11
Nov
2011
A Short Story for You. +Ontolo V4 Screenshots & Details.
By: Ben Wills |

A short story for your Friday...

In the late 1800s, the Japanese Zen master Nan-in was approached by a western professor who wanted to discuss his understanding of Zen.

Nan-in kindly obliged.

When this particular, well-studied professor of philosophy met Nan-in, the professor began talking at length about what he knew and understood of Zen. As the professor talked, Nan-in quietly prepared and began pouring the professor a cup of tea.

And as the professor continued on and on, Nan-in kept pouring. And pouring. And pouring. And pouring. Nan-in kept pouring until the tea was running over the edges of the cup.

The professor, still talking about all of the great many things he knew about the practice of Zen, began to get nervous about what was happening, not thinking that Nan-in realized what he was doing.

By now, the tea had flowed over the edge of the cup, over the edge of the saucer and was about to run off the edge of the table when, suddenly, the professor was unable to restrain himself any longer...

"STOP! The cup has overflown and no more will go in!"

Nan-in stopped pouring the tea, set the teapot down and calmly looked the professor in the eyes and said:

"Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen if you don't first empty your cup?"

***

This story reflects a feeling very similar to when I realized that we had been designing the Ontolo toolset based on our own opinions and speculations. My own cup of tea needed to be emptied so that I could more clearly see that we weren't giving you what you really needed.

In short, we had to unlearn some things, let go of some beliefs that were rooted in what we thought we understood, and, finally, realize that we really can't do this without you.

From that moment on, for the past six weeks, we've worked every day, seven days a week, averaging more than 12 hours a day, to rewrite the Ontolo Toolset to better meet your needs as an SEO and link builder.

Looking at all of the feedback we received across the previous version, we had three main areas to focus our efforts for you:


1 - Making it as easy as possible to quickly find relevant and valuable link prospects.

We've eliminated the Basic and Advanced Search forms and have replaced them with a single, simple Search Prospects form. When you're looking for relevant and valuable link prospects, it's this easy:

Click here to see more, complete screenshots.

We've also added a couple other forms, including the ability to search your database for link prospects that link to X number of competitors. Imagine searching for link prospects that mention your top keywords and also link to two or more competitors... A customer I showed this to yesterday said it made his week. You simply can't understand the quality of this link prospect list without seeing it.

Getting stuck on a particular tool? No problem. Integrated into every tool, we've got:
1 - In-page, integrated, step-by-step guides that walk you along each input and the tool's output.
2 - Tooltips on every form input.
3 - Detailed documentation with use cases and examples.


2 - Increasing the amount and quality of results in order to to provide an undeniably high-value for the cost.

What we found is that once people got the hang of the Toolset, the value was usually pretty clear. But why should you need to work hard to get great results? That's our job to figure out how to make it easy for you.

So there's no question that you'll be getting your money's worth in relevant and valuable link prospects, we're doing three things:

* All account levels will get at least TWICE AS MANY PROSPECTS each month. Solo accounts will get 5,000. Professional will get 15,000. Advanced will get 30,000. Competitive more than doubles to 50,000.

* All account levels will get at least THREE TIMES AS MANY CAMPAIGNS. This one's for you, agencies. :) Solo accounts will get 3. Professional will get 10. Advanced will get 15. Competitive more than triples to 25 campaigns.

* Finally, and this is a big one for the Solo accounts: We're adding all SEOMOZ AND ALEXA DATA FOR SOLO ACCOUNTS, as well as the ability for custom tags and notes. All account levels now have access to the complete set of features. If you currently have a Solo account, you'll have all of your existing prospects caught up with SEOmoz and Alexa data when we release next week.


3 - Simplifying the interface to make it incredibly easy to smoothly integrate at every step of your link building campaigns.

Link building is tough enough as it is. To make it easier, our technology needs to be pretty complex. But using it doesn't need to be difficult...

This focus is a bit more of an intuitive change. Some things you might notice:
* More balanced proportions and spacing.
* More white space where it matters most.
* Faster, more integrated input->results interaction.
* Only the essential form inputs, tailored to the task.
* Two types of help immediately-available on every tool.

The big thing, though, is that we realized that we had just thrown together a mishmash of marketing tools and expected you to figure out what to do with them.

That's changed.

Now, in the navigation, we organize all of our tools by discipline (e.g. link building or SEO), then by process (e.g. "Link Prospecting" or "Reporting").

No longer do you have try and figure out each tool's output and where it fits in your process. The navigation now organizes all of it for you:

Click here to see more, complete screenshots.

All you have to do is know if, right now, you're working on prospecting, reporting, acquisition, etc.

It's that simple to start using each marketing tool.


The response to Wednesday's email was amazingly humbling. Between the conversations that happened on Twitter and Google Plus, then also the responses we got back via email, I think our community is quite special. Thank you all for your support.

We're working through the weekend, once again, to get this as close to perfect as possible, so we don't have a final date yet. I'll be sending only one more email, though, as soon as it's ready. When it is, we'll be opening up trials again.

When we release next week, everyone will be able to try the new version, free, for two weeks on any account level.

Have a great weekend and keep an eye on your inboxes.

Ben & Andy

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