are marked as junk. That’s a lot of unwanted email… and unfortunately not all of that is sent from the Nigerian fraudsters and prescription drug pushers that we traditionally think of when we think of spam. A fair percentage of what ISPs classify as “unwanted email” comes from legitimate senders, including many of the brands that we know and trust.

In an effort to improve the Inbox user experience for their customers in 2011, the four major ISPs (Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail and AOL) have all announced plans to change the way that they block and filter email this year. Among other things – including adding social functionality to the Inbox – they have announced that they are going to start factoring engagement into their filtering algorithms.

What this means is that it’s now going to be critically important that your subscribers not only open and click on your emails, but that they do so on a regular basis. If they don’t, it could potentially affect your overall email deliverability and negatively impact revenue driven from the email channel.

To manage through this shift, StrongMail recommends employing a combination of two things:

1)     Carefully scrubbing your list to either remove or attempt to re-engage non-responders after 6 months of inactivity.

2)     Implementing marketing tactics to increase subscriber engagement as soon as possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the Inbox experience is changing in 2011, I encourage you to download our December whitepaper on the subject, “The New Rules of Deliverability: 2011 and Beyond”.

Except the intersection with social media, (I’ll ask about that shortly) what’s the most important change in email marketing over the past year? Any surprises?

In addition to what I mention above, there appears to be a migration from batch email marketing towards triggered email marketing automation. Marketers have been talking about it for years, but we’re finally seeing a shift towards more wide-spread adoption. This is a result of technology advances that put easy-to-use workflow-building functionality into the hands of marketers and a drive for enterprises to generate a single view of their customer across all channels.

We recently published a great case study on this with InterContinental Hotels Group that I recommend reading if you’re looking at a similar program.

Many companies are implementing Email and Social Media Marketing solutions independently but you’re a strong advocate of a synergy between them. What are your recommendations for companies looking for best practices and an approach to making their email marketing more social?

When social media first started gaining momentum, many industry pundits were saying that it signaled the death of email. Neilsen set out to prove that hypothesis, and fielded a study that broke internet users in to four groups – three focused on varying levels of social media usage and a fourth group did not use social media at all.

Then they overlayed email usage on top of those segments and discovered that their hypothesis was wrong. In fact, the more engaged a person was with social media, the more heavily they consumed email.

Email Consumption

This intersection of highly engaged email and social media users tend to be more active online – generating reviews, recommendations and comments in forums. In many cases, this segment also contains your most influential brand advocates.

The good news for email marketers is that, these influencers are already in your email database. The most successful socialized email marketing programs target these influencers with something of value that incentivizes them to spread the word about your product or service. We’ve seen brands drive as much as six figures in additional revenue off of one socialized email program that was targeted in this fashion. Another was able to generate 8,500 new subscribers off of one email campaign using a similar strategy.

The key is to be thoughtful with your email and social media strategy. Provide your influencers with genuine, true value in your campaigns, and if you can make them look like a hero by providing them with something of value to share with their networks, even better.

Simply integrating passive social sharing is good, but it will yield a much lower lift in click-throughs.

Companies that have been involved with social media publishing, sharing and networking for a while often find themselves overwhelmed and looking for efficiencies through tools. What types of social media tools do you recommend? Is there a process for evaluation that you’d recommend?

Every smart social media strategy starts with listening, so your first investment should be in a listening platform like Radian 6, Attenisty or Alterian’s SM2. In addition, you need a social media management console to schedule, track and respond to your mentions across social channels. StrongMail has one called Social Direct, but other popular ones include HootSuite or even Tweetdeck, which is free. If you’re a large enterprise that has a team of people tweeting on behalf of your brand in a customer service capacity, you should look at Co-Tweet.

Additional technology investments could include a community platform like Jive or Lithium (if you determine that’s right for your business), or a referral marketing platform like StrongMail Influencer.

But to be honest, most enterprise level social media marketers are still investing in internal education and training. I heard a great quote last week… “Social media is too young to be a science. It’s still an art.”  This means that the right strategy and set of tools is going to be different for every brand. The good news is – like email marketing – there is a wealth of free information out there for you to help devise your social media strategy if you’re budget strapped. However if you don’t have time, there are also plenty of agencies to help you quickly build a strategy that makes sense for your business.

“Social Media” is the darling topic for many business publications, blogs (including this one) and even mainstream media. Do you think at some point there will be a social media bubble? If so, when do you think it will pop?

That’s a great question… Gartner’s hype-cycle shows that every new, promising technology will enter the trough of disillusionment before it enters the plateau of productivity. By that theory, we are absolutely headed for a bubble-burst, but it’s not certain when that will happen. I suspect that it will have something to do with a consumer privacy backlash. Social media is free for a reason… Mark Zuckerberg might not think consumers will ever care about how their information is shared, but I think they eventually will. Companies should make sure that their data management practices and privacy policies are above board and clearly articulated in their privacy policies in preparation for this.

In the recent StrongMail webinar, 2011 Social Marketing Business Forecast, Jeremiah Owyang talked about social media budget allocation for the coming year. What are some of the shifts in priority that you’re seeing with companies that are maturing in their social media programs?

Mature social media marketers are starting to shift their limited budget dollars from traditional agencies (that maybe handled their PR or advertising campaigns) to boutique agencies that specialize in social media marketing. This enables them to generate significantly higher returns from their social media marketing programs. Our agency is doing some groundbreaking, data-based Social CRM Marketing work in this area that is producing incredible results for our clients.

ROI is a big topic when it comes to social media marketing. How does email marketing help facilitate or achieve greater business value from social participation?

I just spoke at OpenDialogue’s Social Media Marketing Conference in Toronto and 2/3 of the audience came from a marketing background, whereas less than 5 people in the audience came from a PR background. That is a significant shift from who owned social media a few years ago. Marketers are taking over… which signals a shift towards needing to prove ROI. In PR, that’s a fuzzy metric.

Email marketing is a direct marketing discipline, which by nature means that everything needs to be tracked and measured. Social media metrics are more engagement focused, however smart marketers need to start analyzing those metrics in conjunction with their email marketing metrics, purchase metrics, customer lifetime value metrics to build a holistic picture of each consumer’s value to your company. This is the holy grail of social media marketing ROI, however I don’t think it’s that far off for companies with the right organizational structure and integrated technology infrastructure.

What are some of the biggest myths, misconceptions or outright misinformation you’ve been seeing about email, social or a convergence of the two?

Probably that social media is going to kill email, which I alluded to earlier. Social media is just another channel to add to the marketing mix. Did television kill the phone? No. Did Email kill the phone? No. Did Email kill print? A little bit… but I don’t think social media can be compared in the same way. Email is literally an electronic version of mail… so of course it’s going to affect the usage of print. But it’s never going to kill it completely. And social media is most certainly *not* going to kill email.

What are you most optimistic about for online marketing in 2011?

The move towards engagement filtering by the top ISPs is driving increased pressure for email marketers to up their game. As any marketer who has ever been blocked by a major ISP know will tell you… once you’re blocked, it can be quite a challenge to get unblocked.

The four major ISPs aren’t making the specifics of their algorithms public, nor have they announced exactly when they will start junking emails based on lack of subscriber engagement. However by taking steps to increase subscriber engagement now, you will not only protect yourself from being negatively impacted by this change – you will have the added bonus of improving the performance of your email marketing programs.

Email marketers are paying attention. According to a recent StrongMail survey of just under 1000 global email marketing executives, 52% cited increasing subscriber engagement as one of their top priorities in 2011. This makes it the #1 initiative for email marketers in 2011 – followed by improving segmentation and targeting and integrating social media with their email marketing programs.

In my opinion, this is awesome news for everyone. Its forcing email marketers to evolve and start paying attention to engagement metrics on an ongoing basis – not to mention keep their lists clean – if they want to continue to have their email delivered. This is going to hurt lazy email marketers and spammers, but that’s the point. But if you’re on top of this change, it will only create a win-win situation for consumers, ISPs and brands alike.

For in-depth examples of how brands are successfully increasing subscriber engagement, I recommend downloading our whitepaper on the topic, “The Ultimate Email Marketing Guidebook: Increasing Subscriber Engagement.”

Thank you Kristin!  For more insights and to connect with Kristin on the social web, visit her on Twitter or her blog on the StrongMail website.

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Email Marketing & Social Media Interview: Kristin Hersant of StrongMail |

February 28th 2011 B2B, Online Marketing, Social Media

Placecast and AT&T Launch Geo-fenced Mobile “ShopAlerts”

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Mobile carrier AT&T is introducing location-based “ShopAlerts” with Placecast in four US cities: NY, SF, Chicago and LA. This is opt-in “push” marketing via SMS or MMS tied to “geo-fences.” Privacy is a non-issue because of the opt-in dimension. Once a user…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

February 28th 2011 Uncategorized

Gmail Glitch Wipes Out Archives From 150,000 Accounts (So Back Yours Up Already)

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About 150,000 Gmail users, or 0.08 percent of the webmail service, logged in over the weekend to see everything gone—email, chat logs, and attachments. Google’s working to restore the accounts, but in the meantime, take it as another vivid reminder of the value of local backups. (more…)

February 28th 2011 Uncategorized

Many Gmail Users Can’t Find Their Messages

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Imagine loading Gmail and noticing that all your messages have been deleted. This is a real problem for many Gmail users who thought that they lost all of their messages. Here’s one of the many reports from Gmail’s forum:

Yes, whatever the error is on Google’s end (and it clearly is that, not a hack, unless it’s some kind of inside hack) it’s basically reset my account so it’s like a brand-new Gmail account. My contacts are intact, but nothing else–the folders have reset to default, my signature line is blank, the “theme” is changed back to the default and–of course–every single email from the last 7 years has vanished completely.

The Google Apps Status page mentions that “this issue affects less than 0.08% of the Google Mail userbase” and “Google engineers are working to restore full access”. The users that are affected “will be temporarily unable to sign in”.

This is a really important problem for Google and one of the biggest Gmail issues ever since Google’s email service was released, back in 2004.

February 28th 2011 Uncategorized

PhotoRocket Lifts Off. Mission: Super Easy Photo Sharing. Destination: Everywhere.

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A couple of months ago, an SEC filing unveiled that Scott Lipsky, one of Amazon’s first executives ever and later founder of aQuantive (acquired by Microsoft for a cool $6B) was up to something new.

His new startup, PhotoRocket, is all about ridiculously easy photo sharing from multiple devices, and it will be formally introducing its service at the DEMO conference later today.

I had a chat with Lipsky and PhotoRocket CEO (and former VP at Yahoo) Gary Roshak ahead of the launch presentation, and came impressed with the product and its potential.

You’d think photo sharing couldn’t be any easier than it has already become today, but you’d be wrong. What Photorocket does, or at least aims to do in the future, is basically obliterate the need to ever click an ‘upload’ button or email photos ever again.

Available for Mac, Windows and the iPhone (iPad and Android ‘coming soon’), PhotoRocket lets you easily share photos with friends and family in a closed circle, but also make it super simple to share photos on Facebook, Flickr, Shutterfly, Twitter and a bunch of other destinations, with more continually being added to the fray.

For sharing photos with individuals, PhotoRocket doesn’t require recipients to register or log in to view or download photos – although they can register if they’d like to spread photos on their own or purchase high-quality prints.

But where PhotoRocket really shines is how easy the service enables users to push photos found on the Web (right-click, select, done) and on your computer (right-click, select, done) to social networking and online photo sharing services with a minimum of friction.

The only small gripe I have is that there should be a number of basic editing capabilities baked into the product that would enable users to do things like cropping or resizing images before sharing, but I’m told some of those features will be included in future releases.

Give PhotoRocket a whirl and tell us what you think.

February 28th 2011 Uncategorized

Google and the Value of Social Networking (Part 3)

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Paul Buchheit, the ex-Googler behind Gmail and a former Facebook employee, answered a question about the rivalry between Google and Facebook.

There is an interesting competitive element there because Facebook is growing very fast, and obviously, Google would like to compete in the social-networking space. They have finally realized its importance, and they are finding themselves, maybe for the first time, with the realization that there is someone who is way, way ahead of them.

There was a moment with Microsoft that they assumed that Google was like, “Well, yeah, search isn’t that important. And if it does become important, we’ll just hire some people and we’ll take over.” They kind of thought it was something they could win really easily, and they underestimated the difficulty of it. I kind of feel like Google may have reached that same moment with social networking, where they realized, A, it’s important, and B, it’s really hard to win.

Paul is not the first ex-Googler who thinks that Google didn’t understand the importance of social networking. Another former Googler said that “there is some belief at Google that their DNA is not perfectly suited to build social products”, while Aaron Iba, who worked on the Orkut team, noticed that “social networking [was viewed] as a frivolous form of entertainment rather than a real utility”.

{ via Avinash }

February 28th 2011 Uncategorized

Could Online Ad World Ditch the Impression?

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Is the impression—the longtime currency of online advertising—on its way out?

February 28th 2011 Uncategorized