January 30, 2006

  • Some People Think TD.com Is Always Offline

    Do you type the www. whenever you want to visit a site? No? Well, you are not alone.

    Just as we learned that we didn’t need to say “http://” when promoting a domain, many marketers are now dropping the www as well. And since most sites are set up to redirect users to the website even without the www, people are learning they can cut out four keystrokes by skipping the “dub-dub-dub”. But what happens if your website isn’t configured correctly? You end up turning customers away like the TD Bank has been doing for years now. Try going to “td.com” — here’s what you see:

    <image lost due to link decay>

    Loads of visitors will look at this message and assume that their site is down (or has been hacked or something). Some might guess that TD just misconfigured their servers and try again with the www but the vast majority will assume the site is down.

    Even if only a few thousand people over the course of a year do this, what kind of an impression does it leave on those people when they get this message? “Their site is down? I’m not sure I want to trust them with my money then!” Or (in this case), “maybe they don’t want me at their site — it says I’m not authorized. But I have an account there — did they lose it?” So here’s something for you to do *right now* — type all your domains without the www and see what you get. If you don’t get your official site, you know what you’re working on this afternoon!

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on January 30, 2006.

  • Every Business Needs A Blog

    I truly believe this — every business must have a blog. Well, to be honest, every business should need a blog — I’m just not sure when we’ll go from “should” to “must”, so get one now and avoid disappointment.

    Way back in 1995 I would tell anyone who’d listen that they had to have a website because eventually everyone would use the web to determine what companies they were going to deal with. As hard as it may be to believe, this was a radical idea at the time and many scoffed. Few would scoff now — can you imagine doing business with any company that had no Internet presence? The next frontier isn’t the dissemination of information via corporate websites — that’s now table stakes. Increasingly businesses will need to convey authority and enter into conversations with their “fan club” (in the Seth Godin sense of the term).

    That’s what blogs do. Mark my words — by 2010 you will not trust any company, politician, pundit, author, or anyone else looking to promote an idea or service if they don’t have a blog. By default, people will assume you have a blog and if you don’t they will say “they must have something to hide”. Agree? Disagree? Are there some companies that will never need a blog?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on January 30, 2006.

January 24, 2006

  • Where Did Your Privacy Policy Come From?

    Let me play David Blaine for a moment and channel your inner thoughts. Think about your privacy policy. Imagine the first line of it. Read it silently to yourself in your mind and I’ll see if I can make out what it might be. Are you thinking “Your privacy is very important to us”?

    I had a client recently who provided me with the copy for their privacy policy page and it looked very sophisticated — and included privacy coverage for things we weren’t planning on doing on the site. And that got me to wonderin’…

    A quick Google search on “We offer certain features that are only available through the use of a “cookie”” revealed where they had found their policy. It looks like they aren’t alone because (at this moment) “We offer certain features that are only available through the use of a cookie” reveals that 718 other sites had the same idea. So where did your privacy policy come from?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on January 24, 2006.

January 12, 2006

  • The Big Six For 2006

    I have been invited to speak to the Council of Communications Directors for the ministries of the Ontario Government tomorrow morning. The topic is “The Big Six For ’06 — The Six Big Internet Trends In 2006″.

    Here’s the list I’m working from:

    1. Blogging
    2. Feeds
    3. Findability
    4. Search Marketing
    5. Simplicity
    6. Moving Beyond Text

    I’ve only got one hour to cover all this which means it will be a whirlwind tour of these key themes impacting all businesses using the Net today. My goal is really to snap their heads back and make them focus on how the Net — and our ideas about what is important online — are changing. Feedback on the list and how it impacts government would be appreciated.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on January 12, 2006.

  • Zip Is Amazing, But How Would You Know?

    While I would never want to invalidate Tessa’s critique of Zip.ca I did want to rise to their defense and say that after you are a subscriber the service is just fantastic. I’ve been a customer for over a year now and just love them. The site is a bit quirky but once you’ve used it a few times you get the hang of it and everything works just as it is supposed to. They’ve been amazing at delivering and collecting information about my DVDs and their shipping status and responsive to customer service requests. And they use e-mail really, well-personalized information about my account when sending regular shipping notifications that my whole family has come to depend on. Still, Tessa’s points are valid.

    If new users are frustrated during the sign-up process they’ll never get to experience the service. Another issue Zip has is that it is not entirely intuitive to non-users how life-changing DVD subscription services are. I use it as an example of the Net fundamentally changing business models — Zip is so much better than the local video rental place they’re in an entirely different league. But when I’m discussing the concept most people have a ton of questions about how it works, why I signed-up, lots of misconceptions, and a fixation on price and process. I think the same thing holds for other technologies that I consider life-changing — broadband, Macs, PVRs, digital cameras, HDTV, iPods, podcasts, and feeds come immediately to mind. Have you found technologies or online services that “rocked your world” but you still left you unable to make others understand why you were going on about them so passionately?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on January 12, 2006.