If I Visit Your Site, Don’t Call Me

This morning, I had forgotten the password I used for a site that I needed to make a change on. The account is a free account, so I simply put in my email address and pressed the “reset my password” button. The email came in. I changed the setup. Then while I was on the site, I decided to add another item to my configuration. I’d forgotten that the limit for the free account was two items, and I already had two set up. The site redirected me to the paid signup form. A basic account was $20 per month. Not a huge fee. But the value of having three items monitored by the site was about $0.50 per month. Needless to say, I logged out of the account and moved on with my day.

I was in the middle of doing something else less than 10 minutes later when the phone rang, and I answered. It was the company whose website I’d just been on. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a programmer. I know it’s pretty easy to create a site that sends an email or a notice when someone does certain things on the site. But having someone call immediately after I’ve made a quick change on the site to sell me a service is a bit much. It’s a little bit creepy. It reminds me that my privacy is being violated every day I use the internet. I don’t mind the sales effort; I respect it. But if I had wanted to buy the service, I’d have bought. I see this as desperate. Maybe others don’t feel that way.

My $0.02

How People Read Websites — Eyeball Tracking

If you knew where people looked on your website, you’d probably put the most important stuff there, right?

There was a report from MarketingSherpa several years ago that used eyeball tracking to make recommendations for designing pages. Eyeball tracking actually measures where people look when they look at something (usually a computer screen).

Here’s an interesting (and useful) example of how people go about reading web pages.

I know this isn’t business software or ERP related, but it’s interesting. Hope you like and use!

Ice Cream and Vegetables | Leading Results

I don’t often post about pure marketing, but this article seemed to deserve a post. Randy talks about the tendency to want marketing to give instant gratification. His example is Groupon promotions which often lead to a rush of business from new customers that never come back. The loss leader turns into just a loss.

I think this is also true of electronic marketing based on search engines, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Check out Randy’s article and let me (or him) know if you agree!

Ice Cream and Vegetables | Leading Results.

Sad State of SEO – Search Engine Optimization

There is a cottage industry that offers to increase your results on the search engines. Some people think it works, but there are many companies out there selling what amounts to garbage for SEO.

The general concept is using the key word (say “accounting software”) on a web page or blog article. Some of the companies that sell SEO services generate pages that make no sense. Here’s an example: http://virtualblackswanmarketing.com/?p=7077. If you can figure this gobbledygook out, let me know.


How Often Should You Email?

Most businesses now days have or are building a list of email addresses to market to. The question is, how often should you promote your products to those lists? How often should you send email newsletters?

Quarterly? Monthly? Weekly? Daily?

There’s no hard and fast answer, except for “It depends.”

“On what?” you might ask. Here’s my answer: It depends on whether your email (primarily) provides information or is (primarily) self-serving. If your email newsletter (or tweet or Facebook post) provides information your customer might be interested in, you can send them more frequently. How frequently depends on the information and the list. Here are some examples:

  • I subscribed years ago to the CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) alert newsletter. They issue it as needed, but sometimes several times during a week. I don’t always read it, but I’m glad to see it in my inbox.
  • I subscribed (so they say) to several email newsletters that have turned into vehicles for promoting white papers. When the white papers are requested, very aggressive salespeople start ringing my phone. Multiple times a week. Here’s my answer: right click, Junk, Block sender. Unsubscribe? Why? It would just tell them they hacked me off. I want them to lose more subscribers before they figure it out.
  • I subscribed to a couple of tax newsletters from friends. They seem to send them infrequently. I notice particularly that they DON’T arrive around tax deadlines. Imagine that! I’d like to have these more frequently. They have great information.
  • And now to the reason for this post. I am on the email list of a consultant who is promoting a seminar. I assume the registration must not be going as well as hoped. I received invitations on 1/9, 1/16, 1/20, and today 1/23. The seminar is Thursday 1/26, so I wonder if I’ll get an email every day this week. I really would unsubscribe, but one of these days I might want to attend one of his events. Keep emailing me every day, though, and I’m going to hit the unsubscribe link.

Oh, and by the way. I once unsubscribed without realizing it from a newsletter I really wanted to attend. The organization was using a service like Constant Contact, Emma, or Mail Chimp to send the newsletter. It was like pulling teeth to get back on the email list. Lesson: You don’t want to lose subscribers.


Watch Your Spelling: Google is Watching!

Several articles (see the link below) discuss whether spelling and grammar on sites affect the Google ranking. The general conclusion is “Yes.” I have to admit that I’ve gotten emails lately from business associates that left me wondering if they were really the folk I wanted to do business with. I tend to judge the quality of a piece of work (mine or others) by looking at the quality of the spelling. Is that wrong? Perhaps, but it seems Google has the same idea.



Google On Spelling Mistakes On Community Sites.

Google+ — The Newest (?) Kid on the Block

By the time you read this, Google+ may not be the newest kid on the block, but for now it is, and it’s getting some attention (particularly because it’s by Google). Since Google+ is so new, many people aren’t sure what it will turn into. The way facebook tends to release new updates and force them into the system, some would rather have an alternative, and with Google’s market clout, there’s a good chance that this is an alternative to facebook. Studies are already appearing about the new social network: There’s an Eye Tracking Study, an introduction and SEO analysis, and an interesting set of experiments on Google+ and Twitter.

None of this means that Google+ will take off like Twitter and facebook. It at least illustrates the rapidity of change in the social media world, and the impact that one media item might have on another.

I consider Google+ to be in its infancy as of today. If you’re into social networking, sign up and join the party.
Oh, and drag me into one of your circles. I’m there.

Web Sites Revisited

In 2005, I wrote a book titled For-Profit Web Sites: A Second Look at How to Make the Web Profitable. It was a strategy book that focused on web sites as a tool for generating additional business and supporting sales. I thought about it the other day, and dug it out.
Frankly, I was surprised at how much of it was current. There are some dated references. Anyone remember the Palm VII?
But here’s the basic idea:

  • Find out how much traffic your web site is getting and what is generating it. There are many products out there to help you do this.
  • Figure out what key words will generate the most traffic for your site, and optimize on those words.
  • Once someone arrives at your site, offer them something of value in exchange for their contact information (I suggest email and first name).
  • Create an email newsletter, and send it on a regular basis.
  • Repeat the process of analysis to see how you are doing.

It’s a good process. It works. We’ve done it or some modification of it over and over for clients. Social Media is just a new twist on an old theme.
Drop me an email if you’d like a copy of the book. It needs updating, but it’s a quick and informative read.

Social Media and Twitter

Everywhere I go lately, someone is giving a presentation on social media, touting the benefits of it and the long-range promise. Few businesses I know report tremendous results from their social media. There are vignettes of businesses that have tremendous success, but there are also vignettes of people who won the lottery or gave $1,000 to a TV evangelist and became millionaires. I suspect in all of these cases that there may be some benefit, but that the probability of success is a little lower than the vignette implies.
Having said that, I ran a bit of analysis on our website. A year ago, we were doing almost nothing with Twitter and social media. Today we’ve revised the site and are moving quickly toward a social media presence in several venues. So here are some hard data items (I excluded visits identified as search engines):

Item 2/14/2010 to 2/20/2010 2/14/2011 to 2/20/2011
Number of visits 1247 2730
Unique Visitors 348 1267
Visited More than Once 251 391
Average visits per visitor 3.14 2.08