Fast Five in Search – Week 50, 2014

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There’s been some really clever Christmas marketing campaigns come across my desk this month – the type of ideas that have you thinking about them a lot longer than the bog standard Xmas marketing pitches.

So this week’s Fast Five is all about the Cleverest Christmas Marketing Campaigns.candy-cane-sml

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Coke Zero Sweater Generator by Royale for Coca Cola. This ingenious web app was the brainchild of uber-hip design firm Royale for Christmas 2013. It allowed users to design their own version of the geekiest holiday sweater ever, using a series of pre-set design features, images, colors and patterns. The top 100 designs were chosen by users and put into actual production, before being tagged with Coke Zero labels and hand delivered to the winning designers.

2) The Wondrous Wellington Advent Calendar by WellingtonNZ.com. This one is closer to home and celebrates my city of residence, so it has a special place in my heart. Wellington Tourism have designed a beautiful animated map of the city, in which they have hidden a working advent calendar for Christmas 2014. Each day this month, you are able to *open* a flap within the calendar corresponding to the date (if you can find it!). Inside is a discount offer or voucher deal for various retailers, restaurants, activities or venues around the city. Two for one gelato? Mmmmm, you bet.

3) Christmas Tinner by Game Digital plc. British video games retailer Game Digital came up with this little gem for Xmas 2013. The idea spawned after a survey of video gamers revealed that most intended to play through Christmas Day and they’d rather give up Christmas dinner than have to stop playing. Game Digital came up with the solution: a festive feast in a tin. Christmas Tinner comprises of nine layers of food – ranging from a starter to a pudding and you can see it in all it’s glory via this video review (yes he actually eats it).

4) Maker’s Mark Ugly Holiday Sweaters by Maker’s Mark. For Christmas 2011, bourbon producers Maker’s Mark created a special Christmas promotion for their Brand Ambassadors, consisting of delivering each one a special holiday sweater custom made for their bourbon bottles. Apparently the promotion was a huge hit on social media, enabling them to dominate bourbon-related search traffic and put their major competitor – Jack Daniels – on ice (sorry).

and finally…

5) WestJet Christmas Miracle by WestJet. The WestJet Christmas promotion from Christmas 2013 made a SPECTACULAR impact on the Internet. Staff from WestJet in Canada placed an interactive screen within one of their boarding gates, allowing passengers to talk to Santa and tell him what they were hoping to receive for Christmas.  The supposedly random group of passengers boarding for a domestic flight from Toronto to Hamilton were then amazed to find those gifts waiting for them upon arrival at their destination. The resulting YouTube video went viral and nuts on social media. Who can resist the power of Santa Claus delivering presents via luggage carousel? Not me, I still get tears in my eyes watching this one. It’s a marketing miracle.

Happy Christmas marketing!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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30 Days as a Freelance Geek for Hire

geek-for-hireI came to a dramatic conclusion today. I need more income. As you all know, I’m a digital marketing consultant and trainer.

My contractual consulting work has dried up for the year and the exciting new IT start-up that had offered me 3 months work has been dismantled by their board and abandoned. Bye, bye guaranteed income.

So here I am, an unemployed geek, in need of consulting work in order to keep me in coffee and French doughnuts for the foreseeable future. What’s a girl to do?

I had heard that marketing and IT specialists could make a nice little income on the side of their *real* job by using sites such as Elance, oDesk, Freelancer and Guru.com. I immediately thought “I can do that”. I’ll just have to take on enough freelance projects to provide a full-time income.  How hard can it be?

So I’ve decided to spend the next 30 days totally immersing myself in the seedy online job market and pimping my services as a freelance geek-for-hire. I thought my experience might make for entertaining reading, or at the very least provide an example of what not to do for future freelancers. So I’m going to blog about my experiences right here. Watch me as I fly or fail. Or quite possibly both.

If you’ve got any burning questions about freelancing in the digital / IT space, please post them in the comments and I’ll make sure I cover those off during the month. Any words of advice (warning?) for me would also be welcomed.

Wish me luck!

PostScript 13 Dec 2014: You may have noticed I’ve pulled the first few posts from this *30 Days* series. Sorry about that. It turns out that they gained the attention of a major publisher who would like me to write the series exclusively for their audience. I’ll restore them and post the link to the full feature as soon as it is published.

 

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Fast Five in Search – Week 19, 2014

fast-five

 

In my travels around the crazy web, I’m amazed how many web sites still use a boring server-generated 404 error page instead of a custom 404 error page. Even large brands with deep pockets aren’t immune to the dreaded vanilla dead end.

Thankfully, there are lots of clever web designers out there who recognize that there’s no excuse for un-inventive 404s. Web site usability can be fun!. This week’s Fast Five pays homage to them and their entertaining ideas for custom 404 error pages.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five – Five Clever Custom 404 Error Pages:

1) Mint.com – This page combines humor with helpfulness. Not only does it make a joke about the missing content, but it offers up some useful alternative links in a pleasing visual format. No blame, no suggestion that the searcher was at fault. I like that.

2) BlueDaniel.com – This is my current favorite 404. Not only is it Flash based – which I’ve not seen before in a custom 404 – but it’s exceedingly cool. The powerful visuals and sound of an underground train station are bang on target for a motion picture design company. This page alone would probably win them new business.

3) Heinz.com – So an empty ketchup bottle might be a little predictable, but what I like best about this page is the intuitiveness and the very clear calls to action. Did you try searching? Perhaps one of these links will help? Perfect.

4) Mashable.com – Again, another humorous yet helpful Custom 404 page. This one uses the missing sock analogy, combined with a giant call to action in the form of an internal search field. They also keep the main nav menu at the top of the page in case you’d rather resort to standard navigation.

and finally…

5) ApartmentHomeLiving.com – Being in New Zealand, this custom 404 page caught my eye straight away. You can’t really go wrong with a sheep on a toilet. Apart from using an amusing mouseover effect, this page steers lost visitors back to the homepage or to the regular navigation menu. Sorted.

What’s YOUR fav custom 404 page? Would love to hear about it in the comments.

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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The 12 Days of Christmas Online Scavenger Hunt

santa-sackIt’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And what better way to kick off the holiday season than by receiving a Christmas present from Search Engine College?

All last week, we were tossing about ideas for how to gift our blog readers and members at Search Engine College in a fun and unique way this holiday season. We could have sent out an animated snowman card; we could have given out a boring discount coupon; or we could have had a one-day Black Friday sale that many people would have missed out on.

But this year, we’ve come up with something completely different. Presenting: the 12 Days of Christmas Online Scavenger Hunt!

How to Win

Every day for the first 12 days of December, we are giving away a 6 month subscription to Search Engine College. Each subscription includes access to ALL our online courses and training videos, as well as our exclusive discussion forums and industry discounts area. Each 6 month subscription is worth USD 594. That’s over $7,100 in prizes to be won!

All you have to do to win is be the first person to find the Christmas icon hidden somewhere on our web site at www.searchenginecollege.com. The icon will change daily and will look like one of the following:

xmas-icons-hunt
As soon as you spot the Christmas icon, simply tweet the page URL to us @secollege so we can verify and send you your prize. Make sure you follow us and use the hashtag #xmasscavengerhunt in your tweet. If you don’t have a Twitter account, simply post the URL and hashtag to our Facebook Wall, or our Google+ Page, or you can email the URL to us study [at] searchenginecollege [dot] com.

We will have a countdown banner at the top of every page on Search Engine College reminding you which icon you are looking for and how many hours/minutes/seconds you have left to find it. When someone has found the icon, the banner image will change to WINNER FOUND and the clock stopped until the next icon is posted. And NO, the banner icon does not count as a find – it must be within the page body ;-). Also, category or tag archive pages don’t count. We need the individual post/page URL please.

There will be 12 winners in total (1 each day) and if the icon isn’t found one day, it will carry over to the next day until all prizes are won. If you win and are an existing paid member of Search Engine College, your free 6 month subscription will be tacked on to the end of your existing subscription.

We will send out clues to the icon’s location and announce our winners each day via Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If you are already on our mailing list, we will also email you a picture of the day’s icon in advance to give you a headstart.

Starts 1st December

As this competition is a global one, we have tried to plan the daily start time to suit as many timezones as possible. The fun kicks off at the following times:

  • New York (U.S.A.)  Sunday, 1 December 2013 at 5:00 p.m   EST  UTC-5 hours
  • Los Angeles (U.S.A.)  Sunday, 1 December 2013 at 2:00 p.m   PST  UTC-8 hours
  • London (United Kingdom)  Sunday, 1 December 2013 at 10:00 p.m   GMT  UTC
  • Sydney (Australia)  Monday, 2 December 2013 at 9:00 a.m   AEDT  UTC+11 hours
  • Wellington (New Zealand)  Monday, 2 December 2013 at 11:00 a.m   NZDT UTC+13 hours

So don’t miss out, – make sure you brush up on your searching skills in advance and join us for the scavenger hunt fun from December 1st.

Happy Holidays from Search Engine College!

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Google Doodles 50 Years of Dr Who

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of BBC’s iconic sci-fi TV show Dr Who, Google has created a very cool interactive Dr Who game as today’s Google Doodle.

DrWho1The doodle game allows you to kick off by choosing from 11 different character iterations of the good Doctor, each with distinctive features, e.g. Tom Baker’s multi-colored scarf and Matt Smith’s red bow tie.

DrWho2Dr Who’s newest time lord, actor Peter Capaldi, did not make the doodle cut, probably because he is yet to film the much-loved role.

DrWho3Growing up with Tom Baker’s Doctor, naturally I chose him first.

DrWho4The game features a series of challenges to reach the letters in GOOGLE, each level of the game more complex than the last and all involving the dodging of nasty daleks.

DrWho5Once you *rescue* the target letter, you need to make it safely back to the welcoming tardis, which will transport you to the next level.

DrWho6If your chosen character successfully makes it through a level, you will keep him for the next. If however, he gets zapped by a dalek, a new iteration of Dr Who will replace him.

DrWho7Each level features musical refrains from the show and of course the distinctive tardis transporting sound between levels. There’s no sign of any of the Doctor’s companions, or even K9, but with 11 doctor characters, you don’t miss them.

DrWho8If you make it through to the final level (6), you are rewarded with a parade of Doctors celebrating your efforts.

DrWho9Good clean fun and just frustrating enough to keep you entertained for about half an hour. Go sharpen your sonic screwdrivers!

 

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