Ready to Ware

By Carl Weiss

The Paris Fashion Show has nothing on Google and Amazon when it comes to offering wearable technology.  The two titans of tech have recently weighed in with major advancements in wearables.  Amazon has just opened a Wearable Technology Store in the UK that offers more than 100 different wearable devices including activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and wearable cameras.  Google last month rolled out their Android Wear operating system for smart watch developers.  This says nothing of the hundreds of companies that have also leapt into the rapidly expanding wearables market.

What Ware and Why?

People are certainly talking about wearables.  The reported in a recent blog that “Twitter dominated as the main location of wearables with 75 per cent of all mentions, with news sites a distant second at 10%. Year-on-year the conversation around wearables has increased an impressive 190 per cent when comparing the first quarter of 2013 (973,300 mentions) to that of 2014 (2,816,814 mentions).”  They also reported that the conversation seems to be relegated mainly to the United States, the rest of the globe seeming to take a wait and see attitude.   

The iWatch - Only a Matter of Time
The iWatch - Only a Matter of Time (Photo credit: wmacphail)
What’s to see on  If you are into smartwatches and bracelets you will have your hands full since the site carries hundreds of offerings.  This in itself is impressive when you consider that the smartwatch as we know it really only got its start about three years ago with the first rumors of the Apple iWatch.   While hundreds of imitators have thrown their hats into the smartwatch ring, the iWatch is still not available for sale and rumors about its description and launch date are as elusive as that of a unicorn.  This is curious in and of itself since Samsun reported to Reuters that it had sold more than 800,000 of its Galaxy Gear smartwatches in two months.

Priced at around $300, the Gear works as an accessory to its market leading Galaxy smartphone, with a small OLED screen offering basic functions like photos, hands-free calls and message notifications.  Samsung has poured marketing resources into the Gear with heavy advertisements and collaborations with fashion shows to seize leadership in the wearable computer market after the device got off to a rocky start after being critically panned by reviewers.

As for the vaunted iWatch rumor has it that they will hit the market in September.  That’s if you can trust the pundits.

Of course, smartwatches are hardly the only wearable tech currently on the shelf.  If you are one of those leading an active lifestyle there are a number of wearables that are designed to track everything from the amount of distance you travel afoot to the total calories burned, to time spent idling and/or sleeping.  

One of the more intriguing of these is a device called the Jawbone UP24 which strangely enough is worn on one’s wrist.  According to the company’s literature, The UP® system is like a coach that gets to know you, then guides you to make simple decisions that lead to a more active life. With precise step tracking, workout logging and Insight Reports, UP is way more than a pedometer. Use Idle Alert to remind you to move throughout the day. And whether you want to shed a few pounds or just eat healthier, tracking food is now even easier. New features include frequent meals, an enhanced calorie counter, and an expanded library of restaurant menus. There's even a Food Score, so you can quickly see how healthy your food choices are. It's all designed to help you make great choices about what to eat and when.   The UP® system gives you an in-depth picture of your sleep. Sleep graphs let you see the good, the bad and the rapidly improving. Use bedtime reminders, Power Nap and Smart Alarm® to get to sleep and wake up at optimal times. UP intelligently analyzes your sleep, diet and exercise, then suggests simple adjustments that lead to more rest and happier days.”

If tracking your every step, bite and REM sleep isn’t enough, there is now an entire armada of wearable cameras and mounts designed to record your every move in HD video.  So whether you prefer to walk, run, drive, bike, hang glide, spelunk, scuba dive or jump out of a perfectly good airplane, there is a camera and mount designed to allow you to capture the moment.  So whether you wish to capture those selfies in a camera mounted on your wrist, head, foot or chest, rest assured that someone somewhere has created the perfect camera rig. 
Nothing to Ware?
If you think that smartwatches, bracelets and helmets are outrĂ©, then you may want to look into some of the latest developments in wearables. A Taiwanese company called AIQ Smartclothing that contain everything from built-in lighting and/or heating, to their Bioman shirts which are machine washable and contain embedded electrodes that are designed to connect wirelessly to any tablet or smartphone in order to provide the wearer with real time biometric data.

 As if Google Glass was not enough, the company has partnered with Swiss drug company Novartis to develop a type of smart contact lens that contain non-invasive sensors, microchips and other embedded miniature electronics that can be designed to either monitor the glucose levels in the tears of diabetics, or that can restore 20/20 vision to people who require reading glasses.  (I am not making this up.)  While the prototype was unveiled in January, the smartcontacts are not expected to reach market for several years, by which time wearers will probably be able to use them to take pictures with them since Google recently filed a patent for Embedded Microscopic Cameras.  This will come as a relief to many Glassholes who have experienced everything from intimidation to forceable ejection from movie theaters, restaurants and other public places for wearing Google Glass.

In the meantime, expect the rush to computerize other forms of apparel in the not too distant future.    Already I have seen everything from bionicbras designed to produce electrical power , to an emotion-sensing dress that changes color to suit your mood.  (Boy could we men get behind this invention.) 

Speaking of wives, in years to come as wearable technology becomes ever more ubiquitous, will the lament of spouses transform into one of, “I can’t go out tonight.  I have nothing to ware.”

When he isn’t showing his lack of fashion sense, Carl Weiss is leader of the crew of innovators at the digital marketing agency Working the Web to Win in Jacksonville, Florida.  He is also co-host of the weekly Blog Talk Radio show of the same name that can be heard every Tuesday at 4 pm Eastern.

Can Your Online Reputation Make You or Break You?

By Carl Weiss

William Shakespeare
Cover of William Shakespeare
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose, 
by any other name, would smell as sweet."

That’s the way that William Shakespeare saw it.  Of course, Bill didn’t have the Internet to contend with.  Back in 1594, things were simpler.  Heck it had only been a little over a hundred years since the printing press was invented.  The age of the scandal sheet had not yet been born.

Fast forward five hundred and twenty years and the world is a very different place.  What with news organizations, bloggers, social networkers and YouTube videos spewing out intimate details concerning the lives, loves and eccentricities of celebrities, athletes and politicians it would make the Bard blush.

Want to know which celebrities have been caught cheating?  Interested in keeping tabs on the latest crooked politicians?  Dying to find out more about professional athletes caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs?  All this and more is but a Google search away.

The trouble in today’s wired world is that neither the emperor, nor the superstars wear any clothes.  The Internet in essence has become the ultimate scandal sheet, where even the tiniest impropriety can suddenly explode onto the worldwide stage as a scandal of epic proportions, fueled by the public’s insatiable need to know.

The problem is that the same tools that can be used to create a media feeding frenzy can also be used to make or break any business owner on the planet.  No longer sated by celebrity gossip, the same tools of the trade that can tell the world about Lindsay Lohan’s latest wardrobe malfunction can be used to dish dirt on any business.

Are You Running an A-List Business?

Right Time, Right Site
Right Time, Right Site (Photo credit: rekha6)
Traditionally companies strove to be on the A-List, that is the preferred list of vendors through which others would choose to do business.  When it comes to business listings today, the A-List for many means Angie’s List.  Founded by Angie Hicks in 1996 in Columbus, Ohio as a means to evaluate and find reliable contractors in suburban Columbus, Ohio. For the first year of its existence, Hicks went door-to-door, signing up members and collecting ratings on local contractors. By 1999, she took her service online becoming one of the country’s most influential business ratings portals. Angie’s List went national when William S Oesterle and Angie Hicks joined forces in 2009, and today’s its viewed as one of the Internet's premier rating portals.

Using a report card grading system of A through F, Angie’s List rates companies based upon third-party reviews purportedly from consumers who have used any vendor listed on the site.  Not everyone agrees with validity of their model, as reported by Consumer Report in October 2013,

"We think that the ability of A- and B-rated companies to buy their way to the top of the default search results skews the results. Cheryl Reed, a spokeswoman for the company, disagrees. 'We don’t believe that,' she says. But Angie’s List marketing materials intended for businesses say that companies that advertise get 'an advantage of increased exposure' that 'can propel you ahead of your competition.' They get 12 times more profile views than companies that don’t buy ads. Angie’s List encourages businesses to solicit reviews by giving customers free, postage-paid forms, stickers on thank you notes, and Web links embedded in e-mail invoices. But experts who study survey techniques say that can create a bias for positive reviews. Angie’s List misleads consumers by prominently promising that 'businesses don’t pay' and that it’s a consumer-driven service supported by membership fees. But almost 70 percent of the company’s revenues come from advertising purchased by the service providers being rated. Angie’s List tells consumers that it provides 'reviews you can trust,' and takes steps to detect and remove fraudulent positive and negative reviews.”

Relying on a pay-to-play system is always dicey when it comes to their impartiality.  Take for instance what happens when you query the Better Business Bureau, another paid service, regarding Angie’s List.  On the BBB Angie’s List, LLC is rated A+.  Yet if you scroll down the page you will find out that, there have been 290 closed complaints filed against the company within the past three years (129 in the past 12 months alone).  Of the 24 customer reviews posted on the BBB site, 23 were negative and only one was positive.  If this is an A+ rated business, what does it take to get a D?

Of course, the problems with skewed or impartial reviews are not limited to paid rating services.  Far from it.  The real elephant in the room is the fact that there are far too many places that reviews and ratings can be posted for any mere mortal to keep track of them all.  Everyone from search engines (Google Local, Yahoo Local) to Social Sites such as Facebook and Merchant Circle, to popular review sites such as Yelp, Yext and all vie for the public's attention. 

While review sites are important for consumers to check on businesses before they do business with them, there are a number of flies in the online ointment. 

1.      Many of these sites have no way for the company receiving a complaint to redress it.  This means that anyone who simply has a grudge against the owner can fire at will in order to damage the owner’s reputation.
2.      This also means that on many review sites a wily competitor can post an anonymous complaint on a company without fear of retaliation.
3.      An unscrupulous business owner can also flood the review sites with false positive reviews from their friends, family and neighbors.

Customer Marketing
Customer Marketing (Photo credit: Jen Beever)
The biggest problem for most business owners is the fact that they have no mechanism for generating positive reviews and/or testimonials.  This is unfortunate since this means that the ONLY reviews posted on most businesses are negative, since as they say, “You can’t please all the people all the time.”

In order to redress this potential disastrous problem, every business owner needs to establish a corporate policy that is dedicated to cultivating positive reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers.  This way when an occasional complaint does surface it will be buried in a mountain of positive press.  In order to accomplish this in a reputable manner, I recommend the following:

1.      Call or talk to some of your most loyal customers and ask them if they would be willing to tell of their experience with your business in front of a video camera.  Video testimonials are some of the most persuasive reviews on the planet.  They can literally turn your best customers into your best salespeople.
2.      At the conclusion of the video, you can also ask them to post a review on Google Local, Yahoo Local, or any other site you prefer. 
3.      If you have a receptionist or sales staff, encourage them to ask your clients to post positive reviews.  (I even recommend having a contest where the employee that generates the most reviews every week receives a reward.)
4.      Broadcast these videos and customer testimonials by reposting them on your newsletters, mailers, blogs and social networks.

The best part about using this strategy is that all it costs you is time.  And that is something in business that can either make or break you, since failing to bolster your online reputation can cost you dearly.  Or, as the Bard might have put it,

“Alas, Poor Yorick! I knew him well.”

When he isn’t waxing poetic, Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, a digital marketing agency.  You can also join him live every Tuesday when he co-host’s his weekly radio show that airs live every Tuesday at 4 pm Eastern on Blog Talk Radio.

Who Needs Cyberbabble?

By Carl Weiss

When it comes to my day job, which is helping people succeed online, I am many times confronted by prospective clients who are dazed and bewildered by online marketers who make themselves seem important by spouting cyberbabble when asked even the simplest of questions.  I don’t know if they do this simply because they are dyed-in-the-wool computer nerds that speak a language all their own.  Or maybe it’s because they want their prospects to think that all SEO experts are part of some secret cabal. All I can say is that it undermines the job that I and other legitimate online marketing professionals have to do.  More importantly, when I question most of these clients about what it was that they were paying for, they look at me like deer in the headlights.

What is SEO?

While intoning mantras like SERPs and Keyword Density may sound impressive, what it means to 
How to Search Engine Optimization
generating online visibility is absolutely nothing.  (As far as I know, you put SERP on your pancakes.) When it comes to making your website sticky, well that is another matter altogether.  In the first place, Search Engine Optimization has changed so radically in the past few years that it is hardly recognizable as such.

Go back five years and ninety percent of everything you needed to please even the most finicky search engine was on your homepage.  (The other ten percent being backlinks.)  Today, only twenty five percent of what the search engines use for ranking is contained on-site.  The other seventy five percent is contained offsite, including blogs, social networks, videos and podcasts. 

While it is still important to include meta tags (code contained at the top of the page that identifies the site’s content) and alt tags (used to identify images), it is just as important to provide both the search engines and prospects with everything they need to make a buying decision on the homepage.  Gone are the days when people will spend five to ten minutes clicking around your site to decide whether or not to do business with you.  Statistics show that you have less than two minutes to dangle the bait and reel in the fish.  So if your website contains twenty five links, if the prospect has a tough time finding your phone number and/or address, or if they are confused in any way, they are history.

The 5 Magic Bullets

If you want to turn clicks into cash, then what you need are the following 5 items in plain site:

1.      Phone Number – Nobody wants to click onto a subsidiary page to find your contact information.  That is so old school.  Make sure your phone number is highly visible at the top of the page if you want to do business with anyone online.
2.      Address – With all the cybercrime going on people need to know that your business is on the up and up. This means they want to see a physical address.  If you don’t want to be taken for a fly-by-night operation make sure your address and google map are in plain sight.
3.      Intro Video – Since 99% of the people that click onto your site have never done business with you and since you have less than 2-minutes to get their attention, why not commission an introduction video that introduces you and your staff, tells prospects why they should do business with you and asks for the sale?
4.      Testimonial Videos – Want to turn your best customers into your best salespeople?  Create a short video interview that lets them tell the world what kind of experience they had with you. 
5.      Unique Sales Proposition – Many times when prospective clients ask me what they need to do to start selling more products and services online I tell them they need to provide prospects with an offer that will make them want to give your business a try.  (It doesn't always have to be a discount on the price either.  Intangibles such as a white paper or e-book can be a great way to generate the initial sale.)

 What you need to ask online marketers before you trust them with your site.

Like it or not, when you trust your online marketing to an outside agency, you are putting your business’ 
future in their hands.  Should they make one wrong move you could find your website delisted or even blackballed.  If this happens it could take months or even years to climb back onto page one.  Below are ten questions you need to ask any online marketing agency before you sign on the dotted line:

1.      How long have you been doing online marketing?
2.      What services do you provide? (Web design, SEO, blogging, social networking, email marketing, video production)
3.      How many clients do you currently have?
4.      What kind of guarantees do you offer?
5.      Can I view some videos testimonials?
6.      Can I contact some of your current clients?
7.      Has your agency ever won any awards?
8.      How often can I expect to hear from you once I sign up? 
9.      How long do I have to continue using your service?
10.  What do I do if I am dissatisfied with your services.

By having a clear understanding of the responsibilities of both parties, as well as being able to verify whether or not an agency that is vying for your business can get the job done, you will not only be able to sleep better at night, you will have something tangible to show for the effort.  Now please pass the SERP.

Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, a digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.   You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4pm Central on BlogTalkRadio