Integrating Offline and Online Branding

Are there offline opportunities to explore when promoting your hunting business?

Jack Daniels Nascar

Image courtesy of pocketwiley

These days there is a lot of focus going towards branding and growing a business via online methods: PPC, Affiliates, SEO, Blogger Outreach, Social Channels (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and many others. These methods all make great sense. The Internet has allowed people and business to connect and communicate in ways that have added value to relationships. Information is spread with little barrier. People are more connected and better educated. The Internet has been good for both business and consumer.

But are offline branding strategies being overlooked when it comes to marketing?

Offline Branding

Creating offline branding strategies can be a great way to enhance your online strategies or the offline branding you work towards can do fine on its own.

The world is moving toward a more connected, more online way of business. Smart business folks will want to stay on the cutting edge of information when it comes to new, online ways of connecting with customers and building trust.

However, there are still ways to connect and acquire customers offline that provide more return on investment than the current online methods.

An example of offline branding that reaches to a specific audience is the Native Hunt Racecar Sponsorship effort.

The Native Hunt Team is focusing on building awareness for their brand of outfitting while building business relationships that can lead to acquiring new customers while building trust to maintain their current customers. Native Hunt realizes that there is a significant portion of their target audience that is responding more to offline branding than to online. Native Hunt does a good job of integrating the two (their website URL on the car), but more on that below.

Some other examples of offline branding that may work for your business include:

  • Catalogs
  • Package Inserts
  • Postcards
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Fliers or other Printed Handouts

Industry Shows (These are still huge and great for connecting with customers and businesses)

Online Branding

The Web has allowed companies to do great things in their branding efforts with consumers.

Larger companies and companies focused on growth have ventured into many of the paid opportunities available on the Web. Services like Google AdWords offers targeted paid advertising that offers high return on investment. Companies looking for a variety of results (sales, branding, awareness, etc.) can find success with the paid branding opportunities available online.

Sponsorships, contest participation, and product reviews are just a few of the other ways companies have successfully taken advantage of the online branding opportunities. With the increase in available communication channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., there are an ever increasing number of resources available for increasing branding online.

Integrating Offline and Online Branding

When it comes to branding, companies often separate online and offline activities. This is usually a mistake since there is more benefit and return to be had by those that plan and integrate all branding initiatives.

Back to the Native Hunt example mentioned above. Native Hunt used their resources to sponsor a racecar. This was a great way to share the branding message of Native Hunt: Guided Hunts & Wildlife Tours. However, Native Hunt didn’t stop at simply including their logo and brand message. Native Hunt included their Website URL. This is an often used method for businesses that have more information and chances for engagement on their Website to increase the awareness of the Website.

Being seen more frequently today are TV ads for Twitter and Facebook pages. Large and small companies are going to where their customers are and building networks of followers. With these followers, companies are increasing the value of the connection and increasing sales. Companies are understanding that to penetrate an existing audience like the one on Facebook, they need to increase their clout on their Facebook page by gaining followers and then work to move those followers off the site to purchase (perhaps in the future customers will be able to purchase right on Facebook).

Integrating isn’t just for large companies.

Companies of all sizes can integrate their branding activities to increase awareness of communication channels. You can even integrate offline efforts with other offline efforts (postcard and catalog) and online with online (Facebook with Email).

If you have fans on Facebook, try to capture their attention for an email newsletter. Perhaps the email newsletter is a better driver for sales at your business. Most folks are apt to use email and once you have a fan captured on Facebook you want to continue adding value to their lives via your Facebook page while working to convert that fan to a customer via your channels that convert well.

Summary

Integrating is an important part of a successful company.

Find where you customers are spending their time, work to capture their attention on those channels by adding value, and then capture their attention via high converting channels. By increasing your clout across all communication channels – offline and online – you can increase the brand awareness for your company while increasing sales.

What are your thoughts on branding and integration?

Have you done anything of this sort with your company already? Please share in the comments.

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The Redesigned Outdoor Channel Website

Taking video to a new level of engagement

The New Outdoor Channel Website

Recently, I was watching videos on the Bulls and Beavers You Tube channel and I came across one with Todd Birkholz of The Outdoor Channel. Chris Burget of Bulls and Beavers is doing a quick interview with Todd as he presents The Outdoor Channel with a Best of the Best Award from Bulls and Beavers.

Toward the end of the video, Todd mentions the newly redesigned Website and how the wonderful content makes the online world one of the best of the best for hunters using the Web. The video as Todd describes is now available extensively on the new site (over 130 show pages with 50 state pages) so visitors can increase the value they receive from The Outdoor Channel. It’s a great strategy for The Outdoor Channel to improve their customers’ experience while increasing traffic and advertising revenue.

Let’s take a closer look at the newly redesigned site…

Online Video

The Outdoor Channel has always had some of the best video content available on their television channel so it makes sense that they highlight video content on their Website.

The presentation of the video player on the site is unique to The Outdoor Channel. The players sits on the right side of the page while there is a promotional area to the left that displays a rotating presentation of other channels. It’s a good setup to present the video content the visitors have chosen to view while cross promoting the other content on the site.

The full screen option has a clever design as well showcasing the other video content at the bottom of the screen for a brief second before it collapses so the viewer can view a true full screen of the video they’ve chosen.

An important aspect of the site to note is that there is some text content on each page to attract search engines. While search engines are getting better at crawling video and imagery on sites, they still need text to be able to determine what a site and page are about so they can return relevant results to their users.

Having detailed descriptions is a crucial element to have on your site if you’re going to utilize video.

Personalities and Branding

Outdoor Channel Personalities

The Outdoor Channel Personalities page is an example of a great way to organize content on a site.

Fans connect with and seek content from their favorite personalities and providing them with a way to access their favorites within a few clicks enhances user experience while increasing loyalty.

Once a visitor clicks on their favorite personality (or perhaps one they are curious about) they are taken to a page dedicated to personality. The pages are full of great bios, descriptions and of course great video clips.

Greg Miller In Pursuit

On each personality page, fans can connect with their favorite outdoor folks on Facebook or write comments on the Outdoor Channel page.

Each show on the channel has its own page on the site. This gives fans of individual shows access to exclusive content they can’t find anywhere else. There are video clips, photos, and other content to keep fans occupied while spending time on the site.

Greg Miller In Pursuit Show Page

Community

With My Outdoor Channel, The Outdoor Channel has allowed their audience to build user generated content around the passions users share for the outdoors as well as for the content on The Outdoor Channel TV channel and the Website.

My Outdoor TV

I’m a big fan of hunting pictures, so the my outdoor channel photo gallery is wonderful to see.

My Outdoor Channel is a lot like MySpace and other social networking sites in that it allows users to keep profiles, find friends, post videos and photos, write blogs, and interact in other ways that connect people around their passion for the outdoors and The Outdoor Channel.

Monetizing Online Content

As with their TV strategy, it appears The Outdoor Channel is utilizing sponsorships and advertising to generate income from their site.

As the site continues adding video clips and more features that increase viewings and page views, they’ll see an increase in revenue as brands look to connect with their target audience that is viewing content on The Outdoor Channel.

Also available on the site are DVDs of popular shows on The Outdoor Channel. This is a strategy that seems to make sense as fans of the personalities and shows look to have hard, physical copies of their favorites at home for their viewing anytime they want.

Outdoor Channel DVDs

The Outdoor Channel DVDs

Possible Future Strategies

Entire Show Videos

Since The Outdoor Channel is focusing on ad revenue for their site, it’s important to increase the metrics that advertisers look for when determining where to spend their money. Advertisers are looking for branding opportunities and direct sales conversions for the companies.

From what I can see right now, it appears there are only clips of shows and videos on the site. This leaves viewers to subscribe to satellite or cable to view the entire shows on the television channel when the shows are scheduled (or on DVR at their viewing pleasures…which allows people to skip commercials).

It seems like it would be beneficial for The Outdoor Channel to test showing entire show videos on their site. They could break the videos up into segments to allow for advertising videos in between segments. There are other creative ways to implement successful and relevant advertising into clips and entire show videos as well.

Since viewers may not be able to see their favorites shows on TV each week they may be missing out and advertisers on the TV channel may be missing out on impressions. By allowing viewers to see shows on the site, The Outdoor Channel could increase traffic to the site while providing value to their customers giving visitors reason to repeatedly visit the site while increasing time on the site and traffic.

Blogging

As a way to increase the text content on the site, The Outdoor Channel has the resources to put together an awesome blog for their followers.

Staff members could highlight videos on the site and write about what’s happening with the content on the site and the video on the TV channel. People like Todd could write about updates to the site’s features.

I like what the staff is doing with the CMT Blog. This could be a potential model to follow.

CMT Blog

There is potentially room to have the TV stars write posts and provide updates on their shows and what they’re seeing in the hunting world. Even if it was once a month or so, the content would add up and visitors would love it and keep coming to the site for updates.

Search engines love text content that is updated frequently and a blog seems like a perfect addition to the site.

The more content and page son the site would only increase page views, which means stronger metrics to entice relevant advertisers.

Summary

The Outdoor Channel’s new site is wonderful. There is a ton of great video content on the site for visitors to view and interact with. The way the content is displayed makes it easy for visitors to take in the video content and to share the content with their hunting buddies.

What are your thoughts on the newly redesigned Outdoor Channel Website?

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The Beautiful Outdoors: 50 Amazing Photos

Inspiring outdoor imagery shared through the amazing Flickr Creative Commons Collection

Farm Rolling Hills

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

I came across an amazing post on Smashing Magazine, The Beauty of India: 50 Amazing Photos. The images are truly amazing.

I realized I haven’t done a collection of images from Flickr in some time and thought it would be fun to do another.

I like to use Flickr for just about every post on HBM. I feel that images add some depth to the experience with each post. And you know I love hunting pictures.

Here are the previous collections from the Flickr Creative Commons Series on HBM:

I chose images from the outdoors. Even though most of us realize the beauty in the outdoors already, I thought it would be great to collect some of the fine examples from the best photographers in the business.

These images are from fields, streams, and woods.

Hopefully these images can inspire you today…

Fields

Abandoned Barn in a Field

Abandoned Barn in a Field

Courtesy of Robb North

Spring Sunset Magic

Spring Sunset Magic

Courtesy of See1,Do1,Teach1

Coming Home to the Farm

Farm Road Field

Courtesy of Jody McNary Photography

Jody McNary Photography

Little Road to the Farm

Little Road to the Farm

Courtesy of tipiro

Green and Gold Farm Field

Green and Gold Farm Field

Courtesy of tipiro

Auto Graveyard

Auto Graveyard

Courtesy of seanmcgrath

Tulip Field and Hot Air Balloons

Tulip Field and Hot Air Balloons

Courtesy of jesse.milan

White Horse

White Horse Field

Courtesy of Wolfgang Staudt

Rusty Barn in Autumn

Rusty Barn in Autumn

Courtesy of jsorbieus

Cactus Field

Cactus Field

Courtesy of kevindooley

Yellow and Pink Flowers

Yellow and Pink Flowers

Courtesy of Per Ola Wiberg

Hay Bales Harvest Time

Hay Bales Harvest Time

Courtesy of pdam2

Old Farm and Truck

Old Farm and Truck

Courtesy of Grantsviews

Vintage Fence

Fencing Materials

Courtesy of Robb North

Bikes and Farm Fields

Bikes and Farm Fields

Courtesy of ClickFlashPhotos / Nicki Varkevissor

Lilac Tree

Courtesy of Robb North

Blue Flower Field

Blue Flower Field

Courtesy of Per Ola Wiberg

Streams

Backyard Stream

Backyard Stream

Courtesy of bslmmr

Stepping Stone Bridge

Stepping Stone Bridge

Courtesy of Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel

Gray Sky Stream

Gray Sky Stream

Courtesy of Richard0

Mexico Waterfall

Mexico Waterfall

Courtesy of zoutedrop

Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Shallow Stream and Falls

Small Stream After Rain

Courtesy of NeilsPhotography

Chirkhuwaa Khola at Baaluwani

Chirkhuwaa Khola

Courtesy of ` TheDreamSky 꿈꾸는 하늘

Winter Stream

Winter Stream

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Forest Waterfall

Forest Waterfall

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Cold Winter Stream

Cold Winter Stream

Courtesy of nagillum

Stream Under Bridge

Stream Under Bridge

Courtesy of paul (dex) busy @ work

Light Shining on Stream

Light Shining on Stream

Courtesy of eye of einstein

Shaky Bridge

Shaky Bridge

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Vintage Dry Creek

Vintage Dry Creek

Courtesy of Robb North

Canada Mountain Stream

Canada Mountain Stream

Courtesy of *~Dawn~*

Woods

Rusty Car in the Woods

Rusty Car in the Woods

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Forest Ablaze

Forest Ablaze

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Sun Shining in the Forest

Sun Shining in the Forest

Courtesy of josef.stuefer

Green Glow Forest

Green Glow Forest

Courtesy of mindfulness

Rolling Hills and Trees

Rolling Trees

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Falling Leaf

Falling Leaf

Courtesy of Memotion

Golden Autumn

Golden Autumn

Courtesy of Reinante El Pintor de Fuego

Narrow Road Through the Woods

Narrow Road in the Woods

Courtesy of Per Ola Wiberg

Abstract Woods

Abstract Woods

Courtesy of Reinante El Pintor de Fuego

Bright Green

Bright Green Forest

Courtesy of tipiro

Rock Path Golden Forest

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Deer in the Woods

Deer in the Woods

Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Shadowy Path

Shadowy Path

Courtesy of GotMeAMuse

Snowy Forest

Snowy Forest

Courtesy of Vince Algoni

Autumn Morning

Autumn Morning

Courtesy of bslmmr

Colorful Woods

Colorful Woods

Courtesy of Problemkind

Repeating Forest

Repeating Forest

Courtesy of Wolfgang Staudt

Old Tree

Old Tree

Courtesy of gumuz

The Hunter

The Hunter

Courtesy of MysticMoon14

The Best Hunting Picture Galleries

Hunters view thousands of hunting pictures on the Web…every day

The competition for the attention of hunters is heating up online and some folks are using quality hunting picture galleries to attract attention away from the competition.

My personal favorites tend to be the galleries that are easy on the eyes, easy to navigate and the ones that have the best photos of trophy game. My favorite type of hunting is bowhunting for whitetails so I always love seeing great photos related to this hunting niche.

Here are the best hunting picture galleries…

Field & Stream

Site: Field & Stream

Gallery: Field & Stream Photos

Overview

The Field & Stream Photo Gallery is one of the most popular galleries on the Web. F&S has the best selection of lists and collections of hunting pictures on the Web. People love lists and that includes hunters. The F&S ‘Best of’ collections make for great photo viewing. To increase involvement with their target audience, the team at F&S also encourage users to submit their best photos. F&S then takes the time to highlight the user photos in ways that make the users the stars. This is a great way to highlight the success of others and give them a vested interest in the gallery. I also like the mix of professional photos as well.

For more see Critique of the Field and Stream Photo Gallery

Petersen’s Hunting

Site: Petersen’s Hunting

Gallery: Petersen’s Hunting Trophy Room

Overview

The Petersen’s Hunting gallery is entirely user-submitted. On the photo gallery home page visitors have the option to view the highlighted photos, the most recent photos, the most popular photos, and users can view photos by collection and category. Giving visitors options when it comes to viewing segments of your photo gallery is important. Some visitors will want to search for specific types of photos. To satisfy these visitors you’ll want to offer a way to search the photos. Other visitors will want to discover new photos that meet their interests. This is where the categories are helpful (ex: I like whitetails. I can click on the whitetail section).

Duck’s Unlimited

Site: Duck’s Unlimited

Gallery: Duck’s Unlimited Photo Gallery

Widget: Duck’s Unlimited Member Photo of the Day Widget

Overview

Ducks Unlimited is a gallery I’ve only recently discovered and I’m glad I did. The user photos in this gallery are spectacular. DU members are allowed to submit photos and it’s apparent that some of the members are professional photographers. And that makes for some inspirational and breath-taking photographs of wildlife (ducks and waterfowl).

Something that sets the DU gallery apart from some of the others is their embeddable widget. Check it out and if you want to see the daily photos on your Website or blog you can. Widgets are great for increasing your audience and search engines love the links they create back to the site.

Bowhunting.com

Site: Bowhunting.com

Gallery: Bowhunting.com Photos

Overview

It’s no secret that Bowhunting.com is one of my favorite hunting sites. I’ve written about them and included them in collections before (5 Hidden Treasures on the Web, The Top 50 Blog Posts of 2009, 25 Tips from 25 Hunting Industry Leaders). The team at Bowhunting.com are experts at hunting and sharing their insight and knowledge through their videos, photos, and blog posts. There is a great mix of trail cam photos, harvest trophies, and general photography for hunting product reviews and more. The photo gallery is easy to navigate and the photos are of high quality.

Bowhunting.com is one of the galleries that offers visitors the opportunity to comment on individual photos. Something Field & Stream doesn’t have yet (you can comment on the entire collection or gallery only). Some also offer visitors the chance to rate photos like Ducks Unlimited and others.

Buckmasters

Site: Buckmasters

Gallery: Buckmasters Trophy Gallery

Overview

The Buckmasters Trophy Gallery is not the best of the bunch, but they have a ton of great user photographs due to the company’s popularity. I’m not sure if it was just me, but this gallery took awhile to load and the auto-play music was a bit annoying (not the music, but the fact that it was playing automatically. See more Video on Your Website). It’s a cumbersome gallery, but it has good photos and it’s a well known brand.

Lone Wolf

Site: Lone Wolf Portable Treestands

Gallery: Lone Wolf Trophy Gallery

Overview

Lone Wolf is a bit of a sleeper in this collection. I’m a huge fan of the design of the Lone Wolf site so it’s no surprise that I’d like their photo gallery. I also think it’s important to show that hunting product manufacturers can have successful photo galleries (as well as any hunting industry company). Users submit photos and while some aren’t the best the scrolling is easy and the thumbnail setup is simple.

CamoSpace

Site: CamoSpace

Gallery: CamoSpace Gallery

Overview

CamoSpace seems to be one of the few social networking hunting sites that has actually had some success. They have partnered with some big companies and some big folks that are famous for more than just hunting (Luke Bryan – great music). It’s a formula that has worked for growing the membership on the site. The photo gallery is 100% user-submitted. That format can lead to some noise (see the trucks), but there are still a ton of photos in the gallery and many of them are great…even if they are a little difficult to find.

ESPN Outdoors Hunting

Site: ESPN Outdoors Hunting

Gallery: Hunting Photo Galleries

Overview

It isn’t the prettiest and it isn’t the easiest to use, but ESPN makes the list because the brand is huge and the hunting shows on the channel are popular. Plus I loved the shows on ESPN Outdoors on Saturday morning when I was growing up.

Big Grass Outfitters

Site: Big Grass Outfitters

Gallery: Big Grass Outfitters Trophy Gallery

Overview

It’s important for outfitters to have galleries as part of their informational sites. Potential customers want visual proof of success. And past customers can be the best referral service when they push their friends to go on the site and view their photos.

Heartland Lodge

Site: Heartland Lodge

Gallery: Heartland Lodge Photo Gallery

Overview

One of the best looking sites in the hunting industry, Heartland Lodge makes great use of a photo gallery to show their potential customers the wonders they have to offer. I love that they use existing technology in Picasa to power their photo gallery. Remember that you don’t always have to work hard to develop your own style of gallery. Use galleries that already exist.

The categories in the gallery are great, but the titles of each photo are another story…

Gander Mountain

Site: Gander Mountain

Gallery: Gander Mountain Braggin’ Board

Overview

I grew up near a Gander Mountain (no Cabela’s nearby and I didn’t use the Web at the time) and I loved checking out the physical cork braggin’ board in store. Customers were always putting their trophies on the board and I loved looking at them all. Those Polaroids were great. With this gallery, Gander Mountain has brought that experience to the Web.

Greenwood Springs Plantation

Site: Greenwood Springs Plantation

Gallery: Greenwood Springs Plantation Photos

Overview

I came across this site toward the end of this post but I just had to include it. It’s a beautiful design and I love that they use Flickr for their photo gallery. The photos could be titled, tagged and included in Creative Commons on Flickr, but it’s a great use of a great photo gallery tool.

Elements of a Quality Gallery

As I browsed the Web in search of the best hunting galleries, I noted a few elements that should be standard on all folks considering a photo gallery for their site:

1) Multi-size Options

With image size, there is a battle between load time of the page and the quality and size of the image you want to load for your viewer’s viewing pleasure. Most sites offer an initial smaller version of images for scrolling and initial viewing, but offer visitors the option to zoom in or enlarge the photo, usually in some kind of pop-up. I think it’s a good compromise. Allow visitors the pleasure of a fast loading page with smaller images and if they have the capacity, they can zoom in or enlarge the photo.

2) Thumbnail Options

Something I’m in favor of when it comes to galleries are thumbnail viewing options. Popular photo gallery sites like Flickr (Flickr Hunting) offer thumbnail viewing so users can see multiple photos at once while being able to choose the ones they want to view in more detail.

3) Easy Scrolling

An important feature of galleries is the ability to scroll from photo to photo. Once a user has chosen a particular gallery to view they want to be able to scroll from photo to photo quickly and easily.

4) Proper Tagging and Titling

Giving the proper title and the appropriate tag to each photo in your gallery is important for your visitors so they understand what they’re viewing. Tagging and titling photos and galleries properly is also important for optimizing your gallery for search engines.

5) Sharing Abilities

Giving visitors the ability to share and bookmark the photos in a gallery is extremely important for the growth of your site’s traffic and audience. Build in the word of mouth aspects of a gallery and make sure the photos are worth talking about people will spread the word.

Bonus Element

Calls to action are important for any site that is aimed at selling something to visitors. With a bit of programming and planning, sites could take advantage of internal linking to sell relevant products to customers that are viewing the photos in galleries. For example, a company could ask users to submit the equipment used to harvest a trophy. List and link the equipment on the photo to the product pages and you have potential sales. A site like Gander Mountain could do this.

Your Favorite Hunting Picture Galleries

Did I miss your favorite gallery? Please share in the comments.

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Critique of the Field and Stream Photo Gallery

Photo galleries are hugely popular with hunters

The Field & Stream Photo Gallery appears to be a huge success with their readers. Their site has been gaining traffic and readers over the past year at great rates. It’s wonderful to see a quality publication have such success with their online initiatives.

I’ve been a reader of Field & Stream for quite some time. I’ve learned much from their annual articles about whitetail deer hunting and still look forward to their expert reviews on the latest in hunting gear.

One of the reasons for the success of the Field & Stream Website I have to believe is their photo gallery. I subscribe to the Field & Stream Newsletter and it seems they are always including remarkable photographs from the outdoors. These photos are often reader-submitted, which is great.

Field & Stream is involving their readers in their publication and it bodes well for their future growth. I’m excited to see how they continue to evolve as a business with online focus while continuing to offer the best in outdoor-related content.

There are however a few critiques I have about their Website and some suggestions for ways they could expand even more…

Technical SEO

Taking a quick glance through the extensive Field & Stream Photo Gallery I can find a few things they could adjust with relatively little effort that will yield some positive results.

A quick rank check for the general term ‘hunting photos’ reveals that Field & Stream ranks about #25 on Google. This is not acceptable since F&S has one of (if not the) best hunting photo galleries on the Web. And to top off those results, F&S is ranking for with their Hunting page rather than their Hunting Photos page.

The first thing F&S can do is to utilize a strong URL for their hunting photos. Something like http://fieldandstream.com/hunting-photos would be perfect rather than the current http://www.fieldandstream.com/photos/editorial/1 . I would then redirect the current Hunting Photos page to the new one to keep any incoming links.

Click for sharper image

Next I would utilize proper title tags for the Hunting Photos page. I would use something like ‘Hunting Photos and User Submitted Hunting Photos Galleries’ or something similar that best fits F&S’s goals for their photo galleries.

F&S does utilize title tags on their hunting pageHunting: Hunting Blogs, Hunting Photos, Hunting Tips, and Hunting Articles from Field & Stream’. That is a lot of great content. To avoid cannibalism I would remove ‘Hunting Photos’ from this title tag so the hunting photos page is optimized and the search engines aren’t confused.

Click for sharper image

There are a few other things Field & Stream can do technically, but these are good changes to start.

Click for sharper image

Photo Gallery Design

It appears Field & Stream has had great success with their Slide Show Style photo gallery design.

Field & Stream organizes their photos (professional and user-submitted) into individual galleries that are setup like slide shows. For example, Field & Stream’s 50 Best Reader Bucks of 2009. Each time you click ‘next’ above the photos you’ll be taken to a new page. That’s a new page view for each photo, which means big traffic numbers for F&S.

The gallery as it’s currently setup is great for building page views and each page/photo has a new description to the right, which is great for the readers as they will want to learn about each new photo.

It would be a change for my own personal preference, but I would change the slide show format to a design that more resembles a blog post with photos and descriptions taking up fewer pages. This design would lead to potential issues with page load time and decreased page views, but the advantages would include the ability to see more than one photo at once.

It’s mostly a personal preference, but there are also technical advantages. Currently, each page in a photo gallery has the same title tag, which diminishes the value of the tag.

Field & Stream has certainly had success with their photo gallery in slide show format so there is no need to make drastic changes. The traffic and page views are there and users can certainly link to individual posts which will lead to link juice.

There are a few things that could be cleaned up though as I’ve mentioned to make the user experience more enjoyable while taking advantage of some SEO.

‘Best of’ Lists

My absolute favorite part about Field & Stream’s photo gallery is their use of ‘Best of’ lists.

Example: 25 Best Big Game Reader Photos of 2009

Web users love lists and they love looking through lists of remarkable photos. F&S takes the interaction up a notch by including reader photos in their showcases. It’s a great way to get readers more involved in the site.

F&S steps up the interaction by including leader boards for top users, ranked photos and ranked comments, and related photos.

I would continue doing posts like these while also listing the Most Viewed galleries along with Trending or Favorite galleries on the main photos page.

Build on the success of the ‘Best of’ lists and create even more lists that Web visitors love.

Photo Gallery Commenting

Getting back to the issue of the slide show style design for the photo galleries – the commenting on the slide shows is awkward.

Users can comment on the galleries as a whole, but it appears they cannot comment on individual photos. Users will highlight photos in their comments (Ex: What is up with photo #3?) because they don’t have the ability or can’t figure out how to comment on the particular photo they finding noteworthy.

It would be beneficial to user experience and SEO to allow users to comment on individual posts.

One Last Word: Duplicate Content

I just noticed that there is an Additional Info section on most galleries – right side of the page when you view galleries.

It looks like the information in this area does not change from page to page when clicking ‘next’ to view each photo.

This is a search engine no-no as search engines are always struggling with duplicate content. They want to know the page that the content is meant for and sites can be deducted ranking as a result of too much duplicate content.

Example: Moose in Canoe and Elk Hunt 2009 both have the same content in the Additional Info section.

Summary

Field & Stream has one of, if not the, best outdoor and hunting-related photo gallery on the Web today.

The increase in traffic in the past year is proof that the great folks at the outdoor publication are doing great things with their Website. They’re writing content that people love to read and they’re adding photos that people love to view and comment on.

With a few adjustments to the structure of the photo gallery I think Field & Stream could see increased results. They can improve their user experience with a few technical changes, which will lead to more incoming links while also adjusting a few things that will increase search engine traffic.

I look forward to see the Field & Stream Photo Gallery evolve and grow as outdoor enthusiasts continue interacting with the site.

PS – It looks like image title and tagging could be improved too. The exciting part is that there is huge potential for Field & Stream to improve their immense collection of photos.

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5 Tips for Optimizing Images for Search Engines

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Win Membership to Hunting Business Marketing

If you’ve ever been curious about what’s behind the secret walls of Hunting Business Marketing then here is your chance to take a peek and get inside.


HBM Membership

Behind the walls of Hunting Business Marketing lies a great wealth of knowledge and opportunity for you and your business.

Here’s what comes with your membership:

1| Access to the Q&A Forum

The Q&A Forum is the best part of this deal. In the forum there is already discussion about how to succeed in the hunting industry. You’ll be able to ask any question you need an answer too and you’ll also be able to participate in the questions and discussions of other members.

Participate in discussions about:

  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Blogging
  • Web Design
  • And more!

2| Access to Member-Only Content

Articles on the most important subjects relating to the success of your business.

3| Access to HBM | The Book ($10 Value)

A book that has been read by some of the smartest and most successful leaders in the hunting industry.

4| Access to the State of the Hunting Industry Reports ($10/each)

Monthly reports discussing the implications of the economic landscape on the hunting industry.

2-Month HBM Membership ($40 Value)

You’ll get 2 months of access to HBM and all of the content available today and in the coming months.

And to top it all off…the BEST announcement yet:

I’m giving away 10 HBM memberships!

That’s a total giveaway value of $400!

Don’t wait. Here are the details of entry…

Contest

The rules are simple:

1| Sign up for the Hunting Business Marketing Newsletter

You can sign up following the link above or you can enter your name and email address into the forms at the top of every page on HBM or on the bottom of every blog post.

Yep – it’s that simple.

If you’re already signed up for the Newsletter, don’t worry – you’re already entered to win.

Entries are accepted through Sunday February 28th, 2010 with the winners announced on Monday.

Image courtesy of Dazzie D

Win a Personalized Marketing Report

UPDATE!

We have a winner!

Congratulations to Mark (@WildlifeCallers) of Wildlife Callers!

I can’t wait to get started on the Personalized Marketing Report for Mark and his team. I’ll document the progress on the HBM Blog so look back for updates. Be sure to subscribe via RSS or sign up for the HBM Newsletter for more insight and information on marketing your hunting business.

Also check out HBM Services. Feel free to send me an email if you have any questions on any of the services offered.

Thanks again for participating and congratulations to Mark!

Dayne Shuda (@DayneShuda)

Founder, Hunting Business Marketing

—————————

Use the report as a guide for the direction of your business.

Ricky Buck Endorsement

What are the goals for your blog?

Do you have bigger ambitions for your business?

Good news!

Here is a chance for you to work with a marketing professional to develop a strategic plan for your blog and/or business. A Personalized Marketing Report from HBM will assess your company goals and build out short-term and long-term strategies that will lead you to success.

Whether your goal is to double your RSS subscribers in the next year or to bring in more revenue from specific keywords, the Personalized Marketing Report from HBM will serve as your guide.

Great News!

Win a Free Personalized Marketing Report – $500 Value

Enter by Thursday January 14th, 2010 11:59pm CST.

The winner will be announced on Friday, January 15th, 2010. Check back on HBM for the announcement.

How to Enter

There are multiple ways to enter. You can enter once for each possible entry. (Ex: You can tweet, blog, and sign up for the Newsletter for a total of 3 entries).

1| Sign up for the HBM Newsletter (Current Subscribers already entered)

2| Share the Contest on Twitter

Retweet

3| Share the Contest on your Blog – Write a blog entry announcing the contest

Good luck.

Personalized Report

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Find out about all HBM Services

The Top 50 Hunting Blog Posts of 2009

Did you read these posts in 2009?

Happy Puppy

In the spirit of giving this Christmas season, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you some links to hunting blog posts…

As 2009 ends, I thought I’d list the Top 50 Hunting Blog Posts from the past year. These posts were all successful in attracting readers and comments while adding value to the online hunting world.

Enjoy.

These are in no particular order

1| Bowhunting.com

Website: Bowhunting.com

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Huge Monster 192”: A Two Year Adventure

2| Bowhunting.com

Website: Bowhunting.com

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Fixed Blade vs. Mechanical Broadheads – The Great Debate

3| Bowhunting.com

Website: Bowhunting.com

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Bowhunting Success in Illinois – The Creek Buck

4| Whitetail 365

Website: Whitetail 365

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Whitetail Are Tougher Than You Think

5| Whitetail 365

Website: Whitetail 365

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Portable No-Trespassing Signs?

6| FS Huntress

Website: Field Notes

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Hunters Who Happen to Be Women

7| FS Huntress

Website: FS Huntress

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Q&A, Angela Wilson, Taxidermist

8| Field Notes

Website: Field Notes

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Environmentalists on Hunters

9| Outdoors International

Website: Outdoors International

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Building Trail, Fishing & Wolves

10| Base Camp Legends

Website: Base Camp Legends

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Idaho Archery Bull

11| Cabela’s – Outdoor Info

Website: Cabelas – Outdoor Info

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Hunting Techniques – Stand Hunting

12| Team Huntress

Website: Team Huntress

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Stick to Your Guns

13| A Blessed Crazy Life

Website: A Blessed Crazy Life

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: A Boy’s First Deer

14| Ben G. Outdoors

Website: Ben G. Outdoors

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Trout Fishing Part 5 (Final)

15| Desert Rat

Website: Desert Rat

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Desert Rat Talks With Laura Francese

16| Doubletough Outdoors

Website: Doubletough Outdoors

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Got Hunts? Bet Your Boar He Does

17| Grow the Hunt

Website: Grow the Hunt

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Making Summer Successful

18| Muskoka Outdoors

Website: Muskoka Outdoors

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Coyote Closely

19| NorCal Cazadora

Website: NorCal Cazadora

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Woot! I got my first woodie today!

20| Native Hunt Blog

Website: Native Hunt Blog

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: The Trophy at the Table – More Than a Mount

21| The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Website: The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Instincts and Hunting

22| Outdoors With Othmar Vohringer

Website: Outdoors With Othmar Vohringer

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: The Pink Wave

23| Outdoor Freaks

Website: Outdoor Freaks

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: A Summer on the Porch

24| Wild Ed’s Texas Outdoors

Website: Wild Ed’s Texas Outdoors

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: European Skull Mounts the Texas Way

25| Wildlife Callers

Website: Wildlife Callers

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Scouting + Calling = Wildlife Photography Results

26| Michael Waddell

Website: Michael Waddell

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Sounds, Smells, and Feelings That Make Me Feel Great

27| David Blanton

Website: David Blanton

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: A Crazy Turkey Hunt

28| High Country Archer

Website: High Country Archer

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Stacey Scores

29| The Hunter’s Wife

Website: The Hunter’s Wife

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Chris Brogan’s Failed Attempt at Bowhunting

30| The Hunter’s Wife

Website: The Hunter’s Wife

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: My 6 Point Whitetail Deer

31| Whitetail Woods

Website: Whitetail Woods

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: A Muzzleloading hunt to Remember

32| Hunting Life

Website: Hunting Life

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Is High Fence Hunting Offensive?

33| Hunting Life

Website: Hunting Life

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Another Tactic for the Rut, Hunt the Does

34| Wired to Hunt

Website: Wired to Hunt

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: How to Become a Hunting Guide

35| Wired to Hunt

Website: Wired to Hunt

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Jumping the String

36| Deer Hunting Big Bucks

Website: Deer Hunting Big Bucks

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Scent Control, Wind Direction, and Better Deer Hunting

37| Deer Hunting Big Bucks

Website: Deer Hunting Big Bucks

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Deer Hunting With Dogs

38| Winded Bowhunter

Website: Winded Bowhunter

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Turkey Rappers

39| Live Hunt

Website: Live Hunt

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Bull Down!

40| Jake’s Outdoors

Website: Jake’s Outdoors

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Starting Them Young…

41| Hunting With Mike

Website: Hunting With Mike

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Nature and Little Girls

42| Moose Droppings

Website: Moose Droppings

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Tundra Swan Hunt in Washington County

43| My Hunting Buddies

Website: My Hunting Buddies

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: HEVI*SHOT® Product Review

44| Deer Passion

Website: Deer Passion

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: What Do You Dislike About the Outdoors

45| Long Ridge Deer Camp

Website: Long Ridge Deer Camp

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Almost Muzzle Loading Season, and How NOT to Book an Out of State Hunt…

46| Simply Outdoors

Website: Simply Outdoors

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Hunting Can Be a Cure

47| The Maine Outdoorsman

Website: The Maine Outdoorsman Blog

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Mr. President’s NEW Waders

48| The Deer Tree

Website: The Deer Tree

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: My 2009 Gear Wish List

49| LowCountry Hunting

Website: LowCountry Hunting

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: Lowcountry Rut Cranks Up

50| Rob’s Hunting Journal

Website: Rob’s Hunting Journal

Top 2009 Hunting Blog Post: First Day of Fall Pheasant Wreath

Please feel free to share your top posts in the comments.

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

Hunting Blog Post Title Ideas Part 1

Reviews of Remarkable Hunting Blog Posts

The Top Hunting Blogs Part 2

What to read next on the Web

The Top 50 SEO Posts of the Year – 2009 Edition

10 Reasons Your Small Business Should Have a Blog

45 Blog Post Ideas That Always Generate Buzz

Image courtesy of Emery_Way

Ecommerce Search – Pay Attention to Your Audience

Your audience will tell you what they want

Binoculars

Last month Google came out with a new service for businesses with current or future plans for expanding ecommerce presence.

Google Commerce Search

Google has a great way to approach new products. They test new products by allowing limited membership to their new programs and products while they work out the kinks and learn from the group of users who test the new products and services.

Google Commerce was rolled out with Birkenstock and it seems to be a big step for companies with a focus on ecommerce. The step may not be directly related to Google Commerce Search, but the trend that Google Commerce Search addresses is certainly important for businesses with an ecommerce presence as well as for companies with any Web presence.

Let me explain…

Search and Ecommerce

In Google’s Commerce Search video they mention an amazing statistic:

Web site visitors spend an average of 8 seconds on a site before deciding whether to stay. And 70% of online shoppers use search to make this decision.

It seems that the Web and ecommerce has honed in the consumer’s focus of searching for products. Or perhaps consumers have always used search in some form to discover the things they are looking for.

Whether it’s a catalog or a Website, the designer can make suggestions with headings in navigation or in a table of contents, but consumers will still page through a catalog or page through a Website to discovery products on their own.

I’ve been noticing an increased emphasis on search and specifically on the importance of the search bar design on many popular ecommerce sites.

LL Bean

Visit the site – LL Bean

LL Bean now features their search bar directly right in the middle of their home page. The search bar is also highlighted with a color (a shade of LL Bean green) and the text ‘Enter item # or keyword’ is prominently displayed.

LL Bean Search Bar

LL Bean has obviously been doing some testing of their own and has discovered that their customers are using the search bar to discover, find and purchase the products available on the site.

It’s a great example of a company paying attention to their audience and using Website design and functionality to add value to their customers.

Here are a couple other examples…

Zappos

Visit the site – Zappos and Zappos Zeta

Zappos Search Bar

Zeta Zappos Search Bar

The search bar on Zappos’s test site, Zeta, has the search bar with a color background to highlight the search functionality even more.

Bowhunting.com

Visit the site – Bowhunting.com

Bowhunting Search Bar

The search here is not in the typical upper right hand side of the page. It’s toward the upper middle area and the company is using Google to provide their search functionality.

These companies realized what their visitors wanted – search functionality – and fostered their Website design around those expressed needs.

Your customer may be expressing different needs for your Website and business. You just have to figure out what they are asking.

Listen to Your Audience

A key to success on the Web for any company is to pay attention and listen to your audience.

Successful marketing driven companies in any contact channel have always been exceptional with testing various initiatives while listening to the feedback their customers provide to the testing. Google has made their mark on the Web by following the principle of testing and rolling out products that their audience responds to with the most long-term excitement. There will always be misses along the way, but the testing and listening strategy is a strong strategy for any company.

Testing at times can seem difficult and time consuming and to setup formal tests it can take time, but is often worth the effort to see the results.

Often times though you’ll find that you can listen and pay attention to your audience without setting up a formal test.

For example, I’ve noticed on the Hunting Business Marketing blog that the types of posts that get shared the most are posts that highlight the success of others. These are usually list posts such as 50 Best Hunting Website Designs. However, posts with more in depth commentary such as Successful Business Highlight – Smashing Magazine are also successful.

I didn’t setup a test for types of posts, but I like to try writing posts of varying style while paying attention to what readers are responding to the most. It seems to be a great way to learn and grow as a writer and as a business owner.

Paying attention and listening to your audience is the key to testing and finding the needs of your customer. Successful companies are able to recognize these needs and address them with improvements to their value chain.

Summary

Companies involved in ecommerce have been alerted to a growing trend in Web consumer need – search.

Google has offered their own search for companies with an ecommerce focus with Google Commerce Search.

Successful companies always test and pay attention and listen to what their audience is telling them. Companies with long-term success are able to not only listen to their audience, but are also able to try new things that successfully address the expressed needs of their audience.

Setting up formal tests and even doing a little in depth analysis of your Website are great ways to listen to what your audience is saying. If you notice an area of expressed need that you can address then roll it out and see how your audience reacts. If it’s positive then great. If the response is so-so then try something new.

The key is to pay attention and continue adding value to your connection with your audience.

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

Are you a character?

Are you sure Google Done it This Way?

A Guide to Understanding Hunters on the Web

What to read next on the Web

10 Reasons Social is Your Future SEO Strategy

What Timberland Taught Me About Retail

11 Ways to Influence People Online and Make Them Take Action

Image courtesy of alexkerhead

50 Viral Videos (and how they spread)

This post was inspired by Adam Singer of The Future Buzz and TopRank Online Marketing. Adam’s original post 50 Viral Images (and how they spread) was a big hit and so was his follow up 50 Viral Images Part Two. Adam is one of the best sources for marketing knowledge. He’s had multiple success with successful companies in developing long-term marketing strategies.

Get your popcorn ready…

Old Film

Along with the inspiration from Adam, I was inspired to write this post also by questions from leaders in the hunting industry concerning the importance of online video for hunting business marketing strategy. It seems most people always inquire about viral videos because of the appeal of having a target audience share a piece of video content across many channels with friends, family, and peers.

As I wrote in The Impact of Online Video in the Hunting Industry:

Creating video that is shared amongst your target audience is an obvious goal for any online video strategy.

Often when we think of viral video the first things that come to mind are guys performing crazy stunts on You Tube or babies being caught saying funny things. It’s mostly America’s Funniest Home Video-type stuff.

But to create focused viral video there is a formula you should take so the results of your video going viral have the highest potential for actual return on your invested time and money.

The formula is from 3 Viral Video Ideas:

(Clever Entertainment) + (Sharability) + (Target Audience) + (Product/Service/Personal Brand Tie-in) – (Push-Marketing) = (Successful Viral Video)

As you’ll see, some of these videos have all the successful elements of the viral video formula while others are missing some of the pieces.

Let’s take a look at 50 viral videos…

Multitek North America 2040 XP2 Firewood Processor

Visit the site – Multitek North America Firewood Processors

Lion Attacking Hunters on Safari

World Elk Calling Competition

Visit the site – Hunting Life

Roe Deer Butchering Part 3 – The Hunting Life

Visit the site – The Hunting Life

P&Y Illinois Buck Hunt

Visit the site – Bowhunting.com

Carbon Express F15 Dual Blade Broadhead

Visit the site – Carbon Express

Bowhunting Ducks

Visit the site – Landslide Productions

New Mexico Bull Elk Bow Hunt

Horse & Buggy Elk Hunt

Visit the site – Two Wheel’n After Elk – Base Camp Legends

Horse & Buggy Elk Hunt from Sue Sorenson on Vimeo.

Awesome Whitetail Deer Fight

Visit the site – Stone Ledge Texas

Broadhead Test

Monster Whitetails with Double Bull Archery

Visit the site – LiveHunt.com

HuntingClub.com – Brock Lesnar Hunting Whitetail Buck

Visit the site – North American Hunting Club

New World Record Whitetail

Bow Hunting Whitetails: The Triple Beam Buck

Visit the site – Mannion Outdoors

Trophy Mule Deer Hunting

Visit the site – Carlmann Outfitting

Mulies Gone Wild Vol. 3

Visit the site – MossBack Productions Guides & Outfitters

Texas Hog Hunting

Visit the site – Texas Hunt Fish

Gun Cleaning – Properly cleaning barrels on a shotgun

Visit the site – Midway USA

BowTech Destroyer and David Blanton

Visit the sites – Realtree Outdoors and BowTech Archery

Hoyt Web Clips – Draw Length Myths

Visit the site – Hoyt Archery

Buckmasters Jackie Bushman Video Mixup

Visit the site – Buckmasters

“The one that I was on was bigger.”

Moose Hunting – Female Moose Tastes Broadhead

Alaska Moose Hunting with Clearwater Alaska Outfitters

Visit the site – Clearwater Alaska Outfitters

Wolves vs. Grizzly Bears

Visit the site – National Geographic

Ten Point Bowkill

Visit the site – Parson’s Outdoors

Deer Hunting VS-1 Whitetail Deer Scents

Visit the site – Whitetail Shopping

Drop Tine Whitetail Hunt – Saskatchewan Outdoors

Visit the site – Saskatchewan Outdoors

A 13-Foot-Long Shotgun – Clay Target Clip

Visit the site – Field & Stream

A 13-Foot-Long Shotgun – Loading Clip

Visit the site – Field & Stream

Deer Calling Tips: Tending Grunt Sequence

Visit the site – Field & Stream and Deer Doctor

Bow Hunting Boone & Crockett Whitetail Bucks

Visit the site – Hawg-N-Sons

Legendary Whitetails Monster Buck Mel Johnson

Visit the site – Deer Gear

Dan Miller Buck

Whitetail Big Bucks Only

Visit the site – Wild Whitetail

Deer Gets Revenge on Hunter

The Sasquatch Buck

Heart Attack Bucks

Visit the site – Saskatchewan Outdoors

Monster Buck in City – Des Moines, IA

Visit the site – Zach Wildlife Art

Hal and Len Go Huntin’ Giant Whitetails Part 3

Legendary Whitetails Monster Buck Mossy Horns

Visit the site – Deer Gear

Whitetail Freaks – One of the Biggest Deer in the World

Visit the site – Deer Gear

Locked Bucks – Whitetail Deer

Elk Kill Bow Hunting 35 Yards

Bow Hunting Wild Boar

Bow Hunting for Squirrels

Visit the site – Garzilla Guide Service

Deer Hunting – Bow Hunt 9 Point Buck

Visit the site – Hunting Footage

Bowhunting Pheasants

Visit the site – Parson’s Outdoors

Blacktail Bucks HawkeyeBilt Archery Bowhunting Oregon Deer

Visit the site – HawkeyeBilt

Bowhunting in Kentucky

Visit the site – Lost River Game Calls

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

10 Inspiring Country Music Videos

10 Hunting Website Truths You Can’t Ignore

3 Mistakes to Avoid on the Web

What to read next on the Web

Video Blogging: Why It Hasn’t Taken Off

What do People Remember After the Video Ends?

Video is Power Chords

Image courtesy of lanuiop