Is your website a design glutton? Does it lust after unnecessary rich internet applications? Here’s how to get it on the path to redemption.In his epic poem, “The Divine Comedy,” Dante Alighieri outlined — based on earlier religious writings — what Christians call the “seven deadly sins,” a classification of vices to educate and instruct followers due to man’s tendency to stray from the righteous path. Centuries later, these sins — gluttony, envy, lust, pride, sloth, anger and greed — still remain front and center in theology and have also been a source of inspiration for writers, artists and filmmakers.But webmasters as well? Over the years, I have seen my fair share of websites, both good and bad. Interestingly enough, there’s often more to be learned from “sinful” websites — those that violate clear principles of good website design, create frustrating experiences for visitors, drive customers away and damage their overall brands or businesses. Although the consequences of website sins may not include eternal damnation, many businesses are committing these same seven deadly sins online, thereby diminishing their ability to connect with prospects and customers.Let’s take a look at how each sin applies to the fundamental do’s and don’ts of website design.GluttonyGluttony is the overindulgence of anything to the point of waste and is often used in the context of eating. Although web businesses may not have an eating disorder, they often become gluttons of content. All too often, websites feature too much stuff — a cluttered design, too many links or a layout that looks like it was designed by committee.Every page on your website should have a goal — a purpose. If you can’t clearly articulate that purpose, then maybe you shouldn’t have that page. Crowded sites usually distract visitors from getting to that goal, which may be reading the most important information, clicking on the essential link, registering for the email newsletter, buying your product and so on.In most cases, less is more. Identify the most important value statements, and then layer additional content so that visitors who want extra information can click to access. Time and time again, multivariable experiments have demonstrated that reducing the amount of copy, reducing the number of required forms in a field or just generally de-cluttering a site can improve conversion rates.EnvyEnvy is about wanting what others have. In business, this often translates to the temptation to imitate other companies, including competitors. Certainly, there may be sites that you admire, and online design and marketing practitioners should always seek out best practices. However, you need to resist the urge to copy or use similar design principles or incorporate every cool new widget that others are employing. Trying new ideas is always good and should be encouraged, but remember the fundamentals:Who are your visitors?What are they looking for?What content and technology helps them walk down a certain path?Not all companies need to be on the bleeding edge. In fact, we’ve seen instances where companies have added Web 2.0 functionality, only to see their conversion rates actually drop after implementation.It is best to keep in mind that what works for other companies, including your competitors, may not work for your audience. Very often, winning designs and elements are counterintuitive. For example, my company worked with an online retailer that insisted that its order buttons be a certain color — not because of branding reasons, but because of assumed best practices. The company thought green would be the best color because “green means go, and red means stop.” Well, through an optimization experiment, we indeed learned that the red button actually performed better and increased conversions.LustIt’s hard to imagine a website being lustful (assuming you are not in one of those industries). However, sites often attempt to be “sexy” — trying really hard to get your attention, perhaps by being overly flashy. Like the sin of being envious of the next cool technology, we have found that many sites tend to overuse, or improperly use, technologies like Flash and video. Rich internet applications (RIAs) are certainly the wave of the future, and if used well, they can provide a truly engaging and informative experience for your customers.Unfortunately, more often than not, these “rich” applications can distract visitors from the true goal of the site. For example, we’ve seen companies insert video in the middle of the shopping cart path. Imagine standing in a check-out line at the grocery store, anxious to get home and cook dinner, and the clerk tells you to “watch this short movie before checking out.” Before implementing RIAs, ask yourself, “Does this help move the visitor along the intended business path?” Like the “less is more” principle outlined in the sin of gluttony, often simpler navigation and simpler presentation of content maximize conversion rates.PrideIn religious references, pride — the excessive love of self — is often considered the most serious of the seven deadly sins. This is actually consistent with one of the long-time axioms of marketing: understand your customers and speak from their point of view. Yet despite this axiom, many companies have a self-focused web presence that talks about their own businesses, not about their customers’ issues. Successful websites are not purely about the company but rather should speak from the visitors’ perspective.If your mission statement starts with something like, “We strive to be the best at… ,” then you are already off base. Don’t be in love with what you already have, and don’t assume your customers know what you know. Many seasoned web designers would be surprised to learn how often customers claim it is difficult to find crucial information on websites — information that designers always thought was in an obvious location.Another example of pride is a bit more literal. Have you visited a website that prominently displays the CEO’s photo on the homepage? Fortunately, this is not done often, but when it is, the marketer likely has little political recourse. (“Hey boss, you’re great, but let’s get your ugly mug off the website.”). However, in multiple experiments that we have conducted with clients, every time the CEO’s picture was removed, visitor conversions went up. Unless the CEO is famous and recognizable and the association with him or her adds credibility to your business, lose the ego and the photo.SlothAlthough this sin is my personal favorite — particularly on a Sunday afternoon during football season — there are a number of ways sloth manifests itself online and hurts your business. First and foremost is the technical side of sloth:Does your site take a long time to load?Does the design of the site, including the inclusion of rich applications, create a slow, frustrating experience for your visitors?Sloth can also be fairly literal, as in laziness in responding to your customers. Recently, I sent an email to the customer service department of a big online retail chain through a link on their site (a link that was difficult to find, by the way). By the time the company responded, four days later, I’d already deserted its site and purchased my item from one of its competitors.But perhaps most important — and certainly most prevalent — is the lazy tendency of businesses to treat online visitors as if they are all alike. Today, excellent technologies exist to provide a targeted, relevant experience to visitor segments. Visitor segments can be defined by a host of criteria (e.g., how they got to your site, demographics, location, time, day, etc.). It is frankly just slothful not to take the relatively small amount of time, energy and money required to provide the best experience for all of your visitors. Improving customer targeting and engagement alone will make a dramatic improvement in your online business.AngerWhile it is fairly self-evident that a company should not show anger toward its customers, we sometimes see companies patronizing or scaring their visitors. The former often manifests when a company’s site is too pushy or tries to hard-sell its visitors. For example, the website of Lenox Financial Mortgage proudly states, “It’s the biggest no brainer in the history of mankind.” Really? I’d hardly call a mortgage the biggest no brainer in the history of mankind. Even before the current financial meltdown, this was a ridiculous statement. Never talk down to your customer. Once a visitor sees a headline like this, the company immediately loses credibility, and the visitor goes elsewhere.In the context of scaring customers, website optimization experiments have shown that negative assurance language (e.g., “no spam” or “no spyware”) often decreases conversion rates. This negative assurance language may only inform visitors of a problem they didn’t know they had and make them think twice before buying. By the way, our website optimization tests show that positive assurance language like “satisfaction guaranteed” tends to work.GreedIn the movie “Wall Street,” Gordon Gekko famously declared, “Greed is good.” The impact of this mindset may be particularly acute in the context of the current financial crisis, and as you can imagine, greed is often “bad” on the web. This may manifest itself in websites asking their visitors for too much information. For example, we’ve seen many website forms asking for a fax number. Do you really need a visitor’s fax number? If you can cut down on the information you require the visitor to provide, conversion rates will almost always go up. For example, Delta Air Lines made some simple changes to a web form on its site, including removal of the “suffix” name field, and those changes drove a dramatic increase in revenue.Always ask yourself if you are requiring visitors to commit too much before being allowed to work with you. For example, do they really need to register before viewing some of your content?Another way that businesses demonstrate greed online is the obsessive pursuit of search engine optimization (SEO). Although a strong SEO strategy should be a cornerstone of your web presence, very often businesses load up their site with content for SEO purposes. Greed for the Google spider often creates a bad experience for the humans visiting your site.The path to heavenMost companies that step back and honestly evaluate their websites quickly discover that they are bigger sinners than they had realized. Redemption is often only achieved by a comprehensive program of website optimization through multivariable testing and content targeting. This helps you discover what works for each of your customer segments, provides an engaging experience for all visitors and supports your online business goals. Whether you are a religious person or not, walking the righteous road and avoiding these deadly — yet common — sins will ultimately lead to website design salvation.Seth Rosenblatt is vice president of product marketing at Interwoven.Seth’s BioAs Vice President of Product Marketing for Interwoven’s Web Solutions business, Seth leads the team responsible for understanding the intersection between technology solutions and the need for modern businesses to transform and grow their online presence, build and strengthen customer engagement, and drive a truly global business.This article first appeared on www.imediaconnection.com.
. aka Kate in case you haven’t been watching the news), you probably haven’t been able escape the speculation of what the soon-to-be princess will be wearing on her big day. Overall, when you’re thinking about creating buzz for your company, whether it be over a huge product release, a new partnership, or simply a wedding dress, think about the non-traditional and bold ways you can make that news exciting to your audience. In fact, chatter about Kate’s wedding dress is one of the highest search trends on Google and every possible mention of it stirs up even more gossip. Keeping Middleton’s wedding dress under wraps actually teaches us an important lesson about marketing. Kate’s biggest secret – her wedding dress – is an excellent example of creating anticipation, excitement and The fact that we have to wait until April 29 buzz William and Catherine of money It’s common for companies to announce news when it happens. When this occurs, there is so much missed opportunity left on the table by not making a pre-announcement way beforehand. If William and Catherine decided to announce their wedding date on the wedding day itself, companies currently profiting from the event would lose out on 3. Give Your Audience What They Crave Everyone who’s into the Royal Wedding can’t stop talking about it and the media is certainly taking advantage. TV shows and online media networks have been featuring the wedding almost every day this week. Their audience wants to know every detail about the event, and the media is delivering. Look into ways you can satisfy your audience’s craving to create some word-of-mouth buzz. . What other takeaways do you suggest? Whether or not you’re into the most talked about wedding of the century (ahem, a lot When you think about creating buzz for your company, give a date (or approximate timeframe) as to when something will be announced, but give yourself enough time to generate that buzz. This is the same technique that movies do when trailers are released. This gives your audience an expected day that they’ll be waiting for. Final Thoughts th Here are three marketing takeaways from the Royal Wedding: 2. Don’t Give Away The Secret Too Early ). Think creative and out-of-the box when looking to generate buzz, and start by doing it early. here’s a copy Originally published Apr 28, 2011 3:23:00 PM, updated July 03 2013 1. Make Exciting News Early This is the same reason companies like Apple schedule exciting press announcements regarding new product releases: to generate pre-release buzz. In another example, Netezza (now an IBM company) created an entertaining video of a popular industry authority sneaking into their facility in order to get a first-hand peek of a not-yet-released product ( to see the dress is creating a snowball effect of buzz. Every day that gets closer to the wedding, the more fans itch to see it and the thrill of a possible glimpse of the dress itself keeps us captivated. But at the same time, we know when our curiosity will be satisfied, so we’re not left in torture. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Just a couple weeks ago, Google released a new feature — “in-depth” articles. The idea was to bring quality content to surface. According to research,10% of people’s daily search needs are for more in-depth content. So this new feature is intended to help unearth more of that in-depth content.But it also goes beyond that. “[Google’s] often said that the perfect search engine will provide you with exactly what you need to know at exactly the right moment, potentially without you having to ask for it,” says Jon Wiley. Clearly, Google is trying to make their search results more contextual (though that will be a work in progress, and whether “in-depth articles” actually address that need is yet to be seen).To stave us over until that time, I dug in and examined what we can learn about this new search engine results feature, and what it might mean for your content strategy.What actually shows up for these “in-depth article” results?What is clear is that currently, these new results seem to favor “big brands.” Meaning, well-known publishers are being favored, though Google does promise that “you’ll also find some great articles from lesser-known publications and blogs.” So stay tuned. Obviously their primary measure of “quality” right now (as far as these types of results are concerned) is based on reputation, hence the big brand names.What does this mean for you? Quality content that is well-researched, thorough, and original is a must have. The idea is for your content to be non-commercial, which means not focused on “selling” your business, products, or services. To show up in these results, your content should reportedly be about 2000-5000 words — not all of it, but about 10% of your content should — and it should be thoughtful and well-written so that it remains relevant for months even years to come. These results, for instance, provide high-quality content to help you learn about or explore a subject. Also, they are free resources — content that is not gated in anyway. What else do these results have in common?Rank: Content that didn’t previously rank now ranks on page one. Interestingly, the 3 “in-depth” results are counted as part of the 10 results on the page, even if they only appear at the bottom of the first page of results. For example, if you perform a search for Pinterest you’ll see 10 results on page one, including the in-depth articles.Markup: One of the ways that Google gets more of your content is based on what your code/meta data says, or markup language (which I’ll refer to as just markup). There is basic markup like a headline, alternativeHeadline, image, description, datePublished, articleBody, pagination, canonicalization, logo and authorship — all of which Google recommends to help your content appear for in-depth articles. However, notice how the New York Times article does not list an author. As such, it appears that you don’t really have to have all of these elements. It’s also suggests that your business or brand should have a Google+ account — and that’s not the case here, either. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack So, what do I absolutely need to have?Relevant Content: One thing that all these results have in common is topical (or keyword) relevance. Duh, you may reply. But that’s not so easily done when you’re harping on a magical keyword density. Instead, you want to write to make sure you cover every nick and cranny of a story/topic.Images: Every article has one (at least) primary image that is crawlable and indexable. It’s that image snippet that appears alongside the article in the search results.A Different Take on Things: In addition to being very thorough, all of these articles take a different spin on things. Again, Google is surfacing content that is original, probably has already performed well, and adds depth to a search.What results can I expect from this?In short, investing in thorough content does pay off. For example, we’ve seen a huge increase in exposure for a term that we didn’t even rank for before Google’s release, and have gotten some new business from it, as well.However, it’s still early in the game. But if nothing els,e you can expect a huge amount of brand exposure from working toward getting some articles ranked in this new section of Google’s search results.Have you notices a huge boost in traffic for certain terms? Have you looked in whether any of your content is ranking as an “in-depth” article, perhaps?Image credit: Larisa Deac Topics: Originally published Aug 19, 2013 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Google Updates
Originally published Oct 18, 2013 4:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Millennials, or Gen Y, make up the largest generation in American history. In 5 years, this demographic will be spending $200 billion annually, not to mention $10 trillion in their lifetime. So … where does charity fit into this picture, and how can your nonprofit start engaging with Millennials? Well, I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news.Bad NewsEngaging with Millennials to give and get involved in your nonprofit takes work.It also often requires a shift in thinking.Many people are already doing it.If you don’t do it well, your nonprofit won’t thrive — and could go face many difficulties in growing.Good NewsMillennials aren’t that different from “regular” donors.They want to be engaged in charities and causes.They have social influence that can spread your organization’s message.They have (or will have) more resources to give than you think.To ensure you take advantage of this substantially large group, I’ve laid out four ways in which your nonprofit can get on its way to connecting with Millennials (like me) and getting a piece of that $10 trillion dollar pie (which, by the way, will most likely be online pie).Inspire: Tell StoriesWe don’t get inspired about you — we get inspired by the work you do and the people you help. Those are the stories that make us feel alive and want to take action. Those are the stories you need to tell.Look at Invisible Children, for example. Those behind the Kony 2012 campaign are great at firing up Millennials, with stories of injustice and corresponding stories of success. The group offers tangible missions and challenges for their Millennial donors to take on.Impact: Show ItWe view giving strategically and to charitable organizations as just one of the ways we can use our resources to help our communities. We want to know and see the difference we can make if we give and get involved, so tangible impact is key. A great way to display impact on your site is by showing relevant stats and results.Nobody shows impact in simple, accessible ways better than charity: water. Yes, they have cool design, great videos, and a slick website, but those things alone don’t keep donors — Millennials or otherwise — around. Showing people how their donations are making an impact and what they are helping to achieve is essential for engaging Millennials. (Learn more about charity: water’s strategy here.)Incentivize: Tangible and Intangible BenefitsIn the world of fundraising incentives, premiums can be a controversial topic, as they can muddy the waters of altruism and giving for the sake of giving. What can’t be undervalued is providing incentives that are both intangible (like making someone feel special) and tangible (like offering matching funds or a trip to see the work for the winner).I helped run a social fundraising campaign for Dalit Freedom Network last spring, and we offered a simple one-to-one matching opportunity for two months as part of the campaign, which helped increase online donations over 300%! Matching won’t always work that well, but it works more often than not — and especially with Gen Y donors.Involve: In Meaningful WaysIf you want us to lick envelopes and that’s it, forget about it. But if you see our time as a useful asset, then you’re off to a good start. If there are opportunities for us to grow, connect, and even develop as people and professionals, now you’re offering something that really appeals to us.Opportunity International has started its own young professionals group, called Young Ambassadors for Opportunity, that focuses on frequent, local events to connect people together. They also provide special leadership and board opportunities as well as trips for people to see the work being accomplished firsthand. It all adds up to meaningful ways for Millennials to plug-in and keep connected.If you can make strides in inspiring your donors through stories, demonstrating your impact in concrete ways, providing extra incentives and meaningful involvement opportunities, I have no doubt you’ll have success in engaging with Millennials.If you’re looking for a more in depth discussing about these four areas, register for our webinar on October 24 at 3 p.m. EST, when we will dive deeper into engaging Millennials.Brady Josephson, a Millennial himself, is the Strategic Director at Charity Express, a Vancouver-based digital agency for nonprofits, and Client Success Team Lead at Peer Giving Solutions, a web platform company empowering storytelling and enabling fundraising. He’s also an adjunct professor at North Park University’s School of Business and Nonprofit Management in Chicago, where we received his Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration. You can read his thoughts at recharity.ca and follow him on Twitter at @bradyjosephson. Topics: Nonprofit Marketing
Retail Trends Topics: Growing up, my town’s local shopping mall was a bustling hub of commerce, chock full of busy shops and pesky tweens. But today, half the place has been gutted — it looks like an empty morgue of stores now.With the explosive growth of online shopping and a shift in consumer preferences for experiences over possessions, the retail apocalypse of 2017 was inevitable. Brick and mortar stores aren’t essential for consumers anymore.Ecommerce businesses can retain more customers by following this free guide.But contrary to popular belief, the retail apocalypse isn’t the final nail in the coffin for retail brands. Consumer preferences might have changed, but recent technological advances have allowed retailers to adapt to them.If brands truly want to rise from the ashes of the retail apocalypse, though, they must stay laser-focused on adapting to the evolution of this technology and their customers’ preferences. More specifically, they need to embrace change and prepare for the upcoming trends that will transform their industry in 2019.5 Retail Trends That Will Transform the Industry in 20191. Brands will sell experiences at their stores, not just products.Most people cherish experiences over material possessions. And while we can attach material items like our new iPhone or car to our identity, these objects eventually lose their allure, and we throw them away to replace them with the newest, trend-setting product. Material possessions can really never be apart of your true identity.On the other hand, we’re the sum of our experiences, so they’re ingrained in our identity. Sharing experiences with people also has a special ability to forge close relationships. And even if experiences end like your relationships with material objects do, they’ll always be a part of your story, allowing you to bond with other people who’ve shared similar experiences.For instance, who do you think you’ll connect with on a deeper level — someone who also studied abroad in Scotland during college or someone who wears the same Apple Watch as you?By setting up special shops that only sell experiences, like Nordstrom or Sephora’s new stores that only provide styling, makeovers, and sampling services, retailers can pull customers into delightful, memorable experiences that make much more of an emotional impact than buying a product.These experiences also make for a compelling story that consumers will always remember and be more than happy to share with one another.Image Credit: Retail Dive2. The Internet of Things will make shopping easier, cheaper, and more convenient.Since The Internet of Things connects over 11 billion everyday products, like home speakers, TVs, and cars, to the internet, retailers can collect hoards of data that provides context about their customers’ product usage. This allows them to send relevant marketing messages to their customers throughout every phase of the buyer journey.For instance, if you run out of milk or it spoils, a smart refrigerator can recognize your need and display a message on its screen or your phone about the best deals on milk in town. You can even order a carton through one of these smart devices if the refrigerator company partners with a grocery store.Amazon has also sold a similar device, called Dash Buttons, since 2015. Dash Buttons are physical pieces of hardware that you press to buy everyday products, like laundry detergent, dog food, and snacks. As of today, the ecommerce giant has partnered with over 200 brands to sell their products through Dash Buttons.Macy’s has leveraged The Internet of Things to help customers save money, too. Since 2014, they’ve used beacons, which are Bluetooth devices that send alerts to people’s smartphones based on their proximity to one of their stores, to promote discounts to any customer who walks by one of their stores and has their app.The app can also pinpoint your location in a store, so if you’re in the perfume section, the app will send you deals on the products and brands you liked online.It’s clear that The Internet of Things makes shopping easier, cheaper, and more convenient. And since Gartner expects consumers to possess over twice as many smart devices in 2020 as they do today, it’s also clear that the technology could finally move beyond hype and enter reality in 2019.Image Credit: Digital Trends3. Consumers will message brands’ Facebook bots more to vet and purchase their products.With businesses and consumers exchanging over 8 billion Facebook messages with each other per month, and the retail industry exchanging the second highest number of those messages, Facebook Messenger is one of the most popular and convenient channels for consumers to research and purchase retail merchandise today.53% of consumers also prefer to shop with businesses they can directly message on Facebook, so it’s crucial for retailers to set up Messenger bots that can handle moderately sophisticated interactions, like welcome conversations and product discovery conversations.To drive even more sales with Facebook Messenger, retailers should also build bots that can send abandoned cart messages and let consumers place orders directly in the app.Some of the top retail brands are already using Facebook Messenger bots to accelerate their buying process. With H&M’s bot, you can customize and buy your own outfits, and with 1-800-Flowers’ Messenger bot, you can order and ship flowers in under five minutes.Image Credit: MarketingLand4. Brands will leverage cognitive computing to provide better, faster customer service.Cognitive computing is technology that can analyze enormous amounts of data in the same way humans think, reason, and remember, so people can naturally interact with the technology and extract data-backed recommendations from itBrands who implement cognitive computing into their customer support technology are able to assemble two-pronged customer service teams that help provide better, faster customer service.By setting up computers and robots in their stores that can actually understand natural language and accurately answer people’s routine questions, a retailer’s human employees can service more customers who have more pressing needs.For instance, Hilton Hotels introduced their first ever concierge robot, Connie, in 2016, and she can help guests find the best attractions and restaurants in the area. Connie can even move and point her body to direct guests toward any spot in the hotel. All the guests have to do is ask her their question, and she can quickly help them out.With Connie’s assistance, Hilton Hotel’s front desk employees can focus on more important tasks, like picking up phones and checking in guests.Image Credit: USA Today5. Brands will use augmented reality more to market their products.The best furniture brands understand their customers’ decision to design a room is just like getting a tattoo. If they buy the wrong furniture, it could ruin the room’s entire aesthetic. On top of that, they’d have to deal with the embarrassment of living in an eyesore unless they shell out more money on some new furniture.Without being able to picture how a store’s furniture would look in their own home, customers will either stall their decision to buy any furniture or get mad at the brand if they buy the wrong sofa.To help customers avoid this situation, retailers like IKEA and Wayfair have developed augmented reality apps that can place fully rendered 3D models of their own furniture in their customers’ home. All the digital furniture is also resizable to fit a room’s dimensions and observable from any angle and in any light. Users can even save specific room designs for future reference.By leveraging augmented reality, these retailers have made it a lot easier for customers to engage with their brand, pick the right furniture for their house, and, ultimately, buy more of their products.Future proofing your retail store for 2019.The retail industry will keep evolving at breakneck speed, but hopefully, preparing for these five trends will arm you with the insights and skills to grow your retail store in 2019 and beyond. Originally published Oct 8, 2018 7:00:00 AM, updated October 17 2018 Don’t forget to share this post!
India’s Davis Cup match against Pakistan was on Thursday postponed to November after a security review by the International Tennis Federation.The tie was to be held in Islamabad on September 14-15.The ITF said it was postponing the tie under “exceptional circumstance”.”Following an in-depth security review of the current situation in Pakistan by independent expert security advisors, the Davis Cup Committee has taken the decision to postpone the Davis Cup Asia/Oceania Group I tie between Pakistan and India in Islamabad, due to be played on 14-15 September,” the ITF said in the statement.”The Committee concluded that this is an exceptional circumstance while the first priority of the ITF is the safety and security of athletes, officials and spectators,” it added.The ITF said the tie has been rescheduled for November, with the exact dates to be confirmed by the Committee no later than September 9.”The ITF will continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan and the Davis Cup Committee will re-convene to re-examine the security situation in advance of the tie,” the world body said.Also Read | BWF World Championships: Sai Praneeth stuns Anthony Ginting to reach quarters, HS Prannoy oustedAlso See;
India will start the home leg of the World Test Championship (WTC) on Wednesday when they take on South Africa in the first of three Test matches at the ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam and Sachin Tendulkar believes that the concept of the Test championship makes the series all the more interesting.Speaking to IANS on the eve of the first Test, Tendulkar spoke on the start of a brilliant concept like the WTC, Jasprit Bumrah’s absence from the high-profile series, the advantage of having a quality left-arm seamer and how the South African bowlers will have their task cut-out against the quality Indian batting line-up.Even as the Indian team gears up for the opening game of the Test series, they will miss their strike bowler in Bumrah. The pacer is out with a stress fracture and while Tendulkar agrees that skipper Virat Kohli will miss his services, the former skipper also believes that India have the required strength in the bowling attack to make up for Bumrah’s loss.”When it comes to Bumrah, you are surely going to miss someone of his caliber when he is forced to sit away from cricket for some time because of his injury. But, I feel the Indian team does have the back-up strength as far as our fast bowling department is concerned. It looks pretty good to me and so is the spin bowling department.”In the fast bowling department, we have got good back-up with plenty of experience now so we are in that fortunate position where even on the bench we have got very good options. We will miss Bumrah but not to the extent where if he had been playing for some other country where if you didn’t have many fast bowlers, you would miss your strike bowler. When it comes to spin bowling, the combination we have has delivered for a number of years and so, I feel that our bowling should be able to create that pressure on South African batting,” he explained.advertisementWhile the Indian team does boast of a quality bowling attack, the team is still looking for someone to fill the boots of Zaheer Khan, and Tendulkar feels that having a left-arm seamer definitely helps to not only bring in variation but also create rough for the spinners in the third and fourth innings of a Test match.”Yes, a left-arm seamer would bring in variety as more the variation, tougher it gets for the batsman. He would come into play on the first morning and more so when a team bowls third or fourth as the left-arm seamer would create the rough areas wherein the off-spinner bowling from the opposite end would use the rough, just like a left-arm spinner uses the rough created by the right-arm seamer. So, a left-arm seamer adds value to the team as a wicket-taking bowler as also in creating that rough patch for an off-spinner,” he pointed.Coming to the Test championship, the legend feels that the Test championship brings more context to every game and things will heat up in the last six months as every team will want to bag as many points as they can to finish at the top of the table.”I think the World Test Championship is important, more so for spectators as they would be following each and every match. I believe the last six months are going to get really exciting because many numbers will come into play. WTC means a lot to everyone and that includes cricketers also. I know cricketers will go out to win each and every match and at no stage the rubber will be dead.”In a 3-Test series, if a team has won first two games, then there is a tendency that people don’t follow sometimes and there is not as much excitement amongst spectators. But as far as cricketers are concerned, they will want to go out and win every match. What this has done is made each and every match significant, not just for cricketers, but for spectators also and that is really important for cricket,” he said.Asked about the likes of Virat Kohli promoting the longer format and making their love for Test cricket known, Tendulkar said: “When it comes to players advocating Test cricket, I feel it is wonderful thing to happen to Test cricket as I have always believed that Test cricket is the toughest format if it is played on good fair wickets. That will encourage spectators to come and watch upfront fast bowling and some great batting and then the spinners also come into play. So, they get a taste of all three aspects of cricket.”advertisementBut the little maestro also feels that an eye must be kept on the wickets being prepared for the games. “I feel this WTC would have a greater meaning if the games are played on good Test cricket wickets, otherwise, as we have seen earlier, you feel stagnated and you feel that the game is not going anywhere. That becomes slightly boring to watch. But if played on good wickets, it will generate good matches for spectators,” he said.India at home have been almost invincible in recent times and the master feels that South Africa will have their task cut out, especially with the Indian bowlers putting the SG ball to great use on Indian pitches.”This series is going to be a decent series. South Africa have very few batters who have come here and played in the longer format. So, somewhere they will have to make a lot of adjustments and change their thinking and game. There is no option but to be positive in mind. The Indian bowlers know exactly how to use the SG ball and there are stages during those 80 overs that the ball does peculiar things and that is something which our team understands very well. That is going to be a key factor as in when the ball starts moving and stopping. How long it has that zip off the surface, all that factors come into play.”I have noticed in India it is not always the new ball which is difficult to play. Sometimes, it is the ball after the 15th over and till the 45-50th over that is the tough period to play. I think all these elements will come into play when the Indian bowlers are bowling and even when we bat, we would know how to handle the South African bowlers. Yes, I have to say there are some good bowlers (in the Proteas team) so one would have to be on their toes and build partnerships,” he said.Asked about the Indian batting, Tendulkar said that there are some brilliant guys in there and for South Africa to do well, they will have to put big runs on the board.”We have got some terrific batters in the team where Rohit (Sharma) would be opening, Ajinkya (Rahane) will be back in the team with more surety, (Cheteshwar) Pujara is there, Virat (Kohli) is there, (Hanuma) Viharia number of guys are there. They will all add value and I see this series as a tough one for South Africa. A lot will depend on how many runs they put on the board. If they don’t put big runs on the board, I think it is going to be tough for them,” he signed off.Also Read | If Rohit Sharma can do in Tests what he did in ODIs, it will be great for India: Virat KohliAlso Read | Virat Kohli’s cheeky dig at media: No one turns up for T20IsAlso See:advertisement
Roger Federer said he had no more margin for error if he wanted to avoid an early exit at the ATP Finals after losing his opening group match to Dominic Thiem on Sunday.The 38-year-old Swiss, bidding for his seventh title at the event but his first since 2011, struggled to handle Thiem’s aggressive game as he went down 7-5 7-5.Only once in 16 previous appearances has Federer failed to survive the group phase, in 2008, and to avoid a repeat he will have to beat Italian Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday and most probably Novak Djokovic on Thursday.Djokovic, aiming to claw back the year-end number one ranking from Rafael Nadal, destroyed debutant Berrettini 6-2 6-1 in the day’s opening singles match at the O2 Arena.Thiem put constant pressure on Federer and broke at 5-5 in each set to claim his third win over the Swiss this year.”My forecast, it’s a normal tournament from here on forward,” 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer, beaten by Djokovic in an epic Wimbledon final in July, said.”Not allowed to lose anymore for me. That’s how it is every week of the year for the last 20 years, so from that standpoint there is nothing new there.”I’ve got to recover, I’ve got make sure I play better than today, and hopefully I can win that match (against Berrettini).”The warning signs were there in Federer’s opening service game which he dropped and although he hit back impressively he faltered at 5-5 when Thiem hurried him into errors.advertisementFederer had the majority of support in the packed arena but, try as he might, he could not find his A game in the second set as Thiem again dominated the baseline rallies.Thiem, who has flourished this year since hiring coach Nicolas Massu after a slow start to the season, broke again at 5-5 and although Federer fought hard and had a point to take the set into a tiebreak he was unable to turn things around.”I thought he played a tough first-round performance today, and my game was probably just not good enough, and the start didn’t help,” Federer said.Thiem will face Djokovic on Tuesday.Also Read | ATP Finals: Novak Djokovic eases past Matteo Berrettini in opener
Transfers Did Nike leak Coutinho’s move from Liverpool to Barcelona? Sacha Pisani Last updated 1 year ago 17:19 12/31/17 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(30) Getty composite Transfers Barcelona Primera División Liverpool v Leicester City Liverpool Premier League Philippe Coutinho The sportswear giant appeared to leak the Liverpool star’s move to Barcelona before later deleting the page in question Barcelona are seemingly preparing for the arrival of Philippe Coutinho as Nike appeared to confirm the Liverpool star’s signing on its website on Saturday night.Liverpool fans were left sweating when the giant sportswear manufacturer and Barcelona apparel sponsor appeared to leak the blockbuster transfer via its online store.Advertising customisation of Barca’s 2017-18 kit, a caption read: “Philippe Coutinho is ready to light up Camp Nou. Get your 2017-18 FC Barcelona kit with the Magician’s name on it. Act fast – free personalisation only available until January 6.” Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player Nike later deleted the page and it remains to be seen whether it was a PR blunder or online hacking.Coutinho has been at the centre of a drawn-out transfer saga as Barca try to lure the Brazil international away from Anfield.Barca reportedly had a £115 million offer for Coutinho turned down by Liverpool in August but the La Liga leaders are believed to be readying another bid in January.A deal worth £125m is reportedly in the works, with Liverpool more open to selling Coutinho at the turn of the year than they were in the summer.Indeed, Liverpool were blindsided by Barca’s approach in pre-season, with Coutinho central to their planning for the new campaign.However, time has softened their stance and allowed for proper planning to be conducted – the Reds have already agreed a deal to sign midfielder Naby Keita from Red Bull Leipzig in the summer, and have also completed the protracted signing of Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for a world-record £75m.Coutinho – who handed in a transfer request a – played 89 minutes in Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Leicester City in the Premier League on Saturday.The 25-year-old has scored seven Premier League goals this season, while claiming six assists.Barcelona are currently top of LaLiga, leading second-placed Atletico Madrid by nine points and bitter rivals Real Madrid, who lie fourth, by 14.Liverpool, meanwhile, are fourth in the Premier League, 17 points behind leaders Manchester City but four ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham, who have a game in hand.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Can you imagine traveling back to the middle of last season and telling yourself that in just over a year, this Oklahoma State offense would be one of the best in the country? Heck, can you imagine traveling back to the beginning of this season and telling yourself that? Don’t look now, it’s happened.For the proof we turn to points per drive, our trusty old tempo-free statistic that tells how many points teams score in non-garbage time, half-ending drives. Here are those numbers for Power 5 teams.1. Baylor: 4.532. TCU: 3.543. LSU: 3.494. Stanford: 3.435. Oklahoma: 3.346. Texas Tech: 3.287. Oklahoma State: 2.99AdChoices广告Wait, what?Oklahoma State has the 7th-best offense in the country among Power 5 teams? This stat is a little bloated because OSU hasn’t played the three best teams on its schedules, but it’s tough to fake it when it comes to points per drive (especially with garbage time taken out). And OSU has been getting better.“There’s been improvement across the board,” said Mike Yurcich on Monday. “We continually say this, ‘We need to improve in every facet, such as quarterback reads, receiver routes, blocking on the perimeter, protections, running back routes and everything else across the board.’ And I think you’re seeing an overall improvement in each area of the offense.“I don’t think there’s really one specific thing that we need to improve on, we just need to continue to improve and keep getting better as an offensive unit. Each practice has a purpose, we’re not just out there because it’s Tuesday and the schedule says there’s practice. We’re out there because it’s an opportunity to get better and I think our guys are understanding that philosophy and trying to work hard each and every day to get better at what we do.”Lets compare these numbers to past years.2010: 2.91 points per drive2011: 3.41[1. Sweet mercy.]2012: 2.902013: 2.412014: 1.88What if I told you this year’s offense is operating at a higher level than both 2010 and 2012? I know it doesn’t always look that pretty on TV and Texas Tech and Kansas are putrid, but OSU couldn’t score with ease on either of those squads last season like it did this year.“I thought we played really well on offense [against Texas Tech],” said Mike Gundy. “I thought our coaches had a terrific scheme, and our players understood the plan. You would hope that you don’t have to score that many points to win a game, but in this league, with the quarterback play that you’re seeing, it’s very similar to four or five years ago when we had several NFL quarterbacks in this league.“You’re going to see some numbers that are considerably higher than other conferences in the country. That’s just my opinion. It’s based on great quarterback play.”I’m not sure where OSU’s offensive numbers will end up at the end of the season (likely not around 3), but as for right now? This offense is bordering on elite.