It’s time to stop selling with your content

Are you one of those inbound marketers who try to sell his product or service through content? Then it’s time for you to take a break and realize the fact that it’s time to stop selling with your content, instead you need to help your customer with your content. Yes! Stop selling and start helping!

Great content is not enough!

Content marketing isn’t just about having great content. It’s about having a super duper content which is absolutely relevant for your customer, which is truly useful for your customer, which actually helps your customer! Your content should be powerful enough to touch the lives of millions with those written words. So how will you create this compelling content? The answer is to listen to your customer.

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(Image credits : unbounce.com )

Social listening-the new mantra of content marketing

Get to know what your customer talks about your product or services. What they love about your product, what they hate about it, what are their expectations. It’s important to listen to everything they talk about you. Here comes the significance of social listening or social media monitoring. It’s all about finding and analyzing the conversations about your product or service on social media channels. Use an appropriate social media monitoring tool to capture all the “talks” about you. Understand the pain points of your customers. Understand what’s good about your product. Understand the expectations of your prospective customers; understand what needs to be improved for customer satisfaction. And now come up with contents that address these “talks”. Publish a great blog post addressing an issue raised by your customer. If you are a technical solution provider, come up with articles explaining solutions for issues raised by customer. Provide white papers which entails sufficient information about your brand or product to your prospective customers.

Thus, help your customers with your content. Build relationships with your content. Selling indeed isn’t about helping the customer. But helping indirectly retains your existing customers as well as acquires new customers.

So make your content king worthy enough to help your customers. Good luck with your content marketing.

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Best practices for baking user friendly URLs:

Here are few best practices for baking SEO-friendly & User-Friendly URLs,

Use Keywords:

Search engines allocate some weight for the keywords in URLs.But over using of keywords may penalize you for keyword stuffing. Keywords provide advantages in usability point of view as well.

Let us take the example of a search for “balloon”.

The following URL contains the keyword “balloon” in it and this keyword gets highlighted in the search result as well.

http://www.gettoysforkids.com/balloons/delight-balloon/

And these URLs are more memorable to users than the dynamic ones.

Make them descriptive:

If visitor is able to guess what would be there in the web page by having a glance to the URL, then we are succeeded in crafting a good URL.These sort of URLs will be recognized by both peoples and search engines.

Short is sweet:

When it comes to sharing a URL in your tweet, which one do you prefer?

A meaningless URL which is shortened by URL Shortner

Or

A short yet meaningful URL

The shorter URLs have got better usability. They can be easily shared across multiple channels.

Static is Pretty:

Everyone is not a Software Developer to understand all the symbols and short words written in a dynamic URL.Dynamic URLs are hard to read and understand for a normal site visitor. I am not being rude by calling them “ugly” but static URLs are actually “Pretty”

Say No to Numbers:

It is always better to use words rather than numbers in URLs.The following two URLs will tell you why.

http://www.gettoysforkids.com/balloons/delight-balloon/

http://www.gettoysforkids.com/category12/12/

It’s much easier to identify a web page by the words than numbers.

Think twice before considering Subdomains:

It’s acceptable to go for sub domains based on marketing considerations like promoting a URL which is completely unique in its purpose or content. The risk involved in considering Sub domains in SEO perspective is that there is a chance of being treated separately from the primary domain if proper interlinking is not done.

Lesser Folders:

Having un-necessary folders will not provide a better user experience. In the following example

http://www.gettoysforkids.com/toys/collection/stock/balloon/delight-balloon/

The above URL actually confuses the visitor, while the following URL is quite straight forward.

http://www.gettoysforkids.com/balloons/delight-balloon/

Separate words using Hyphens

When it comes to creating URLs with multiple words in it, use hyphens to separate them. This is beneficial from a crawling and usability standpoint.

Use /mobile-technology/ instead of /mobile_technology/ or /mobiletechnology/

Case matters

According to Microsoft IIS Servers,

/Product.aspx and /product.aspx is the same. Unfortunately search engines don’t adhere with the same philosophy.

Also there are lots of Apache web servers out there which are case sensitive when it comes to URLs.

According to them,

http://www.gettoysforkids.com/balloons/delight-balloon/ and http://www.gettoysforkids.com/Balloons/Delight-Balloon/ are two different URLs.

This indeed confuses both users and search engines. It is always better not to use any upper case letters in the URLs to avoid such confusions.

Thus having some SEO-friendly and User Friendly URLs for your website will increase site ranking in search results and improve the usability.

Let us dig into the topic of URL Aliasing feature of Ektron in the upcoming blog post.

References:

Extension Methods in C#

There are so many scenarios in which we developers need to extend the capabilities of a class. Most of the  time we cannot go and change the class, so we may have to go for some OOPS concepts like inheritance  in order to get this done.

What if the class belongs to a Microsoft .NET assembly?

What if the class is ‘sealed’?

Here I am going to explain a C # 3.0 feature which I explored recently.(And became a fan of it!)

So what actually is this Extension Methods?

Extension method is a syntactic sugar, syntax within c# to make things easier. It helps to “add” methods to an existing type without modifying the original type. These are “static” methods which require an instance of an object. So this feature will not support “static” classes.

Let us consider a simple example to illustrate this feature.We can try adding a method,PrintMe() to the ‘String’ class in the System namespace of mscorlib.dll .NET framework assembly.

The first thing that we need to do is, to create a ‘static’ extension class. Now we can write a ‘static’ method PrintMe() inside this class. This method should have the first parameter as instance of string class preceded by ‘this’ keyword.i.e. the first parameter should point to the type in which the method needs to be operated.

The extension class goes like this,

Now let us try invoking this method from an instance of String class,

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There you go! The visual studio intelliSense is showing PrintMe() method as well! By mentioning it as extension.

Full Code:

Thus we are done with a “Hello World” example of Extension Methods. There is a lot more to explore!

Happy Coding!

Yet another Ektron smart desktop widget:

Do you want to beautify the URL’s that you embed in Ektron contents?

Don’t want to come outside of your Ektron workarea?

This custom smart desktop widget is for you!

This blog post is about a simple smart desktop widget.This Ektron smart desktop widget makes use of Twitter BootStrap frontend framework for the User Interface design.The functionality of this smart desktop widget is url shortening.

The idea is to make use of Google’s Url shortening service in Ektron. This can be done by making a POST request to the shortening service. The response can be deserializatied to a response class in order to retrieve the desired short url.

UI Development:

I made use of Twitter Bootstrap for the frontend development.

Steps:

  • Downloading the BootStrap: http://twitter.github.com/bootstrap/
  • Adding the BootStrap files in the Ektron website.
  • Refering the Bootstrap files in Widget Page
  • Making use of Built-in Bootstrap classes for the widget elements.

I referred these bootstrap  files in my widget page:

[gist https://gist.github.com/Bisileesh/5425049 /]

I also referred:

[gist https://gist.github.com/Bisileesh/5425053 /]

The widget panel looks like the following:

[gist https://gist.github.com/Bisileesh/5425054 /]

These built-in bootstrap classes gave a charm to my Ektron smart desktop widget.

And it looks like this:

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Code Snippets:

[gist https://gist.github.com/Bisileesh/5425057 /]

Here in order to get the short url,a POST request is made to the google url shortening service url ,https://www.googleapis.com/urlshortener/v1/url.

The JSON response is parsed by deserializating the JSON string to a class. System.Runtime.Serialization namespace is made use for this purpose.

References:

Creating Master Layout in Ektron 8.6

Master Layout is a concept in Ektron which adds some extra functionality to PageBuilder.This is similar to the MasterPage concept in ASP.NET.

Master Layout allows us to have some pre-defined widgets / contents in a Page Builder page.Admin can set these common widgets and can set privileges to allow/restrict other users to edit this. Thus the “Master Layout” can be used to create further page layouts.

And the pages created with master layout will be inheriting the widgets/contents that are assigned to it.

Master Layout can be created with the following simple steps:

Create Master Layout Template Page

A template page (.ASPX page) needs to be created for this. Which should contain the drop zones ,other contents needed.

A sample looks like this:


[gist https://gist.github.com/Bisileesh/5425066 /]

 

Adding Template to the Workarea:

This can be done in the same way, we do for the page builder wireframe templates.

addnewtemplate

Assign wireframe template to a folder:

Now we can assign this wireframe template to certain folder.

editproperties

Create New Master Layout:

New>Master Layout

newmasterlayout

The drop zones in the master layout will look like the following:

unlock

For those drop zones which has to be pre-defined in the Master Layout can be unlocked by clicking the “Lock” symbol, and the rest can be left as such. Once the widgets are assigned you can “Publish” the Master Layout.

This “Master Layout” can be assigned to a folder as its Template.

settemplate

And new page layouts can be created with it.

The new pages will be inheriting those pre-defined widgets.

Creating Static Pages in Ektron:

A static page refers to a standard HTML page.

Let us look into creation of Static Web Pages using Ektron.

You can follow different approaches for achieving this. Here I am going to explain a simple approach for creation of static pages, without making use of PageBuilder technology in Ektron.

Creation of static pages by using QuickLinks in Ektron:

Steps:

Create Template Page:

Create an ASPX page in Visual Studio, as this template page is going to be a static page, we can add a few ContentBlock Server Controls and necessary styling to it.

A sample Template page looks like this:

[gist https://gist.github.com/Bisileesh/5425077 /]

We can assign “DynamicParameter” attribute to the ContentBlock server control in order to assign the Content id through its URL.

By using this approach we can assign the Id’s by using Quick Links, also we can give desired Alias URL.

Create Quick Links:

Goto: Workarea>Library>

Choose a folder to which you need to add the QuickLinks,

Choose QuickLinks from the Dropdownlist and Click on “Add” button

1

Define QuickLink by providing,

  • Title
  • Url Link
  • Content

The url link should contain the content id’s as Query string parameters.

For ex,

Bis_Test/StaticPage.aspx?id1=50&id2=54&id3=70&id4=80

Create Alias URL:

Goto:

Settings>Configuration>URL Aliasing>Aliasing

Click ADD MANUAL ALIAS button,

It will allow you to create an alias by filling the following inputs,

2

You can choose the content to which you have assigned the QuickLink here,by choosing the content you will be able to pick the associated valid QuickLink from the adjacent dropdown.

Also you can give a proper alias name for the page, and fill out the remaining inputs accordingly. Once an alias is defined, you will be able to view the page with the alias name.

Thus, by using this approach you can create n number of static pages with a single template page.