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Tips on digital marketing you can apply today.

Cool New App for Twitter - Live Webcasting

Kristen Lindsey - Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I just came across a cool new application for Twitter - TwitCam provides a simple means to distribute a videocast on your Twitter feed.

TwitPic, another interactive tool for Twitter, allows you to post pictures into your feed, and many people can view it right within your Twitter feed.

These tools allow you to add significant interactivity to your Twitter conversation, and it is a nice distribution method if photo and video are already a part of your web content strategy.

Do you use Twitter? Have you found TwitPic to be a valuable tool? How do you see TwitCam applying to your web business? Please share!





Anchorage Daily News Gives Update on Alaska Tourism Season

Kristen Lindsey - Monday, July 13, 2009
The Anchorage Daily News published an article yesterday with interviews on the Alaska tourism season, but for anyone in Anchorage who has been downtown in the past few months, the report is no surprise: there are fewer tourists in Anchorage and Alaska this year. Some areticle highlights:

  • Visitors who are in Alaska are spending less.
  • 11% fewer visitors arrived via Ted Stevens International Airport in May.
  • Bookings on the Alaska Railroad are down 10 to 15 percent, year to date, according to the railroad.
  • About 25 percent fewer people visited Anchorage's five visitor information centers, which are run by the bureau.
Anecdotal reports also speak to the tourism industry's initial fears becoming a reality:

  • A local restaurant is contacting loyal local customers to tell them they don't have to avoid downtown this summer - it is not crowded.
  • A recent visitor to Fairbanks described it as "very quiet."

What can businesses do to prevent the year from being a loss? Apokrisis has been counseling the following strategies since the economic downturn began:

 

  1. Keep marketing. If you cut back on your marketing budget too dramatically, you lose any chance of reaching those visitors that do plan on coming.
  2. But make sure that marketing is targeted and focused. Gather as much information as you can on what is working and what isn't.
  3. Review your target audiences - which of your customer types are likely to continue to travel? Who may back off? Focus on those you think will come.
  4. Your strategy needs to focus on gaining more share. A higher share of visitors could keep you close to previous levels of business. It is a reality when fewer people are visiting.

All indications are that the economic climate will continue at least into 2010. Start planning for next year now.

Do you have any stories about your observations on tourism in Alaska? Your own community? Please share!



Use of Mobile Devices While Traveling - Some Collected Tidbits

Kristen Lindsey - Saturday, May 09, 2009
Thanks to Todd Lucier and his "Internet Marketing for Tourism" Blog for these:
  • 91% of Cell phone users keep their phones within arms reach 24/7 (Mary Meeker - Web2 Summit, November ‘08).
  • iPhone is already pushing over 50% of data on cell phone networks.
  • One benefits of being on the good side of the digital divide? Revenue doubles in communities with access to high speed Internet.
PhoCusWright always has some good info:
  • 67% of travelers and 77% of frequent business travelers with Web-enabled mobile devices have used the mobile Web to find local services and attractions. (Mobile: The Next Platform for Travel, April 2009)
  • Location-based services are also expanding in use and popularity, frequent business travelers expect to receive services such as mapping, navigation services and city guides upon arriving at a destination. (Mobile: The Next Platform for Travel, April 2009)
  • In the US, 30% of iPhone users say it replaces their laptop usage (PhoCusWright ITB Mobile Travel panel)
eMarketer:
  • 69% of Americans using e-mail on their mobile phone use it daily

Some uses of mobile devices while traveling you may want to capitalize on:
  • Strong local search, Yelp, SugarSpoon and TripAdvisor listings - people can find you on an iPhone app-mapping function gives travelers walking, driving or bus directions built into the device.
  • Users taking a photo on their phone and immediately sending it to family & friends
  • Downloading apps that make their travel easier (See - TripIt.com, Google Maps, Yelp)
  • Downloadable audio quides to attractions - mobile-based walking tours
I will leave you with my own mobile travel story. A friend of mine and I heard about a great fish taco shack in Honolulu. But it was off the Waikiki strip. We found it on my Yelp app, then hit the "directions" button in the application. The iPhone jumped to the pre-loaded Google mapping function, which provided a) where we were currently located, and b) our walking path. We walked way off the strip and arrived, somewhere we never would have found had we been using a guidebook, in about 5 minutes.

The bottom line is that we never would have given that taco shop money if we had not had the mobile device. (PS - it was GREAT! South Shore Grill)

OK - I know this is a little scattered, but it is a capture place for some stats I have been seeing. What about you? Do you have a story of how using a mobile device while traveling enhanced your travel experiene? Let us know!




Start Thinking about QR Codes and Mobile Devices

Kristen Lindsey - Wednesday, May 06, 2009
A colleague shared a great article recently about QR Codes. I know some of you are wondering what the heck these are. Well, these are two dimensional bar code that are starting to sprout up in interesting places.

These bar codes are designed to be photographed by mobile devices and, as the technology evolves, passed to a variety of systems that can process the information contained in the bar code.

Note - for those of you who are not sure what a bar code does, traditional ones contain a variety of information than can be processed when scanned. A most typical example of these are the product SKU data, price, etc. contained in bar code on grocery items.

QR codes are not scanned, but when sent by a mobile device to a computer system these codes can be processed just as if they were scanned.

Why should you care? Well, consider the following examples of use, which at this point are not far off:

  1. (Not quite there yet but potentially possible) QR Codes as as typical Bar Codes - Use your mobile phone and QR codes to purchase something at a store.
  2. Used as a means for a consumer to redeem a coupon instantly
  3. (In the linked article above) Used as a link to a YouTube video providing expanded info on a piece of art
  4. A walking tour in your community with audio descriptions of highlighted locations around town. (Guide by Cell)
  5. Develop promotional items with QR codes on them with your company's info in the QR code.
  6. Automated event registration.
Needless to say, if this system can be incorporated into automated e-commerce capability, there are some amazing things that can start happening spontaneously and immediately using a mobile phone with a camera and web access. The technology to capture these is still a fringe technology and not built into mobile devices, but keep an eye out.

Have you heard of QR codes before? Used them? Share your comments and stories!




Alaska Loses Another Cruise Line

Kristen Lindsey - Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Just saw on the Fairbanks Daily News Miner's Twitter feed that Norwegian Cruise Lines announced it will be taking its last ship out of Alaska in 2010 to put it in more profitable European waters.

The cruise line cited hostile Alaska tax legislation as the reason. This may be a part of it, but with a down economy and an Alaska cruise market that has essentially been flat despite worldwide growth, it is becoming a more challenging environment for cruise lines to operate up in Alaska.

Almost two thirds of visitors to Alaska typically travel via cruise ship. Many repeat visitors indicate that their first Alaska travel experience was via cruise. If this turns into a trend, it could dramatically impact the size and composition of the Alaska tourism market.

Are you involved in Alaska tourism? What do you feel is the impact of the NCL decision? Important? Not so important? Please share!





Significant Twist in Pay-per-click Trademark Issues

Kristen Lindsey - Thursday, April 16, 2009
MarketingVox reported this morning that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2006 ruling on buying trademarked search terms. The decision means that buying trademarked terms could be a violation of law.

This is the first decision of its kind and will have a serious impact on keyword buying practices, particularly in competitive industries.

What it means to you: if you have been buying search terms that are competitor names, and those competitors have trademarked those business or product names, this decision could place you on the wrong side of the law.

What do you think about this decision? Is it overdue protection of commercial proprty? Or is is the start of a slippery slope that could imperil the keyword buying concept? Share your thoughts.





Google Docs Lets You Make Your Own Forms

Kristen Lindsey - Thursday, April 02, 2009
Building forms on a website is a pain. It is hard to automate. And Google Docs has just made it a lot easier.


This small, simple, but free tool can be a boon to anyone who has felt, "If I could just pull together a quick form, it would save me a lot of time." This includes very small businesses that don't want to get charged another hour by their web designer, bloggers, community groups, and more.

You can create your form with text, paragraph, multiple choice, checkbox fields and more. You can send it in an email or embed it in your website or blog. And you can tally the responses in a spreadsheet or via email.

As a quick example of how easy it is, check out this form I made and loaded on my website in approximately 5 minutes.

Have you had frustrating experiences with forms? Have you tried out Google forms? What are your thoughts? Please share!



Are You Reaching Customers on the Mobile Web?

Kristen Lindsey - Wednesday, March 18, 2009
ComScore just released a study that indicates that the number of daily mobile web users has doubled in the past year, up to 22.4 million people through January, 2009. Factors explaining this growth include better handsets, like the iPhone, faster networks, and better user experiences.

The mobile web has reached a critical mass that even smaller businesses can no longer ignore. 

If you are a small business, you may have noticed that online search for local businesses is becoming more and more common. Soon a larger and larger number of these searches will be occurring on a mobile device, not on a computer.

Developers and designers - you can no longer design or develop just for computers, Consideration of how a website will look on various mobile devices will become standard expectations for your clients.

How many of you have accessed the internet from a mobile device recently? What did you use it for? How do you think it may impact your business? Please share!



Search Surpasses Yellow Pages for Local Search

Kristen Lindsey - Thursday, October 23, 2008
Unsurprisingly, search engines have passed traditional Yellow Pages for local information search. In a recent study, Local Search Usage Study from TMP Directional Marketing, the first sources that Americans turn to for local business information are search engines (31%), print Yellow Pages or White Pages (30%), internet Yellow Pages (IYP) sites (19%) and local search sites (11%). Those results differ from last year's study, which ranked Print Yellow Pages first (33%), followed by Search Engines (30%). If this is true, why do we still get three to four yellow pages ignominiously dumped on our doorsteps every year that I am compelled to recycle? On a business note, this is a strong reinforcement to make sure that your local search information on major search engines is accurate and accessible. Here are links to the bid three local areas where you can update your information: Google: http://maps.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=107528 Yahoo: http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/local/help/results/local-42.html Microsoft: https://ssl.search.live.com/listings/ServiceAgreement.aspx

WOW - Anchorage Daily News "Sarah" Traffic Spike

Kristen Lindsey - Thursday, September 25, 2008

I just ran across this graph on the quantcast site today. Now, ADN.com has some serious traffic to start with, but check out the "Sarah" spike. Whoa: