Indianapolis Web Content Management

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Content Management System

Pros and Cons of Software as a Service Content Management Systems

Posted 9:07 AM by

Last week I discussed the pros and cons of open source web content management platforms, such as Wordpress, Drupal, and Joomla.  To continue the conversation, this post will cover the pros and cons of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) web content management systems (CMS). 

Advantages of SaaS CMS:

  1. Low cost of entry - SaaS CMS is based on a subscription model, so there is no large upfront licensing fee.  Usually, a SaaS CMS project will have a small setup fee that covers the cost of implementation.
  2. No Extra Burden on IT Staff (Supported) - When a support issue arises with a SaaS product, the burden to fix the problem no longer falls on internal staff.  The company that provides the platform is responsible for fixing the issue, most of the time at no added cost.
  3. Highly Accessible - Since SaaS CMS is usually a virtual product, they are accessible from any computer with an internet connection. 
  4. Security - Since all the development is handled by the company that owns the CMS, there is no need to worry about malware or buggy add-ons to the CMS.  If it is released by the CMS company as a feature add-on, you can rest assured that it won't expose your site to security threats.
  5. Multiple Users Model - Most SaaS products have a multiple user model, where the price will increase with the number of users given access to the system.  This is great because it is often easy to add new users to help spread out the workload.
  6. Subscription Fee Fits into Budget - Since support is often times included in the subscription model, you can rest assured knowing that the monthly fee will not increase even if something goes wrong with your website.
  7. Ongoing Innovation - All software products have innovation, however, with the SaaS, new features are added quickly and often.  Usually these features are available to all users at no additional cost.
  8. Speed of Implementation - Since the CMS is already developed, launching a new website can often times be done in as little as 30 days.  With custom functionality and e-commerce, the project lengthens a bit, but it is still extremely fast compared to traditional website development.

Disadvantages of SaaS CMS

  1. No Local Data Control - Since SaaS CMS platforms are built and housed at Data Centers, the IT staff feels like it loses a bit of control when it comes to security.  However, SaaS CMS's are built behind firewalls and are often times more secure than a company's local servers.
  2. Subscription fee is Added Cost - Since there are "free" systems out there, recurring cost is often times looked at as a downside to the SaaS model.  It is up to you to determine the value of the SaaS platform for yourself and your business.  However, I encourage you to read an earlier post about support issues.
  3. Closed Development - Since SaaS CMS platforms are often times proprietary systems that belong to certain companies, they do not allow for an open source type development model.  This means that customers must request features to be added by the company, instead of searching the internet for a plug-in that is probably already developed. 
That concludes my list of the Pros and Cons of SaaS CMS.  I believe that the days of installed software are numbered, and that open-source platforms are great for certain applications and not great for others.  It is up to you and your team when evaluating different CMS options to find the solution that best fits your project, as not one CMS platform is the universal choice for all website builds.  However, I truly believe that SaaS makes a strong case in most projects, so make sure you take a long, hard look at it as a viable option. 
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Pros and Cons of Open Source Content Management Systems

Posted 6:14 PM by

Last week, I touched a bit on the main difference, as we see it, between Open Source Content Management Systems (Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal) and Software-as-a-Service CMS's like Marketpath.  To dive a little deeper into this topic, I decided to list out a few pros and cons of the Open Source model.

Advantages of Open Source Content Management Systems:

Software is "free" - This is partially true. Open Source software is software that has been developed by a community of people that do not charge licensing fees for their work.

Plug-ins - If you want to add functionality to your website, there is often a plug-in already built.  There is no need to pay for custom development.  

Flexibility - The right tool in the right hands can be extremely powerful and flexible. Many of these open source content management systems can be set up to do just about anything. The possibility is almost endless.

Disadvantages of Open Source Content Management Systems:

Software is "free" - The old adage "you get what you pay for" is very appropriate here. While there is no ongoing subscription or licensing fee, Open Source technology often takes tens of thousands of dollars to set up properly. Plus, who do you call to fix the software when a bug is found? The open source development community may eventually provide a fix but there are no guarantees as to when.

Plug-in security issues - Some of the plug-ins work better than others, but you can never be sure until you install it. If it doesn't work, however, there is nobody to call for technical support - you're on your own. It seems that not a week goes by where you don't hear or read about a major security flaw either on a prominent website, or with the content management system itself.

Updating versions - Often times, these open source systems need to be updated to work properly. Updating the open source CMS behind the scenes of a website can often times cause problems on the website itself.

Steep learning curve - Many of these systems have a steep learning curve, as they are built with the developer in mind, not the non-technical marketer. It is possible to learn any system, but these more technical systems can often times lead to frustration and lack of use.

Have any other advantages or disadvantages of Open Source systems? Let us know in the comments section below.

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A Developer-Friendly Web Content Management System

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One of the challenges with any web content management system (or WCM) is that it is too developer-friendly and lacks simplicity and intuitive usability. On the flip side, many WCM's may be very easy to use but don't provide tools for web developers who want to get in and do some tweaking or customization. Striking the balance between developers and users isn't easy but it also isn't impossible. 

Marketpath CMS now has a new feature for web developers that simplifies the setup and implementation of websites called syntax highlighting. Syntax highlighting changes the color of the  HTML coding so tags, attributes, and comments are more easily identifiable. This helps improve the speed of site implementation and makes for a more enjoyable experience overall for developers.

Syntax highlighting in web content management

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Reduce marketing expenses with a web content management system

Posted 12:49 PM by
I was talking with the owner of a small retail boutique about the poor economy and how she had to cut costs. But she knew that she couldn't scale back her online marketing because that would cause her revenue to drop. My answer, of course, was to implement a web content management system. This would give her the capability to continue marketing through her website without being billed for every change.

Hosted solutions for web content management let organizations make unlimited changes to their website without incurring a charge for each change. Most hosted solutions allow multiple users to access and own content which helps remove bottlenecks and disperses accountability.

Hosted, or SaaS (software-as-a-service) solutions, represent a fundamental shift in your annual marketing spend. Since these solutions are based on a subscription, you don't incur the initial capital costs for hardware or software, or the ongoing costs for maintenance, upgrades, and troubleshooting. These are all included in your subscription fee. If you are a larger organization, this could mean the difference of tens of thousands of dollars or more - fewer staff, no equipment, and no software that will be worth little to nothing in just a few years.

Hosted web content management solutions can potentially save a great deal of money but can still give you the full power of website marketing.
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Churches Benefit with a Web Content Management System

Posted 7:16 PM by

We have several churches as customers. They all have one thing in common: tons of information to communicate to their congregations. Relying on a member of the church to make these changes leads to bottlenecks, delays, and headaches. Relying on a paid website developer leads to wasted cash and creates a disincentive for making much needed updates.

This is where a web content management system for churches can make a big difference. First of all, you don't have to be a website developer to use the system. Many of our church users are non-technical and not terribly computer saavy. This is not a knock against them, they just aren't as comfortable with computers as some of our other users. With Marketpath CMS they don't have to be. The beautiful thing about our web content management system is that it is extremely easy to use.

Don't let that fool you into thinking that it is basic, though. Marketpath CMS is far from basic. It is a very powerful on-demand platform that allows an incredible level of interaction, not just for church users but also for other website developers who want to make it do more.

Dont' let your church fall into the bottleneck trap of using outside developers who charge an hour for every change regardless of size. And if one of your members currently makes changes for you, put in a web content management system and let them save a great deal of time as well as enabling other members of your staff to make changes too!

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5 Ways Your CMS Can Help Your On-page SEO

Posted 5:35 PM by

CMS Selection ProcessSelecting a content management system can be a daunting task.  On the surface, many of these systems appear to have the same level of functionality and the ability to accomplish many of the same tasks.  While one blog post isn’t enough to compare each and every feature that a good CMS should have, it is perfect to discuss one subset – Search Engine Optimization capability.  Since SEO is seemingly at the forefront of every site owner’s mind, here are five things that your content management system should allow you to do (in no particular order):


1. Create Search Engine Friendly URLs

Each time that you create a page, a new blog post, or add a product to your store (if applicable), your site’s CMS should create a search engine friendly URL for the new content.  Not only does this make it easier for the search engine to determine the topic of the page, it is much easier for a human to determine if the page is applicable for their search.  If you’re not sure if your URL is search engine friendly, take a look at a subpage, blog post or product page…if it makes sense to read, there is a good chance it is search friendly.  If it contains strings of question marks and numbers, it may be time to look into a new CMS. 

2. Create Unique Title Tags, Meta Description Tags, and H1 Tags for Each Page

Probably the most important aspect of on-page SEO is the ability to create unique title tags for each page.  Title tags are still a determining factor for search rankings (although a bit diminished), and they definitely help with usability of the site as well.  Meta description tags aren’t factored into search rankings any longer, but they can help increase the click-through rate to a specific page and feature calls to action.  Each page should also contain one H1 tag to tell the user the exact topic of the page.

3. Manage Alt Image Tags

Accurate alt image tags help increase the chances that your website’s images will be returned in an image search. Alt image tags are simple 3-5 word descriptions for what the topic of the image is. Every image on your site should have a unique alt image tag.

4. Built In Blogging Software

Blogging is a great way to create keyword rich, sharable content around a certain topic.  Your CMS should feature a built in blogging software that makes it easy to add blog posts to your site.  These blog posts should be open to comments from readers, feature the ability to share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google’s +1, as well as an RSS Feed.  The content should be displayed in a chronological order, be searchable, and created with friendly URL’s as described above.

5. Create Permanent Redirects

One of the often overlooked aspects of creating content using a CMS is the ability to set up permanent redirects. 404 errors are unacceptable as far as good SEO’s are concerned, so having the ability to create permanent (301) redirects to live content is a must. This is especially important for larger sites that are updated often.

Collaboration is KeySide Note - Keep in mind there are more factors that go into a CMS selection than just the SEO capabilities of the platform.  The fact of the matter is that the selection of a CMS should go hand in hand with website design, SEO vendor selection, social media strategy determination, and overall online branding evaluation.  These different aspects of Internet marketing have become their own industries, with specialists excelling in each vertical.  The most successful websites that we have seen have been products of collaborative efforts between software providers, service providers, agencies, and the client itself.  After all, there is nothing worse than hearing the words “We just launched our newly designed website, can you help us with the content management strategy, SEO, or insert another service here. ”

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How to Build a Company When You're a Programmer

Posted 12:47 AM by

If you've read any of Michael Gerber's books you'll know that one of his paradigms is to work on your business, not in your business. This simple statement escapes most programmers who one day stumble upon a great idea and believe they can build it. And build it they do with great fervor! They stay up late, night after night, avoid going out with friends and family, and dedicate a silly number of hours to their hot new endeavor.

And that's how it continues, week after week, month after month, until the programmer wakes up and realizes they are never going to actually sell anything. Not because they can't or because they don't want to but because they are stuck in an increasingly addictive cycle of innovation. In their highly technical mind, the product is never quite ready. "If I add this feature" they say, "then it will be perfect." And sadly, just one failed sales attempt triggers a longer continuation of this cycle. Programmers aren't built to be salespeople by default. Programmers are built to solve technical problems and leap over insurmountable obstacles in software.

It's Me

If you read the overview of this blog you may have made the connection that I am included in this group. I'm a programmer and I've been building my business for the last 10 years while I lived what I described above. In 2002 I started building a SaaS e-commerce platform for small businesses named NetEmporium. This stole away approximately two years of my life. I worked diligently every night and day to build it. In the end, I sold it to four companies and made a whopping $5,000 before scrapping it altogether. Hardly worth the effort.

Around that same time I built a SaaS collaboration tool that included email, calendaring, contacts, tasks, and more. This was one of the first SaaS collaboration tools available (besides Outlook for the Web) but again, I failed to sell it and only saw a return of a few thousand dollars. Shortly after that I built a SaaS web content management tool named WebTools. This is the grandfather of our current web content management system, Marketpath CMS. I made a few thousand off of that one too.

Needless to say, I learned this lesson slowly, always thinking I could build a great product and it would sell like hot cakes! Truth is, I did build a great product - some features of NetEmporium have yet to make their way into Marketpath StoreFront, our current e-commerce module for Marketpath CMS. But my problem wasn't building software it was selling it.

Incremental Development, Marketing, & Sales

One of our salesmen has mentioned multiple times that he wished he could code (develop software) because he wants to help out with our never ending list of feature additions and bug fixes.  Each time I've told him it's a curse and to stay away. The reason is simple - software will always have new feature requests and bugs but unless we have people that sell and market it well, there will be no reason to develop those features and fix those bugs. 

So, for those of you programmers dying to know how to be successful developing and selling a software product, take the following points to heart. They are simple, straightforward, and lack fanfare - which is what you need before you kill off a couple of your best years.

  1. Prove the Market Need: Build software in small stages. You don't need to solve every problem with your software on the first push to production. You just need to solve one problem better than your competitors. Build that one feature really well and start selling it. If you get bites (and you won't need a great deal at this stage) then move on to the next round of development.
  2. If you can't sell the early version, dump it.  You have to know when to kill an initiative before it drags you down too much. My grandfather once told me if you don't make any money in a business after a year, then find something new. Now, with software, if you can't make any money after a few months then that's the time to dump it. Don't get hung up on your own stubbornness.
  3. Ignore the Feature-Creepers: Don't let would-be customers over-prescribe their own medicine. Every other customer will ask for a feature addition to your tool. Listen, but don't operate on the assumption that you need to build that feature. Your goal is to prove your product has a market. Once you do that then you can add more features. Find the customers that can use your tool as it is or else you'll be spending all your time adding features for that one customer (even though others might be able to benefit too, but this distracts you from your goal to sell, sell, sell.
  4. Hire a Replacement. When you have increased your revenue by building your software logically and in small chunks, hire a developer to replace yourself. If you've made it this far (you're making enough revenue to hire a developer) then outsource that portion of your job to someone else. This allows you to focus on planning, marketing, and selling. Or, alternatively, bring on a partner who has experience building similar companies. Just know your strengths and weaknesses and hire people who are smarter and more skilled than yourself. If you can't lead the company yourself, you need to be very sure the person you bring on can. They should have a proven track record.  Don't fall for the "I understand the job and can do it" responses. Track records are worth their weight in gold.
  5. Look for Investors. If you've proven that your product has legs then don't hesitate to look for investors. Capital is the life-blood of every business and without it your growth will likely trickle. I can attest to this. I've seen other local firms in my area excel with the proper capital resources while my own company grew much more slowly. 
  6. Find Advisors. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on and a helping hand when questions get to big. You can't always look to your staff for help (they might be the problem). Having a network of advisors who have "been there, done that" can be a tremendous aid to your venture.

The biggest thing to keep in mind, as a programmer and new entrepreneur, is that you cannot code your way into a profitable business. There are flukes to this rule, for sure. But 999 times out of 1,000 it holds true.

For the last ten years I've received my GMBK MBA, that is, the "Getting My Butt Kicked" MBA. I've learned the hard way many, many times. This is not the easiest path, though. When resources are stretched, I still sometimes jump in and do a little development. This is partly for my own enjoyment because every now and then, it's nice to hole myself up and escape for a bit. But I realize this adds almost zero value to the success and growth of my company. So I try to limit it as much as possible.

As you dive into your new venture, your million dollar idea, keep in mind these simple tactics. You'll thank yourself later.

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5 Free Online Marketing Tools for Your Business

Posted 1:00 PM by

Free Online Marketing Tools for Your BusinessAs an individual running the sales and marketing department for a small business, I am always looking for cost effective ways to enhance my knowledge and ability to market, while keeping costs down.  The great thing about being in business today is that there are lots of free online marketing tools and resources that can both educate and provide usefulness to an online marketer.

Below are my first five (5) free tools that any small business marketer should be aware of and possibly using regularly in their day to day marketing.  Next month I'll list of another group of free, useful tools for your business.

1.  Google Alerts

I'll start with a simple, but very useful tool that has been around a long time- Google Alerts.  Google Alerts allows you to sign up for free email updates on the latest (and relevant) Google results for whatever keyword/topic (business, product, technology, individual, etc.) you wish to follow.  Then, when your keyword shows up in Google, you get an email with the new information sent to you. 

This is an amazingly easy and valuable tool that allows you to monitor the web for new news, PR, website updates, and more.   I use it for tracking information on my own company, competitors, customers, industry trends, research and general topics that I what to stay on top of.  Below is an example of an alert I received for "Marketpath," letting me know that our press release had been picked up and posted on an industry technology website.

Google Alert - Marketpath Named 2011 Innovation of the Year Finalist

You can also be creative and use Google Alerts as a marketing tool, to drive traffic to your own website.  Think about it- it makes sense.  Every time you post content on your website with a certain keyword (phrase), Google will send an automated alert to everyone who subscribed to Google Alerts for that keyword. The individual subscribed to the alert, because the keyword is relevant to them. If your content (post, PR, etc.) is also relevant for the keyword, Google Alerts will connect your site to that highly pertinent reader of your content.  Check out this article for more information.

2.  RANKS.NL Keyword Density Tool

This is a great tool that provides lots of useful information about any website or web page, in regards to how the site or specific page is optimized for search (SEO).  Just type in your company's URL or the URL of a competitor or related industry site, and you'll get good data about how that site is viewed by Google and other search engines.  Information includes:

  • Key words and phrases it looks like the site is optimized for
  • Keyword density for those phrases
  • Google page ranking for any term the site ranks for
  • Links in and out of the site
  • Google's PageRank for the site
  • Alexa's site rankings
  • Site load times

If you are a novice to all things SEO, the information on this site will help you learn.   If you already have some basic SEO and key word experience, RANKS.NL will provide insight and ideas into how best to optimize your site for search and how other sites (competitors, industry sites) are hoping to compete for different keywords.

3.  Google Analytics

One of the great thing about interactive marketing and the web is that it allows markers to more easily measure their marketing activities and results.  Yet, even in 2011, many small businesses don't pay attention to what is happening on their website.  With Google Analytics, tracking your website marketing is both free and easy.

In simple terms, web analytics will let you know who has visited your site, what they did when they were there, and where they came from.  More importantly, it will tell you how your prospects found you (which sites and key words), what content they value, and whether you converted them to leads or sales once they got to your site.  By properly utilizing Google or other analytics tools, you'll be able to understand both your visitors and which initiatives are impacting them.  Combine that knowledge with a web content management system that allows for quick and easy changes to your site, and you'll be on your way to improving your marketing bottom line.   

Google Analytics isn't quite as simple as some of the other tools on this list (you'll need the analytics code put on each page of your site), but it is probably the MVT (most valuable tool) of free online tools.  Google also provides great resources to quickly get you up to speed.  For starters, try the Google Analytics product tour.


If your business ever produces press releases and utilizes them to generate website traffic or as part of your search optimization (SEO) strategy, then you should take a look at Hubspot's free tool.  PressReleaseGrader evaluates your press releases and provides you with a marketing effectiveness score for that release.  It also provides details as to which elements your release contains or is missing that might impact its effectiveness, including links, content, and key words.

5.  Google Places (Local Business Listings)

If you want people (customers, prospects, vendors) to find your business, based on where it is located, then your business should be listed on Google Places.  If you are not currently listed then you may already be at a competitive disadvantage.  Think about this:

  • 97% of consumers search for local businesses online
  • 20% of searches on Google are related to location

Those are significant numbers you could be missing out on, as Google and other search engines emphasize local search.   Listing your business won't guarantee any success, but can provide the following benefits:

  • Increased local traffic to your website. If your listing contains the right keywords and information about your business, you can attract prospects to your site.
  • Getting listed on online maps and directories. This helps customers and prospects locate you more easily. Some search users also prefer company listing with maps vs. listings without. You want your company in both types of search results.
  • Provides promotional vehicle. If you choose, you can also leverage your local listing for promotional offers and advertising (not free).

Setting up your business on Google Places will take some time, but it is something every local business should do.  I'd also suggest looking at similar local listing such as Bing Local and Yahoo Local, as they should provide similar benefits.

There you have it- the first listing of my favorite free marketing tools.  Next month, I'll write about my second group of free tools.  Until then, can you list your favorite free marketing tools?

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Energy Systems Network Chooses Marketpath CMS

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Energy Systems Network (ESN) recently chose Marketpath CMS as the website content management system for its new website.  The new ESN website was designed by an internal staff member and is heavily reliant on jQuery technology to give a sense of interactivity with the website visitor.  A rotating image gallery, a project selector, and a scrolling partnership list are all part of the ESN homepage, which can help convey a large amount of information on a relatively small area.  Other features of the site include a password protected partner area, a micro-site dedicated to one of ESN's projects (Project Plug-IN), a fully integrated calendar, and an easy-to-use blog which all make the job of bring clean technology to market just a little easier for ESN.

  Energy Systems Network

Marketpath was able to take the new designs from ESN and implement them into Marketpath CMS within a few weeks, giving control of all of the site's content to ESN's Manager of Communication.  ESN's staff is now trained on Marketpath CMS and fully supported if any issues arise.  

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Open Source CMS and Security Issues

Posted 11:40 AM by

We have discussed this topic before, but because it was thrown into the lime light over the weekend, I thought I would again touch on the pros and cons of Open Source CMS platforms.  Over the weekend,'s homepage was taken over by a group of hackers that gained access by exploiting the security flaws in the open source content management system that the site is built upon.  The hackers changed the content to include a fake news story about rapper Tupac Shakur being alive in New Zealand, which of course spread like wildfire around social media sites.  While creating a fake news story may seem harmless, it did showcase the security risk that all open source CMS platforms must deal with, source code that is open to the public.

HackerWith thousands of developers working with standardized source code to tweak and customize the program, coders often times find loopholes which will allow them access to your data.  In an article from Information Week, it was stated that MoveableType, the CMS platform that uses, had a security update just seven days before the attack, but PBS administrators failed to apply the patch - a problem that proprietary systems or software-as-a-service content management systems can automatically remedy.

There are certain situations, mostly depending on the type of site, where open source CMS platforms probably aren't suitable.  A few of those situations might include:

  • School Websites - Sure, the "free" price tag of open source is always enticing, however, with the amount of free tools available to help someone hack an open source CMS driven site, a school's website could be an easy target for a student prank.

  • Financial Institutions - Anytime that someone's personal financial data is involved, open source should not be an option.  This is pretty much a no-brainer.

  • Government Websites - Any site that could contain an individual's personal data, or prompt them to enter it should be completely secure.  An interesting exception to this category, however, is the site which is run on Drupal, an open source platform.
It should be noted that proprietary CMS platforms aren't immune to attack.  However, since the source code is usually unfamiliar to the hacker, the task becomes more difficult.  What are your thoughts on the issue of security?   
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Church and School Website Solutions

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Until recently, managing the website for Saint Luke Catholic Church and School was very painful.  Saint Luke had five major areas of focus within their parish (Worship, Parish Life, Religious Education, School, Athletics), all with significant and ongoing content and communication needs, yet they had only one person with the technical savvy to easily manage their website. And that individual was really too important to Saint Luke to be spending so much time updating the site for all the different ministries.  On top of that, the site had so much content that finding what you needed had become very difficult.

Website Solutions for Schools and ChurchesSo Saint Luke began looking for a partner that provided website solutions for schools and churches, with a number of goals in mind.  First and most importantly, they needed to find a web content management system that was so easy to use that various staff members and volunteers could manage daily site updates without any technical skill set.  Second, they needed a web design partner that could design a visually attractive site that allowed Saint Luke to communicate easily with many   different constituents, while also being very user-friendly and easy to navigate (find what you want).  Lastly, Saint Luke wanted a technically advanced web presence, so that they could communicate better with current parishioners, both young and old alike, while attracting new parishioners to join the Saint Luke's community.

After considering various options, Saint Luke selected Marketpath as their web design and web content management partner, launching a new site in only a few months.  Their new site now features an engaging design that allows Saint Luke to communicate more easily to all its constituents, including four new blogs, image and message galleries, multiples calendars, podcasts, videos, and social media integration.  The new site even features a mobile version, so that Saint Luke's most time sensitive information can easily be found.  The new site is also very intuitive and easy to navigate, structured around Saint Luke's five main ministries.  Finally and most importantly, the site is now simple to update, with each of the five ministries controlling their sections of the new site and managing daily updates.  

Instead of worrying about technology, Saint Luke's team can now focus more time on what is important: their services to the community.

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Effectively Leveraging QR Codes in Your Marketing

Posted 9:10 AM by

QR codes are beginning to pop up everywhere these days, and for good reason.  These 2D barcodes are easy to scan (with the right device) and much easier for the user to interact with than a clunky mobile web browser.  Quickly scanning the image can deliver extremely targeted content directly to the user when he/she is in the market for it, making a conversion much easier for the QR code provider.  However, with any new technology (barcodes aren't new, but utilizing them in this manner sure is), there are questions around how to most effectively utilize these simple tools.  Here are a few recommendations on getting the most out of your QR Codes:

Make Sure You Can Create Effective Landing Pages

As a consumer, if I'm scanning your QR code on a piece of print material, I'm thinking I had better not be directed to your homepage only to have to search your website for what I was looking for.  Among other destinations (videos, coupons, etc), QR codes give you the ability to deliver a highly targeted landing page with content that is connected to the particular advertisement.  If you cannot create landing pages on your site, it is time to invest in a content management system to allow for this.  Keep in mind this landing page should also have a call to action...what do you want the user to do when they arrive?  Buy?  Fill out a form? Call you?  Whatever the call to action is, make sure it is apparent.

QR code example - Need an easy way to create effective landing pages?

Ensure the Destination of the QR Code Adds Value for the User

This doesn't always have to be some sort of coupon or discount for your services, but those seem to be some of the most popular items for QR codes right now.  Everyone loves free stuff, so if you're just dipping your toes into a QR code campaign, this is probably the safest option to gain traction and make the promotion worthwhile.  For more on this, Jay Baer of Convince and Convert had a great article about a sandwich shop using QR codes during an Easter promotion that I recommend checking out.

Be Creative

Sounds simple, right?  This tip goes back to the "don't send the user to your website's homepage" recommendation.  A user that is willing to scan a QR code on an advertisement is inherently curious by nature.  The content that greets them should be unique, fresh, and captivating...not the same boiler plate sales information that is featured on the rest of your website.  Creating something that is both entertaining and engaging is a critical step in successfully utilizing QR codes.  

Have you utilized QR codes yet?  If so, how effective was the campaign?  Leave your thoughts below.      

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The Challenge of Rapid Growth and How a Multithreaded Publisher Saved the Day

Posted 5:49 AM by

When we launched generation 3 of Marketpath CMS in 2007 we didn't have a huge number of customers making simultaneous updates to their websites. As time went on and our user base continued to grow rapidly we ran into problems. The publishing mechanism for our web content management system was built as a single-threaded publishing service. This means only one page (or other asset) could be published at one time - a bottleneck. This was fine 98% of the time. And it was fine as long as users were only publishing one item at a time. The problem came about when we had multiple users (usually developers) republishing entire sites. This caused a delay for anyone publishing and began to happen more and more frequently.

Single Threaded (one at a time)

The diagram below shows a single-threaded publishing model. There are four users and three sites. User 1 publishes three files. Users 2 and 3 publish one file each. User 4 publishes 2 files. Users 1 and 2 publish to separate sites. Users 3 and 4 publish to the same site. All four users and all seven pages form a line and then get published one at a time. Imagine a site with hundreds of pages gets publishes first. With a single-threaded publishing agent, everybody must wait at the back of the line until all those pages have been sent.

Web content management - single threaded publishing

Multithreaded (one at a time per user)

Now, take a look at the diagram below. This is a multithreaded publishing model. Each user gets their own thread. Think of a thread as a line or queue. If we have four queues instead of just one, publishing is much quicker. The user who publishes an entire site of pages simply has to wait for those pages to complete before anything else from their queue will be published. But she can keep adding items to the queue without affecting other users. Those other users just publishing one page at a time don't wait for the first user's site to be published. They only have their own pages in their own queue.

web content management - multithreaded publishing

Other Challenges with a Rapidly Growing User Base

This is one of the many challenges of a rapidly growing user base. There are technical challenges with software. This post touches on both scalability and availability. Some others are load balancing, load testing, usability, and security. Then there are operational challenges, such as sales, support, bililng, etc. We have a great team here at Marketpath and one of the basic rules of thumb for measuring great employees is how well they perform under stress (i.e. rapid growth) but also how well they perform when the work is predictable. Luckily, we don't have too much of that! We like to keep it interesting here.

Since we're very near the month of May and the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough.

- Mario Andretti


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Building an Internet Marketing Plan for Your Small Business - Part II

Posted 8:00 PM by

Last month I discussed the critical components you should consider when developing your internet marketing strategy and plan, as well as the best places to start: your website, search engine optimization, and analytics.  Today I'll cover a few success factors that cross all the components of your plan, regardless of which elements you focus on first.  Keeping these basic principles or success factors in mind throughout your planning and implementation won't guarantee success, but they can improve you odds.

Content is King

Regardless of whether you are emailing prospects, writing a blog, posting on Facebook, Tweeting, or adding a new page to your website, the quality of your content is the most important factor in your marketing success. The reason is simple.  You can have the most technically advanced website or marketing software, but if your audience doesn't care about your message, none of that will matter.  So start with your content strategy, thinking through why you audience will want to read or listen to what your company has to say, and ask yourself two basic questions.

  1. What content will position us as a credible company and as an expert in our field?
  2. What can we give our customers and/or prospects that is valuable to them?  (unique information they can't get elsewhere, promotions, etc.)

Content and Calls to Action - the King & Queen of Website SuccessAs you develop your content plan, also determine who can create important content for your organization and how you can hold them accountable.  Then begin developing an ongoing content calendar that applies to both traditional and online marketing.  Finally, think through how you can share and reuse content across your various initiatives.  Blog posts, for example, can be re-used for email articles   or in print newsletters and can be tweeted.

Calls to Action (are Queen?)

As you are considering your content strategy, you'll also want to think through what you want your audience to do when they are reading your email, blog or tweet or searching through your website.  This may seem obvious, but many business websites, for example, can look nice, yet have very few calls to action.  So your marketing doesn't fall into this trap, ask yourself this simple question.  In a perfect world, what would I want my audience to do after interacting (reading, viewing, listening) with my content? Buy, call us, register, click through to another area, fill out a form, provide information?  Once you know what you'd like your audience to do, start to think through how you can in influence them to interact with your company.  Think back to your content strategy and what you can do to add value for your audience.  Put yourself in your audience's shoes and consider whether this type of call to action would convince you to act.  Remember, you must give your audience something they believe is valuable enough to make them want to interact with you.  What value can you give them?

Measure & Measure Some More!

Regardless of where you start with your interactive plan, you must start measuring your results from the beginning.  It is amazing how many small businesses have websites or Facebook pages, but have no idea whether those initiatives are actually adding value to the bottom line.  It is possible that your Facebook page (or other initiative) is actually hurting your business because it gives people a poor impression of your company or brand.  Let's hope not, but it is possible.  Just doing something (pick any marketing activity) to cross it off your list is not a great strategy.  Instead, think what results you hope to achieve and begin measuring from the start.

The good news is that almost all internet marketing activities are easier to measure than traditional marketing.  So measure from the start, whether you are measuring sales or softer metrics like leads, registrations, page views, or click-throughs.  Then make changes to your marketing and measure again, learning and improving along the way.

Don't Forget Business Processes

Remember from the start that technology is Not a silver bullet. It can be used to enhance a process or to better measure the process or process results, but it is Not a substitute for good business processes.  Whether we're talking about updating your website, writing an online press release, or tweeting an announcement, you still need to think through how the process will work in your company.  As you develop your internet marketing plan, always think through and define new processes and how current processes will change (improve).  Remember that a good process is defined, has an owner, and is measurable.  If you don't consider these things, technology with will just make a bad process faster!        

Keep it Simple (Ease of Use that is)

My final success factor for your internet plan relates to all the other factors mentioned above and to the various systems and technologies your small business with use for all your internet marketing.  Because most small businesses are limited in both technical and marketing resources, it is critical that their systems are easy to use and intuitive.  Whether you are looking for an easy to use web content management system or a simple email marketing tool, make sure you participate in a live product demo, so that you can see for yourself whether the toolset is really user friendly. If the system is not easy to use for non-technical people, it simply won't be used, regardless of how much functionality the system might have.  So look for easy to use marketing solutions; tools that allow you to effortlessly update content and calls to action, painlessly connect to your processes and clearly measure your results!


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Great Content is the Only Constant

Posted 6:15 AM by

There has been a lot of news lately about the recent Google update that was aimed at devaluing content farms out on the web.  Sites that simply aggregated content from other sources were hit hard in the rankings for terms that drove most of their traffic.  While there were undoubtedly some good sites that were adversely effected by the update, the change in Google's algorithm just reinforced one of the lessons that Google's engineers, like Matt Cutts, have been preaching over the years...Google's mission is to deliver the best sites on the web to the people using its search engine.  These sites offer unique content, case studies, and add something of substance to the conversation.  This has always been their mission, and no matter what they decide to change in their algorithm, you can rest assured that their mission won't change.

Even though your site probably wasn't affected by the recent update, use this opportunity to look at your site.  Sure you want it to rank for your related key phrases, but does it really deserve to?  The key here is to be honest.  When is the last time that you updated the content?  How long has it been since you changed something on your homepage?  What value are you offering to a searcher who lands on your site for the first time? 

If your site doesn't earn a passing grade on these three simple questions, don't worry, there is help out there.  First things first, you need an internet marketing plan.  Jumping in head first without some sort of process or idea of what to update is a recipe for disaster.  Once you have the plan, you need to assign the roles within your organization or who is responsible for content creation and updating the site.  If your site isn't utilizing a content management system, it is time to invest in one.  This will allow for quick and easy updates, and depending on which system you choose, won't be a burden on your IT staff. 

Your website is a living breathing marketing tool that deserves attention.  It is the hub (or should be) of all other marketing efforts.  The Internet landscape is constantly evolving and because of this, the days of a static, brochure website have come and gone.  It is time to embrace being the expert of your industry and add something to the conversation.  If you can commit to a schedule of content creation, you can rest assured that Google will probably take note and reward you for your efforts.

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The 5 Point Checklist of Selecting a CMS

Posted 5:08 PM by

With so many content management systems out on the market today, selecting one can be a daunting task.  Many times, the future users of the system are unaware of which questions to ask, or what to look for when evaluating each platform.  I have decided to put together a checklist that will help technical and non-technical users alike when the question of which CMS to use inevitably comes up.

  1. Security - This may be the most important element of selecting a CMS, depending on your type of site.  Open source systems have often times failed the security tests because anyone can develop plug-ins for these platforms.  Less experienced programmers or hackers can often times develop modules that bring along negative consequences once installed.  Hosted CMS platforms can usually alleviate these problems. 

    Also something to take into account is the user authentication process.  How many users are there?  How are they tracked? Does each have unique login credentials?

  3. Simplicity - The choice you are making is one you will have to deal with for months or years to come.  Sure, there are a lot of simple content management systems out there, but don't take a developers word for it.  They are experienced in using their favorite platform and come from a technical background.  Make sure you push to see a demo of the product, and make sure you understand the process of updating a site, especially if you're a marketer lacking HTML knowledge. 

    Making updates to your website shouldn't be intimidating or time consuming, as that is the whole point of using a CMS.  Make sure you're comfortable with the interface and you understand how the CMS works with your specific website.

  5. Support - When it comes down to it, all software will have problems.  Bugs are an inevitable annoyance that always seem to come up at the most important times.  Here are the questions that needs to be answered about the CMS you are choosing - What happens when I need help?  Who can I call? And finally, how much will that cost me? 

    Each platform varies in their answers to these questions.  Open source systems can be supported by the developer who set them up, but at a price.  Installed platforms have their own maintenance agreements.  Software-as-a-Service platforms, on the other hand, have the best answer for this (I know I am biased).  If something goes wrong, you call the architects of the system for the fix, at no additional charge.

  7. Speed - When I say speed, I'm referring to the speed of implementation.  Some systems have to be set up each time a new website is built.  Some systems have to be installed on internal servers, which will inevitably take time.  Other systems, usually software-as-a-service models, are already built and running in a hosted environment.  This means the timeline to launch a website can be shortened considerably, saving time and money.

    Implementing designs and content into a hosted solution can often be done within weeks, not months. 

  9. Scalability - How flexible is the system?  How unique is your website?  Depending on whether your site will be a brochure site or whether it will be a true marketing tool can sway your decision from one CMS to another.  Figuring out the marketing goals for your website prior to CMS evaluation is a must if you want to truly have confidence in your selected CMS.

    A few other questions to ask are - What systems need to integrate with our website?  Since the Internet is constantly changing, how do we add new functionality to our site once it has launched?

Addressing these issues early in your content management system evaluation process can guide you down the right path.  One thing to realize is that no CMS is perfect for every website, as they all have their strengths and weaknesses.  Make sure you do your research, ask questions, and see demos of each product before making your final decision. 
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Create an Event Specific Landing Page and Custom URL with Marketpath CMS

Posted 4:31 PM by

One of the great advantages of using a web content management system is the ability to create custom landing pages for webinars, seminars, tradeshows, or other events. You probably have several of these each year and send out information to your constituents. Wouldn't it be nice to quickly create a custom landing page for each event containing all the agenda details and registration instructions? With Marketpath CMS you can. Here's how:

  1. First, right-click on the folder within which to create the page and select "New Page"

    Creating a page in Marketpath CMS

  2. Next, give the page a name. I typically name my landing pages by date of event first so they appear in chronological order (e.g. "2011-02-25 - Winter Product Showcase." While using the new page wizard be sure to select the appropriate theme and page template and do not link it to a navigational menu.

  3. Add the landing page content. Of course, it helps if you have a landing page template already provided for you but you can also do this using a full page open template like I did below. All landing pages need a way to convert visitors immediately. This one contains a simple registration form for the event. Your form may be very different from this.

    Landing page content creation with Marketpath CMS
  4. If you don't want the page to be found in the search results or shown in the sitemap, be sure to open "Properties" and uncheck the "Indexed" option before publishing.

    Search indexing of a page in Marketpath CMS
  5. Publish your changes.
  6. Now, you probably want to create an easy to remember URL for your users to access the landing page. Nobody wants to remember or type in "". Instead, "" would be much easier. To do this open the "Settings" panel and then click on the "Redirects" item under Site.

    Creating automatic redirects in Marketpath CMS
  7. Next, click the "New Redirect" button and type in the Original URL (i.e. the friendly URL). Note, this must be preceded with a forward slash indicating the root directory of the website. Select the type "Page" and then select the new landing page. You can leave "Permanent Redirect" unchecked here.

    Creating an automatic redirect within Marketpath CMS
  8. Finally, publish the new redirect by clicking the following icon.

So, there you have it. 8 simple steps to create an event-specific landing page and customized URL within Marketpath CMS. And of course, if you have any trouble, just pick up the phone. We're here to help!


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Seven Questions to Ask Before Developing Your Internet Marketing Strategy

Posted 12:00 AM by

The importance and complexity of the internet continues to grow every day, making a company's internet marketing strategy an even more critical part of a business's overall plan.  The web's complexity can make things especially difficult for a small business, with limited marketing and technology resources. 

Questions a Small Business Should Ask Before Developing Your Internet Marketing StrategyOver the next few weeks, I plan to write about the key components of an internet marketing strategy and various issues that should be considered when developing a small business internet marketing plan. But before you start thinking about specific strategies or tactics, you should first ask yourself (and answer) a few basic questions.

  1. How will your on-line marketing plan work with your off-line or traditional marketing?
    Sounds like a simple question, but it really depends upon your business and objectives.  Will there be synergy between on-line and off-line working together or are there completely different objectives and targets you are trying to reach?  This leads to the next question.

  2. Who are your target markets and customers?
    Are you targeting the same customers that you target off-line or different ones?  Is your ideal internet customer the same as your ideal off-line customer?  These questions depend greatly on your product and branding plans, but should be thought out prior to implementing specific tactics.

  3. How will you find your customers and/or how will they find you on-line?
    This question gets to the heart of your online strategy and plan and will also help determine where your emphasis is and how will you drive traffic to your website.  Depending on your resources and business model, you may choose to prioritize an "Outbound Marketing" vehicle such as email, relying on internal or external sources (list, database, etc.) for prospect data or you may focus more on permission-based or "Inbound Marketing" techniques such as blogs, webinars, social media, twitter, and search engine optimization.  Your plan should include a combination of inbound and outbound vehicles, but where you begin and focus will depend on various factors specific to your business.

    If you or your company are novices to online or web marketing, you will also want to familiarize yourself with search engine optimization (SEO).  Understanding key words and SEO will help to determine how your company will be found online and how prospects think about your services or products.  If your company sells commercial kitchen products, for instance, it will help to know that 18,100 searches per month are made for the keyword phrase "commercial kitchen equipment," while the phrases "restaurant equipment" and "catering equipment" receive  165,000 and 135,000 searches per month respectively.  If you understand how people think about and search for your services, you can then develop a plan to better target those prospects. Google Adwords is a great place to start, as they offer a free tool that will provide you with key word search data for any term or website.
  4. How will you support your Brand Positioning online?
    This is a very important consideration, so that you don't de-value your brand or confuse your audience for short-term gain.  For instance, if your brand is known as a high end, luxury product, you probably don't want your internet initiatives to focus mostly on price.  Or if your brand is known for providing the best service and customer support, your internet strategy should also be focused on providing innovative on-line service that out shines the competition.  Many companies have made the mistake in thinking that the internet is only about price and have damaged their long-term brand and/or company perception by completely changing their value proposition.
  5. What resources do you need to succeed?
    Who will be responsible and accountable for implementing your company's on-line plan?  Your website, email marketing, and social media initiatives won't manage themselves.  So think through both the marketing and technical skills sets you need and whether your plan will be implemented by internal staff, outside support, or a combination of both.  And realize you can take very different approaches, in regard to insourcing or outsourcing, that can both be successful.  For example, you could outsource your website to an agency that handles every little detail or you could utilize a web content management system that allows your company to update and manage the site yourself, without any technical skill set necessary.  Both choices can be effective, depending on your personnel, budgets and long-term objectives.
  6. How will you measure success?
    It is never too early to think about metrics.  Before you begin planning, try and prioritize some high level objectives.  That way, you can always go back to those goals as you are developing your plan.  Are you focusing on sales?   On leads?  Are you trying to drive business to a brick and mortar location? In regard to your website, email or social media initiatives, always think about what interactions you are trying to drive and what you want customers/visitors to do when they get to your website - buy, register, contact you, etc?
  7. What is your competition doing online?
    Regardless of the situation, it is always wise to know what your competitors are doing.  Check out their websites, sign up for their email newsletters and social media, and figure out how your company can differentiate yourselves or one up the competition.  Time spent researching on the front-end will add much greater value when your plan is implemented.

    These are only a few of the questions you should ask yourself before starting on your plan.  Some may be obvious and others quite simple, but considering them now, rather than later, will minimize your headaches along the way.

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    5 Easy Steps to Establish Marketing Rhythm and Momentum

    Posted 12:43 PM by

    We see this often. A client purchases our design and development services, gets trained in our web content management system, and then flitters away to rarely use it again. Their website marketing efforts die right after launch.

    5 easy steps to establish marketing rhythm and momentum (Alfred Gockel art)Then at some point, a couple years or so down the road, they call and tell us that it's not working for them like they had hoped. Most fess up and recognize that they didn't dedicate time to add meaningful content and continuously improve the website over time. One former customer yelled and screamed that our business relationship was one-sided to the point it was insulting. Ouch. It's a good thing I take my jabs in stride (that customer never logged in once after launch).

    The problem is simple. It is seen in many industries throughout the small business world. A company provides a high qualilty product or service, a buyer never uses it as it was intended to be used, and the buyer gets upset with either themselves for wasting money or with the vendor for the product not providing the expected results.

    Web content management systems are no different. These are tools that provide users a mechanism for updating their website with content that, if meaningful and relevant to prospects and customers, will increase visitors, improve site engagement, and convert more visitors into paying customers or advocates. But this takes time and effort that most small business owners don't have.

    Here are easy 5 steps you can take to avoid the same trap and to establish a rhythm and momentum for producing great website content:

    1. Setup a Content Strategy

    Evaluate the type of customers you have and want, then brainstorm questions they might have and information they seek. The best source for this might be your existing customers. Ask them two simple questions: 1) What problems did our product or service solve for you? 2) What more could we do to improve that product or service?

    You'll get the information fairly easily from your customers. They know you and won't think you're trying to sell them on the product they already have. You might also gain some insight (likes & disklikes) that you wouldn't have gained otherwise.

    Once you  have these questions, brainstorm topics that your customers and prospects might find interesting. Use the notes feature of your PDA or send yourself a quick email whenever a new topic pops into your head.

    "Content Strategy" might seem a little overwhelming, so don't think of this as some exhaustive process. Keep it easy and keep the topics light. Otherwise you'll find yourself trying to write lengthy white papers you don't have enough time to finish.

    2. Involve Your Whole Company

    Whether you are a two man operation or have five hundred employees you have a wealth of knowledge within that can be tapped and leveraged. Use it. Ask your staff to contribute content. Let them come up with their own ideas and have fun with it. You're not writing novels, so as long as you proofread the posts before publishing you should be fine.

    Keep in mind that not everyone will be a great writer. They may be passionate about their job but not able to communicate it well. Work with them and encourage them to keep at it and that they are not getting graded.

    3. Set a Schedule

    Without a schedule, you have nothing to hold your people accountable. So, setup a schedule unique to each individual. Require one post per month, bi-weekly, or per week. Our developers are required to write one per month because we keep them very busy with projects. Our marketing and sales staff are required to write one per week.

    You should set incentives for employees. Instead of saying "if you don't write one per month...", try saying "if you DO write one per month, then I will....". For example, if an employee has contributed their quota consistently for 3 or 6 months, they get a $25 gift card. Or perhaps, the user with the highest trafficked post (most visitors) receives the prize. You could also provide incentives that aren't financial, such as, a prime parking space, or they get to wear jeans and a t-shirt for a week.

    4. Reuse Content for Other Marketing Channels

    If you have established rhythm and momentum writing new content then after a few months you should start accumulating a lot of great stuff. You can use all of this in your other marketing efforts. Send the best posts in your email marketing newsletters. Take one post and begin a larger, more in-depth effort to write a white paper. At the end of the year, you might even send a summary message or letter that has your best writing.

    New content will spawn all sorts of ideas and may even change your business. Act on those.Stick to your schedule.

    5. Promote Your Content

    Producing great content is nice but if nobody finds it what's the point? All of your content should be broadcast to Twitter, Facebook, your email subscribers, your direct mail subscribers, local Chambers and industry organizations. There are many great organizations that provide free posting of industry news topics (keeping in mind the content is not blatant self-promotion).

    Watch your website statistics to see what your top referrers are for these posts. This will help you know where to spend more time and effort in the future and what type of organizations to target with the posts. Of course, you need to watch for conversions too. More visitors does not mean more customers.

    Ask trade organizations if you can provide some content for one of their newsletters, magazines, etc. This is not only a great way to spread your message but an opportunity to establilsh expertise in your industry.

    However you approach writing content for your website, you won't get the job done without a plan. Spend an hour or two putting your plan together and then execute, execute, execute. After all, what good is a plan if there is no execution?

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    How Important is Support?

    Posted 7:31 PM by

    "Why should we pay a monthly/annual fee to subscribe to your CMS when there are systems out there that are free?" 

    Well, well well...if it isn't the question that we run up against in most of our prospective client meetings.  It is actually one of my favorite questions to answer, not only because it means the client is doing their research into the content management industry (or having another vendor present a different solution), but it is relatively easy to make a strong case for the Software-as-a-Service model. 

    "Free" Isn't FreeFirst, let me just say that the majority of the time that Open Source is brought up, the client is referring to one of four CMS's: Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, or Plone.  Each one of these systems has its strengths and weaknesses (I promise they all have downsides, no matter what that programmer tells you).  These systems are incredibly flexible and can seem to have an endless amount of plug-ins that can be utilized for increased functionality.  They are typically free from any sort of subscription fee, which is also very enticing. 

    Software-as-a-Service Content Management Systems, on the other hand, are often times proprietary systems that rely on a single company's efforts to expand on the product functionality, which can be a bit limiting at times.  These systems, many of which have been in development for years, can also be incredibly powerful and flexible though.  The main difference, in the eyes of the customer, is that "pesky" subscription fee.

    If you're a small business owner, marketing director for a mid-size company, or the Chief Marketing Officer for a fortune 500 company, you just want your CMS to work when you need to update your website.  You probably don't care about the technical specs, or how many developers contribute to the vast database of plug-ins, you just require simplicity and reliability.  My question to you, then, is "How important is support?"

    Support is where Software-as-a-Service differentiates itself from Open Source Systems.  If your Open Source CMS system breaks, who can you call?  You can't call the developer of the plug-in that is broken.  You can't call Wordpress or Joomla.  You have to call whoever built your website in this system, and I'm willing to bet, the time required to fix your issue isn't free.

    Software-as-a-Service CMS's come with unlimited support for the system.  If you have a problem, you can call the programmers who built the system and get it figured out.  There is no searching the web for help, scouring documentation that, depending on your technical skills, might as well be in a foreign language, or digging into your bank account to pay unexpected support costs.  Think of SaaS as a true website partnership with a CMS company.

    With all of that being said, no CMS is the right CMS for every project. Since this post was primarily about supporting a CMS, I didn't get into detail about specific pros and cons of each type of system.  I plan on detailing this list over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.                      

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    C&T Design selects Marketpath for Content Management and Web Design

    Posted by

    We are excited this morning to announce the launch of C&T Design and Equipment Company's new website (, which was designed by Marketpath and utilizes our easy to use web content management system.

    C&T Design selects Marketpath for web design and web content management The site features impactful photography and show cases C&T Design projects from various industries around the globe, while promoting the food service equipment and services they offer.

    The site also includes a new "resource center" that will position C&T as an industy leader in the food service solutions space.  The resource center contains a project gallery for design concepts, a "green" solutions area with information and articles on eco-friendly and energy efficient products, services and design ideas, new "buyers guide" and "cooking guide" sections, as well as C&T Design's first blog.  The website has also been optimized for search (SEO), so that C&T's products and services can be easily found by the numerous industry segments that C&T targets.

    If you are in the market for food service equipment, design or consulting, we strongly recommend checking out C&T Design and Equipment.  They're a great company and a pleasure to work with.

    More more information about C&T Design and their new site, check out the attached press release.

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    Marketpath adds video management capabilities with VideoHere™

    Posted by

    VideoHere video management software Marketpath is proud to announce our new video management solution, which makes adding a video to your website just as easy as it has always been to add landing pages, images and image galleries using Marketpath CMS.

    Our new partnership, with, integrates their VideoHereTM video management software into Marketpath's Content Management System to provide users a more engaging experience.  The integration offers Marketpath customers the ability to seamlessly utilize video in their web pages, providing highly relevant and engaging content.  And studies show that 65% of viewers watch online video to completion, a number significantly higher than for text.  This demonstrates how video is a great way to reach online audiences and to keep visitors glued your website and message longer. 

    Marketpath's video management enables you to grow your site's video presence, while also enhancing your SEO efforts and social media footprint.  VideoHereTM includes a feature that tags videos for search engines, and the video player includes features which allow the viewer to easily share videos with their network and post to social media outlets. 

    Using VideoHereTM is also extremely easy, allowing you to point-and-click to upload, customize, embed, and track videos in your web pages.  Directly from your Marketpath account, you can easily manage a video library, add video to web pages, and track video metrics, including impressions, clicks, views, drop-offs, view times, and viral sharing.

    For more information on this new Marketpath offering, visit

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    Google Announces New Search Engine Index

    Posted 2:32 PM by
    Yesterday, June 8th, Google announced on their blog that they have completed "Caffeine", their newest search engine index.  This is a major step forward in providing searchers with the most timely and relevant results possible. 

    To really understand the difference between the Google search we are all used to, and Caffeine, you have to understand how search originally worked.  Every time that you (or anyone) would search on Google, they would be provided back a list of websites that Google thought were most relevant.  Google would index these pages every few weeks to ensure that they are still relevant, but that isn't good enough in the Twittering, Facebooking, constantly updating world we live in today - and Google knew it.   

    Google Caffeine - A CMS User's Best Friend

    Enter Caffeine, the world's first continuously updating search index.  No longer do site administrators and authors have to wait days or weeks to get their content to update in Google's index.  This is great news for web authors that are using a content management system.  Simply adding keyword rich and relevant content to your site could possibly have a dramatic effect on your overall search engine ranking, giving you the power to market your site the way you know how.  Blogs will become an even more effective way to increase traffic organically.

    It is difficult to say if anyone will notice a true difference in their search engine rankings - only time will tell.  While we are waiting though, you might as well get out there and keep creating that relevant content that matters so much.   

    (If you haven't done it already, read their blog post as there are some seriously amazing statistics that put this new Google endeavor into perspective)

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    a Pooper Scooper

    Posted 1:15 AM by
    Our SEO guy is going to have a fit when he reads this title because it has the potential of tying the word "poop" to our website. Nonetheless, I have a good reason for sharing my thoughts.

    Your website is like a pooper scooperFor those of you who have dogs and clean up after them regularly you have the unfortunate experience of using some sort of pooper scooper. This means you probably use some cheaply made product with a short life span to do the work and that it breaks almost every year. If you are a mechanical genius like me then you may be able to repair it when it breaks - yes, I'm that cheap.

    My biggest problem with pooper scoopers is that they don't last. I attribute this to two things: 1) They get pretty nasty so who really wants a really old, heavily used pooper scooper (I have two big labs so mine gets used a lot); or 2) they get left outside where they weather and break down (if you store yours inside you ought to be banned from civilized life).

    My dogs are getting old (over 10 years) and in those 10 plus years I have seen no major improvements to the way people pick up their dogs' little gifts. My theory is this: since the actual gift giving process by the dogs hasn't changed much in the last several millennia then the tools used to clean up those gifts haven't adopted a fast-paced cycle of innovation. This is why we still have crummy products.

    Your website is like a pooper scooperYour website is like a pooper scooper. If you use it regularly without cleaning it every now and then you will end up with a lot of gunk that just doesn't fit. Or if you let it sit around with no changes or updates it won't change with your organization and becomes stale and worthless. So, what do most people do? After two or three years, they throw it out and spend tens of thousands of dollars to start from scratch. That probably wasn't in their original plan.

    Instead, what they should have done in the first place was to put in a proven web content management system and develop a publishing policy as well as a regular website maintenance review and cleanup plan. People are human (this has to be the most profound and deeply philisophical phrase I've ever written) and people like to chat it up (proof right here in this blog post). So, with lots of chatty humans you get lots of gobbledygook. Utilizing a web content management system can help you tremendously as you tackle the challenge of regular updates and keeping your message consistent.

    Post pet hospital in Indianapolis, INWhether you feel like you need a website overhaul or simply want to keep yours updated, it's best that you consider putting in a web content management system and develop a regular website maintenance review and cleanup plan. Any good web content management system will allow you to refresh the look of the site (if that's what you're after) and still retain the content that you've worked so hard on over the last couple of years.

    The next time someone asks you about your website tell them it's like a pooper scooper and see where that leads the conversation. If they are intrigued you may have a new friend for life. If they bolt then move on to the next victim.

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    Keeping up with the Joneses

    Posted 2:56 AM by

    My last blog entry was June 12, 2009 - over nine months ago. Wow! Shame on me because I have a lot to write about and a lot to share.

    One of the reasons I haven't written much is because I've planned to change the topic of my blog. I want to move from "Practical Internet Marketing Strategies" to something more general about technology leadership. I want to move towards a blog topic that covers the ups and downs of leading a technology company. Not because I am a phenomenal leader (I have a lot of evidence to the contrary) but because I learn a lot and would love it if others could learn from my mistakes. More about that later....

    So, here's my new post about Keeping up with the Joneses. A fantastic spectacle to me is the enormous number of  people staying completely in tune with our new Internet-based social infrastructure. Writing blog entries, tweeting, and posting status updates on Facebook and LinkedIn. They are online nearly 24/7 and always have something to say (some of it is even informative!). These people make me feel tired and weary because by day I manage a software company and by night I have an incredible family with whom I love spending as much time as possible. There's just not enough time in the day, right?

    Cheers to those who can do it!  Groundswell - web content management dataAnd then there are the rest of us....

    Recently, Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell) posted that only 24% of online users actually create content. I believe this is up from a couple years ago when I read his book (unfortunately, I can't look that up right now because one of my former colleagues, Colin Clark of tribeswell, still has my book). So 1 of every 4 people create content. That means about 75% of us are simply consumers or readers. That makes me feel a little better, I guess. Yet, I still can't get away from the fact that it's been over nine months since my last post.

    A lot has happened in those nine months, though. We went from a company who's outlook was somehwat bland to one who has enormous potential and a very solid, admirable customer base. Since then, we've nearly doubled the number of websites using our web content management system, added new product lines and features, and we've drastically improved the way we serve and support all of our customers - all while retaining over 95% customer retention in a crappy economy! Yet, even with all of that I'm sure I could have written more blog posts. I guess sometimes we want to keep up with the Joneses and sometimes we just need to step back and do a little reading and planning. Consider that my last nine months.

    Farenheit 451 - technology leadership learningOK, back to the fact that I want to create a new blog about technology leadership and just discuss learning from my mistakes. One of my favorite books, still in my posession and dogeared in just the right places, is Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. There is a scene where the fireman, who no longer puts out fires but burns books instead because they are banned, meets a former librarian. The librarian utters one of my favorite quotes and one by which I live my life every single day:

    "Listen. Easy now," said the old man gently. "I know, I know. You're afraid of making mistakes. Don't be. Mistakes can be profited by. Man, when I was younger I shoved my ignorance in people's faces. They beat me with sticks. By the time I was forty my blunt instrument had been honed to a fine cutting point for me. If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you'll never learn. ...."

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    A View From the Top...of a Google Results Page

    Posted 9:06 PM by
    I recently had a beer with Andrew Gouty and Aaron Douglas of Deep Ripples.  For those of you who haven't heard of Deep Ripples, they specialize in organic search engine optimization.  It became apparent that we all share a very interesting viewpoint on Google rankings:  If you are already at the top, you realize how your business can't live without it...if you're not, you know that it COULD be valuable, but you don't truly understand how it can impact your bottom line.  

    Now, if you do the research you'll notice that all sites that win (competitive) search engine rankings share a few (definitely an understatement) common things.  First off, their internal search engine optimization is up to par.  Think of this as the foundation of a house...if the foundation is poor, your house, or site in this case, will crumble.  You, as a site owner, should be able to control this internal search engine optimization with a good content management system and a little guidance. 

    The second thing that you'll notice is that these sites have lots and lots of links pointing to them.  The natural way to build links is to create informative, useful content on a regular basis that people will want to share and link to.  If you are managing your site with a CMS, you are probably already doing this.  However, this takes time and resources.  If you are impatient, which you might be if you're not at the top, you might want to consider calling in some hired guns, like Andrew and Aaron.  You can't afford not to. 
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    Asian American Alliance Announces Launch of New Website

    Posted by

    Asian American Alliance
    Asian American Alliance, Inc. unveils its new user-friendly website,, designed to further Asian American Alliance's mission of inspiring Asian Americans in central Indiana to serve and lead. 

     The site, designed and powered by Marketpath, Inc., includes a new look and feel, enhanced usability, and tools for alliance members to more easily interact and participate in member activities.  The site was built using Marketpath CMS, a web content management system, that allows non-technical users to keep relevant content up to date and to enhance communications between an organization and its members and partners.

    In addition to its new look and clean visual design, the site offers tools for membership sign-up, event registration, event calendaring, news and press releases.  Furthermore, the site is now integrated with a web analytics package, allowing Asian American Alliance Board Members to monitor site usage and to make ongoing improvements for its membership.  "We are excited to raise awareness of the Asian American Alliance with a new website that offers a fresh and appealing design, while also providing usability and functionality to assist our membership and enhance our brand," said Sonia Chen, Vice President of the Asian American Alliance.  "The use of Marketpath's content management system will also allow our organization to improve communication with central Indiana's Asian American community and to provide up-to-date relevant information about our activities."

    The redesign of the website is what Marketpath hopes will be a long partnership with the Asian American Alliance. "We're very excited to have the opportunity to partner with such a great organization that is committed to our community, encourages diversity, and supports the education of our next generation.  Marketpath is proud to do our small part in assisting the Asian American Alliance to achieve their goals and to improve their online presence", said Marketpath CMO, Kevin Kennedy.

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    Innovation That Matters!

    Posted 4:02 PM by

    Hiring a MilkshakeI attended the Techpoint Innovation Summit '09 this week and listened to a thought provoking speech by Harvard Business School Professor and bestselling author Clayton Christensen.  Professor Christensen, author of "The Innovator's Dilemma" and "The Innovators Solution" spoke on the topic of disruptive innovation and described a very interesting approach to thinking about product improvement and innovation.  You can view a portion of a speech in which the professor describes hiring a milkshake to do a job.

    As I listened to Professor Christensen talk about milkshakes, I got hungry and also starting thinking about Marketpath, the company I recently joined, and how innovative an organization it is.  Sitting there, I quickly came up with the following list of Marketpath innovations:

    InnovationAll of the innovations listed above, and many others from Marketpath, were designed to allow non-technical marketers to successfully and easily run their interactive marketing programs.  In the future, look for more innovations from Marketpath that matter to our customers, but disrupt our competition and industry. 

    Here's to innovation, disruption, and milkshakes!

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    Marketpath Upgrades Entire Core Production Infrastructure

    Posted by
    Marketpath has recently completed upgrading its entire core production infrastructure.  This upgrade included installing new switches, routers, and firewalls with the help of Effective Computer Solutions, or ECS for short.  

    The new upgrades helped increase the network speed by 13.5 times, making for a more responsive, easier to use content management system, and an all-around better user experience when using Marketpath CMS.   


    Everything in one place

    Posted 6:57 PM by

    I just read a blog post on CMSwire that outlined a few of the trends that are going to really drive content management in 2009.  Two of these three trends were about Web 2.0 integration and e-commerce integration and how each piece will become an extremely important part of each and every website over the next year.  Almost every content management system out there today can help someone effectively manage landing pages, text, pictures, and menu structure (to name a few things), but not every one can help with the two things mentioned above. 

    Having your website, blog, and shopping cart all managed by the same system helps keep things organized and streamlined.  Managing products, content, blog posts and comments all from the same interface can help you and your staff save time and money.  It is all possible with the right, easy CMS.  Be ahead of the curve in 2009, be a trend setter.  Make your website work for you.    

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    A More Effective Website

    Posted 3:27 PM by

    What have you done for your website lately?  Or perhaps I should ask a better question, what has your website done for you lately? In these times of a rough economy, hopefully the answer isn't "nothing."  An underutilized, non-producing website is simply a wasted opportunity, and the worst part is, it's a cheap and easy opportunity.  Sure, you could dump ten thousand dollars into a beautiful new website, and it might yield some quantifiable results, but what is going to keep people coming back?  A fresh message, that's what.

    Without a simple and cost effective way to keep your website up to date and current, all that money that was spent on your website was, in essence, thrown away.  With the right tool, a good content management system, you can turn your website into a wealth of knowledge for your customers and potential clients.  No longer do you have to worry about being charged for each and every update.  With Marketpath CMS, you have the freedom and the ability to change your site anytime you wish from any PC with internet access.  What would you do with all of that power?  Hopefully, the answer to that question is "make my website work for me!"     

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    Cloud Marketing

    Posted 2:50 PM by

    What tools do you use to improve website visibility, engage visitors, and increase conversions? I break successful websites into those three areas of importance: visibility, engagement, and conversion.

    Let's say you do some email marketing, have a corporate blog, use search ads, and build up your backlinks in order to increase visibility (see my post about website chauffeurs).

    Once visitors arrive, you use a web content management system to keep your site updated with engaging and relevant content.

    Then, when converting visitors into leads (or paying customers) you might post a form that gets stored in your CRM database, added to your email marketing database, and then you might send both yourself and the lead an email response.

    I calll this cloud marketing. Just like cloud computing, cloud marketing utilizes the power of disparate applications and tools connected on the Internet. This is the "all of us is more powerful than just one of us" mentality.

    Cloud marketing is expensive because it still requires developers to programmatically connect all the tools so they talk nicely to each other. Over time, though, more and more tools will be connected easily because of standards. Just like RSS, I envision a day when we can point one application to another and they will auto-discover eachother's features and be able to talk without the need of a contracted programmer. This will not only lower the cost, but also give smaller businesses a better ability to compete with the big guys. Here's one Indianapolis firm that's already doing it - 5Buckets.

    NOTE: Here's proof of how fast the Internet moves. I started this article in November and didn't finish it for a variety of reasons. At that time, there wasn't much on cloud marketing and there definitely wasn't a Wikipedia entry. Now, however, there is. Started on December 1st - here it is: cloud marketing.

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    Website Chauffeurs

    Posted 1:26 PM by

    Both online and offline marketing (such as email, blogging, direct mail, ads, etc) should all contain some sort of action item. In most cases, the action item will direct people to a website or landing page where they can learn more about a particular product, service, or promotion. This is very common practice and many of those channels can be utilized affordably. But this is where marketers often fail (or get hosed for that matter).

    Take a short time to look at the diagram below. Each spoke represents some sort of marketing channel, or in my terms, a Website Chauffeur. These mechanisms capture the attention of their viewers and then chauffeur them to the website where the next step in the selling process begins.

    Matt Zentz - Marketpath Website Chauffeur Model

    Online chauffeurs are shown in blue and offline chauffeurs are shown in orange.

    Website Chauffeurs are great at capturing attention and bringing individuals to the next step at the center of the spokes - the website (or the hub). But the problem is Website Chauffeurs don't convert visitors into customers. That is the job of your website. Wherever visitors land within your website your message should build value before attempting to make a sale.

    This is why it is so important to have a simple and powerful Web content management system to help you adjust your message. Chances are you will not get that message quite right the first time, or the second time, or the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth time. Hopefully, you get the point. Having a tool that doesn't punish you for making changes is a necessity, unless you like to send cash to a developer at $100 per hour. A Web content management system gives you the capability to adjust the message yourself and save enormous amounts of time and money.

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    How Recent and How Often Does Matter   

    Posted 3:18 PM by

    One of the things that can help distinguish your website from your competitors is how often you update your content. We all know this, but yet some of us still find it difficult to make changes.  This might be the rationale behind Google putting stock into how recently and how frequently a site is updated.  Google prides itself on giving searchers the most relevant information available, which a lot of times will translate into the freshest information available.  Google will rank sites that administrators care enough to make changes to higher than their stale counterparts. 

    Now obviously, Google isn't ranking sites soley based on frequency of updates, however it is one piece of the overall equation.  In my opinion, it is the easiest piece of the overall SEO equation to put into action.  Invest in a good content management system and swap out a picture or two every once in a while, blog about news worthy events, add a landing page that correlates to a new ad campaign.  Make your website work for you.  It's easy with the right tool.

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    Find Anything You Want

    Posted 1:02 PM by

    Often times I sit with my son and daughter and find educational websites, including videos on YouTube (usually of giraffes, zebras, elephants, etc). Today, my son asked to see talking couches.  He's four.  So, I looked for videos of talking couches and I was not surprised to find the first result below.  My son, on the other hand, was extremely excited to see a real live talking couch!

    This goes to show one thing. If you are looking for something specific you can probably find it on the web. And if you sell talking couches I hope that you are shown on the first page of search results. How do you do that? By following search engine optimization techniques and updating your content frequently.  Using a web content management system that lets you do both is a great start.


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    Content Management - It's not as easy as it looks

    Posted 4:22 PM by

    I am notoriously guilty of losing focus in my blog.  I often get so wrapped up in all the wonderful tools available (like blogging, email marketing, and social media), that I forget to cover content management.  Although Marketpath in many ways is a full-service internet marketing shop, our focus is (and should remain) product and service-driven

    joe-six-pack's CMSContent management is arguably the most important part of an organization's online presence.  The reason I believe this is that so many of your potential customers are not bloggers and don't participate in social media (though I do believe it is important to use your site to help expose visitors to social media).  When Joe-six-pack is Google-searching to find parts for his '86 Camaro, there is a good chance that he won't find a blog or twitter feed relevant.  The problem that's arising is that there is so much content in the Google index that comes from social media that it can be hard for a traditional website to compete.  This phenomenon increases the importance of utilizing social media, and it makes it completely necessary that the content on your site is relevant.

    Marketpath CMS | Indianapolis Content Management'But Colin, there are so many CMS options (many of them free) that allow users to update the content on their sites.'  This is true.  There might be literally hundreds of CMS tools out there on the web and they are relatively easy to find.  The problem is that many site administrators get lost along the way.  Once it becomes possible to keep a website up-to-date, many users still don't do as much as they should, because they don't know how.

    On the Content BusThis is where it is helpful to have a partner you can trust, a consultant who you can count on to point you in the right direction.  No one is born knowing how to optimize a site for search.  No one is born knowing how to create online conversions.  These things can be taught by knowledgeable professionals, and education is exactly what most organizations need to go along with their content management system.  We're here to help.  Class will be in session all week.  Feel free to attend.

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    Frequency of the Universe

    Posted 8:40 PM by

    I had an awesome meeting today with Tony Scelzo, the founder of Rainmakers, in which he spoke about frequency and universe.  Basically your universe is composed of suspects, prospects, and influencers.  Frequency is the number of contacts you have with these people each week, month, year, or whatever.  This model is consistent with my current marketing philosophy.  Frequency and follow-up are extremely important along with the number of people who carry your message. 

    web frequency = marketing excellenceI've seen so many models and analogies for good marketing, that it blows my mind.  Mostly they all mean the same thing.  You do research to determine a good market segment.  You hit that segment with as many different forms of contact as you can think of.  You measure what worked and what didn't.  You do more of what worked and less of what didn't.  You do this until you own your market.  It sound so simple that it's almost crazy that we still talk about it so much!

    It's ideas such as this that make a web content management system make so much sense.  A CMS with the right features allows you to run several different campaigns at once.  For example, Marketpath CMS allows users to search optimize their site (and keep it optimized), create and measure landing pages, create a corporate blogging program, run a viral campaign, and coordinate their site with email marketing.  How much more power could you ask for? 

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    Is the Blog the perfect search result?

    Posted 8:17 PM by

    Well is it?  At last weekend's blogINDIANA conference Chris Baggot of Compendium Blogware argued that the blog is the perfect search result.  He argued that it is in google's best interest to provide information that people want.  Now I love to blog.  I find it fun and therepudic and extremely enjoyable, but I don't necessarily believe that a blog entry the most relevant organic result on any given topic.

    That's not to say that I'm angry.  I'm glad that my old friend google loves blogs so much, because it helps me rank for many of the terms that are relevent to my business, but I have to think that if I were searching for 'indianapolis corporate blog software' that I would rather be taken to a page that had definitive information on the topic, not some random blog entry written by someone like me.  I know that google's love affair with the corporate blog is good for marketers, but is it good for the consumer?

    With that in mind, how long can google's blog obsession last?  How long before blogs are relegated to the types of specialty blog searches of the past and what will those who have invested heavily in the blog as a marketing tool do if it someday goes away?  I don't have the answers to these questions, but for now I'm glad that my blogs are tops for search.  I'll rest easy knowing that a full featured content management system with blog technology is doing its job by positively impacting my marketing stra 

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    Conference Blogging

    Posted 4:26 PM by

    Today, I am at the blogINDIANA conference learning about different blogging topics and also promoting our product, Marketpath CMS.  It's interesting, even now, how many home-grown web content management systems there are.  We knew this when we began building our product.  We knew that home-grown CMS's would be our largest competitors. 

    One benefit of the home-grown CMS is that the relationship to the developer, the company who built it, is very personal. It has tremendous value because the customer is working with a vendor they trust.

    The disadvantages of the home-grown CMS are in system maturity, features and benefits. Every home-grown CMS I've seen is immature.  It lacks the full-scale development and quality assurance required to deliver a quality product from which end users derive their return on investment.  Additionally, most larger changes (like adding a new page) require intervention from the original developer. Keep your fingers crossed they are not on vacation or too busy on another large project to assist for another 6 weeks.  Believe it or not, that happens a lot.

    What we are recommending is that instead of trying to build a home-grown application that is limited in functionality, become a reseller of a mature web content management system. We have a program in place that allows resellers to make a nice return on every new customer.  And the return is recurring every year. They get the benefit of a mature content management system that is always growing in features and benefits, and offers the expertise of the vendor behind it. Do it right, go with a pro.

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    Marketpath Sponsors blogINDIANA 2008

    Posted by
    8/4/2008 - Marketpath will be sponsoring blogINDIANA 2008.  Local bloggers from across Indiana will gather at the IUPUI Campus Center on August 16-17th, 2008, for Blog Indiana 2008, a 2-day blogging and social media conference that aims to promote education, innovation and collaboration among Indiana’s fast-growing blogging community.

    Marketpath sponsors blogINDIANA 2008Blog Indiana 2008 is a 2-day conference for both experienced and new bloggers alike. Sessions will include topics such as blogging for beginners, using blogs in your business, monetizing your blog, political blogging and more advanced topics. In the past, most blogging and technology-related conferences have either been too expensive or too far out-of-state. Blog Indiana 2008 seeks to bring a low-cost, high-value conference to Hoosier bloggers.

    Blogging regularly is a great way to increase search engine visibility and engage website visitors.  Blogging should be easy and yield positive results.  This is why we built a blogging component right into our content management system, Markeptath CMS.

    Sign up for the conference now to better leverage blogging and improve you website ROI. 

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    The Future - Not quite here yet.    

    Posted 12:48 PM by

    Everyone's always talking about the future.  How is technology going to play into our lives?  I envision a world where we'll carry around a palm sized pal that has all the information we need.  For example, this past weekend my fiancée and I were attending a birthday party for my cousin at an uncomfortably crowded bar in downtown Chicago.  By 2 AM we had had enough so we decided to nix the original plan of staying with some friends and hit the road back towards Indiana and get a hotel.  We stopped in Merrillville and went to five hotels before finding one that was suitable.

    the iCMS of the now or the future?In the future, Planet Earth v2.0, I'll be able to grab my palm sized pal, type in "available hotel rooms in Merrillville" and have instant access to which hotel rooms are available, pricing, pictures, and maybe...just maybe... a smell feature (nobody likes a stinky hotel room). 

    Why are we still waiting?  APPS DEVELOPMENT!  The technology is already in place. (except for the smell feature - someone seriously needs to get on that)  We're waiting for its widespread implementation.  (I don't actually have the iphone yet)  It's so close.  It's so close I can taste it.  Maybe I should co-design these types of features into our content management system.  It couldn't hurt.  Actually these types of apps are probably under way as I sit here mindlessly waxing about the future.  Oh well I guess I'll have to be a little more patient.

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    The House that Ruth Built

    Posted 4:37 PM by

    Out with the Old, in with the NewI am headed to Yankee Stadium this weekend for the first time ever.  It is now or never for me.  Even if you don't follow baseball, you probably know what Yankee Stadium is, but you might not know why it has become a now or never scenario.  After this season, Yankee Stadium will be torn down.  The Yanks are moving across the street to 'New Yankee Stadium.'  All of the history and prestige will be gone.  The Yankees are updating one of the biggest things they are known for. 

    This brings me to one question.  If the Yankees can part ways with their stadium and the lore that is associated with it, why can't people part ways with their old marketing strategies?  Today, people find their information through the web.  Even if a piece of mail reaches a potential customer, the piece of mail usually pushes the reader to find our more information about the company on the web.  Now it doesn't make much sense to create an identity on a postcard or letter and then send someone to an outdated website.  By using a content management system, you can change your website as your marketing changes.  Creating an overall brand is the goal isn't it? 

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    Need a Paradigm Shift?

    Posted 5:04 PM by

    If your content is old, you're burning cash!Lately, when I have been asking people 'what does your company's website do for you?', I have been getting the same response.  'Well, it doesn't really do much of anything.  It is mostly informational and that information never changes.'  I dread this response.  I wonder to myself, why even have a website?  If the information hasn't changed since the site was launched circa 1998, then why people keep paying for hosting? 

    Exisitng customers aren't using it, because they know what is there...the content hasn't been updated in years.  New, potential customers (if they can find your site) see an outdated website and wonder if the company still exists.  This isn't the best first impression that a company could be making.  It really takes a paradigm shift to realize what you could be missing out on.

    Everyone knows that when people want information nowadays they turn to the internet.  Everything that you need an answer or a service for is right at your fingertips.  Potential buyers are looking for sites that make sense, are usable, and the content is up to date.  A content management system and a fresh web design are two of the most cost effective ways to spend marketing dollars.  Your site is available 24 hours a day to people that are looking for the information you provide.  What could be better than that?  Its targeted marketing at its finest.  When used effectively, web content management can be what seperates you from your competitors.    

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    AJAX, Web 2.0, and SEO

    Posted 7:37 PM by

    In my last post I wrote about the downfalls of flash, search engine optimization, and direct linking.  Now it's time to talk about AJAX and web 2.0 and how search engines perceive the two.  First of alll, let's define AJAX and web 2.0.

    AJAX is an achronym for Asynchronous Javascript And XML.  It provides web clients (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari) a mechanism for delivering rich experiences for its users.  Google Suggest  is an example of an application that uses AJAX.  As you type, suggestions appear that you can click on to quickly select your topic.  Notice that the entire screen doesn't refresh.  Instead of the browser making a call back to the original web server for a whole new page (including suggestions) it only updates the list of suggestions by passing the typed characters to the server - using AJAX.  The amount of data is very small and the data returned is also very small.... thus very fast.

    AJAX enables the concept of web 2.0 - the rich user experience.  It is a great idea to build in a rich experience that makes it easier and more inuitive for users to interact.  Our web content management system has an enormous amount of AJAX programming.  But the problem is with search engines.

    AJAX is based on Javascript and Javascript is based on user events (e.g. mouse-up, mouse-down, click, etc).  Search engines don't have the capability to launch javascript events which means if your website's navigation is based on AJAX (which, again, uses Javascript) then search engines will not be able to index it.  This means the website pages you want people to find will not be found because they were never indexed. 

    The moral of the story is to use AJAX sparingly if you want your website to be indexed by search engines and definitely do not setup your navigation with AJAX or Javascript.  Check with a knowledgeable software developer and SEO firm and ask them if your site is SEO friendly.

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    Oil is Good

    Posted 2:59 AM by

    My wife has a 10 year old car that is used soley to get to and from work.  It runs well, it still looks nice, and it gets great gas mileage.  The only negative factor is that is burns through a quart of oil each month.  Let a few months go by and I begin hearing the knocking sound of unlubed lifters in the engine.  At that point, it desperately needs oil.

    Luckily, the engine did not lock up.  Isn't it nice, though, that our cars tell us when they need oil by flashing the oil light?  Unfortunately, your website doesn't have a warning light like this to tell you when it needs some maintenance.

    Like a car, you must keep you website well oiled so it runs smoothly.  And by "running smoothly" I mean your website is engaging visitors so they either buy or move to the next step in the buying process.

    Keeping your website oiled takes continuous effort.  You must make relevant updates frequently.  You must provide quality content to engage your visitors and keep them coming back.  And you must constantly measure the results.

    To do this in a cost effective manner you need a proven web content management system.  A good web content management system will provide tools to update your website without the need to call in a programmer.  A good web content management system will also provide you measurement tools to help you guage your website's effect on your bottom line.

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    Focus on Content

    Posted 3:44 AM by

    When you first launched your website, you may have won new visitors by performing some basic on-site search engine optimization and you may have interested a few readers to complete a call to action. But at some point, you hit a plateau where new visitor counts and conversions never rose above a certain threshold. This is what I call "flatline marketing."

    Return on website - It's all about contentAt the beginning, you had so much energy, excitement and passion for the new website launch. You committed to always improving the site and figuring out how to maximize its return. But that excitement and passion quickly waned when day-to-day fires and floods crept back into the spotlight. The website was left stranded without a captain, without a champion, without a chance - flatlined.

    This is where content is king. Without content, your visitors have little to engage with and little reason to return. Content's purpose is to attract readers, viewers, or listeners and ultimately get them to convert into customers, donors, members, etc. Here are four questions to ask yourself when planning content creation for your website.


    Why will people want to digest what you write? Is it because you are the foremost expert on the subject? Is it because you are witty? Is it because you are providing an answer to their questions or solving a particular set of problems? The important thing is to always remember who you're writing for.


    You are asking for people to give you a slice of their extremely valuable time and attention. Make sure you are targeting the right people and make sure what you are providing benefits your readers.


    Content can take the form of blog posts, white papers, case studies, videos, podcasts, infographics, articles in industry publications, and more. Will you stick to one or use more than one? You might try them all and see which ones give you the best engagement scores.


    How often will you generate content? Stick to a schedule you can keep and don't overpromise. Sending out a weekly newsletter might be too much but sending a monthly or quarterly newsletter might be more achievable. Because blogs are often conversational in their tone, writing a new post each week should be considered. Videos are expensive and time consuming but generally have higher engagement than other forms of content.


    Whatever plans you put in place, put a captain at the helm. You need someone to stick to a schedule and rally the troops. Without a captain, your efforts will surely flatline.


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    What is Web Engagement Management (WEM)?

    Posted 12:12 PM by

    Every few years marketers coin a new phrase that starts to stick. The next thing you know you're throwing the phrase around like an old dodgeball (the old kind that was made of hard rubber and really hurt when it smacked you in the face). If you know the phrase, it doesn't land hard, but if you don't, you look a little silly nodding your head like you understand while your brain tries to decode it. Today's phrase is "Web Engagement Management."

    In a nutshell, if web content management was Barry Bonds before "supplements," web engagement management is Barry Bonds after. Web engagement management (WEM) has web content management at its core but extends on that core by adding measurement and personalization. It also ties in social media, lead generation, and testing best practices. CMS Wire has a nice article about it: The 5 Pillars of Web Engagement Management. What does this all mean? It means your job as a marketer is about to get harder and more confusing... at first, anyway.

    Web engagement  management - Marketpath, IncWEM is about observiing, measuring, and responding to your website visitors' behaviors. It is about knowing them and targeting content that is highly relevant and gets them to convert more often. But that's fairly standard stuff when it comes to website marketing. We've been doing that a long time, so what's different? WEM, as a tool, brings together previously disparate technologies to capture and manage the distribution of leads, personalizes the visitor experience by pulling external profile data, and manages the new two-way, three-way, or X-way conversations from outside social channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc).

    This is where website marketing has always been difficult. Plugging into external systems is expensive, difficult, and often takes a great deal of time to build. In addition, having the broad vision and understanding of how all these puzzle pieces fit together is not typically in the standard marketer's toolbox. The great direct marketing folks (whether snail mail or email) get it and don't have much trouble making these connections. Those who have more focused or single channel roles, though, will have a harder time seeing this large marketing maze in their minds. So, there is a lot of learning to do.

    The bad news is that web content management toolsets who claim to be evolving into web engagement management don't make it easy... yet. There are tools available that offer these types of integrations but they are typicallly reserved for the big guys with deep pockets and they are still separate tools. If you are one of these big guys, then good for you. For the rest of us, we'll probably just need to wait a bit longer until the tools have caught up with the need or jump in, get your feet wet, and start learning now.

    The goal to all web content management software companies, inclluding Marketpath, is to build web engagement management into the core of their systems and to simplify the difficulties of execution. It willl take a few years before all the kinks are worked out and the systems operate in a standard simplistic fashion. But if you wait until then, you will very likely be leaving money on the table. Get started now and work with the tools available. Your early adoption now will mean experience and better decision making later when all the other marketers are just getting started.

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    Content Form and Function; A little back story

    Posted 9:58 AM by

    Louis Sullivan | Balancing Form and Function

    The theme of this blog is based primarily on the 100+ year old phrase "Form (ever) follows function." The origin of the phrase dates back to Louis Sullivan's 1896 article "The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered." The great American architect believed that a building's shape should be primarily based on its intended function. The credo was taken to imply that decorative elements were superfluous in modern buildings. However, Sullivan himself neither thought nor designed along such dogmatic lines during the peak of his career. Indeed, while his buildings could be spare and crisp in their principal masses, he often punctuated their plain surfaces with eruptions of lush Art Nouveau and Celtic Revival decorations.

    While those principles made sense for much of the last century for buildings and objects alike, times have changed a little. Digital technology provides us with many more functions to be squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces. As a designer and content architect, I too strive to first consider the "function" a website or page before giving in to my more creative desires. After all, creative embellishments are primarily subjective.

    To be an effective web designer is to hold content form and function in relative balance. However, we must first consider the purpose of the content we're authoring. Only once we're confident that we understand it's purpose, are we free to make it look better.

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    Marketpath Named #1 Content Management Solution

    Posted by

    Marketpath is honored to be named the #1 Web Content Management Solution in the industry by  Earlier this month selected Marketpath as their top CMS, based on an extensive evaluation of numerous applicants that included vendor reviews and interviews with vendor clients.

                  Best Web Content Management                                             Web Design Winner is an independent authority that categorizes and ranks web design and development companies based on their specialties and expertise in various categories including design, deveopment, content management, branding, strategy, etc.

    To view the official announcement from BestWebDesignAgencies, click below. Names Marketpath as the #1 CMS


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    Web Content Management for Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer!

    Posted by
    It has been a long time in the making but Marketpath CMS is now fully cross-browser with all the major web browsers. Building a standalone website that is cross-browser is very easy. But building a tool with as rich a user interface as Marketpath CMS is quite an undertaking!

    When we began development on Marketpath CMS in early 2006 Internet Explorer had a 57% market share (even higher if you count only corporate users) so we built our tool with that in mind. We recognized, though, that we would eventually need to mold Marketpath CMS into a fully cross-browser compatible tool and that's just what we did.

    Supporting alll the major browsers provides even more convenience and simplicity for our customers. Managing website content should be easy and Marketpath CMS makes it so!

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    Content Management Made Easy

    Posted 2:49 AM by

    What stands in the way of you updating your website more frequently?  (Lack of) technology, that's what!  Machines should be doing the busy work, not you.  You should be able to freely express your ideas and opinions using tools that make the job easy.  So what are you going to do about it?

    Marketpath CMS makes editing content easy.  Easy enough for this guy.  Maybe.  Thats the idea anyway.  You get where I'm going with this...Content management used to be in the hands of only the programmers (and the bosses who tell them what to do), but given the right tools for the job, anyone can contribute relevant content to their company's website.  With Marketpath CMS, you can update your site as fast as you can think type.

    Skills can vary wildly between human beings.  Some can be bad at both spelling and haircuts yet be great at growing a killer moustache and wearing a bandana.  Some are outstanding at writing code and somehow bad at bowhunting.  Should a lack of programming skills keep you from being able to update your company's website?  No!  You should put the power back in your hands and make things easy with Marketpath CMS. 

    Having said that...  Just because anyone can manage content doesn't mean you should let everyone and their brothers have control of your content.  You still need to make sure your content management is in competent hands.  Maybe we'll talk about that problem, and Marketpath's solution to it, next time. 

    BTW, yes... the Cardinals are my favorite team, and I realize he is wearing a Cardinals shirt.  Some of us redbird fans can actually spell... Its just a coincidence, I ashure you.

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    Packaged Content Management

    Posted 3:39 AM by

    I was just reading a post from Chris Baggott's blog titled Blogging Best Practices about installed vs. hosted software.  Compendium Blogware, Chris' company, is a hosted or software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that requires no IT assistance to setup.  This allows corporate bloggers to get right down to the business of blogging.  

    Marketpath CMS is also software-as-a-service.  More often than not, people ask about the difference between our content management solution and installed CMS software like Adobe Contribute or Ektron.  

    Here are a few of the key benefits of our content management solution:
    • It's incredibly easy! Requires no knowledge of HTML
    • Fast setup and implementation
    • 100% browser based so it is accessible from anywhere
    • No upgrades to install because software updates are applied automatically
    • No IT staff required
    • Unlimited, easily accessible support
    Here are some of the disadvantages of using installed software like Adobe Contribute:
    • Usually requires some HTML coding
    • Can only be used on the PC it is installed on
    • Requires IT staff to install, implement, train, support, and install upates.
    • Per seat license fees
    • Limited support options from vendor

    In the end, serious Internet marketers will choose a solution that frees them up for valuable Internet marketing and not software configuration. 


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