evil-lurksApparently I’ve been under a rock this last week. I just learned that on October 5, 2009 the FTC has new guidelines for advertising, blog endorsements, and testimonials.

The biggest target of these new guidelines is going to be faux viral marketing efforts in my opinion. An example would be when a company recruits bloggers/3rd parties of any sort (even celebrities) to talk about their products/services in exchange for a free product, cash, or other service.

Most viral marketing efforts online are done using social media. It has been growing rapidly. Social Media spending has reached $1.35 Billion in 2007 and is expected to reach $3.7 Billion by 2011 according to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

The big social media platforms look like they are going to be monitored. Look for FTC agents to “friend” you on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter (LOL).

I believe though, these new guidelines are going to also affect those advertisement website (web page really) whose scrolling down never ends, with countless of fake testimonials from individuals that are not really credential. And at the end, they have a ridiculous price, or no price at all until you click on payment to get you to sign up. I mean, it’s just a single webpage, but yet people still signup and fall for it every time. Usually the main products they are selling are e-books, or SEO Expert tools of some sort.

Actually, now that I think about it, every industry, every niche, online and offline is going to be affected. In the guidelines it also specifies that “extraordinary results” can no longer be used, but only on average results/testimonials; so no more “results may vary”, or “these results are not common” practice.

In a nutshell a blogger or celebrity must now disclose their endorsement properly and also the payments that where made to them in detail (cash, goods, freebies, etc.)

Read the full FTC guideline.

I believe this will eliminate a lot of bad apples online, but only in the United States. So, it comes down to bloggers/celebrities around the world can say whatever they want, but not in the USA. The real problem here is that the FTC doesn’t really have control over the Internet. It’s not in “US territory”. The Internet is worldwide, and there is really no “Internet Police”.

The Internet is still like the Wild Wild West, and its evolution will continue. These bad apples can simply “move” to another country, and start making the claims again. There will always be scammers that slip through the cracks, and now policing the whole internet, and attempt to make sure no one lies seems too big of a task for even the FTC. What has happened in the past will continue to happen, the bad apples will continue pushing the limit, and the FTC will step in on the major ones they can find, but catching them all? It’s impossible.

One thing I am thankful for is that companies who are doing the right thing and not attempting to sneak around with deceptive practices will slightly have a better chance of getting their voices heard over the would be scammers.

Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what do you think about the FTC new guidelines, and some of the gray areas that have been left for interpretation? Do you think that the FTC can police the Internet? Successfully?

It’s All About Data – SEO Expert Advice

On October 9, 2009, in Expert Advice, by Adelard

data-seo-expertData, data, data, all the answers lay within the data. Today I learned quite a number of things looking over all the data of all my clients. It’s game time for many of my clients going into the holiday season, and understanding what current rankings they hold and have achieve in the last week gave me profound awakening about most businesses.

Being a new business owner I find there are not enough hours in the day to simply get the major work done for the core business to help it grow. There can never be enough marketing, enough data analysis, or enough creative ideas. I sometimes wish I could spend whole weeks just analysis data streams with my team because the answers to all marketing campaigns lie there.

Search Engine Optimization has evolved a lot in the last several years, but it’s still not mainstream. SEO Experts and Gurus all agree the power that search engines have can literally bankrupt or make a shooting star out of a website. Search engines know this, and every website dominating a particular niche knows this.

One thing a lot of lower ranking “SEO 7 optimum” companies offering $99 SEO realize though is the power of the data they have.

I’m a firm believe in data analysis, at Karma Snack we have a dedicated team of data analysts on staff just to discover new keywords, trends, and shifts in client’s industries. Their job it to find the information, quickly process it, and at the end of the day have a working marketing campaign that is geared towards the new mini-strategy. I love them, especially the ones that are up till 4 o’clock in the morning with me instant messaging me back and forth about why this new marketing campaign will or will not work.

What I realized though is that most businesses simply do not have people sitting around analyzing data. I mean the big companies like Humana, American Express, etc. do, and some will say “Well they can afford to”. I believe that any expert in their field, whether it is Internet marketing for my company, or selling uniforms for a client, or international commercial loans for another client, needs to sit down one a week or once a month to really look at the data. Can you really afford not do? Who are you best customers, who are worst customers, what initiative this month/week have you done to promote your company? What promotions are working, and what aren’t and why? What is all the data telling you?

Lucky for my clients they have my team of expert analysts and me, and lucky for me we have tracking analytics tools installed, heat-maps, custom visitor behavior models, customized in-house SEO tools, and really top of the line business metrics available to us.

But even if you have a simply website with Google Analytics or Awstats, oh yeah I remember those days, looking and finding trends can be easy. Analyze where you where a month ago, 3 months ago, 1 year ago in terms of data, and compare it to the industry. Are you doing better or worst than every one else?

Strange things you find in the data can be either a gold mine waiting to be discovered or can alert you of future potential problems.

In my business I always have clients telling me they want to rank for this or that keyword, with no data to back it up on why. They just want to rank so they can be number one. Usually it’s an obscure keyword that I can get rankings for within a week. So I end up doing 30 minutes or so of work on this particular keyword, and get them the rankings in a week or so. The client is happy at first, but then realize the keyword is not bringing enough traffic because it is not popular or it’s bring in the wrong traffic, cause it’s not targeted. This is where I have to then go back and explain about data and why understanding the data is important. Data is so important, you should look at your stats at least once a week, if not every day.

A perfect example is today I found about a minimum of 20 new keywords for each clients that they where not ranking a week ago for before, and we where not targeted. These keywords have already started to bring in good traffic, but most important GREAT sales. So now come tomorrow morning, my staff and me are going to be at work getting rankings for these as well. Keywords I would have not discover until maybe Monday, if I hadn’t decided to randomly check all the stats on a Friday afternoon. That equates to an extra 2 days worth of sales, and in this economy every sale counts, and I believe my clients appreciate it.

One thing I will always love about data is it is never wrong.

If you are ever in South Beach Miami and want to talk give me a ring. Till next time, see on the beach!

My New Home, Miami Beach

On August 1, 2009, in Personal Revelations, by Adelard

miami-beach-condoIt’s been a while since I blogged, but I’ve been supper busy. I just got a new Condo on Miami Beach, Overlooking the Ocean!!! I got a screen shot of the photo from my balcony.

It’s been a very busy last 5 months, with Karma Snack, and the new clients that have signed up. I’m very excited about the opportunity to flex my muscles in different verticals. I’m happy to say, that all the current our clients have seen an increase in traffic of over 300% within the first two months.

We tell our clients they will see results in 3 to 4 months, but I’ve been busy creating new SEO programs and scripts that have allowed us to take our Internet marketing efforts to the next level.

I’ve very excited as well, we just hired 2 new SEO experts that are starting soon. Along with our 4 sales reps and our team, we are now at 14 people. Things are really getting more exciting everyday.

I’m really fortune to have meet the right people at the right time, and now have great talent on our side. We’re starting to work with some new partners to increase our marketing efforts for our clients and show them even bigger results.

But really what I’m most excited about is my new place. It’s relaxing and for inspiration I just look at the ocean, and the vastness.

The sun also wakes me up early in the morning, so I can get the day started as early as possible. There are days now I’m up at like 6:30 watching the sun rise. It feels great to see one of my goals in life achieve, and oh I just turned 25 in July!

Miami Beach is my new home, and coming soon, the new brand spanking Karma Snack Headquarter office!!!