Ten actions to take from our latest web marketing campaign

Email

Following the result that most of our visitors come through email or direct publicity we have been looking more closely at how our email “New at IFPRI” is used by the recipients. Looking at opening rates and click through rates we can get an idea as to the interest in the different materials. We have found the increased click through rate from images versus text and more interest in shorter materials.

Action: increased focus on email campaign, analyzing and changing formats.

Social Media

We were surprised to see how quickly social media is building an audience for our materials. Evidently different products are more suited to the audience than others, hence the video was widely retweeted on Twitter, whilst the book itself less so. It was also critical to make best use of tags to attract new audiences, to follow more people with the IFPRI twitter account to build followers, and to attract retweets from larger or key audience accounts.

Action: include lessons learnt in the social media guidance under development

Video/Multimedia materials

The success in the video product in attracting more users and raising awareness shows the importance of considering multimedia products. We are increasingly developing presentations to explain new findings, products or services. Key to this is hosting these materials where the user is looking for them, we therefore make extensive use of YouTube and Slideshare.

Action to develop explanatory materials as presentations or interactive products.

The Website

With everyone emphasizing the importance of web2 and social media tools for web communication it was interesting that our results underscored the value of the website in bringing an audience to IFPRI products. We have learnt from the keywords used to access the site and the focus on the topical interests of the user rather than the organizational structure of the site.

Action: We have developed more topics pages on the website (our work in focus) and developed a series of options for users to subscribe to content by topic (RSS).

Facebook and Linked In

Analysis of visitors to Millions Fed showed the importance of Facebook and Linked in for attracting a targeted audience.

Action: Continued development of LinkedIn to attract alumni of IFPRI and development of Facebook to capture a younger audience.

Quoting reach rather than just numbers of visitors

We discovered in the course of the analysis the value of quoting our visits as a proportion of the overall internet population of a country. We would like to develop this idea and compare with others.

Action: Compare statistical analysis of IFPRI reach with other development organizations working in agriculture and food policy research.

Dialup and low bandwidth

We found that dialup connection is still used to access our site but only from Germany, India, the US and Australia. We will continue to ensure fast loadtimes, and caching of our materials.

Action: We are looking to provide more guidance to low bandwidth users, and promoting more email delivery rather than a very low bandwidth version of the site.

Access by mobile phone

We found that very few people view the site with a mobile phone.  But are investigating further whether this is because we don’t offer a mobile interface.

Action: In a similar approach to above, we would prefer to promote the use of feeds and email for accessing our content on mobile phones.

Measuring success

By our own standards we were very successful in raising awareness of the product and the strategy of using more social media and web2 tools to get the message out clearly worked. However in terms of readership of the final product, other web-based publications produced during the year were more widely read.

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Taking del.icio.us for granted

Thanks to Chris Addison’s teachings and some serious futzing on my own, I’ve been able to learn over the past year and a half about many of the things del.icio.us can do. Namely, it can help you create an online database of your favorite resources, generate collaborative lists, share links with other del.icio.us users, and embed link rolls and tag clouds in your blog or webpage, among other cool tricks.

But the more I think I know about such tricks, the more dismissive I became. “I’ve seen all that before,” I would say to myself.” But all in a single tool?! Well, that’s where the title of the post comes in…

The other week, I was showing a colleague from the CGIAR what del.icio.us could do in a very hands on way. We started by uploading a list of bookmarks from her browser into del.icio.us. This was something I’d done for myself when I first started playing around with del.icio.us, but upon my arrival to Ethiopia and subsequent “misplacing” of my recently bookmarked pages in my work computer I suddenly realized that I needed to update my del.icio.us account more regularly. “I can’t find some of my bookmarked pages,” I explained to her. “I should be updating these bookmarks in del.icio.us more regularly.” (Let’s call this “aha moment number 1″…)

Next, we started playing with some different tags. She’d already done this before and got the basic gist of RSS, but wasn’t aware that each tag in del.icio.us had its own RSS feed. “You can think of tags like folders,” I explained. “Each time you tag a resource, it saves it to a folder by that tag’s name, along with every other tag you assign to that resource. And every page that you can view in del.icio.us- whether it’s by account name, your tags or even a common tag used by others, it has its own RSS feed.” Once again, I was struck by how special this feature was. Not many other services I could think of have this type of tagging, page view and RSS interoperability as part of the standard, free service. (And this was “aha moment number 2”)

Next, we visited her blog at WordPress. I explained that this del.icio.us widget she had in WP could be configured to display all her links from del.icio.us or just those belonging to certain tags. We configured the widget and voilà!- her del.icio.us items showed in her blog. Needless to say, we both were highly impressed.

Next, I showed her an webpage whose entire content was driven through del.icio.us. Euforic members bookmark in del.icio.us and they are pulled into the website (note: this is now done using feedburner as an intermediary step). “Amazing,” she said. By clicking through the links, you are taken to their del.icio.us account. And by clicking on the ‘save this’ link to the right of an item’s title, you can easily save it to your own bookmarks- “Amazing!” You can even see their tags for that item, or popular tags from more than 2 million other del.icio.us users and add your own already used tags with just one click.

“If i find someone who has a lot of interesting bookmarks,” I explained, “I can simply add them to my network.”
“What- no friend request?,” my colleague asked.
“Nope. In del.icio.us, these are all public and sharing is the default.” There is a way to hide individual items, if you like though…”

“What else?” I asked myself. “Maybe you’re all excited because you fnd great link and want to share it with a friend. All you do is tag it as as for:yourfriendsname and voilà! it shows up the next time she logs into her account. Moreover, if you and your friends create a unique tag, you could take the feed from that and add it straight into a webpage so that whenever one of you tags a new item, it gets automatically pulled into your website or blog…”

It’s my own damn fault for not remembering how cool and dynamic del.icio.us was. As I mentioned before, Chris Addison helped turn it into the content management system for the Euforic website and Peter Ballantyne uses it to tag all his posts in the IAALD blog (thereby driving up incoming links, overall traffic and even their Google ranking). In many ways, I came to realize that del.icio.us had become the poster child for Web 2.0 functionality (whatever that means). Thanks for reminding me of this, Alexandra.

Any other tips or tricks I forgot to mention?