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Thursday, July 19, 2012

World SPAM levels cut in Half by Calculated Cybersecurity Attack

If you notice a huge drop in the amount of pharmaceutical spam you're receiving, you're not imagining things. Security researchers say they were able to take down "Grum", the spam server behind about 18 percent of global spam.
The process began when researchers blocked the botnet's command servers in the Netherlands and Panama on Tuesday. Grum's administrators acted quickly to restore the server, and shortly thereafter had set up new command servers in Russia and Ukraine. Researchers were still hot on their trail, and Militpas, Calif.-based security firm FireEye along with UK-based anti-spam group SpamHaus worked with Russian security experts to take down Grum again on Wednesday morning.
Researchers worked with ISPs hosting these servers to cut their Internet access off, effectively killing them and orphaning the zombie computers that they control.
Grum's reach is immense: some 120,000 IP addresses were known to be sending spam before the researcher's action. That had been reduced to some 21,505 known spamming IPs after the takedown. It is thought the rest of these IPs will stop sending spam as they no longer have any active control.
This week's actions are important overall in the fight against spam because it shows that countries that normally have been viewed as "safe havens" for spammers are now taking a role in the fight against the problem.
"There are no longer any safe havens", FireEye researcher Alif Mushtaq says. "Most of the spam botnets that used to keep their CnCs in the USA and Europe have moved to countries like Panama, Russia, and Ukraine thinking that no one can touch them in these comfort zones. We have proven them wrong this time".
While there still remain several active botnets out there sending quite a bit of pharmaceutical spam, and Grum itself is not dead yet, this week's effort sends a message to spammers worldwide. You can run, but you can't hide -- and now the places where you thought you were safe are not so safe anymore.
"Keep on dreaming of a junk-free inbox", Mushtaq muses.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Media Marketing Mix Essentials

Written and Prepared by  Heidi Cohen for
Summer signals the beginning of budget season. Before making marketing investment decisions, analyze this year’s three marketing must-haves: social media, content marketing and mobile. While aspects of these marketing formats may not have direct costs, they all require budget and resources.

1. Social Media

Social media provides platforms, enabling marketers to interact with their target audience. Social media involves more than a Facebook page or Twitter account. It requires an integrated social media strategy including a social media persona to ensure it’s an integral part of your marketing.
  1. Assess current social media presence. Is your brand present on appropriate social media networks? Are you actively managing your presence? Are there emerging social media platforms relevant to your firm, focus, or target market where you must establish your presence?
  2. Evaluate your brand’s portrayal across social media platforms. Is your brand consistently presented? Do your branding guidelines need to be enhanced?
  3. Determine the engagement level you need on social media platforms. Remember, you can’t rely on three tweets a day written by your agency. You need a human face behind your social media presence. Ensure you’ve got appropriate in-house resources to respond to social media requests.
  4. Create relevant content to feed social media needs. Assess requirements across content formats and social media platforms. Include formal content marketing as well as social media interactions like Facebook comments and Twitter responses.
  5. Support your social media presence with targeted advertising. Do you need to enhance your social media presence with related paid advertising? Consider the use of social media ads.

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing is promotion-free information that fuels social media and overcomes purchase decision hurdles. (Here’s an outline of content marketing’s basic steps.)
  1. Analyze content marketing needs. Assess the existing content within your organization. Then determine where you have content marketing needs and where you have holes in your existing offering. Specifically examine the entire purchase process and social media interactions.
  2. Integrate content marketing into an editorial calendar. Determine where content is needed, the format and topic required, and the timing of its creation based on your assessment. Incorporate this information into a plan across platforms to ensure it’s synched with your promotional calendar. Plan for content reuse to extend the life of each element.
  3. Acquire appropriate resources for your content creation team. At a minimum, you need an editor and a copy editor. While you can encourage employees and customers to contribute content, determine where you need additional support. Don’t underestimate the need for designers, photographers, writers and technology support. These resources can be internal, freelance or agency-based.
  4. Expand content marketing reach. Make it easy for readers to share your information with social sharing buttons. Where appropriate, use advertising to promote your content and build an audience.
  5. Ensure content marketing closes sales. Content marketing by itself can’t drive sales. It needs calls-to-action and related dedicated promotional codes. Further, create tailored landing pages and streamline the sales process to efficiently convert prospects to sales.

3. Mobile

Mobile is a must-have for every business with a retail presence or that competes with a business that has a retail presence since mobiles and tablets go shopping.
  1. Be present on mobile search. Mobile search is separate from web search. Local businesses that people seek on-the-go must be findable on mobile search.
  2. Build a mobile website. Don’t just assume people can read your web-optimized site on a mobile device. Create a streamlined mobile website focused on the information customers want on-the-go.
  3. Build a mobile phone number house file. If you don’t have a mobile phone list, start building one now.
  4. Optimize your emailings for mobile devices. Email is the primary content consumed on mobile devices. Ensure readers can easily read and take action on your emailings via a connected device.
  5. Assess need for a mobile app. In the past year, mobile app usage has surged ahead of mobile web, according to Flurry. Depending on your business, this shift may require investment in a mobile app.
According to IBM’s State of Marketing 2012, marketers face an array of challenges. Top on their lists are channel and device choice expansion and customer collaboration and influence. This is no surprise given social media’s exponential growth, increased smartphone usage, and the quick adoption of tablets. These elements require new ways of engaging and selling prospects and customers through content marketing and social media delivered via various mobile devices.
At a time when marketers need additional funds to test these emerging channels and platforms, more than a quarter of those surveyed believe their biggest challenge is financial constraints and ROI accountability. This is to be expected in light of weak economic growth. Many businesses using social media, content marketing and/or mobile are still testing these strategies and haven’t developed effective tracking yet.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, logorilla

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Americans Are Phoning the Web

E-commerce businesses, take notice: Increasing numbers of people are accessing the Web primarily through their cellphones. "Businesses who realize that the efforts put into an excellent mobile Web experience are as important as the main website -- more important, actually ... -- will be most ready for whatever the future holds for mobile," said mobile consultant Jonathan Thaler.

See the groundbreaking results of a Forrester Consulting report of over 400 business and technology leaders and find out how they are making customer focus a strategic imperative. In this video broadcast experts discuss changing customer dynamics. Learn more.

Cellphones have become a primary way for people in the U.S. to access the Web, according to a recent survey released by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

Seventeen percent of of cellphone owners surveyed said they surfed the Web primarily with their phones rather than computers. Using their phones was a matter of convenience for many, but others said that they were the only means they had to access the Web.

Pew based its findings on a national telephone survey of 2,254 adults aged 18 and over conducted March 15 through April 3, 2012.

Eighty-eight percent of adults in the U.S. owned a cellphone as of April 2012, and 55 percent of those cellphone users accessed the Internet with their phones, the survey found. That represents an increase from the 31 percent of cellphone users who reported accessing the Internet with their phones in an April 2009 Pew survey.

"Phones are convenient," said Pew Research Center Senior Research Specialist Aaron Smith, who wrote the survey report.

"They're always there, and they fit with peoples' lifestyles," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Moving Trend

Whether the trend toward phone access of the Internet will continue is an unknown, but Pew's surveys do indicate a steady increase in all kinds of mobility.

"We stay out of the trend prediction business," said Smith, "but the broader trend toward increased mobility is something that has been consistent and is something we continue to see in all of the work that we do."

One of the driving factors behind this trend, according to Smith, is convenience.

"There's something qualitatively different about cellphones in terms of convenience," he said.
What It Means for E-Commerce

The upshot of this survey for e-commerce businesses and anyone who reaches the public via the Web is that they must have mobile-friendly sites.

"There's a large number of potential customers who are not going to be accessing your services or site in a traditional big screen with a full keyboard and mouse," said Smith. "They're going to be accessing it when they're on-the-go, distracted, with a smaller screen and no keyboard -- or a virtual keyboard. That's a very different consumption experience. People are in a very different mindset when they're running around with their phone than they are when they're sitting at a computer."

Consumers want to be able to access information wherever they are and whenever they want, and often that means they're going to reach for their phones.

"People want easy access to information where they are -- they are not sitting at a laptop or a computer when they are out and about, which is most of the time," Jonathan Thaler, founder of When I'm Mobile, told the E-Commerce Times. "We have virtually unlimited Internet browsing as part of our data plans, and the browsers on our devices are very capable."

Many businesses, however, are not prepared for these mobile users. Their sites are still designed and directed toward computer screens and capabilities.

"At present, I'm afraid the typical Web experience on a mobile browser has a negative effect on e-commerce," said Thaler. "Nobody wants to have to enter 10 to 15 form boxes into a non-mobile Web page they can't even see properly. We are on the go, have little time and choppy bandwidth, and need to get in, get what we need and get out. Entering credit card information to a phone website is a juggling act at best. I do think business is being lost when the website is too difficult to use on a mobile device, which is still the case the vast majority of the time."

Becoming more mobile-friendly, in other words, is central to doing business in the 21st century.
Mobile CRM

"Understanding the importance of initiating the customer relationship with the mobile device, to continue and expand on that relationship when the customer is not at the computer, will position businesses at the forefront of mobile commerce," said Thaler. "Reliable and easy-to-use mobile payment systems, integrated seamlessly into the mobile browsing experience, are also necessary for m-commerce to proliferate."

In fact, the mobile version of a site might be even more important than the desktop one.

"Businesses who realize that the efforts put into an excellent mobile Web experience are as important as the main website -- more important, actually, since people have their phones with them far more of the time than they have computer access -- will be most ready for whatever the future holds for mobile," said Thaler.

"I don't think phone browsing will completely replace computer browsing," he said, "but an integrated Web strategy which enables website owners to be ready for the visits to their site regardless of how they get there, will provide both the audience and the business with the best opportunities to engage and transact."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Three C's of Facebook

Article By The Connection and PRWeb.

No online marketing strategy is complete without Facebook. The world's largest social network can give your campaigns enormous reach, especially when you integrate it with your other marketing tools. According to the latest stats, 96 percent of small businesses now have a company Facebook page. If you're in that 96%, fantastic – but are you getting the most out of it?
Effective Facebook marketing comes down to three key points: Customer Service, Content and Connections.


1 Customer Service
Having a Facebook page where customers can post reviews, comments and even complaints is essential to building a rapport. Over time, that rapport will turn into brand loyalty. It also inspires word of mouth, as customers/fans encourage their friends to "like" your page, and try your product/service. Try to monitor your company page for a few minutes a day and respond to customer comments within 24 hours or less. You can also sign up to receive an email alert whenever someone posts to your page.
2 Content
Your Facebook page is a face for your business. Keep it fresh. Share news, offer promotions, link to outside content and thank customers for their feedback. They're all great ways to keep customers engaged. Think for a second about how you use Facebook to check out your friends' news and click through their photo galleries. Customers want to check out your business the same way. Facebook is an ideal platform to share product photos and for customers to post their own photos of your products in action.
It's not just about engagement. There are several apps available that let you add "buy now" buttons to photos, taking customers straight to your website. Other apps let you create customized coupons for your fans, and host customer sweepstakes on your Facebook page. Whether you use apps or not, aim for one update, post or promotion per day.
3 Connections
Social media is a vital publicity tool, which makes it an integral part of effective marketing. Getting "likes" and fans is how companies build connections on Facebook. Got a special event happening? Send a message to your fans. Need feedback on a new product? Create a quick survey using a Facebook survey app. The more you connect with your current fans, the more likely their friends are to see your page and become fans (and customers) themselves.

Monday, June 18, 2012

How to harness the incredible potential of blogs

These days, it is common knowledge that branding is an essential tool for building a successful, sustainable enterprise -- but what does that mean if your business is you? To answer this question, I scoured the land of independent-publishers-turned-savvy-branders to ask the best of the business to share their insights on what it takes to create and sustain their successful brands.
As many of you know, well-executed branding can ensure a consumer chooses your product over all others, though the others may be incredibly similar. The classic example of this is the powerful brand of Coke. People around the world choose Coke over other types of cola, which taste virtually the same due to one single differentiator: branding. Coke has perfected its brand over a century by ensuring its products stand for consistency and enjoyment while visually being equated to these feelings. The results of its successful branding can be seen today, where Coke is reportedly recognized by 94 percent of the world's population.

Stay informed. Want to harness the power of social TV -- and use it to your advantage? Attend the iMedia Entertainment Summit, June 26. Request your invitation today.
In the past few years we've seen the explosion of personal blogs. In fact, WordPress keeps a handy counter on its website that shares the number of WordPress sites in the world -- its count is up to 73 million. And that is just one -- albeit the largest -- platform. Many of these voices are clambering for the same audience and must look to branding as a key differentiator that will help them stand out in a crowd.
The challenge for most publishers is that the process of branding can feel uncomfortable because you're spending lot of time thinking about yourself rather than your audience. Most publishers I know would much rather think about their audiences' interests, their next blog posts, or how to improve their photography -- not what their personal brands mean. But most are motivated to overcome these fears of self-promotion once they understand the tremendous benefits of branding. Effective branding means readers will choose to follow a specific blog over all others and, to that blogger, this can mean lasting success.
But what does effective branding entail? I had in-depth conversations with some of the savviest publishers on the web, and here are some of the common themes I heard from them.

Read entire article at iMedia Connection

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Social Media Landscape: Reviewed

Maybe this is the reason General Motors went "mental" and pulled its Facebook ad budget.
Digital marketing is confusing—really confusing—as this insane graphic shows (below).
Trying to navigate through the various new social media categories, blogs, sharing sites, and social media firms is an absolute mess.
This depiction of the digital marketing landscape was shown at a Buddy Media event marking the launch of the social marketing software agency's new suite of measurement tools.
You can click to enlarge it, but that won't make it look any simpler.
buddy media social marketing

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/social-media-marketing-landscape-complicated-2012-5#ixzz1v9pP6kHe

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Google give their Search a "Human" touch

CNN) -- So, let's say you're doing a Google search for "Kings." Did you mean the L.A. hockey team or the Sacramento basketball team? Maybe the TV show? Or maybe you actually wanted to know something about monarchs.
Google on Wednesday announced Knowledge Graph, a significant change to how search results are delivered that the company believes will make their search engine think more like a human.
"The web pages we [currently] return for the search 'kings,' they're all good," Jack Menzel, director of product management at Google, told CNN in an interview. "You, as a human, associate those words with their real-world meaning but, for a computer, they're just a random string of characters."
With Knowledge Graph, which will begin rolling out to some users immediately, results will be arranged according to categories with which the search term has been associated. So, in the above example, boxes will appear with separate results for the hockey team, basketball team and TV show.
The user can then click on one of those boxes to only get results for the specific topic they were searching.
"It hones your search results right in on the task that you're after," Menzel said.
More specific searches, say for the name of a celebrity, will render boxes with basic information, as well as links to what Google believes are possibly related searches.
Menzel says the initial version of Knowledge Graph has information on 500 million people, places and things and uses 3.5 billion defining attributes and connections to create categories for them.
The feature will begin rolling out as early as Wednesday afternoon for some users in the United States and eventually be available on desktop, mobile and tablet searches. It will first become available in English, then in other languages, Menzel said.