December 19, 2003

  • Separating Store From Products

    Signal vs. Noise Weblog asks whether Separating Store From Products is the best strategy.

    My guess (and this is a brand new thought) is that for some sites there are three modes for using the site — browse, search, and shop. This implies that you should be able to access the same information in all three modes. It might be that a “Store” is a way of looking at the information on the site rather than a separate place. I would argue that product pages without a “buy” button are impotent and should be avoided as they leave the potential customer without a way of reaching an obvious goal.

    In this model, “store” might not be a product catalog per se, but rather a view of product lists enhanced by retail merchandizing, suggestive selling, etc.

    Like I said, this is a brand new idea, but I’m warming to it already.

December 18, 2003

  • Wharton Discusses Online Music Business

    There’s a great [email protected] essay that examines “Which Online Music Service Will Have the Longest Playing Time?”

    I think the article is pretty much spot on in its analysis of the market and its rather buried assertion that Rhapsody (or at least the streaming model) will be the long term winner.

    The article makes one mistake I believe. In discussing consumers’ natural desire to own music instead of subscribing to it, I think the point is missed. I’m pretty sure that the average North American spends more time listening to radio than to CDs. To me this implies that streaming services replace BOTH radio and CD purchases. While most people look at a service like Rhapsody as “Renting CDs” which doesn’t sound that interesting, I think of it as “Having a personal radio station that I control completely”. That does sound interesting. Particular for $10 a month.

    The article also makes a small point about value conscious consumers baulking at subscription fees, but I think that the opposite is true. If you only had $10 to spend on music per month, would you buy ten downloads or subscribe to unlimited access to over 400,000 songs?

December 17, 2003

  • Predictions for 2004

    Here, in no particular order are some of the things I expect to see in the coming year:

    1. SEM rises to dominate online marketing: Any marketer looking to sell anything online should be starting (and in many cases ending) their online ad spend with search engine marketing.

    2. Blogs become the best way to find out about most stuff: I regularly read over 100 blogs that provide me with greater depth, better commentary, and faster breaking news than anything other news source. Look for more and more of us to depend on blogs for our industry insights. Smart marketers will incorporate blogging into their overall corporate communications strategy.

    3. Increased focus on meeting user needs instead of corporate goals: I hope for this one every year but I’m now seeing signs that companies are starting to take user experience and user benefit seriously. Let’s hope all sites work on meeting our needs instead of theirs.

    4. A more pragmatic approach to e-mail: In 2004 e-mail marketers will be happy if the message even gets there. Watch for spam filters, increased privacy concerns, and inbox fatigue to reek havoc on response rates.

    5. RSS prepares to take centre stage in 2005: I am a strong believer that RSS will dominate retention-based communication in the future, but I don’t think RSS will be on enough marketers’ radar to hit critical mass in 2004. Watch for leading edge companies to use 2004 to define the future of this amazing new channel.

    6. Social Networks will have a make or break year in 2004: Social Networks were named THE hot technology of 2003 by Business 2.0 and I expect that 2004 will see the sites go mainstream and at the same time, work out privacy and business model issues. There will be an inevitable shake-out and many will fade away in the coming year. Watch for LinkedIn to gain momentum as the most privacy and value focussed network for professionals.

December 16, 2003

  • Online Marketing Book Recommendations

    Recenting I asked a whole whack of smart online marketers (the AIMS Discussion List) if they could recommend one definitive, current online marketing book.

    I got a bunch of responses, but no one could identify one book that provided an overview of the essentials of online marketing. I can’t believe that the subject is too large because authors tackle much broader topics (like, say, how to market in ALL channels). It must be that publishers have lost THEIR appetite for this topic.

    Here’s a summary of the feedback I received.

    Pete Mosley says you can start and stop with:

    “The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual”

    Rick Levine, Christopher Locke

    Doc Searls, David Weinberger

    Buy at amazon.com

    Buy at amazon.ca

    Howard Firestone of iPerceptions suggests anything written by Seth Godin and particularly points out Seth’s latest:

    “Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable”

    by Seth Godin

    Buy at amazon.com

    Buy at amazon.ca

    Lisa Wong of the City of Calgary thought SEM was key and that this book was essential reading:

    “Search Engine Visibility”

    Shari Thurow

    Buy at amazon.com

    Buy at amazon.ca

    While not really a marketing book, Brian Bimm suggests you might want to check out:

    Online! The Book

    by John C. Dvorak, Chris Pirillo, Wendy Taylor

    Buy at amazon.com

    Buy at amazon.ca

    So my search continues. If you come up with other online marketing books worth a read, let me know.

December 12, 2003

December 11, 2003

  • Perquest — Payroll as a Web Service

    Good overview of Perquest by Rafe Needleman at Always-On:

    “First of all, payroll is a difficult accounting function to track. According to David, there are over 3,500 payroll tax authorities in the United States, and if you mess up your compliance with one of the myriad payroll laws you could get fined. Apparently four out of 10 small businesses get nailed each year, for about $840 per infraction. So it’s important to keep a payroll system up to date, and as Marc, David, or any Web services wonk will tell you, that’s a lot easier when there’s only one central system to manage, instead of one at each of your customers’ locations. Small business owners, who are unlikely to have an IT department, are also less likely than large businesses to regularly update their line-of-business software.”

    I really like ASP/Web Services like Salesforce.com and this looks like another winner.

    The “kipple” as Philip K. Dick would call it keeps piling up in our lives blocking out what is important — the things we really get paid for (or enjoy doing for their own sake). We’re expected to manage more tasks ourselves all the time in this self-serve world. And all of those tasks become more complex and regulated over time, so the skill required to manage these tasks well often increases. Web Services and online applications can do a lot of the heavy lifting that allows people to have an “expert on call” when needed. I particularly like Rafe’s article because it points out that one of the key advantages of Perquest is the fact that best practice and legal compliance is baked into the application.

December 10, 2003

  • Thought

    Dave Winer does a good job of explaining how the BBC handles their RSS Feeds. I like that they made the “RSS” link on the page go to an explanatory page and they then provide a link to the RSS from this page where the non-HTML link has a bit more context for newbies.

December 9, 2003

  • Thought

    I got an e-mail today that appeared to be from Amazon.com, saying that my account had been inappropriately accessed. Other than the vague, poorly written nature of the message, the e-mail looked legit.

    After a bit of investigation I found out that Amazon is actively going after these thieves and is requesting that those receiving such messages forward the spoofs to them as attachments. You can read more about this on Amazon.com’s Stop Spoofing Page.

December 8, 2003

  • Definitive Online Marketing Books?

    While I’m using the lazyweb, I’ll add this as well:

    Recently I was asked to recommend a really good (and current) book that explains the essentials of online marketing. I could think of lots of books that touched on one or two aspects of Net marketing, but I didn’t have any idea what to suggest for an overall “guide to online marketing”. Most of the ones I found on Amazon seem to be pre-dot-bomb, and therefore not that useful.

    I’d therefore like to solicit the advice of you my good reader.

    If you could recommend just one online marketing book what would it be? If there isn’t one book, do you recommend books on specific aspects of online marketing? Send me the name and author of your favourites and I’ll publish the list.

  • Thought

    I’m looking for some current, reliable stats on where web site traffic typically comes from. Something that says what percentage of visitor guess URLs, come from bookmarks, from search, from ads, from links at other sites, etc.

    If you know of any good resources for this, let me know.

  • Thought

    Shari Thurow offers a good overview of how not to get involved with Search Engine Spam. Let’s hlope that most people reading this will look at the points covered as a “don’t do” rather than a “figure out how to do without getting caught”.

December 6, 2003

  • Thought

    Fred Wilson (“A VC”) has posted well about Getting The Mail Through. The article describes the big issue facing any legitimate e-mail sender these days — getting the message to your subscribers. This problem cannot be underestimated. Huge amounts of user wanted e-mail are not getting through because upstream filters are deeming it spam even though the user has requested it.

    ESPs will most definitely be positioning themselves as the “way to get through” this mess. Of course they’ll have to work very closely with their customers to make sure that their lists ARE in fact 100% legit.

December 4, 2003