Give a Link for Christmas

To celebrate Christmas this year, we decided to give $1,000 and help build links to a number of our favourite causes. We came up with the concept of ‘Give a Link for Christmas’ where an email was sent out to our customers, thanking them for their support in 2009 and encouraging them to link to one of our favourite causes, by posting it to Facebook, Twitter, Delicious or indeed posting a link to their blog/website.  We suggested that if they liked the idea they should spread the word to their friends. Whenever someone posted a link to one of the social networks, there was a link back to the ‘Give a Link for Christmas’ landing page. Continue reading

5 Good Alternatives to Google Adwords

Hi all,
Pay per click advertising has proved to be a fantastic cashcow for Google with Adwords proving to be its flagship revenue generator. Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsfot AdCenter, the ppc networks offered by Yahoo and MSN respectively,  have also tasted success though not on the same scale as the Google Adwords program.

As far as the advertiser is concerned, there is not much joy when it comes to click costs for the keywords they target in their ppc campaigns. Unlike the stock market where crashes occur, the prices of keywords have been going up steadily and there is no possibility of them coming down in future.  It is not fair to expect every advertiser to know the intricacies of PPC marketing and factors like quality score, targeting and relevancy.

Continue reading

New Addition to Netconcepts SEO Team

Hi all,
I am Ravi Venkatesan, senior SEO consultant and the latest addition to the Search marketing team at Netconcepts in Auckland, New Zealand.

I have around 9 years experience in the search marketing field and am adept at both organic search engine optimisation(SEO) and pay per click (PPC) marketing.

I have worked on a variety of projects ranging from accounting and legal fields to ecommerce and New Zealand travel and tourism projects with a huge dose of social media marketing.

I am an avid learner and keep up with the latest trends of the incredibly dynamic search marketing field that is growing astronomically with each passing day. I am looking forward to working with the clients of Netconcepts and use my knowledge gleaned over the past many years to the best of my ability to achieve clients’ and company expectations.

Cheers
Ravi Venkatesan

Firefox 3 – Download Day

Firefox 3 Download DayJune 17th was the day Mozilla released it’s latest version of the Firefox browser, Firefox 3.0. This was not only Firefox 3 launch day though. With the release of Firefox 3 this also kicked into action Download Day. Download Day was a campaign Mozilla was pushing to set a new Guinness World Record for the most software downloads in a 24 hour period, coinciding with the launch of Firefox 3.

According to the Download Day headquarters, they got more than 8 million Firefox 3 downloads in 24 hours. That’s more Firefox downloads than they’ve ever had in a single day and it created a new Guinness World Record.

The Download Day microsite exists within Mozilla’s official community marketing site, Spread Firefox. At Download Day headquarters you were able to make a pledge that you were going to download Firefox 3 prior to launch day, with the pledge results being displayed via an interactive world map. This map was a good touch as not only could you see the total amount of pledges worldwide, but going off some of the comments in the various Mozilla groups and forums, it probably helped engage a bit of competitiveness between some countries, thus encouraging more pledges.

Continue reading

Mintshot and Guerilla Marketing

minshot.gif

It has been six months since Mintshot literally erupted onto the scene. At the time of the site launch, I thought I would hold off writing about Mintshot, sit back and see how it all went. I’m glad I did, because unfortunately since the launch Mintshot has been plagued by a plethora of issues including loads of site usability and security issues, not to mention their guerilla marketing launch activity. I won’t even attempt to list any of the site or security issues because from the bit of research I’ve done there appear to be so many. For excellent in depth coverage on all of the issues, check out the NZ Reality TV blog. The blogs posts and comments about Mintshot makes for very, very interesting reading. You really do get a good picture of whats been going on. A heck of a lot has been happening and many users of the site have been less than happy. So much so that a spoof video has popped up mocking the fact that the site was outsourced.

The Mintshot concept, as is stated in the sites ‘About us’ section: “A fully integrated community marketing site where consumers could earn virtual dollars which they could in turn grow and use to purchase a range of products from New Zealand’s best brands without it ever costing them a cent”. How you earn the virtual dollar is by watching branded advertising online. Once you have earned the virtual dollars, you then need to grow the dollars and in turn spend the virtual dollars before the end of each month. At the end of each month your Mintshot dollar balance goes back to zero.

Minshot was founded by Nick Dalton, Ben Hickey and the ever high profile Marc Ellis. In a press release Marc Ellis said “The site has been designed to be engaging and top fun for the consumer, and an important marketing tool for advertisers”. “A key objective is to have over 100,000 people register with mintshot.co.nz within the first 48 hours. We think we will get there with our launch activity which is sure to put the words mintshot.co.nz on everyone’s lips!”.

And, it is that Minshot launch activity that I want to talk about. On the 13th November 07, a guerilla marketing tactic was used to help launch the Mintshot site. This consisted of Marc Ellis and team setting up a fake volcanic eruption on Rangitoto Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. They did this by igniting a fair amount of smoke flares. This kind of stunt is just what you’d expect from the likeable joker Marc Ellis isn’t it, he’s always up to some kind of laddish behaviour. The stunt was well planned with legal advice being taken around the stunt. Initially this hoax eruption seemed to be pulled off without a hitch, well that’s what you think after seeing the footage of them celebrating after the stunt had taken place.

Then people started to complain including The Department of Conservation (DOC). According to the NZ Herald, the stunt was undertaken without a permit from the Department of Conservation. In the end Marc Ellis had to apologise for the Mintshot stunt.

So, the question is did the stunt backfire on them? Well, I think no in one sense, but yes in another. No, because they pulled off the hoax pretty easily which got them the initial publicity for their launch. Then the publicity continued with the aftermath/backlash caused from the launch activity giving them more free publicity. On the other hand, yes I think the stunt did backfire on them also. Back fired in the sense that they ended up having to apologise for their actions. So, it did make them look a bit silly really. Maybe Marc Ellis went one step too far this time.

Looking up the meaning of guerilla marketing on Wikipedia it mentions that according to Levinson (the guy who coined Guerilla marketing in his 1984 book), the Guerrilla Marketer must “deliver the goods”. In The Guerrilla Marketing Handbook, he states: “In order to sell a product or a service, a company must establish a relationship with the customer. It must build trust and support. It must understand the customer’s needs, and it must provide a product that delivers the promised benefits.” So, it seems so far, even though they launched with a bang, the Mintshot site does not to appear to have “delivered the goods” to the punters.

Tim Norton, PlanHQ, Using Blogging To Influence Mainstream Media

Even though it is early days for Tim Norton’s PlanHQ, his team are making quite a bit of traction with their web based business plan software. Below is an iJump interview (thanks Simon!) with Tim in regards to his approach to marketing of PlanHQ using the blogging world as their main driver of referral traffic to their site. I highly recommend to OnlineMarketer.co.nz subscribers that this interview is well worth the watch. The main points of the interview are:

  • PlanHQ participate in the blogger community to drive traffic to their site.
  • They focus on bloggers who will influence main media
  • The data that is generated within their website and software application by its users helps with decision making on future product developments
  • Tim uses PlanHQ himself for their business
  • Finding existing communities to participate online is easier than starting your own community
  • The first phase of marketing PlanHQ was to get people talking about the product which is a “pull” marketing strategy. Tim will now go into “push” mode.
  • Tim typically blogs every 2 days.
  • The main benefits of blogging for PlanHQ are: increasing traffic to the site, high quality engagement with their target market, the ability to test ideas and get immediate feedback and to gain trust.

Tim Norton is speaking at the Interactive Marketing Summit next Monday, 26th May. Netconcepts will also be at the conference. It will be a great day mixing with some of the leaders in the online space in New Zealand.

[google -5158557464841952508]

Monopoly World Vote – a Viral Marketing Success

Over the last few months you more than likely would have heard some of the hype surrounding the Monopoly World Vote. It was hard not to. It spread prolifically through email and word of mouth, was blogged about repeatedly, had huge forum and discussion group involvement and made the news all over the world. It has proven to be a hugely successful and well engineered viral marketing campaign that has spread globally and received an incredible amount of attention and coverage – and it’s not over yet.

Monopoly World Vote

Hasbro, the makers of the Monopoly board game, did some incredibly smart marketing with the development of their first ever global edition of the popular game, called ‘Here & Now – The World Edition’. It was a simple idea – replace the iconic properties of the original game with some of the major cities of the world. To do so, they devised an international campaign to involve the global public by allowing them to vote for the 20 cities (out 68 worldwide) to be included in the new edition game.

Within a matter of days, the campaign went viral. Fans the world over urged friends and strangers to vote for their home city or town. Multiple Facebook groups were created and news stories in many countries encouraged their citizens to register and cast their vote.

Here in New Zealand, Queenstown was the only city to make the short list and it too resulted in local news coverage to encourage Kiwis to get on board. The polls closed on February 29th but the buzz continued when a second round vote was carried out for two ‘wildcard’ places. Voters could nominate places, meaning a lot of the smaller, lesser known cities had a chance to make the cut, including Auckland, which made the top 20. Voting for these closed late March.

google2.jpg

The microsite where the voting took place (which now redirects to the Hasbro’s site) required an email registration to participate, and allowed for just one vote for one city per person per day. The collection of email addresses was a smart move, as not only did it limit ballot box stuffing, but emails will likely be used to notify voters with campaign updates and of course the release of the new game itself.

So just how successful was the campaign?

  • As at the time of this post, Google reports 27,900 pages when searching for ‘monopoly world vote’ and 34,200 for ‘www.monopolyworldvote.com‘. Yahoo! returned 11,700,000 pages and MSN 2,600,000 pages for ‘monopoly world vote’.
  • According to Technorati, there were 991 blog reactions to www.monopolyworldvote.com in a range of languages from all over the world.
  • A whopping 258 Facebook Groups were created to encourage voting among friends and networks in several countries.
  • And according to Quantcat the site received 53,424 unique visits each month from the US alone. Alexa reported a peak of close to 19 million page views daily.

alexa2.jpg

And then there was the news. The Monopoly World Vote made headlines the world over, such as here, here, here and here.

So why was this campaign so successful?

  • Hasbro have hit the nail on the head with this concept. Monopoly is a a good old family favourite. It’s a universally enjoyed game which embodies nostalgic memories of childhood and youth. It is already one of the world’s best selling board games, so the campaign was an innovative way to revamp and generate interest in an old product.
  • The microsite was well-designed, colourful and user-friendly . It engaged the user and included an interactive map showcasing which countries were in the lead.
  • The end result is essentially a user-generated product which involved people across the globe, from die-hard monopoly fans, city proud people, to patriotic citizens of smaller, lesser known countries.
  • The idea has fantastic viral appeal and is a perfect ‘social media’ fit – the numerous blogs and Facebook groups are a testament to this.
  • And then there is the multi-phase approach. First there was the vote for the major cities, then the vote on the two wildcard places, and in August the final results will be revealed. Finally there is the release of the game itself which is sure to generate further buzz and word of mouth when it hits the shops – fingers crossed Queenstown makes the cut!

Rand Fishkin Interview

In our second video from our series of SMX Sydney interviews, we speak with Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz on seo tools, link building and social networking.

Jacqui: Hi, I’m Jacqui Jones from Netconcepts and we’re at SMX Sydney and we have Rand Fishkin right here from SEOmoz.

Rand: Hi, How are you Jacqui?

Jacqui: Welcome to Australia.

Rand: Thank you.

Jacqui: It’s a bit bright isn’t it? It’s very sunny.

Rand: I think this is just about the best weather I’ve had at a conference. Maybe one of the best cities too, it’s incredible here.

Jacqui: That’s a lovely thing to say. As I just mentioned, one of our analysts in our US office, she wanted to ask a question about the sluggish-nish of your web site, so what is the case?

Rand: There are a few issues with SEOmoz. One is it was not built to handle the traffic that it gets right now. It was architected for maybe a max of 10,000 visits a day and it gets close to 15-20,000 on a lot of days. The other thing is the tools slow it down heavily. So as the tools have gotten more popular, that’s a tonne of database requests and it’s a tonne of pulling data from other places. One of the biggest problems was, I think a couple of weeks ago was running super slow, and were going what the heck’s going on, and we found this spammer in Singapore had like signed up for a tonne of accounts and was running like 50 tools at a time, so we’re constantly monitoring for that kind of thing. So, November we’re going to co-locate hosting in New York and Seattle. Were gonna have a new version of the site which runs a lot faster. Hopefully it will get better.

Jacqui: Ok, so in the meantime, you know, do we just have to persevere?

Rand: Yeah, I would say visit it during, no you shouldn’t have to do anything. It’s ridiculous to ask people to not like, come and visit. I mean were doing the best we can and I do apologise for the sluggish-nish. I promise it’s totally worth it dude, just you know, come on over.

Jacqui: Another question I have is how did you come up with the name SEOmoz? What does moz actually mean?

Rand: So, we stole it from the Mozilla foundation, and Chef Moz and DMOZ and all of those sites. So, they had this philosophy that we just loved, which was of openness and of sharing a lot of robust, free content. And we’ve always subscribed to that moto. So even though we have paid stuff, kind of behind the pro membership, there is thousands and thousands of pieces of great free content on SEOmoz. There’s a lot of stuff that users contribute themselves through YOUmoz, through the market place. All that kinda thing so, yeah, we took it from the kind of ethos of openness.

Jacqui: You’ve got a range of professional analytic tools available on SEOmoz. Can you tell us a little bit about what they are?

Rand: Sure, so I mean there’s a tonne of them, but one of the ones, how about I’ll tell you about one of the new ones, one of the ones that’s coming out, that no one has seen yet! So, in, what’s it gonna be, it’s June 3rd I think it launches, and it’s, I don’t know, we haven’t come up with a name yet, maybe like the video watchers can help us, you can help us come up with a name for it. Internally we call it the Trifector tool. So, it is page strength, which has been probably our most popular tool right, which gets a bunch of factors about your web site from the search engines, from Yahoo, from Google, from Alexa, all these places and then comes up with kinda score of how important we think you are. And, we took that one step further and said you know, page analysis is fine, but for a lot of time we need to analyse a whole domain, and other times we wanna… there’s blogs right and we specifically want to break out blogs, so we have page strength, blog strength and domain strength, thus we call it Trifector right, and so that is launching June 3rd. We have a tonne of tools in there, but I think this one is going to be huge, it’s gonna be very, very popular.

Jacqui: We’re looking forward to seeing that being launched. A question from one of our analysts Tim in our US office… he wants to know, can you actually add more than one site to the pro analytics tool.

Rand: You can’t right now, but you’ll be able to add five sites in total, so your site like plus four top competitors starting May, I think its like, May 20th, May 25th, something like that. We launched it in a preview Beta mode, knowing that’s what folks would want. We all ready have internally, some stuff where you can see like four sites at a different time. You can see oh well, Search Engine Land is going up and SEOmoz is going down, and oh we have to catch up to that Danny bastard, you know, yeah.

Jacqui: So what do you think what are some of the greatest challenges in search for Australia and New Zealand and I appreciate you have only been here for 5 minutes, but what are your observations so far?

Rand: I have a really good friend who’s based here in Australia and he spent a week with us at SEOmoz. Lucas Ng from Fairfax digital and I think he’s just brilliant, absolutely brilliant about SEO stuff and he commented that Australia and New Zealand are always about a year behind the US in terms of technology. Everything from Ajax, to social media marketing, to Twitter, you know, to Digg, or whatever it is, their always kind of a little bit behind, and so I think it can be tough to come to some of these presentations and to hear these tactics described and then say to yourself, ok we’re not quite there yet, but this does gives us an opportunity to be on the cutting edge.

Obviously some of the other things are it’s really tough to network from Australia, in person networking is extremely hard because it’s so far to fly to you know, London, or to Los Angeles, or San Francisco or New York, I mean these are just far, far away destinations, and so I think that there’s a lot of opportunity therefore in the power of social networking. I mean I had, you know, I had never met, Colina Jordan until I came here, but she was a huge name for me and the same is true with Barry Smyth and you know a lot of the other folks who are here. I knew them through the social profiles and media that they contributed to and participated online, so I think that recognising that challenge and also that opportunity.

Jacqui: Great, so for those particular people, they would want to have an international profile to network with people like yourselves and others in the industry in the States. So for businesses in Australia and New Zealand where they primarily want Australian and New Zealand business and traffic, if they were to participate in social media sites in the US, does that really provide a lot of benefit to them?

Rand: So, probably not quite as great as the other side, however that being said, if you participate in those sites, you can probably earn links that none of your competition will have and you can earn this branding outside of what your competitors can get. And that will help you right, so all of those links will help you to rank well for queries even here in Australia. You’ll earn that trust and the authoritative domain status and all these kind of things and then when your competitors are you know, struggling, they might say, oh man how did they get those links, how can I get those links and that’s a pretty powerful thing.

Jacqui: If you are generating global links, does that really benefit your site? I mean surely regional links will be better than a global link?

Rand: Not necessarily, not entirely. There’s something to this idea that authoritative domains gather links from all different countries, all different languages and recognising that is going to be really important. SEOmoz is a good example. Once we started getting links from Germany, from the UK, from Canada, from Australia, from Singapore, from China, and we look at all these different markets and said oh my gosh like this is really establishing us as an authority on the web on this subject and it means that our rankings are going to increase in the US as well as overseas. Let’s say you want to say target Singapore, getting links in Singapore is absolutely very important, but if you’re working here in Australia and you’ve got an Australian domain and you have lots of Australian links already and now you’re trying to expand your link profile, going international can be a great, great help.

Jacqui: We’ve been speaking with a range of PR consultants recently, and they’re just starting to learn about social media and PR online which is great and one of the question they ask is well, how do you actually value a link because they’re so use to when they get a mention in a newspaper article, they can put a dollar value on that, so how do you actually value a link? Is that possible?

Rand: Not, not right now, not, at least not from the prospective of this helped me this much to get the rankings that I want. I think you can do it arbitrarily and you can do it a little bit, you can kinda say, hey we through out this piece of content, it got this many links, it’s earned us this much traffic and referrers to that page sent us this many conversions. You might be able to puzzle out something, but chances are it’s gonna be a low ball. I think that low ball number is probably an ok thing to use, but yeah it’s a very, very tough thing to do because you don’t know whether that link is going to be, oh hey that increased my trust rank, that increased my page rank this much. I think that eventually there will be tools that will help us to analyse those.

Jacqui: Great, well that’s all the questions I have for today, so thank you very much, and enjoy the rest of your time in Australia and also New Zealand when you go there next week, so thank you.

Rand: Thanks Jacqui, it’s been terrific.

The People’s Republic of V: How Would You Spend $100K?

Republic of VThe Energy Drink V has a profile on the social networking site Bebo called the People’s Republic of V.  V held a competition where people had to come up with an idea on how V was to spend $100k and a pallet of V. People were encouraged to submit their ideas according to the idea criteria and free prizes were up for grabs too.

When it came to deciding which idea was the winning idea, V decided to get the people to vote online using the poll section. I returned to the site at a later date to see whether they had announced the final winning idea from the poll, but you got the idea that there had been some cheating going on and the poll had been scraped.

V proceeded to hold a second poll to let people help decide on how they were going to determine a winner. So once again I waited for the results of the second poll and subsequently returned back to the site.  V stated… ‘the polls says let the judges decide’ which idea is the winner. So, then we had to wait for the judges to make their final decision and this seems to take forever.

By this stage I had lost interest and many weeks later returned to the site to see if the judges had made a final decision as to which idea won the competition. The results were not immediately apparent. I checked the blog section but didn’t find a post regarding the final winning idea. Looking through the photo section I saw photos of the judges actually judging the $100k competition, one of the judges doodles and 14 photos with captions on a few $100k competition entries.

There was a video posted in the video section that says ‘$100k idea – Brazilian street party‘. A Brazilian street party would be cool, but there were also other great ideas. For example one ‘idea of the day‘ was to throw a pallet of V from the back of a Hercules plane and let the people know that it’s raining V.

Back to the matter in hand, I was still at a loss as to the winning idea.

Eventually, I received an email from the People’s Republic of V saying: “A couple of months ago we asked you, the People’s Republic of V what we should do with $100k and a pallet of V. Gary’s idea was that we should throw away the $100K! And he won. So we’re going to do it soon…very soon…” Aha, at last, confirmation of the winning idea – phew! So, the $100,000 is to be divided into three and thrown in to the wind in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin.

The competitions in the Republic of V are relentless for their worshipers. I say worshipers rather than followers because looking at some of the comments they really do appear to worship the V product and appear to be true brand advocates. They recently had a few more competitions including: Be in to win a pimped out V ride, and a Big Day Out double pass competition. Another prize you could win was a case of V.

V wanted to hear from people as to what they thought about V by answering three questions. 1) When I drink V it makes me feel? 2) If I were to describe V as a person I would say they were? 3) If I were in charge of V, my brand slogan for V would be? The winners got a case of V on their door step.

V work hard to engage their target market with all these competitions and freebies. They aren’t afraid to ask their V members what they really want and the people who frequent the People’s Republic of V are more than happy to oblige. They are very happy to express themselves through comments, forums, polls, photos and more.

V in return gain insight into their customers’ perception of their brand and are able to carry out low cost market research.  Unfortunately, their marketing team appeared to be slow on the uptake of managing the “How to spend $100K and a pallet of V” competition, which could have resulted in their brand advocates being frustrated or disappointed.    It’s important that when marketers carry out such competitions and campaigns online that they have the technical expertise to ensure a smooth running campaign and its delivered in a timely manner.

Seasonal SEO and Online Marketing for Ski Resorts

I’ve recently returned from a ski trip to Canada and prior to my departure I spent time researching my options online. Deciding which ski resort to visit was largely based on promotions and deals available, accommodation packages, snow conditions, terrain and accessibility. And a lot of this came down to what was returned in the search results.

It got me thinking, ski resorts have it tough. Not only do they operate in a hugely competitive global industry, but they’re seasonal, operating for skiing and snowboarding for just 4 to 6 months of each year.

For ski resorts, the peak winter months are obviously vital. The weeks leading up to opening day are just as important, as these are the weeks where they must aggressively promote and secure a large chunk of their business. But at the end of each ski season, ski resorts typically experience an extended period of down time and most will close until early autumn.

For some resorts however, this down time signals the push to promote their summer activities. Resorts such as Whistler in North America position themselves as ‘all season’ mountain resorts, catering to both winter and summer mountain pursuits. In winter it’s all about the skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snow-shoeing and dog-sledding, while in summer, the focus turns to mountain biking, hiking, 4WD tours and golf.

So how does this seasonality impact on online marketing efforts and in particular SEO?

Whether they’re all-season or just winter focused, ski resorts have a fairly difficult task in promoting themselves effectively online. Resorts have an endless number of important announcements and updates to communicate, and these change dramatically from season to season. The following are 6 online strategies and tactics ideally suited to the seasonal and competitive nature of the ski resort industry:

  • Branding & Positioning

Due to the immense competition among ski resorts, branding is vital. There are numerous ski resorts world wide ranging in size, terrain, facilities and prominence.

Resorts that can identify a point of difference and position themselves against the bigger players will stand out and garner awareness over those that don’t. Fernie in Canada is known for its ‘Legendary Powder’, SilverStar for its ‘Family Friendly Resort’ facilities and Mt Ruapehu has taken advantage of being ‘New Zealand’s largest skiing area’. Such catch phrases help to maintain a strong brand while also serving to achieve better search engine rankings for highly targeted key phrases.

mt-ruapehu-nz.jpg

  • Search Engine Optimisation

Search engine optimisation (SEO) prepares a website to rank in search results for targeted and relevant keywords, and this takes time and effort.

For a number of ski resorts, these keyword phrases change depending on the time of the year. I’ve found that a handful of resorts feature two homepages on their websites, one for their winter sports and one for summer. Depending on the time of the year, the relevant homepage will display and the keywords communicating content to the search engines change accordingly. A few resorts feature a splash page, offering little or no content except the option to choose which season to visit. These are not good tactics for long term SEO.

Benefits of SEO can take months, it is ineffective to communicate little or conflicting information to the search engines. Optimising a resort website for both summer and winter activities should require developing separate pages or websites to cater to the contrasting seasons, as Whistler has done.

Keywords play a fundamental role in any search optimisation effort, therefore seasonal keyword research is vital. Season specific pages should feature permanent body copy which does not change its keyword focus. Title tags, header tags and meta tags should all contain targeted and relevant keywords to effectively communicate the theme to the search engines.

It is surprising to see a number of the big name ski resorts not implementing fundamental SEO best practice – Vail, Aspen, Copper Mountain and Breckenridge Resorts in Colorado lack the use of keyword rich title tags and h1 tags, and have little or no body copy on their homepages. All rank very poorly for key search phrases ‘colorado ski resorts’ and ‘skiing colorado’, despite being the big players in this region.

vail-rank.jpg

Link building is a vital component of any SEO effort, as search engines view a link from one page to another as a kind of endorsement. Keyword rich anchor text helps to theme a page in the eyes of a search engine. Ski Resorts should ensure winter and summer specific inbound links point to the appropriate pages, and not to a page with little or conflicting content.

  • Pay Per Click Advertising

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is ideally suited to the seasonality of ski resorts. Its flexibility enables them to quickly respond to any changes within the season, whether from sudden increased snowfall, last minute specials or late availabilities. PPC campaigns can be changed in response to winter or summer operations, or switched on or off at will.

Again, seasonal keyword research is vital. Online searches pre ski season will be different to those conducted mid season. Once summer activities kick in, the keyword targets will be different again.

 

 

ppc-whistler.jpg

  • Email Marketing

Email campaigns enable ski resorts to create a long term dialog with a customer base while encouraging loyalty and customer relationships.

Emails are ideal for communicating during the down time when customers aren’t frequenting the websites. An email campaign in the weeks before opening day can generate excitement for the impending season while encouraging advanced season pass sales.

Email marketing is also useful in communicating seasonal changes and updates in response to scheduled opening days, early bird specials, changes in snow fall/conditions, mid to late season deals, accommodation availability, promotions, upcoming events and last minute deals if bookings are down.

  • Videos, Widgets and more

When email marketing no longer garners consumer attention or site traffic stabilises or drops off altogether, videos, podcasts, widgets, RSS feeds and mashups are an ideal alternative to other forms of online marketing.

Due to declining email open rates, Vail Resorts developed a ‘SnowMate’ desktop application that supplies special offers, entertainment and information to its users daily. Features such as a weather feed, snow conditions update, resort video clips and travel offers were successful in attracting users and creating a positive brand experience for the resorts.

Snowmate

Videos can effectively promote a ski destination as well as provide entertainment showcasing skiers/snowboarders performing tricks. A number of ski resorts have developed videos for their websites and uploaded them to video sharing sites.

Podcasts, like videos, are marketing tactics which can be matched with the lifestyle of the desired target audience. Killington Resort in the U.S developed regular podcasts aimed at young urban professionals using a ‘snow reporter’ sharing the same demographics.

  • Social Media and Online PR

Developing blogs, online articles and press releases provide a ski resort with brand exposure as well as the opportunity to use seasonal keywords to communicate different season offerings. They also provide a means of generating quality inbound links.

Participating in social media and networking sites are ideal in reaching target demographics while offering dynamic and interactive content. Deer Valley in Utah created short video podcasts for YouTube to reach generation Xer’s and Y’s to market the 2007 FIS World Cup. The podcasts were then linked to blogs, MySpace pages, and web sites where their target audience hang out. Canada’s Silver Star has developed a Facebook Group to better connect with customers while Sugar Bowl in the U.S has created a MySpace profile.

Silver Star Facebook

Heavenly Resort in Lake Tahoe is perhaps the best example of a ski resort with an effective online marketing strategy. They are relatively well optimised for search and have good visibility in the search results. They have developed a MySpace profile and their website offers a range of initiatives including videos, daily podcasts and RSS feeds for their interactive blog, mountain condition updates and their own TV show.

Heavenly Podcasts