All posts from 2007

Deciphering Web Analytics

by Kelly Kubrick on December 17, 2007

By Kelly Kubrick – first printed in HomeBuilder Magazine, Vol.20 No.6, November 2007, reprinted with publisher’s permission.

Last issue, we discussed the need to review your web analytics reports so that you can understand the value your website offers you and your visitors.

The first time you look at your web analytics reports, you may find yourself overwhelmed by unknown language, incomprehensible charts and graphs and contradictory numbers. In fact, this may be the case the first couple of times you look at the reports. Hang in there – all will eventually become clear!

Speak to your webmaster about how you can access your web analytics reports. Typically, you’ll be given a website address or URL to go to, and also a name and password so that you can access your confidential data. However, before you log into your web analytics tool, it helps to know that there are generally four categories of information available to you:

1. Volume of traffic
2. Source of traffic
3. Content consumed
4. Activity levels

This month, we’ll focus on volume; how much traffic are you getting in a given period? Critical metrics are “visitors” and “visits”. Ignore “hits”. Hits are not an accurate measure of demand; instead, they are a technical metric and irrelevant to a business analysis.


Think of the number of visitors as a very rough proxy for the number people arriving at the site. Rough, because there are several factors which may skew the number one way or another, but for now, stick with people. So, how many visitors did you have last month? Is that more, less or the same since last month? Any theories why?


Next take a look at your visits; these tell you the number of times you see a visitor in a given time period. As an example, let’s assume a prospective customer (visitor) arrives at your sales centre on Saturday and again on Sunday. According to web analytics, for that week, you would count one visitor with two visits. So, how many visits did you have last month? Is that more, less or the same since last month? Any theories why?

Typically, you will see more visits than visitors, simply because of Internet consumer behaviour in our increasingly high-speed environment. In the early 1990s, researchers from PARC (Palo Alto Research centre) coined the term “information snacking” to describe this trend. Given the increasing availability of, and decreasing cost of broadband connections, we now see that website visitors ‘snack’ on information versus during “the dial-up days”. Today, visitors spend less time on any one site, but visit more frequently, for a shorter time, and to answer a specific question.

Depending on the web analytics tool your company is using, you may find slightly different names for the various metrics. For example, you may see “sessions” instead of visits. You may also find that you can’t find the “visitor” report. This means that the web analytics tools is not as good as it could be, and that’s a problem. You need to be able to understand demand for your website, and you’ll do that best with a combination of visitor and visit reports.

On the other hand, some of you may find other reports such as “new versus return visitors”, which can tell you if the majority of your traffic comes from people you’ve never seen before or people you’ve seen regularly. Think about how you treat prospective home buyers – you speak to them very differently the very first time you meet versus when they come back to purchase their second home through you. However, if you don’t remember that returning customer or his or her particular needs, you can damage the relationship – and potentially lose the next sale.

The same thing applies to website visitors – how would you communicate differently to someone if it’s the first time they see your home page versus the fifth, or fiftieth time they see it? Yet, we often leave the exact same messaging up on our website for years at a time, regardless of who’s looking at that page, or how often they’ve been there. Your web analytics reports can offer a wealth of information about your potential and actual customers; review them and begin quantifying the reach your website is delivering.

Kelly Kubrick is former Director of E-Commerce at Time Warner in New York, now President of Online Authority, an Internet marketing consulting firm.

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Kelly KubrickDeciphering Web Analytics

Thank you WBN

by Kelly Kubrick on December 5, 2007

Many thanks to the Women’s Business Network (WBN) of Ottawa for the invitation to speak at their November 2007 luncheon. It was a pleasure to meet so many WBN members, learn about their companies and to have the opportunity to discuss today’s Internet marketing trends.

Thank you WBN members, for your interest in Kelly Kubrick’s and Online Authority’s particular passion – demystifying the Internet and teaching business owners how best to take advantage of the opportunities it offers.

Further, my thanks to Sue Smarkala of Adlerian Counselling and Consulting Group Inc for the great summary of the presentation.

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Kelly KubrickThank you WBN

How Much Is Your Web Site Worth?

by Kelly Kubrick on November 2, 2007

By Kelly Kubrick – first printed in HomeBuilder Magazine, Vol.20 No.5, September 2007, reprinted with publisher’s permission.

Last month, I discussed why home builders need to invest in a credible Internet presence and suggested a process to follow in order to ensure you do build a profitable presence. Curious about where to turn your attention next?

Today, best practices in Internet marketing assume that “web analytics” – or the analysis of traffic to and through your web site – is a core part of your decision making process. Why? Essentially, it’s because times have changed; at first, companies felt compelled to have a website – good, bad or ugly – but nowadays, companies need to know how much value the website actually generates.

As with any asset, value is a function of performance. Was it worth the dollars spent? Will it continue to generate a return? In the case of the Internet, this is all the more important as the website may now represent an opportunity cost; dollars you might have otherwise spent elsewhere. Increasingly, companies are pondering the question of marketing budget allocation. Typically, marketers debate how many dollars should be spent on outdoor signage versus print literature, print and broadcast advertising vs. direct mail. Ideally, the allocation is based on the most efficient spend – the one that brought the highest return for the dollars invested.

What happens when you throw the Internet into that mix? The first issue that crops up is that unless the marketing budget is on the rise, spending on the web generally assumes a reduction in spend in other channels. So – what gives, and by how much?

To facilitate that discussion, you need to clearly understand the value of your website relative to other channels. To do that, let’s return to web analytics. Officially, web analytics refers to “the objective tracking, collection, measurement, reporting, and analysis of quantitative Internet data to optimize websites and web marketing initiatives.”

Sounds great – but where is that data? And how can you get your hands on it?

By virtue of having a website, the computer – called a web server – that hosts your site, generates the data. This is what makes the Internet unique from other channels – it’s highly measurable. By virtue of a visitor requesting to see one of your web pages, a stack of data is generated to record that transaction. It’s like visiting the bank – your teller will ensure you have a record of all information relating to each transaction – the date and time, the source or location where money was withdrawn from or deposited to, etc. The web offers the same kind of data – and in fact, so much data, that the bigger problem is acting on it.

There are a variety of web analytics tools available to see the data your web server generates. As always with marketing tools, they can be found for very little cost (if any in some cases), to thousands of dollars per month. Ask your webmaster which tool you use and how you can access the reports. If there is no such tool, you have a bigger concern to address first – you need to investigate why the web server data is not being captured and processed for your use. For, as some old wise sage said, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Assuming that all is well however, the metrics you should focus on at first are visitors, visits (sometimes called sessions), sources of visitor traffic, and content consumed during visit. Each one of those metrics will tell you something about the value your site is generating. For example, how much use the site is getting, by how many people? You can also learn how those visitors found you. With that information, you can begin to compare the Internet to your other marketing channels – is the web generating more prospects than print? Or of a different quality? For more or less cost per lead? What does that imply about future marketing efforts?

As a final comment, notice that the list of metrics does not include ‘hits’. This is of critical importance – hits are not included because they are not an accurate measure of demand. Repeat that – “hits are not an accurate measure of demand”. Unfortunately, many web site owners talk about ‘hits to my website’ as if that represented the number of visitors arriving at their site. Instead, hits refer to the weight of a given web page. That’s right – the weight. That’s like measuring how many kilograms of prospects came to your sales center instead of the number and value of prospects who visited. Not particularly useful – and neither are hits.

Instead, think about value – what is my website doing for me today? Could it be doing more? The likely answer is yes – but you won’t know until you take a look at that data. Next on the agenda – what the numbers mean and what you should do about them.

Kelly Kubrick is former Director of E-Commerce at Time Warner in New York, now President of Online Authority, an Internet marketing consulting firm.

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Kelly KubrickHow Much Is Your Web Site Worth?

Internet Marketing Today

by Kelly Kubrick on November 2, 2007

On November 20th, 2007, Kelly Kubrick will be speaking to the Women’s Business Network (WBN) of Ottawa. The WBN is  “an organization of like-minded women, interested in making relationships to create more business…and has celebrated over 20 years of involvement in the business community.”

She’ll be discussing “Internet Marketing Today” and in particular,

  • How this IS your mother’s Internet (Or the geeks have left the building);
  • Proof that the web is different than print;
  • What you & the Internet can learn from the Yellow Pages;
  • Why sharing your sandbox with robots is a good thing;
  • The truth behind the emperor and his clothes
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Kelly KubrickInternet Marketing Today

Thank you OHBA!

by Kelly Kubrick on September 28, 2007

Many thanks to the Ontario Home Builders’ Association (OHBA) and host, the Greater Barrie Home Builders’ Association, for giving Online Authority the opportunity to present at this week’s 2007 OHBA Annual Conference in Blue Mountain Resort in Collingwood, Ontario. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the storied origins of Two Men and a Truck from Mary Ellen Sheets herself. It was a pleasure meeting everyone and seeing the strength of the home building community in Ontario. Thanks again!

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Kelly KubrickThank you OHBA!

Marketing Strategy: Integrate the Internet

by Kelly Kubrick on September 14, 2007

By Kelly Cook – first published in Business Matters, a publication of the Greater Ottawa Chamber of Commerce, Volume 2 Issue 8, January – February 2004

Like phone, mail and email, the World Wide Web is simply another channel for those looking for information about your company or category. However, if your organization is still debating the value of an Internet strategy, I’d ask if that same organization would consider marketing itself via an unlisted phone number. Today, an organization without a visible, professional website is essentially doing just that.

Your first step in establishing an Internet strategy is to align it with your marketing strategy. If you don’t have one of those, you need to do three things:

  1. Establish your target market in terms of total size (dollars and units) and then segment it appropriately for your business. Perhaps by geography (Ottawa region or Canada?), sector (do you sell to the private, public or non-profit?), demographics (Women? Male teens?)?
  2. Establish your position relative to your competition. Are you more or less expensive than them? Do you offer higher quality? Faster turnaround times? A narrower or wider product line?
  3. Establish your annual marketing budget.

The third step is often the one that appears to be the most difficult. However, it’s actually quite simple – most companies simply take a percentage (e.g. 5%) of their annual gross revenues. That dollar value translates into their annual marketing budget. Next, identify what marketing vehicles you are currently using, and how much you are paying for each – for example, business cards vs. postal mailings vs. advertising? Finally, ask what percent you would be willing to test on the Internet as an alternate vehicle.

The following table illustrates how three different companies might arrive at their annual marketing budget, and thus, how each would arrive at an Internet marketing budget:

Assuming a five-page website (Homepage, Customers / Clients, Products / Services, About Us and Contact Us), $1,000.00 would allow you to ‘lease’ basic webpage templates with your logo and copy. For $2,000.00, you could ‘purchase’ web pages built to your specifications. For $3,000.00, your site can be professionally designed and built, updated, promoted and measured for performance. The latter step is critical if you intend to measure Return on Investment (ROI) for the project.

Web site launch costs should typically break down as follows:

  • 50% Technology: domain registry, hosting, ‘building’ (HTML) and testing / quality assurance
  • 20% Design: the “look and feel” of the website (page layout, colours, fonts, images and graphics)
  • 20% Planning: competitive analysis, budget, site map and copy
  • 10% Marketing: promotion of website and analysis of web site performance reports

Knowing these costs, you must decide if Internet marketing is right for your organization. A few statistics about the state of the Internet nation today to help you decide:

  • &2% of Canadian adults have Internet access. Of those, 91% go online to search for product information (versus any other activity) .
  • 8.8 million Canadians per month are ‘active’ Internet users and per capita, 52% of Canadians are online (#2 in the world – ahead of the US) .
  • Worldwide, more than 600 million searches per day are executed on the Internet . Of that search market, Google dominates with 55% global usage share .

In 2003, Statistics Canada researched showed that only 24% of Canadian small businesses had a website, compared to 74% of large companies. This is bad news for small businesses – their lack of investment in this area means that they are ignoring an important and potentially low-cost marketing opportunity. Do not make this mistake!

There are four separate but consecutive steps to launching a website: planning, design, production and marketing. It is critical to follow this order; otherwise timelines and costs will spiral out of control. Planning begins with competitive analysis; identifying your organization’s position online relative to your competitors’. Next, develop a ‘site map’ (a visual snapshot of the site hierarchy and proposed number of web pages) and a budget to identify all likely expenses in advance of actual expenditure. Finally, write the full site copy including the web page body copy for human visitors and Meta tags for the search engines. Typically, a five page website will need approximately 2000 words of copy.

The challenge in writing website copy is that it must be written for two different yet simultaneous audiences. The first audience is humans reading your web pages, and the second is search engine and directory robots who ‘index’ your web pages in order to include them in the search results. For the latter audience, each unique HTML page in your website must have HTML body copy (vs. graphical copy), a TITLE tag, a Description META tag and a Keyword META tag.

Each audience has different requirements, yet both types of copy must complement the other. In order to maximize your site’s search engine ranking it is critical to provide consistent, relevant and precise copy. A critical step is to understand how your human audience perceives your product, service or organization (versus how you would like to be perceived). You must identify the terms or phrases your target audience inputs into search engines when looking for product or service information. For example, you might like to think you sell “pre-owned vehicles”, but few users search using that term. They search for “used cars”. Adjust your copy accordingly.

The second step is design – and I cannot state strongly enough how critical it is to pay a professional to complete this step for you. The Internet is a visual medium, and you should play to its strengths by presenting yourself in a visually compelling and professional manner. A designer should present you with optional ‘looks’ for your site and once you settle on the ‘best of’ elements of those options, the designer will create a ‘final’ digital file of the pages. Next, the ‘builder’ or HTML producer will take the designer’s files and build’ each page formatted to the design specifications and ‘pour’ in your copy. Finally, the producer should test the site with you and make final ‘fixes’ before launch.

You’re back in the spotlight for the fourth and final stage – marketing. To achieve your intended ROI, it is your responsibility to drive traffic to the website. To state the obvious, for your website to be effective, your target audience must be aware of its existence. Print your website address everywhere (business cards, brochures, invoices, stationary, packaging, uniforms, trucks, etc.), thus building the awareness of those who already know about your business. Next, build awareness for those interested in your product or service category by including your website in search engine results with the goal of constantly improving your ranking.

Following these steps will allow you to make informed decisions about your Internet strategy, without feeling pressured into spending more than you are comfortable with.

Kelly Cook of OnlineAuthority is an Internet consultant formerly of Time Warner in New York and member of the Greater Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.

“Canadian Netizens”, NFO CFgroup, January 2003.
“CyberTrends”, ComQUEST Research, Winter 2003.
“Population Explosion!”, CyberAtlas, September 2003
“Multi-Country Report”, comScore Media Metrix Canada, March 2003.
“Searches Per Day”, Danny Sullivan, Editor, SearchEngineWatch.com, February 2003
“Search Engine Ratings”, OneStat.com, May 2003

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Kelly KubrickMarketing Strategy: Integrate the Internet

Internet Marketing Tips 10 – 20

by Kelly Kubrick on August 31, 2007

By Kelly Cook – first distributed by The Empowerment Network from Women Moving Forward, February 2004

Previous: Internet Marketing Tips 1 to 10

10. To make sure your website is visible in search engines results, you must ‘optimize’ the copy and code of your website for two different yet simultaneous audiences. The first audience is humans reading your web pages, and the second is search engine and directory robots who ‘index’ your web pages in order to include them in the search results. Each audience has different requirements, yet both types of copy must complement the other.

  • When writing the site copy for your human audience, ask some trusted friends or colleagues to critique your copy using the perspective of a website visitor typical of your target market. Is the copy user-centric versus organization-centric? Does it answer all the questions the user might have? As quickly as possible?

11. As stated in Tip #10, to make sure your website is visible in search engines results, you must ‘optimize’ the copy and code of your website for two different yet simultaneous audiences. The second audience are the search engine and directory robots who ‘index’ your web pages in order to include them in the search results. You must make your website is “search engine friendly” by providing the robots with certain pieces of information including a “TITLE” tag, a “Description” meta tag and a “Keyword” meta tag. The TITLE tag is critical – it is what search engines display when they list your page in the results for a keyword search.

  • When writing your Title tag (one per unique web page in your site) be specific about the content of the page but limit it to no more than 60 characters including commas and spaces. Do not use “Company Name” as the only copy in your TITLE tag as this tends to clutter search results. An example of an Title for a ecommerce vendor is:

<title>Shopping Cart Software by MonsterCommerce – Ecommerce Solutions</title>

12. Search engines use the Description META tag as the summary for your site when listed in search results. It is what tells a real person whether or not your site is relevant to their search. Without this tag, a search engine may describe your site for you by displaying the first hundred or so characters from the top of your page, which may not make sense to the reader.

  • The Description tag should not exceed 250 characters in length including spaces and commas, with the most important content placed at the beginning. An example of a Description META tag for a Veterinary Association is:

<META name=”description” content=”About animal health, safety; pet loss, buying a pet. Information on veterinarians.”>

13. Unlike the TITLE and Description tags, the Keyword META tag is intended solely for search engine robots, providing them with a list of keywords and phrases reflective of the subject and intended audience of your site.

  • The Keyword tag should not exceed 250 characters in length including spaces and commas (or approximately 15 words), with the most important content placed at the beginning. An example of a Keyword META tag for a furniture store is:

<meta NAME=”keywords” CONTENT=”furniture, furniture stores, furniture store, discount, bedroom, baby, kids, living room furniture, outdoor furniture”

14. Now that you’ve finished your planning phase, the second phase in launching a website is design. The secret to limiting the number of hours you need to spend on design fees is to do the following:

  • Hire a website designer and provide him or her with your site map and site copy. Ask for three different mock-ups of your web site homepage to help you decide what you like / dislike about each design. As the mock-ups do not need to be functional web pages, the designer can limit the number of hours needed to provide you with a final version that combines the ‘best of’ elements of the three original mock-ups.

15. The third phase in launching a website is “production”. This is when the HTML code is written, or when your web pages are actually ‘built’. To complete this step:

  • Hire a website producer and provide him / her with the site map and the site copy from Tip #6, the homepage design from Tip #7 and for a price to build the site based on that planning material. Once you agree on the price, the producer will begin building and then ask you to test the site. Once you approve the site, it can go live!

16. The fourth step in launching a website is all about you – marketing! Your job is to build awareness of the site:

  • Print your URL on all marketing material (business cards, invoices, envelopes, trucks, hats, etc). List all the places you currently print your phone number and add the URL – ideally in a larger font than the phone number itself.

17. As discussed in Tip #16, build awareness of your web site via search engine listings. Due to the fact that Google provides search results for its own search engine as well as several other search engines (e.g. AOL Search, Netscape Search) it hold 75% – 80% market share*. Thus, if your website is to going to be found by users, you’ve got to make sure it’s listed prominently in Google under your company name and under your product or service category – for example both “Home Hardware” and “hardware store”.

  • Submit your website to Google

*Source: ”7 Secrets to High Google Rankings”, Stephen Spencer, Netconcepts, February 2004

18. One of the ways that Google improves your ranking is based on “importance”, which is defined by the number, size and relevance of content of websites which link to your website.

  • To encourage sites to link to you, create a links page where you can offer a reciprocal link to them.

19. Once the site is launched, take the time to assess the effectiveness of your website by reviewing your “usage statistics” or “traffic” reports on a monthly basis. These reports are available through your hosting provider at no extra cost. Among other things, the reports can tell you how many visitors you’ve had over what time period, where they’re coming from and other critical marketing information.

  • Contact your hosting provider and ask them how to access your website traffic reports. Review them on a monthly basis and make decisions about how to improve the site based on that information.

20. The most important statistic to review in your website traffic reports is the “visitor” or “session” metric – not “hits”! Hits simply count the number of elements on any given web page (such as the number of graphics), not the number of visitors to the page. So – if you have five graphics on a page, you’ll get five hits for each visitor. Hits are a very inflated number and don’t reflect the actual usage levels of your site.

  • Review your traffic reports and focus on visitor or session trends (not absolute numbers). Relative to your target market size, are your website visitor numbers increasing, decreasing or staying flat, over what time period?
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Kelly KubrickInternet Marketing Tips 10 – 20

Twenty Internet Marketing Tips

by Kelly Kubrick on August 31, 2007

By Kelly Cook – first distributed by The Empowerment Network from Women Moving Forward, February 2004

1. Not having a website today is like trying to do business with an unlisted phone number – a bad idea all around. Your customers are online and looking for you! Without a website you make your competitors lives easier and you may begin to lose credibility with clients, employees, the media and possibly your suppliers or vendors.

  • Establish an opinion about the importance of the Internet in your marketing strategy. Have you ever criticized a company business for not having a website? What did you think of them when you couldn’t find them online? Has your company ever been criticized for not having a website?

2. To help you establish an opinion about the importance of the Internet, here are two reasons why your company should market itself on the Internet: 1) Statistics Canada research discovered that only 24% of small businesses in Canada have a website (compared to 74% of large businesses) and 2) 72% (17 million) of Canadian adults are online and 91% of them are online looking for product information.*

  • Decide if you want to be one of the 76% of small businesses without a website. If so, don’t you think you might be missing a significant opportunity to promote yourself to those segments of your target market that are online? You must establish a point of view and then act!

*Source: “Multi-Country Report”, comScore Media Metrix Canada, March 2003, “Canadian Netizens”, NFO CFgroup, January 2003

3. An Internet marketing strategy is most effective when it is integrated with your overall marketing strategy. In order to do that, your overall marketing strategy must be able to answer some critical questions:

  • What is the total size (in units / dollars) of your target market (e.g. Ottawa vs. Ontario vs. Canada vs. North America vs. the world?)? What are its segments (e.g. Women? Men? Professionals? Students? Etc.). How are you positioned against competitors (are you better? faster? less expensive?).

4. A critical part of your marketing strategy involves setting an annual marketing budget. Many companies set their annual marketing budget based on a percentage of revenues (e.g. 5%).

  • Identify all of your marketing expenses (business cards, direct mail, sponsorships, etc.) and note how much you are currently spending on each item (in dollars and as a percentage of the total budget). Are you within the limits of your budget? Or do you have some room to experiment with alternate forms of marketing?

5. To integrate the Internet into your marketing strategy, think about the Internet is as a relative (not absolute) marketing expense – it’s not a technology problem! Of your total marketing budget (established in Tip #4)…

  • Decide how much you’d be willing to test on the Internet: 1% of the total budget? 5% of the total budget? The result will tell you how much money you have available to launch, promote and maintain a website.

6. Expect to spend 50% of your website launch costs on technology related expenses (domain registry, monthly hosting fees and hiring someone to ‘build’ your web pages). Expect to spend 20% of your costs on design, another 20% on planning and 10% on marketing.

  • Take the Internet budget you established in Tip #5 and list each individual Internet expense you anticipate. This will tell you how much you can afford to spend in Year 1 of the website (including launch and maintenance costs). Are you over, under or even with your forecasted Internet budget?

7. When launching a website, there are four distinct phases: 1) planning, 2) design, 3) production and 4) marketing. The best way to stay on budget and on schedule is to approach the phases in that exact order. Begin with planning:

  • Review your competition online, establish a three-year budget, draw a site map and write all the copy for your site. If you complete these steps before you think about design, you’ll save yourself time and money during the later phases.

8. The first and most critical step in writing website copy is to understand how your audience perceives your product, service or organization. Force yourself to think of terms they might use (versus those you would like to be perceived as). For example, you might like to think you sell “pre-owned vehicles”, but few users search on that term. Instead, they search for “used cars”. Adjust your site copy accordingly based on search term research.

  • Identify the terms or phrases your target audience inputs into search engines when looking for your company website, product or service category by using tools such as the Search Term Suggestion Tool at www.overture.com or at www.wordtracker.com.

9. The simplest approach is to writing your website copy on a page-by-page basis. Best practices for websites state that a minimum of five pages are needed to answer most users’ questions: Home page, Clients / Customers, Products / Services, Contact Us, About Us. Assume a minimum of 250 words of body copy are needed for each web page in your site.

  • Write the copy in the order that is most important to the user – not your organization. To maintain this perspective write the Clients / Customers page first, leaving “About Us” until the very end.

Next: Internet Marketing Tips 10 – 20

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Kelly KubrickTwenty Internet Marketing Tips

OHBA Collingwood Conference

by Kelly Kubrick on August 31, 2007

On September 27th, 2007, Kelly Kubrick will be presenting “Tips for Website Effectiveness” at the Ontario Home Builder’s Association (OHBA) Collingwood Conference 2007. The OHBA is the voice of the residential construction industry in Ontario and their 4000 members produce over 80% of the housing stock in Ontario. They represent every aspect of the residential construction industry. We’re looking forward to the event!

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Kelly KubrickOHBA Collingwood Conference