June 20, 2006

MarketingSherpa's Top 10 Best Blogs & Best Podcast of 2006: Readers' Choice Award Results

SUMMARY: The results are in -- here's your guide, including handy hotlinks, to MarketingSherpa readers' favorite marketing-related blogs and podcasts of 2006. Our hearty congratulations to all the winners -- with thousands of votes tallied, this was hard-fought race indeed!

Note: Curious about how we picked the winners? Scroll down to the bottom for the 'Behind the Scenes Story' on Sherpa's Awards.
Best B-to-B Marketing Blog

B2B Lead Generation Blog
by Brian Carroll

Sherpa Note: Our readership is 65% B-to-B marketers, so this was a hotly contested category. Brian won honorable mention last year and has moved up a notch, sharpening his game. That's tough in a world where blog fatigue can all too easily set in. Brian's new book on the same subject was released in May 2006 by McGraw Hill, so he's having a banner year all around!

Best Blog on Email Marketing

Chris Baggott’s Email Marketing Best Practices
by Chris Baggott

Sherpa Note: Email Marketing is a new category for us -- last year it was lumped in with 'online marketing'. Chris's blog won that category this year, and he continues to prove he can dominate his league. This year he also got the highest "Excellent" percent rating out of all 107 nominated blogs across 11 categories. A stunning victory.

Best Blog on Search Marketing

Search Engine Roundtable
Bloggers include: Barry Schwartz, Benjamin Pfeiffer, Chris Boggs, Kim Krause, Shawn Hogan, Ignacio Hernandez, Morgan Carey, & Dan Thies

Sherpa Note: This is the second year in a row for this group weblog to win the Search category. Notably, the voting for the entire category as a whole was fairly even (aside from one obvious ballot stuffer). The guys did not get the highest total votes, they were second-highest. However, they did nail the highest percent of "Excellent" ratings -- vs 'Not Bad' and 'Blah' and that's what matters.

Best Blog on Advertising

by Steve Hall

Sherpa Note: Does sex sell? We've seen data that it can depress ad campaign results. However, obviously it doesn’t hurt you as a blogger in the world of advertising. Steve Hall, known for witty commentary combined with ad photos of scantily clad young women, has obviously captured the hearts of advertising execs.

Best Blog on Marketing to a Specific Consumer Demographic

Andy Wibbels, the Original Blogging Evangelist
by Andy Wibbels

Sherpa Note: Andy's blog tells marketers and blog-writers how to attract the blog-reading public. Plus, he's now the proud author of of 'Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging' which got rave reviews from Business Week among others.

Best blog on Affiliate Marketing

by Larry Adams, David Andrews, Connie Berg, Jamie Birch, Chris Boyd, Dave Cole, Joel Comm, Brian Clark, Henry Copeland, Todd Crawford, Chris Criswell, Sean Crotty, Jimmy Daniels, Jeff Doak, Declan Dunn, Ola Edvardsson, Caryl Felicetta, Peter Figueredo, Bill Flitter, Ben Flux, Scott Jangro, Beth Kirsch, Jim Kukral, Duane Kuroda, Dan Leeds, David Lewis, Vinny Lingham, Chris Malta, Colin McDougall, Jonathan Miller, Jeff Molander, Mike Murray, Ben Padnos, Jeremy Palmer, Scott Polk,Wayne Porter, Rick Ramos, Peter Sampson, Chris Sanderson, Brook Schaaf, Tim Storm, Shmuly Tennenhaus, Adam Viener, & Brad Waller

Sherpa Note: ReveNews is perhaps the oldest blog in this Awards. Launched in 1998 as an RSS headline feed of affiliate marketing news, it's now packed with fresh, original content co-written by merchant-side marketers as well as top affiliate marketing consultants.

Best Blog on the Topic of PR

Active Voice
by Matt "PodBoy"

Sherpa Note: With a name like Active Voice, we strongly suspect this blogger will launch a companion podcast soon.

Best Podcast on the topic of Marketing

Across the Sound
by Joseph Jaffe

Sherpa Note: This is the first year for the podcasting category. We asked that only readers who actually listened at least a snippet of the nominated podcasts would vote for them. (Yes, we included a hotlink on the voting form to make listening easier.) Congratulations to Joseph for his first year victory!

Best Blog on Small Business Marketing

Duct Tape Marketing
by John Jantsch

Sherpa Note: In what can only be termed a Landslide Victory, Duct Tape wins its category for the third straight year in a row. Way to go John!

Best Foreign-Language Blog

Marketing-Blog Biz -- Besserwerberblog * Marketing für Besserwerber
by a Frank Herold, Heiko Walkenhorst, Ralf Siegfried, Klaus-Martin Meyer, Christof Hintze, Marlon Ikels, Michael Herrling, & Heike Schugens

Sherpa Note: Thanks to our German-speaking readers who voted for this blog. Even if you don't read German, definitely check out this blog's great logo!

Best Blog on General Marketing Topics

Seth Godin’s Blog
by Seth Godin

Sherpa Note: Seth's been either a winner or an honorable mention every year, and generally mops up both more votes and more "Excellent" ratings than anyone else in his category. He's also one of the only marketing-household-names in the category. So, are people voting because they adore his blog or because they've heard of him? Either way, we're impressed and you should be too. If you're a marketing consultant, Seth's brand awareness stature is one to shoot for.

Honorable Mentions: Five More Blogs That Deserve Your Attention

In races that were extremely close, and/or where the runners' up had unusually high "Excellent" ratings, we felt honor-bound to give a shout out to honorable mentions. Here are MarketingSherpa's 2006 Honorable Mentions in alpha order:

-> Adland
by (Nom de Guerres): Dabitch, Claymore, Caffeinegoddess, Robblink, Trivia King, Code Guru

-> Future Now: A Day in the Life of a Persuasion Architect
by Howard Kaplan, Anthony C. Garcia Jr. , Dave Young, Jim Novo

by Joel Welsh, Jonathan Hudson, Joan Isabella, & Sloan Brothers

-> The WebMarketCentral Blog
by Tom Pick

-> Ypulse
by Anastasia Goodstein

Behind the scenes: how MarketingSherpa's Blog & Podcast Awards nominations, voting and ballot counting process works:

On Monday June 12th, we emailed our 237,000 readers -- primarily marketing professionals in corporate America -- an invitation to nominate their favorite blogs and podcasts on a marketing related subject for the 3rd annual Reader's Choice Awards.

Nominations were free. Readers could nominate multiple blogs or podcasts if they had more than one favorite. However, no Sherpa staffers were allowed to nominate (or vote) -- this was strictly "reader's choice." In the end, we received a total of 1,028 nominations.

We closed the form at midnight Friday July 16th and then began frenzied work on preparing the final ballots. Two separate staffers visited each nominee's site to determine if it was qualified to go to the final round. Qualifications were:

- Must have been launched prior to Jan 1, 2006 (ie some postings dated 2005)
- Must be updated at least roughly weekly or more frequently
- Must be written by a named individual or group of individuals
- Content must primarily be on a topic related to marketing

After qualifications and de-duping (some blogs/podcasts were nominated multiple times), we ended up with 107 final titles for voting.

On Tuesday, June 27th, we again emailed our 237,000 readers, plus an additional small group of folks who'd asked to be alerted via the nominations form, to let them know the voting form was live.

Then, everything promptly went to heck!

Although our voting form provider had upgraded servers two weeks before in anticipation of heavy response, the avalanche of traffic (more than 100,000 visitors) caused the voting servers to falter and then give way.

Within 12 hours, we had a back-up system in place. We then emailed our readers an apology, plus a fresh hotlink to the new form, noting that if they had already voted, their votes were safely counted already. We also extended the voting deadline by three days to midnight June 26th, to be sure everyone who had been turned away the first time had a chance to return and vote.

We asked the voters to only vote in the categories where they had time to personally evaluate each blog or podcast. So, much like the Academy Awards, not everyone voted in every category. However, we can assure you that due to the deluge of votes, more than enough were collected for each category to make a fair conclusion about winners. Blog and podcast titles were also presented in a continually changing randomized order, so no one title had extra advantage from appearing in a particular position on the list.

We did allow people to return to vote more than once, mainly because with 11 categories we thought voting might be onerous in one sitting. Also, thanks to the wonders of online survey technology, we are able to eliminate most individual "ballot stuffing" from the final tally.

Voters were asked to take four factors into consideration:
#1. Personality
#2. Usefulness
#3. Design & readability
#4. Would you revisit?

Instead of a yes/no vote, voters were asked to check boxes next to each blog/podcast in a category to reflect the quality of the title. We also hoped this would eliminate some "ballot stuffing" due to self-promotional efforts from nominated blogs, because friends might vote an honest opinion (perhaps Not Bad) rather than being forced into a yes/no judgment call. The three quality options were:

A. Excellent
B. Not Bad
C. Blah

After the online polls closed, MarketingSherpa's stats team examined the results carefully and declared the winners.

Key -- the total number of votes received was generally far less important than the percent of votes that were "Excellent." We were far more interested in perceived blog/podcast quality than we were in the number of votes a particular nominee might be able to send to the voting form.

This meant in several categories the title with the highest total vote count was NOT the title that won. Instead, the title that was voted the highest quality was the one that won. In all cases, more than enough votes were received (minus possible ballot stuffing) to ensure the winner's quality was fairly statistically accurate.

And that's what reader's choice is all about!

Note: Would you like to be involved in next year's Blog & Podcast Awards? Sign up for your choice of any MarketingSherpa email newsletter and you'll receive alerts as part of your newsletter when the time comes in 2007. Signups are available on our home page.

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