February 28, 2005

  • URLs As Marketing Tools

    I was just looking at “Answers.com”, the latest incarnation of “GuruNet” and I was impressed by their intelligent use of URLs.

    If you haven’t used answers.com yet, know that it is an interesting variation on standard search engines in that it aims to answer questions directly whenever it can rather than pointing at relevant external pages. It makes money by providing sponsored links and affiliate programs alongside the proprietary and third-party content presented for each term.

    As you would expect, you can go to their site and enter a term like VoIP in their search box. What impressed me was that you can also type “http://answers.com/voip” into your browser and it will come back with the same results. In effect, every term they track is given a unique virtual folder on the site making for incredibly clean URLs. You can even type strings like “http://www.answers.com/viral marketing” (with the space) into your browser, and get results.

    In these days when more and more people are creating content (blogs, forum posts, e-mail, IM, etc.) this URL strategy makes it very easy for people to link to answers.com to quickly define their terms. This is certainly a conscious strategy on GuruNet’s part. In fact, each term also has a “link tool” that provides cut-and-paste linking options. “Here’s the Link Tool for VoIP”. Any other good examples of the smart use of URLs?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 28, 2005.

  • Flash Shopping Cart Boosts Conversion Rates

    Forrester Research just released a new study on how Flash shopping carts increase conversion rates over traditional HTML carts. You can “pay Forrester US$345 for the report” or you can thank “Pixelbox” for doing the same thing.

    Before you get too excited about Flash-enabling your e-commerce site, note that Forrester recommends eliminating known flaws from your current HTML process as a starting point.

    Any good examples of Flash-based shopping carts out there other than Forrester’s “TJ Maxx example”?


    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 28, 2005.

February 22, 2005

  • Canada Post Launches Fetch

    Canada Post is recently launched Fetch. The “site is now live”.

    There was a brief Globetechnology article back on January 25th about the fact that Fetch is being piloted in Calgary (which is somewhat unusual). (The article is no longer on the site)

    This quote from the article does a good job of explaining the service at a very high level:

    The Fetch service allows a user to set up an account with Canada Post, and input personal contact information in confidence. When users see an advertisement from a company participating in Fetch, they request that information be sent to that on-line account, either by entering a text message on a cellphone, or through an interactive voice system. bq. Advertisers would pay only when a consumer requests one of their offers, and individuals would pay nothing for the service.

    Congrats to Warren and Tim for getting this off the ground after a huge amount of internal work. It will be very interesting to see how this turns out. My guess is it will be a fundamentally new way of protecting consumer privacy while letting marketing through the veil, or it will be a flop. I doubt there is a half-way for this type of model. I’m hoping for the former as I like the idea of bringing greater interactivity to the offline environment.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 22, 2005.

  • What We’re Watching In 2005

    Here are a few of the top trends I’ll be watching closely in 2005:


    1. “Web First” Marketing Strategies — Forget integrating online into the marketing mix, I’m seeing more smart companies *starting* with the web and working out from there. For some of my clients this will be the first year where they have moved almost all their efforts (and dollars) to the web. Look for offline media to play a supporting role for many more savvy marketers in 2005. And look for web AORs to take the lead as other agencies fall in line with the online strategies set by the web shop.

    2. Rich Internet Applications — With Gmail, Flickr, Basecamp, Bloglines, and the brand new 43 Things I think we are really seeing the dawning of a whole new class of online experience. By bringing far greater functionality to their sites, these services are showing that online applications can rival desktop apps. I think 2005 will see a blurring and stretching of our concept of what the terms site and software mean. Look for ways to turn content sites into tools that users can use instead of read.

    3. Desktop Apps — The flip-side of the web-based applications trend is the rise of net-centric desktop apps. Think of iTunes and RealRhapsody, FeedDemon, or Google’s Desktop Search. 2005 will also see more sites creating custom Firefox extensions and IE toolbars to keep top-of-mind with consumers. Don’t expect all your marketing to happen in a browser or e-mail client anymore.

    4. Firefox — With over 15 million downloads since November 9th, the best web browser on the planet will stir things up as it rapidly gains marketshare on the old, buggy, unsecure Internet Explorer. One of my clients (with a non-tech audience) had over 8% of December traffic arriving via this open source app. This makes the move to standards-compliant sites even more essential as “IE Only” sites will alienate too many visitors to be worth the risk. As a side-note, let’s see if heads roll over the dreadful non-standards redesign of Indigo’s site.

    5. RSS Hits Mainstream — Feeds were the hot tech topic in 2004 and 2005 will find this incredibly powerful tool gaining broader awareness. If you’re not using a feed reader to stay on top of the industry already, you are definitely missing the boat, and if you are not thinking about a corporate strategy to benefit from feeds in 2005, then shame on you.

    Of course, search will be *the* online marketing success story for 2005 as it was for 2004, and blogs will continue to grow in importance. What do you see for 2005?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 22, 2005.

  • Ajax Is The Future Of Web Applications

    One of the key “trends we’re watching in 2005” is the rise of Rich Internet Applications. I think that Jesse James Garrett’s recent article “Ajax: A New Approach To Web Applications” will really help build the momentum behind the movement. Particularly because he’s introduced a new buzzword to describe things like “Gmail” and “Flickr”. He says these applications are built on “Ajax” (Asynchronous JavaScript + XML).

    This is a topic to watch as “everyone is talking about it”.


    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 22, 2005.

February 21, 2005

  • Marketer of the Year with No Online Strategy?

    Marketing Magazine “recently named” Tim Hortons as their 2004 Marketer of the Year. Admittedly, Timmy’s has done a great job with their offline branding and the company is a success. But their “web site” is pedestrian and for a company that outsells McDonald’s in Canada ($2.5 billion to $2.28 billion), I would suggest slightly embarrassing. And I don’t think they have ever done any serious online marketing (“correct me” if I’m wrong).

    My first thought in reading they’d won was “this could (and should) be the last year that a marketer without a serious online strategy gets named Marketer of the Year”. But in reading the article this quote caught my eye:

    The company’s low-key approach reflects the fundamental brand character of Tim Hortons, which the marketing team sums up in one word: unpretentious. “In a way it’s really how you would describe a Canadian,” says Cathy Whelan Molloy, VP of brand marketing and merchandising. “We talk about it being unpretentious, friendly, honest, caring and dependable.”

    It may be that someone at Tim Hortons believes that websites are too high falutin’ for an unpretentious brand like theirs, but I find it hard to believe that there isn’t a way to effectively integrate online into the overall marketing mix for this brand without losing their “down-homeness”. After all, if they can repeat dozens of sophisticated TV spots hundreds of times each week and be seen as unpretentious, can’t the web do the same or more? So, I ask you, dear reader, does Tim Horton’s deserve Marketer of the Year without a serious web strategy? Can one create an effective online strategy for a brand that looks to be down-home, local and unpretentious? Or is the best strategy, in this case, to stay offline?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 21, 2005.

  • Canadian Marketers Who Blog

    Recently I asked the AIMS Discussion List what blogs by Canadian online marketers they read. Here’s the list they came up with in the order they arrived in my inbox:

    • “Mitch Joel” http://www.twistimage.com/blog/
    • “m u s i n g s” http://www.themose.ca/blogger.html
    • “IM @ XIST” http://www.xist.com/01/index.php
    • “Ebizblog.ca” http://www.ebizblog.ca/
    • “For the Love of Words” http://tanja.blogware.com/
    • “davemadethis” http://www.davemadethis.com/blog
    • “zarinblog” http://www.zarinmedia.com/blog/
    • “BPWrap: A Different Point Of View” http://blog.cre8asite.net/bwelford/
    • “The Other Bloke’s Blog” http://www.strategicmarketingmontreal.ca/blogger.html (Also Barry Welford but more of a Montreal focus)

    What’s with the weird dotcommie names for many of these blogs? Are we kickin’ it old school? Is it even possible to be nostalgic for six years ago? What blogs would you add to the list? What non-blog sites do you use to stay on top of online marketing in Canada (other than One Degree of course)?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 21, 2005.

  • Subway Offline to Online Promotion

    Subway is running a limited access promotion at “Way To Dough”. The promotion is doubly limited because only stores in Atlantic Canada, Alberta, Eastern Ontario, Northern Ontario and Saskatchewan are participating and you need a game card from a participating store to enter.

    The contest is being promoted through TV and radio spots that prompt consumers to visit a store to get a game card that can, in turn, be used on the site to enter. “Marketing Daily” (sub req’d) recently said the promotion “offers players the chance to build their own toasted sandwich to win food or cash prizes. The campaign is designed to raise brand awareness and drive traffic to participating Subway restaurants…”

    The promotion was put together by “Venture Communications” in Calgary.

    What do we think of this strategy? Is the value in driving consumers in-store, or in the database they’ll build from the site? Does running the contest online vs. just doing a scratch and win in-store or via mail-in increase participation, or are there other advantages?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 21, 2005.

  • GlaxoSmithKline Behind herpeshealth.com

    “Marketing Daily” (sub req’d) points out that “HerpesHealth.com” is a GlaxoSmithKline web site. The article states:

    The initiative, with creative by Ogilvy Healthworld in Toronto, in includes print and television ads that focus on the tagline: “Genital herpes–don’t give your new relationship a gift from the past.” Print ads, to appear in national consumer magazines, show a bottle of perfume–a typical romantic gift–with the words “Genital Herpes” on the label, along with the campaign tagline. The TV spot follows the same creative concept. It shows people passing on a bottle of perfume as if it were being passed from one relationship to the next.

    It’s unclear if the fact that the site is “GlaxoSmithKline’s” is hidden because they aren’t legally allowed to market themselves, or if they are deliberately avoiding it looking like a marketing site. Given that the legal footer identifies them as the site’s owner there isn’t much secret, but one senses that this “bury it in the footer” stuff raises suspicions in consumer minds. The average herpes sufferer (take the quiz and find out!) who visits the site will be left wondering why GlaxoSmithKline had to hide. It looks like they are up to something even when it is unlikely they are.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on February 21, 2005.

February 20, 2005

  • My Mother The Poet Goes Online

    Over the holidays we got my mother online with an old desktop PC we had kicking around and broadband. She’s taken to it like a duck to water.

    Ever since I was very young (and maybe before) my mother has always written poems about things that happen in her life. She just e-mailed me this:

    Ready for a challenge? You bet!
    I am going on the INTERNET,
    flying into Cyberspace,
    joining the computer race.

    My kids, very generously,
    provided the opportunity.
    Installed by Ken, the computer pro,
    here I am, ready to go.

    So many questions I had to ask!
    Am I really up to the task?

    But Ken, with his expertise,
    quickly put my doubts at ease.

    Compose Email, click to “Send”
    converse with family and friend.
    For info, the website is a treasure,
    finding answers a real pleasure.

    Here I am now with my biggest toy,
    having fun, so much joy.
    I wonder, should it be told,
    that I am 84 years old?

    Ilse Schaefer

    February 19, 2005