Eric Hoffman

Eric Hoffman

(141 comments, 318 posts)

I'm the Interactive Marketing Manager at Park City Mountain Resort. Views expressed in this blog are mine alone and not those of the Resort.

Home page: http://ericinparkcity.com

Posts by Eric Hoffman
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Establishing Consistency

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I’ve written before that this blog is a tool that I like to use as my personal sandbox, to test (and share) ideas, tools and more in the digital space. I haven’t been the most consistent in posting to this blog, but in the six plus years that I’ve written, I’ve published 318 (including this one) posts which works out to an average of 53 posts per year, or just over one post per week. The posts have been a bit less consistent in the past two years, but starting back on August 8, 2014, I’ve made it a goal to publish one post per week (and on Mondays) to see what effect publishing consistency would have on visitation to the blog.

What have been the results so far? In looking year over year, not great (aside from the New Sessions number):

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There are a number of variables that could influence these results, and the biggest one for me is the length of time for this effort. I  have only a few months in maintaining this consistency. Also, in trying to get a regular flow of articles, I’ll be the first to admit that some of the content I’m posting might not be as relevant to my audience as it should be. In a way, it’s an experiment in finding my sweet spot in terms of the best performing content for this blog as well as building consistency for visitors, knowing that they’ll find new content on the blog each week.

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Design and How to Do It

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I’m not a designer, but as an online marketer I find myself often looking at the how content can best be presented to visitors. It’s clear that there are now many devices and ways that users can interact with content and that there needs to ways to have it look and act consistently across these devices and interaction methods. A new and rapidly evolving option to accomplish this is Google’s Material Design which they call “…a visual language for our users that synthesizes the classic principles of good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science.”

Here’s a quick intro clip of Material Design elements:

And here’s a much deeper panel discussion introduction to Material Design:

Watch, think and plan for your next projects, material design might not be the right fit for everything, but it’s a great way to frame new ideas and projects.

Earphones

Favorite Ski Songs

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EarphonesSeveral years ago, I wrote a post about whether or not to ski/ride with music, I figured it’s time to write one about my favorite songs to ski with. Here’s my playlist to ski to:

  • Even Flow // Alive – Pearl Jam
  • Blue Sky – Big Head Todd and the Monsters
  • But Anyway – Blues Traveller
  • I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like) – Michael Franti & Spearhead
  • On Top of the World – Imagine Dragons
  • Ickey Thump – The White Stripes
  • Tighten Up -The Black Keys
  • Everylong // Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters
  • Sunday Bloody Sunday // Beautiful Day – U2
  • Life and How to Live it – R.E.M.
  • Weekapaug Groove – Phish
  • Ho Hey – The Lumineers
  • Keep Your Head Up – Ben Howard
  • Mr Brightside – The Killers

We’re all different, so what are a few of your favorite ski (or snowboard) tunes? Drop ‘em in the comments as I’m always looking for new suggestions for my ski days!

I’ve got another question.

What do you use to organize your tunes?

I’ve gone through a slew of MP3 players over the years and I’m now using Google Play Music on my phone. I’ve tried Pandora, Spotify and Songza, but with Google’s acquisition of Songza and (finally) integration of its curated playlists into Google Music, I’m satisfied with it as my choice for a home and on the slopes music player. It allows me to download music to my device, stream it online and create my own playlists, play from an album or use either Songa’s curated lists or “radio” options based upon genre’s or an artist.

Photo credit: Flickr user photosteve101 
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Use Your Full Quiver

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Looks like it was a busy week for searches about Park City Mountain Resort over Labor Day weekend, could there possibly have been some other reason for the big jump in searches but perhaps it was simply the great work of the marketing team?! Goes to show, don’t forget to set up subscriptions for Google Trends reporting for your favorite, or just interesting, web searches, so you can tell what searches might be ramping up without looking into Google Webmaster tools reports:

Google Trends:

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Google Webmaster Tools:

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Note that there wasn’t much increase in the clicks to the site for this search, so I probably would not have noticed the increase in searches without delving into the deeper in Google Analytics’ Search Engine Optimization reports, and even there, I wouldn’t have been able to see how individual search queries performed, just overall queries. Be sure to use all the tools at your disposal and even if you’re not using a tool regularly, be sure you have it configured to alert you if something interesting comes along – you have the full quiver available, use it!

 

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Two Unique Videos (One About Skiing) from TV Manufacturers

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If you haven’t seen Sweetgrass Productions AFTERGLOW video, take a look now, and marvel at the effort that went into shooting this film:

Then take a look at this video that Samsung sponsored about five years ago (excuses the low quality of the clip):

Then take a step back, think about the videos that you’ve posted for your brand and step of the box like these two groups did. The results might just surprise you!

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Change and Evolve

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141013-evolveIt’s been an interesting few weeks in our quiet little mountain town of Park City and I have no doubts that things will continue to be “interesting” in the coming months and years. I am not going to detail these events as they’ve been plastered up and down the walls of the internet, however, I think that this time of change is a great example for looking at ourselves and how we fall into routines and habits which sometimes get shaken up to help us to continue to evolve and improve in our jobs.

Digital marketing is a space that is in continual evolution and change, which is part of why I really enjoy what I do (be able to promote skiing is a bonus too). In order to keep up with all the new ideas, tools, techniques, opportunities and everything and everything else, I try to spend a few minutes each day catching up on what’s going on in the digital space. I usually don’t have a lot of time, but I have a few emails, blogs and other sources that I will take a glance at.

Over the course of the day, I try to break up my work with periodic breaks to keep me from getting burned out, which I can often feel coming on after two intense hours of concentration on a single project. With five minutes browsing on topics completely unrelated to the subject I was working on, I can reset and get myself back on track to spend a few more hours on my project, plus I get to spend a few minutes looking into topics that I can possibly join into future efforts.

The other thing I try to do is to establish new habits when I can find something that I want to change in my behavior. I got some great insight on habits when I saw BJ Fogg keynote at the Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer in Chicago back in October of 2009, and I’ve continued to follow his tips online. I highly recommend Dr. Fogg’s Tiny Habits program is for anyone who has ever had the urge to do something consistently (create a habit) but can’t figure out how they can do it. It’s really simple, only takes a few minutes per day, and if you follow his steps, you really can create a new habit for yourself. I continue to use the process I learned in this program and as things shift in my workplace I have confidence that this technique will help me to adjust and be successful moving forward.

Photo credit: Flickr user Kevin Dooley
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More Hyperlapse

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Several weeks ago I wrote a post about the benefits of Hyperlapse video processing technology and two weeks later, Instagram posted an app that they call Hyperlapse which made this technology available to the masses – although it doesn’t use anything but the video that you capture on your iPhone.

This is great stuff, but I love this application of hyperlapse which hacks Google Street View imagery to create easy hyperlapse videos that pull from the huge inventory of images that Google has captured, and is capturing:

I created a quick test of a Street View snowmobile track at PCMR track – I’m working on embedding the code on here, but for now, visit:

http://hyperlapse.tllabs.io/#40.62561,-111.52932000000001,40.625363882839466,-111.5234781523987,40.629850000000005,-111.52101,14.153875000000024,129.84375

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Moving or Duplicating a WordPress Blog

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DuplicateI’ve been using Wordpress on various projects over the years and one of the things that has always been a bit disappointing to me is the difficulty of moving a blog, from a development site to production or from one host to another. It’s easy enough to use the export content function, but in configuring and building a good-looking and working blog, there are so many configurations, widgets, menus and more that are setup and need to be setup again that I always spend way more time than it seems necessary going through all the entire CMS to make sure I’ve made all the updates.

I recently helped a friend move their move and since he had a ton of custom work done on it, I didn’t want to go through this process again. Instead I used a great plugin called Duplicator which made the process amazingly easy.

  • First, you download and install the plugin in the WordPress CMS of the blog that you are wanting to move.
  • Next, you run the plugin and create a “package set” that you will need to download to your local computer.
  • You then will need to create an empty MySQL database on your new web server.
  • Then upload your package set to an empty directory on the new server.
  • Click the installer file, enter a few configuration file entries and in a few minutes, you will have moved you WordPress site to a new host, exactly as it was on the previous one.

I’m no WordPress guru, but this plugin worked exactly as described and is one I will certainly look to use again if I ever have the need.

Photo credit: Flickr user JimmyMac

 

Hipmunk search result screen

Travel Search Data

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I’ve beaten the Google drum quite a bit, but Google is by no means the end all be all of search. There are plenty of searches happening on other search engines (did you know the current number 2 is YouTube – owned by Google of course), searches via other mediums like driving directions, search done in-app on mobile devices and searches done for things other than web pages.

Travel search is an area that Google has entered for things such as flight and hotel search, but there are several sites that are providing some very interesting variations travel search results page. I first came upon Hipmunk almost 3 year ago at PhoCusWright, and the site has really gained some traction since then. Their main differentiator is that they sort their flight results initially by what they call, “Agony”, which is “…a combination of price, duration and number of stops.” Definitely a nice way to sort flights for those of us who are not fans of multiple airport connection hops:

Hipmunk search result screen

That’s some helpful stuff, but what I have had a lot of fun checking in on is the travel search dataset that flight search site Hopper is sharing via their Hopper Research. I first found this when they posted about the cheapest way to fly to all 30 major league ballparks – can you believe that it was just under $2,400?! That’s criss-crossing the country, as they worked off of MLB schedules and the 14,154 mile cheap trip checked in at $2,368 while the 9,004 mile trip wound up at $2,970. Perhaps baseball isn’t your cup of tea, then try their tool for finding the best deal to follow your favorite NFL team on the road. If you are more into outdoor adventure, then take a look at their Adventure Planner which lets you select from hiking, biking, camping, diving, kayaking and surfing and then see several top locations for your favorite activity overlaid with the best airfares to nearby airports. Finally, my favorite Hopper tool is the ability to see reports on flights from a selected airport, or flights between certain city pairs. This is something like what Farechase used to offer before Bing removed those results from their Bing Travel, but they are better in that they have more detail and depth are worth exploring to see what trends are going on in the world of travel. See below for a chart of the cheapest flights from Salt Lake City and digging deeper into the report shows routes with the highest demand and capacity – good things to know and keep on top of for any destination marketer – thanks Hopper!

Hopper SLC report

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Don’t be Afraid to Fail

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“Don’t be afraid to fail” is a common refrain in business. It’s one which is easier to say than to do. This is why it’s so interesting to see how one of the most powerful companies in the world, Google, really does act out this mantra.

As a recent example, here’s a recent Google+ post in which it was announced that Google search results will no longer display authorship results:


Google has used authorship as a ranking factor in their search results dating back to about 2011, but they have been phasing it out over the past year or so. There’s a great read on the history of authorship for search in Search Engine Land if you want to know more about how this project came about and then wound down.

 

To see how many projects have been “retired”, I do hesitate to call them “failures”, see the list of products from Google on Wikipedia and see the “Discontinued Products and Services Section.” It is quite impressive and quite telling in that many of the products have made re-appearances or been incorporated into other successful projects.

A company with the resources and size of a Google can afford to have many of their efforts not fully succeed because they have so many that do succeed and several that wind up being home runs or even moon shots. But, every company should remember that they cannot succeed until they have tried and not being afraid to fail is the first step in this process.

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