Archive for March, 2012
In three days, Facebook’s new changes to the look of brand pages take effect. If you haven’t even contemplated them yet, now’s the time to the panic. I’ll pause while you run screaming around the office (if you record yourself running screaming around your office and send it to me, I’ll even send you a
CUnet coffee mug Sorry, we’re all out of mugs. You can pick a CUnet golf towel, aluminum water bottle or fancy glasses cleaning kit, though).
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of our system, here’s a step-by-step guide to help you convert your page over to the new look while there’s still time. If you want a more in-depth look at the changes that go into effect on March 30, take a look at our original post on the subject: “Five Thing You Must Know About The New Facebook Brand Timelines (if the solar flare didn’t get us)”.
If you choose to accept this mission, here is the equipment we must acquire to begin:
- 1 851 pixel by 315 pixel cover photo
- 1 180 pixel by 180 pixel profile image (that looks good if scaled down to 32 x 32 pixels)
- 111 pixel by 74 pixel images for any custom tabs you currently have.
- 1 inspirational WWII-era poster
For the purposes of this mission, the last item on the list is available to the right (credit goes to James Montour from DeviantArt). Feel free to look at it every time you begin to get discouraged (in the interest of full disclosure on my desk that I view every time I feel my awesomeness slipping).
Once you’ve acquired the above items, we’re ready to embark on this mission. Buckle down for CUnet’s quick, dirty guide to the bare minimum you need to do to get your page ready for the new changes and avoid having people kick sand in your face and laugh at your puny Facebook physique.
1. Daylight savings time begins, springing us forward into a world of groggy morning commutes and extra-large-double-espressos.
2. March Madness fever hits and CUnet staff vie for bragging rights over the office bracket pool (the recent Duke loss really made things interesting for some of us).
3. St. Patrick’s Day arrives, a day when us Irish (and Irish-wannabes) around here don green t-shirts, indulge in a pint or two, and gorge ourselves on shamrock-encrusted cupcakes.
4. Our March newsletter publishes!
It’s been proven that curling up with the CUnet newsletter is the best cure for grogginess, hangovers and hyperglycemia (as for your dismal March Madness bracket, sorry…there’s not much we can do for you). So what can you expect to read in this month’s newsletter? Well, we don’t want to completely ruin the surprise for you. But here’s a taste:
- Find out what other schools are doing in response to the DE’s Program Integrity Regulations by reading our Compliance Report and attending our next webinar
- Learn about the top 11 things you need to know about SEO in 2012
- See how your school’s marketing challenges and successes compares to others by participating in the 3rd annual LeadsCouncil Benchmarking Survey
To understand some of the strengths of the Sparkroom platform, you need to understand its history. We’re not all that old – the first education inquiries started flowing back in 2009 – but we’ve come a long way in a few short years, largely thanks to our early customers.
The first schools that came onto our platform were quite large, very serious about marketing operations and spending money wisely. We learned a lot from these early schools and appreciate their ongoing support and confidence in the Sparkroom platform. I figured I’d try to share some of these experiences and how they helped contribute to the success of the Sparkroom platform today.
Sophisticated Customers Need Sophisticated Features & Analytics
First of all, our early customers were very serious about analytics and improving direct marketing performance. We built some very sophisticated marketing tools into the Sparkroom platform, which have been “productized” (meaning it is part of the core Sparkroom platform) and can be enjoyed by all.
These go way beyond the closed loop, multi-dimensional reporting of inquiry conversion. Some examples include sophisticated capping and pricing logic varying by inquiry vendor, automatic adjustments for cyclical patterns in volume (weekly monthly, etc.) so you can see trends more clearly, graphs that show you hourly performance in comparison to days earlier and forecasting curves that allow you to extrapolate enrolments for new inquiries.
Every Inquiry is Sacred: Guaranteeing Scalability & Redundancy
The second strength I’d like to discuss is scalability and redundancy. Every inquiry is sacred. This was certainly our predisposition as software guys from the enterprise software market but our early clients helped reinforce the importance of uptime, disaster preparedness and escalation procedures.
We have four levels of redundancy/failover in our inquiry capture software, meaning that we never lose inquiries (even while we are upgrading the software). Every inquiry makes it to the appropriate scoring vendors, call centers, DNC services, backend systems and email nurturing systems. Not only do we guarantee that we will receive the inquiries 24×7, we also guarantee that we will automatically deliver them to every destination, even if the destination system is not available at that moment. Many of our customers have systems that are not always available but they can be completely confident that the inquiry records will arrive automatically when their system comes back out of downtime.
Adopting The Customer’s Rules & Logic Allows Seamless Transitions
Finally, and this is particularly relevant for schools considering switching to the Sparkroom platform, our initial foray into the education space was humble: we could not change the form-post instructions (FPI) of our customers because it just wasn’t reasonable to expect them to migrate to new FPI in four weeks. We adopted the same transport mechanisms, parameter names and allowable values, right down to the routing rules, validation logic and codes used to identify programs and campuses.
We still do this today for every new customer. This may not at first seem important for a business owner but it dramatically affects the time to complete vendor migration. In contrast, some inquiry management systems require vendors to migrate to complex SOAP-based web services, different submit codes, etc. and it just doesn’t get done on-time – meaning that costly legacy systems need to stay active for months or years after the transition.
That’s a whirlwind of information and no doubt reflects my personal excitement over our progress over the last few years in a few areas that I think are really important; it’s probably a little bit of a different angle that you might get from other people at CUnet. I welcome questions and would be happy to delve into any of the three points above in more depth to clarify some of the points in future blog points or cover other topics from an R&D perspective.
There’s a possibility that you may, in fact, not be reading this blog post right now because a massive solar flare this morning may have destroyed civilization as we know it. This would be bad on so many levels. In the event that it has happened and you are still reading this post, I fully encourage you to stop and begin scavenging batteries and fresh water immediately. A post about Facebook’s changes to brand pages pales in comparison to the horrific post-apocalyptic existence we’re going to have to eke out until we begin mass producing Twinkies and fast food again (i.e. civilization returns). On the off chance that we still have a working global communications infrastructure, though, the announcement by Facebook last week about new changes to Facebook brand pages may have you in a bit of a tizzy.
Last week, Facebook disgorged a stew of alterations to Facebook pages that will go into effect, whether you like it or not, on March 31. The change that got the most attention was the transition of brand pages from
last year’s the “old timey” profile format to the Timeline format introduced for personal profiles in September. However, buried within the steaming mass of Facebook’s announcement were a couple other changes that may significantly impact many branded pages.
So, to help you out, we’re creating a two-part series that explains what the major changes are and how to adapt to them. In this first post, we’re going to discuss the changes, give all the specs for new image sizes and present some information that will help smooth the transition into the new page. Next week, we’ll publish a post walking through exactly how to transition a page with lots of helpful screenshots.
The major changes fall into four major areas:
Well, faithful readers, it’s been a full week since LeadsCon officially started and we’re just now starting to recover. The booth is back in transit, we’ve bid adieu to the beautiful Mirage Hotel & Casino, and we’re now reflecting on what turned out to be an excellent event. We’ve compiled some of our own highlights, along with a list of links to some of the great content that came out of LeadsCon this year.
But first, fancy LeadsCon statistics!
Over 2,500 people attended LeadsCon this year!
CUnet’s two presentations drew a combined audience of about 200 participants generating more than eight days worth of collective eyeball time.
In total, we tweeted the official CUnet Twitter account tweeted about 50 times during the show, inspiring over 100 total engagements and reaching a potential audience of more than 25,000 people. And that doesn’t include the bevy of tweets produced by staff actually at the convention.
With a booth staffed by six people for about 12 hours, the CUnet team collectively burned about 16,000 calories would be 4.6 pounds lighter, if not for Stack Restaurants Tomahawk steaks covered in giant blobs of butter.
- Networking Opportunities
LeadsCon has always been a great venue to meet with new and existing partners and customers, but this year, it was better than ever. With over 2,500 attendees, there was no shortage of expertise in the Exhibit Hall, and the event offered invaluable opportunities for us to build our network of partners and contacts.
- Inspiring Keynotes and Sessions
The content this year was also better than ever, with lots of insightful presentations and some great tips. Among our favorite speakers was the always inspiring Michael Norton, who gave the keynote on day one, as well as Michael Betz of Strayer University, who gave a great presentation on using data to take your marketing to the next level. We can’t help but promote our own Steve Smith and Jeff Herz here (see below for links to their presentations in case you missed them).
- An Increased Focus on Testing New Technologies
At CUnet, we’re always looking for new ways to use technology and data to improve results while enhancing our customer’s experience. It was great to see such an interest among attendees for new and improved technology solutions to solve the challenges that the always-changing world of online marketing presents.
- Education Marketers Have Jumped On the Compliance Track
Across the board, just about every education provider and buyer exhibited a commitment to compliance in their marketing efforts at the show. This translated to an increased emphasis on transparency and data-driven practices, both from schools and vendors. It’s great to see everyone adapting to the new regulations and looking for new and improved ways to manage compliance.
- And Who Could Forget….
- Leads360’s LeadsCon Survival Kit, filled with dietary supplements and Aleve…nice touch.
- $7 – yes, that’s Seven Dollar – water bottles
- Your humble editor was quite overjoyed that he managed to slip in a list of other conventions to crash
Some of Our Favorite Posts About LeadsCon
- Mobile Marketing for the CPL buyer (whitepaper- DoublePositive)
- BestOnlineUniversities recap
- Mobile Marketing and Closing Leads in the Post-PC Era
- Guide to Generating Leads with Display Advertising (whitepaper)
- Google+ and SEO
- Understanding the future of media session recap
- Creating the next big thing session recap
- The Ikea effect- Michael Norton
- Twitter handles of LeadsCon speakers
- Top 10 CPA networks announced
- RingDNA mobile marketing app press release
- Datamark press release
- VigLink recap
- Twilio blog post
- TRUSTe blog post
- AdRants blog post
- Making money with affiliate marketing infographic
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