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August 18, 2011

Confirmation of our global Itomic support email address

By Ross Gerring

This is to confirm that Itomic’s global support email address is support@itomic.com.au. Or support@itomic.com. Or support@itomic.co.uk 🙂

We’ve consolidated the co-ordination of our support services into a single stream. So if you’re thinking “Support” and you’re thinking “Itomic”, then you’re already most of the way there in terms of remembering what our support email address is!


February 18, 2011

SEO predictions for 2011

By Ross Gerring

What a year 2010 was for SEO and the internet. In 2010 we saw the introduction of Google Instant. We saw the release of the iPad and saw it sell 15 million units in its first calendar year, putting mobile Internet in the hands of an increasingly large user base (and the obvious implications for a well ranked website). We saw Facebook not only reach 500 million users (not bad a for a website banned in China) but become bigger than Google (at least in terms of traffic). Have you implemented or considered a strategy to better use Facebook? We also saw more and more content from social media sources such as Youtube, Twitter and Flickr begin to play a greater role in website visibility and overall online marketing strategy.

So what lies ahead in 2011?

Clicks/Visits begin to influence search engine rankings

We have already hadconfirmation from Bing that they are using click through rate to aid their rankings, but we have also seen this month that Bing copies Google search results (link) so they can hardly be considered the authority on such matters.

What better measure than the relevance of a website presented in a search result than its click through rate? This would begin to weed out sites that are not so relevant to the terms they rank so highly for.

The result will be that these sites which are often ignored by a searcher (yet still rank highly) would start to move down the rankings and the more relevant sites further down which receive greater clicks would rise to the top.

The rise and rise of social media will continue

There are currently more than 500 million activeFacebook users with an average of 130 friends spending 700 billion minutes per month onwww.facebook.com. 200 million+ Twitter users tweeting more than 70 million times per day. Now imagine that Google works out a way to rank content to present to you based on what your Facebook friends or Twitter followers have already consumed?

It may begin slowly, with, for example, the ability to limit search results to articles your friends have liked/tweeted, but we believe it will only grow from here.

Google Places and Reviews to become increasingly important

Creating and optimising a Google Places account will be even more important in 2011. It is our prediction that Google Places listings will continue to find their way into and up search engine rankings and the reviews that have been collated from sites such as True Local will either tell a good or bad story about customer experiences.

Companies should definitely start to encourage reviews from their clients, not just as on-site testimonials, but also as Google Reviews.

Set and forget websites are no more

The Internet has now become the first place many people go to for information on products and services and this will only continue to occur at an increasingly rapid rate in 2011. Couple this with the power of a referral provided to a potential client through their friends on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and you have a very strong proposition that many businesses continue to overlook.

A website needs just as much, if not more, attention as your offline activities receive. It needs fresh, relevant and informative content in order to add value to your website visitors and keep the site up to date.

So there you have it, a few predictions from Itomic for the ever evolving field that is search engine optimisation. How accurate will they prove? We look forward to finding out.


February 11, 2011

Unsolicited and false domain name warnings keep on coming

By Ross Gerring

As a company with lots of domain names (got to protect our brand!) we’re seeing more and more unsolicited emails, typically claiming to be from China (.cn), advising us that someone else is looking to acquire domain names with our company name in them.

Here’s the latest one (typos and all):

——————————

Dear President&CEO,

We are a domain name dispute and register organization. Currently, we have a pretty important issue needing to confirm with your company. On February 10. 2011, we received an application formally. A company named “Mulre Holdings Co.,Ltd” submitted the application to our organization, and they required to register some domain names with the Internet product keyword of “itomic”.

Now we are handling with the registration of these domain names and find that the keyword of these domain names and Internet product keyword is identical with your company’s. I wonder whether did you consigned Mulre to register these domain names and the Internet product keyword with us?

If this company was consigned by you to register these domain names, according to the relevant rules, we need to audit and accept their application within 4 work-days. After the audit, our IT department will complete all the registration procedures within 7 work-days, and also redirect these domain names to the website they appoint. But if your company has not consigned or authorized Mulre to apply to register those domain names and the Internet product keyword, then according to our working experience, they might have other purposes.

Currently, we have already postponed this company’s application. Please make a confirmation with me ASAP. Waiting for your reply.

Thanks & Regards,

Darcy
Auditing Engineer

Tel: +852-95660-103
+852-95660-489
Fax:+852-30696-940
Mail:Darcy@chinaonenet.hk.cn & Darcy@wyonenet.org.cn

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

——————————

Convincing, isn’t it?

It’s not. It’s a total lie. It’s fictitious. It’s unsolicited. It’s spam. Delete and ignore.

If you want genuine consultancy on domain names and brand protection, speak to a professional local company. Itomic perhaps?!

We wrote about the same thing back in May 2009, but feel that a timely update/reminder is now due. Job done!


August 24, 2010

How not to be a spammer. Get acquainted with the Aussie Spam Act of 2003

By Ross Gerring

What have Optus, Virgin and CommSec all got in common? They’ve all been busted under the Australian Spam Act of 2003.

Here is a summary of their misdemeanours. Click on the company names to go to press releases with the full stories.

  • Optus – $110,000 fine for inaccurate sender information.
  • Virgin – $22,000 fine for sending emails to customers who had previously opted out of receiving any more emails.
  • CommSec – $55,000 fine for sending emails to customers who had previously opted out of receiving any more emails.

Do you ever send out e-newsletters or bulk emails, and want to avoid getting on the wrong side of the Spam Act of 2003? If so, read on!

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is responsible for (amongst other things) enforcing the Spam Act 2003, and “actively works to fight spam in Australia”.

Under the Spam Act 2003 it is illegal to send, or cause to be sent, unsolicited commercial electronic messages. The Act covers email, instant messaging, SMS and MMS (text and image-based mobile phone messaging) of a commercial nature. It does not cover faxes, internet pop-ups or voice telemarketing.

Email marketing is, undeniably, one of the most cost effective methods for getting your message out to thousands of people – whether they like it or not! Many businesses large and small are therefore tempted to use – and quite possibly abuse (accidentally or otherwise) – this opportunity, especially when times are tough and the pressure to attempt to win more customers and more sales is intense. Or perhaps you’re just trying to launch a brand new business and urgently want to kick-start it by way of a mass-mailout to a (hopefully) target audience.

Side note: irrespective of the laws of your land, don’t forget that most people really, really dislike receiving unsolicited email messages. So even if your mass-mailout complies with your local laws, there’s a risk that you could achieve the exact opposite of what you ‘innocently’ set out to achieve, i.e. you create more negative feelings towards your business than positive ones.

Last time we checked, ignorance is not a defence in the eyes of the law. So it pays for everyone engaged in email marketing (both users and suppliers of bulk email systems and software) to get educated about (at least) the key components of the Spam Act 2003. And here they are:

Commercial electronic messages must generally have the following features:

  1. Consent
    It must be sent with the recipient’s consent. The recipient may give express consent, or consent may be inferred from their conduct and ‘existing business or other relationships’;
  2. Identify
    It must contain clear and accurate information about the person or organisation that authorised the sending of the message; and
  3. Unsubscribe
    It must contain a functional ‘unsubscribe’ facility to allow the recipient to opt out from receiving message from that source in the future.

Perhaps the feature with the biggest “grey area” is that of Consent, and in particular with regard to what “inferred consent” means. The ACMA web page on the subject describes it thus:

Under the Spam Act, you can only infer consent through conspicuous publication if:

  • the electronic address is published ‘conspicuously’ – that is, it is accessible to the public, or a section of the public (for example, it appears on a website or in a telephone directory or brochure)
  • the address is not accompanied by a statement that commercial messages are not wanted
  • the subject matter of your message is directly related to the principal role or function of the recipient (electronic account holder).

You might be able to determine the person’s role from the context in which their address is published, from the address itself (e.g. accounts@business.com) or from accompanying information (e.g. ‘To contact our accounts department, email: numbers@business.com’). If you are not certain that your message relates directly to the role of the intended recipient, and you send it anyway, you may breach the Spam Act.

With conspicuous publication, there must be a strong link between what you are promoting and the recipient’s role or line of business. You cannot infer someone’s consent just because you believe your product would benefit them.

Examples

  • If you sell IT software to businesses, this does not mean you can send promotional emails to any business with a published email address. However, if a business conspicuously publishes the email address of their IT department, you may be able to infer that account holder’s consent, as your message is directly related to their role, function and line of business: IT.
  • If your business sells washers for taps, you cannot send commercial emails to all businesses with conspicuously published email addresses on the assumption that they all need washers in their taps. However, you could send your promotional emails to plumbing supplies stores.

You may have noticed earlier that both user and suppliers of bulk email systems and software need to understand their responsibilities under the Spam Act 2003. Itomic is both a user and supplier in this regard. In order to better formulate our own Terms and Conditions surrounding the use of the systems and software that we supply to our clients, we’ve recently been in communication with ACMA and they’ve confirmed that, potentially, suppliers can be liable under the Act for breaches of it by their clients.

OK, now we’re all up to speed on the Aussie Spam Act of 2003, let’s end on a high note and go back to where it all started. Click here for Monty Python’s Spam Sketch on Youtube!


August 4, 2010

Building an Online Social Network

By Ross Gerring

A well designed and executed website is an essential piece of the puzzle for any business no doubt, but it is just that, a piece. What you need is to turn these potential clients into actual clients and then convert clients into advocates for your business. It doesn’t matter if your business has 2000 Facebook friends or 300 twitter followers, how do you get them to commit? This article will explore another piece of the puzzle, how do you build and maintain an online social network? 

Be genuinely helpful

I am of the belief that if I cannot help a potential client with a web design or development solution then I should do my best to point them in the direction of someone who can. If I cannot recommend someone who could assist, I educate them on the pitfalls of choosing a website provider and the questions they should ask to help them level the playing field.

The message is simple, just because someone doesn’t purchase something from you, does not make them or their enquiry a waste of your time or effort. They may not become a client, but they could become an advocate. The more helpful you were, the more vocal they will be. And who knows, one day you may require their services. 

Participate, don’t just exist

Whether online or off, the organisation that gets the most out of a network is the organisation who is actively putting into said social network. If you are posting news items on your website, firstly you should ensure that you are consistent with your news items. One article every six months does not cut it. With consistency taken into account, offer to your potential network more than just the one line announcement of your “Fabulous spring sale” or  “Joe Bloggs joins the team”, tell your readers what is involved with your spring sale or who Joe Bloggs is, what makes him tick and why he is a good addition to the team.

The same applies to leveraging off the interest and excitement surrounding linkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. If your approach is to “build it and they will come” then I am very sorry, it just won’t happen. This is not Field of Dreams and you are no Kevin Costner. You must participate, share and not shout your message and above all maintain your participation. 

Love is all around you, so let it show

I have already mentioned participation as a key factor. How you participate is also very important. Do not jump onto Twitter, follow everyone you can and spam them with your products catalogue. The last thing you should do is create a Facebook business page and tell all your friends and family to “follow you” only to inundate them with witty one liners with a call to action of “Contact us today to find out more”.

Share the love. Make all your interactions on your chosen social network medium about your followers (who again I stress can become clients or advocates at any time). Be helpful, collaborate and show them that you are there not to sell to them, but to interact with them first and foremost. 

Come on, don’t be selfish 

Don’t make all your social network interactions about what you have done, what you are doing or what you are offering. Turn to your network and share in their interactions on occasions.

If a member of your network has just landed a big deal, got married, expanded their business or is simply going along nicely, share their news and talk about them. Even if all you do is congratulate them on their achievements, it shows that you care and that you realise you exist not just through your own hard work, but through the existence of happy clients and advocates. 

Give much more than you expect to receive

Before you should expect to get anything in return from the social network you have begun to cultivate, ensure you have given more in return.  Every time someone does you a good turn, do them one in return even if it is just an email thanking them.

Do not be greedy and never take more than you put in. Remember, building this network will take some time and effort and the last thing you want to be doing is undermining said effort by soliciting business at every conceivable opportunity.

Be helpful, give more than you receive and where possible simply pay it forward with no end goal in mind. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Strengthen the emotional connection with your brand by building relationships

There is a key difference, and an obvious one at that, between being connected to a social network versus participating in one.  They are not one and the same and to approach them as such would be fool hardy at best.

Invest time and effort on cultivating a social network and you will see returns. Sign up to Facebook, Tweet on twitter or simply post relevant articles on your website often.

Above all remember, like most things in life, you really only get back what you put in.