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Laurel MiltnerDecember 10, 20105 min read

Picks of the Week: Dec. 4-10, 2010

Our top articles of the week in the world of PR and marketing, featuring: marketing lessons from the godfathers of SEO, the problem with measuring influence on the web, enewsletter open rate statistics and tips, and what your business should learn from all this talk about Wikileaks.

Search Marketing

The Rich Get Richer: True in SEO, Social + All Organic Marketing 

Rand Fishkin revisits a highly influential article on link building, written in 2004 by Mike Grehan, called Filthy Linking Rich and Getting Richer.

He summarizes the article by quoting:The Mathew effect, when applied to networks, basically equates to well-connected nodes being more likely to attract new links, while poorly connected nodes are disproportionately likely to remain poor.

Rand then explains that the Matthew Effect applies not just to link building, but to all marketing initiatives. For example: “The email marketer with a giant email list has much greater leverage to add 100 new subscriptions through the power of their existing influence than their new competitor, just starting out with those first dozen email addresses.

Discouraged? Don’t be. Rand also suggests three ways to build your reach strategically, to more quickly become one of those for whom the Matthew Effect is actually a good thing:

  • Establish a presence everywhere that makes sense, as marketing efforts typically feed one another.
  • Put most of your effort, time and budget into your strongest channels: those that you do well and that resonate with your buyer personas.
  • Monitor analytics and track conversions; make sure that you continue to invest in the most fruitful channels.

Lastly, remember that if you’re thinking about all these things — search, social, web content, etc. — you’re still ahead of most of the competition. Use your willingness to innovate to your advantage. As Rand concluded, “like Manhattan real estate in the '80's, it might seem like there's a peak in how hard it is to enter the market, but it's only going to get worse.”

Social Media & Measurement

The Klout that Stole Christmas

This article is, at its simplest, a reaction to Peter Shankman issuing a press release to announce his exclusive holiday party for the movers and shakers of the social media world.”

However, more than that, it’s Chuck Hemann’s poignant thoughts on the faulty measures that people are using to determine influence on the web. According to Chuck, most influencer algorithms fall short in the following ways:

  • There are too many intricacies for algorithms alone to consider
  • They typically only account for one channel, rather than a complete picture of the person at hand
  • They over-value post frequency
  • They don’t account for relevancy to a particular topic, industry, company or individual

What’s worse is that these tools are becoming a de-facto measurement tool for PR and marketing professionals. As PR 20/20 president, Paul Roetzer, shared in a comment on Chuck’s post: “Basing influence and popularity on things like Klout (in its current form) reminds me of how the PR industry was built on BS metrics like # of clips, impressions, ad equivalency and the almighty PR value. All numbers that make execs feel good, and boost egos, but at the end of the day are completely irrelevant if they don’t drive real business results.”

Content Marketing

What’s an Acceptable Enewsletter Open Rate?

Joe Pulizzi shares helpful metrics and guidance for email marketers seeking to increase open rates, click-throughs and general engagement with readers. A few key statistics, based on three years of data from more than 40 organizations and compiled by Mich Rouda, include:

  • Open rates range from 8-45%.
  • “Decent” enewsletter open rates are typically in the mid- to high-teens.
  • Monthly enewsletters are opened more than daily ones (20% open rate vs. mid-teens).

The article also offers tips for improving your open rate, such as:

  • Improving list quality
  • Offering appealing, brief and relevant content
  • Sending emails at an appropriate pace (not so frequently that readers get tired of hearing from you)

For details on the above, data about click-through rates and more insight on enewsletters, see Joe’s complete post. You should probably bookmark it for future reference, too.

Business Strategy

7 Lessons that WikiLeaks Teaches Us

You’ve probably seen at least some of the Wikileaks news that’s been flooding the web of late. In this article, Mitch Joel analyzes the Wikileaks phenomenon, and what it means for business. My favorite takeaways:

  • Transparency, honesty and authenticity are increasingly becoming more important. “If your default position is to hide information and keep it secret, the new world is going to cause you many sleepless nights.”
  • We are in a new world of media and publishing. “Any individual can have a thought and then be able to publish [it]… every individual is (or can be) a media channel. WikiLeaks is a media entity.” 
  • Anonymity is becoming credible. “Think about it this way: when reading a customer review on Amazon about a book, who would you trust more, Sarah P. from Sioux Falls or an anonymous reviewer who says that they work for one of the biggest book publishers in the world and that they read 3-4 books a month but can't identify themselves because the book that they are reviewing is from a competitor?”
  • Most organizations are not prepared to operate in the current and future business environment. “The shocking part of WikiLeaks is how everybody else is reacting to it… we are not ready for the massive changes that are happening and that will continue to happen.”

See Mitch's full post for more on these and a few other lessons.

Or, if you fear the day that WIkileaks releases its "treasure trove' of documents belonging to the private sector," check out E.B. Boyd’s article, Wikileaks Stalks Corporate America: How Companies Can Prepare.

What were your favorite articles of the week? Comments are open for your opinions.

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