@knakao

Category: Marketing

The Bridge Between Recognition and Reputation

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Mashable just published an article I wrote titled “You Will Be Googled“.   You are being searched online more than you know — non-celebrity people searches represent over 10% of Google’s search volume.   In the Mashable article I offer some tips about how to optimize your search results to build your personal brand.

At MeritShare, Travis Pearl and I are working to build a service that makes it easy for anyone to give recognition.  We built MeritShare because we know that sharing recognition is one of the most powerful but underutilized practices in business.   We are on a mission to make work better, one thanks at a time.

We are also building a bridge between recognition and reputation by allowing people to provide public recognition online (and discoverable by Google).  Check out this search on Drew Hackleman.  His MeritShare award page shows up in the first page of a Google search for his name.  He told us his mom was Googling him and found this nice surprise.   Who doesn’t like making their parents proud?

On the MeritShare blog today, Travis provides 3 easy steps on professional branding at MeritShare.

So go ahead, give a co-worker some props and make your mom and pops proud.

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Control Your Destiny [All Things D Re-Post]

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I had the pleasure of meeting All Thing’s D writer Ina Fried and being interviewed for this article.  Everything that follows is her work…..

Frustrated By Apple’s Long Approval Process, WhitePages Goes Android First With Latest App

Ina Fried, All Things D

JULY 12, 2011 AT 9:00 PM PM

When WhitePages launches its Localicious app on Wednesday, it will be in the Android Market rather than in the iPhone App Store.

There’s a simple reason for that. Although WhitePages still sees iPhone owners as a key target, Apple’s approval process is just too difficult to time a launch around. As evidence, the Seattle company notes that one of its apps, a reverse phone lookup directory, has been in Apple’s hands for the past two months awaiting approval. So, this time around, the company decided to go Android first.

“I think we are going to see a lot of people start to ship Android first,” WhitePages Chief Operating Officer Kevin Nakao told AllThingsD. “You can’t be held hostage.”

Localicious isn’t the first app that WhitePages did first for Android. The company also has launched a Caller ID app for Android after finding, like others that wanted to offer such a service for iPhone, that Apple wouldn’t allow the needed access.

Even when Apple does approve apps, it generally doesn’t give a clear enough time frame to fully plan a launch, Nakao said.

“Marketing an application becomes increasingly important given the number of apps that are being published,” Nakao said, noting that the company wants to time its product launches with a PR campaigm as well as mobile, Web and social media advertising campaigns. “Since apps can still get tied up in the iOS approval process, it makes this marketing planning almost impossible.”

Nakao’s comments echo sentiments expressed earlier on Tuesday by Android co-founder Rich Miner, who now works for Google Ventures. Even though he works for Google, Miner said that he used to recommend mobile developers launch first for iOS because of the platform’s size. These days, Miner said the size of the opportunities are more similar, while Android offers more flexibility, such as making it easier to allow developers to offer test versions prior to launch.

Android is not without its challenges either, of course. Developing for Google’s operating system means testing for a large number of devices as opposed to just a couple of iPhone models.

Nakao notes that the company has two testers just for Android now. “I’d rather hire more people and have options,” he said.

As for the app itself, it’s a local search program. It’s main distinguishing feature is that it allows people to search local listings by neighborhood as opposed to just geographic distance. That means users in San Francisco won’t see listings for Daly City unless they want to and those in Hollywood won’t be forced to go over the hill to the Valley. More importantly, those in Manhattan’s TriBeCa district won’t be sent over a bridge to Jersey just because it happens to be geographically proximate.

Nakao notes that there are more than 82,000 distinct neighborhoods within American cities, places with which most urban dwellers have an affinity. Localicious also aims to be more current by offering tips based on nearby places where people are “checking in.”

“That way it is more alive,” Nakao said.

Those who want to give Localicious a try can find it for free as long as they have an Android device — iPhone owners will have to wait until Localicious comes to their neighborhood.

Less Bounce Per Ounce

Crazy Egg Heat Map

With the explosion of social media sharing and help from smartsearch engine optimization, many web users are bypassing businesses’ home pages and landing directly on product pages and blog posts. Thus, businesses need to optimize their “first impressions” at all entry points in order to reduce bounce rates.

Bounce and exit rates are often confused, but have different definitions and purposes. Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that hit a page and don’t visit any others within the same site. It should be used to measure the effectiveness of landing pages and is connected to SEO and paid advertising campaigns. In some cases, a page may be designed to give the consumer the information they need and nothing else. In this instance, bounce rate may not be a relevant metric.

Exit rate, on the other hand, is the percentage of visitors that leave a site from a given page. It should be used to monitor specific pages in a process, such as a “shipping options” page that appears during the checkout process. A high bounce rate means you are making a bad first impression; a high exit rate means you have a leak in the process.

Bounce To The Full Article On Mashable  (8 Ways To Reduce Your Bounce Rate)

Do You Really Need To Make A Mobile App?

Ever since Apple launched the iPhone app store, the company has been pushing its apps to get all of the attention. But when was the last time you read a review about a new mobile website? Thousands of apps and billions of downloads consistently steal the headlines, while the mobile web is largely ignored by everyone but the consumer. Yet, despite what the marketing would lead you to believe, consumers use the mobile web just as much as apps.

Link to the full article on Mashable

America’s Long Tail

Designed by Ryan Kazda

One of the biggest issues facing local is scale.  The population of the US is very distributed, with the largest US metro (New York City) representing only 2.71% of the US population.

I explore the challenges of scale further in my Mashable post:  “5 Things You Need To Know About Location-Based Social Media

(I threw the data at Ryan Kazda who designed the graph).  The image was selected and re-published in the book “Social Media For Dummies”  Is that at good thing?)

Another Mobile Listacle

courtesy of @whatsupandroid, Carmen Villadar

Mashable loves “Listacle’s.  The awkward sounding portmanteau is a “list” combined with “article”.  Only grown men with adolescent thoughts like me think its funny .

The best part of this listacle I wrote for Mashable  is the clever cartoon created by my talented friend Carmen Villadar.

Online Media Daily: Mobile Advertising Q&A

WhitePages is one of the largest people directories on the Web. With the Seattle-based company in the midst of expanding both its online and mobile offerings, we interviewed Kevin Nakao, its vice president of mobile, about WhitePages’ mobile initiatives and the challenges of adapting its service for cell phones. Before joining WhitePages, he was vice president of music services for RealNetworks, where he launched Rhapsody Mobile and worked on music and video programs with Cingular, Verizon, and Sprint.

OMD: Can you give a brief overview of WhitePages’ mobile initiatives?

Nakao: Sure, our mobile initiatives focus on getting more users, doing new things, and making money.

On the distribution side, we have built an audience of over two million mobile users through a re-design of our mobile browse site m.whitepages.com and by launching new applications for the iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and Text Message-based services.

We have also innovated with new services like Caller ID for Android, which quickly hit Top 25 in the Android market. So we decided to provide the ability to identify unknown calls and texts on any mobile phone, and launched a new service called LookUp. It’s the first service in the U.S. that allows consumers to identify unknown calls and text messages by texting that number to LookUp (566587).

On the monetization front, we have tested a number of approaches around advertising and paid models. For advertising, we have the benefit of a direct sales force of 15 people that has already been selling a top Web site and building relationships with key online media agencies. So we try to package mobile with online buys.

OMD: Can you give some idea of overall differences in campaign results for advertisers on Whitepages mobile v. the wired Web site — e.g., response rates?

Nakao: I have always wondered why the click-through rates on our ad campaigns for mobile have historically been higher on mobile than the Web. Our CTR on mobile averages about 1%.

One of the primary factors driving the difference is that there tend to be fewer ads on a mobile page versus a Web page. We recently implemented this approach in the re-brand of the WhitePages.com site. For example, by reducing the number of ads on our home page from four to two, the click-through rate on the display ads has increased 25%.

OMD: Has Whitepages seen higher engagement via the mobile Web or mobile apps?

Nakao: We have been doing a lot of testing of ad campaigns to see if there are any differences in performance between advertising on our mobile Web site versus our iPhone application.

There have been slight differences, but the more important variable has been the placement of the ad (top or bottom) and testing ad copy that speaks to the mobile use case. We also learned that iPhone application users may be reluctant to leave their app via a click out unless the application can remember where the user last left off — a feature we added earlier this year.

From a consumer standpoint, we see significantly higher engagement with the iPhone application over the mobile Web site because it offers a lot more features and a downloaded app gets great device real estate and presence with the user. In the case of Caller ID for Android, it’s always on and is used daily by many users.

OMD: There’s been a lot of debate around whether publishers should offer a free or a paid app. You have both. Why?

Nakao: We offered both free ad-supported and paid applications, and now we understand the importance and metrics around leveraging both. A free, ad-supported version helps us reach the broadest possible base of consumers and provides distribution and marketing opportunities for paid services. A free version not only provides you with a base of users to up-sell to, but also provides feedback and testing to improve your service before you offer a paid version.

The combination of both advertising and paid revenues creates a stronger business case and overall ROI. The higher revenue per user enables higher customer acquisition budgets to help scale our business.

OMD: Can you discuss some of the difficulties you’ve faced in trying to offer Whitepages as a subscription service on mobile apps?

Nakao: In my opinion, all of the app marketplaces have fallen short in terms of offering robust billing and pricing solutions for both consumers and developers. As an example, none of the application markets offer a monthly recurring or subscription fee — they essentially provide vending machine models that only allow you to charge the consumer up front.

Even Apple’s in-app billing requires you to charge for the app on the outset, and in-application billing is not currently possible on a free version. This forces publishers to charge higher prices than they’d like or force the user to re-download the application. In spite of this, we’re happy with the paid conversion rates and some of the platforms are starting to build better billing options.

One of the other opportunities with mobile commerce is to make it easier for consumers to charge services to their phone bill. Our LookUp service gives consumers the choice between paying per use, subscribing to an unlimited plan, and then charging it to their phone bill. Apple, Google, and RIM do not currently provide these capabilities in their application market. The carrier pipes are a lot smarter than some folks give them credit for.

OMD: What makes a mobile campaign on WhitePages different from other kinds of mobile media buys?

Nakao: We know that people rely heavily on our mobile services to do things like find people, restaurants, call their hotel for concierge services, or get directions to an important business meeting. They are literally “on the go,” ready to make a transaction, and ready to act on relevant advertising.

We think the accuracy and immediacy of the information we serve up creates an environment for ads to have a big impact with a receptive, action-oriented consumer.