April 25, 2006

  • Even Amazon Can’t Sweat ALL The Details

    While I think of “Amazon” as a company that really gets what it takes to do business online, even they can make the occasional mistake. Those nice folks in the e-mail marketing group at amazon.com just sent me one of those “because you bought… we thought you’d like to know about…” messages pointing out that “The Criterion Edition of Late Spring” is about to be released.

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    Can you spot the problem? On the site, the price is $39.99 while in the e-mail it says “$39.95+$0.04 sourcing fee”. Oops. I’m really not picking on Amazon here, just giving you something to point to the next time you send an “oops” to your list. Just show this to your boss and let her know that even Amazon can’t sweat all the details!

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 25, 2006.

  • What’s Interesting In Canada?

    This evening at “DemoCamp 5” I will be announcing a new feature here at One Degree called “Interesting”.

    For too long Canadian companies — whether start-ups or established firms, boys in the basement or girls in the garage — have had very low visibility in the market. Could you name ten interesting Internet ideas coming out of Canada right now if someone asked you to? I’m not sure I could and I’m supposed to be on top of all this stuff!

    At least that was the case before BarCamp (and its little brother DemoCamp) started doing an amazing job of highlighting bright ideas. The industry is now coming together as it hasn’t in a long time. With that in mind, I wanted to figure out a way to help those DemoCampers take their message even further while also spotlighting interesting companies that don’t necessarily fit into the DemoCamp format.

    To that end, ”Interesting” will be a place for us to showcase Canadian companies and individuals doing particularly interesting things on and with the Internet. Because One Degree is all about marketing we’ll give special preference to ideas with commercial value and/or a real business model in place, but we want to tell you about anything that might stimulate your thinking about how to the Internet is changing your business and culture in general. If you have suggestions of “Interesting” companies, just “contact me” with details and we’ll add them to the list of companies we’ll be considering for Interesting.

    (And yes, we’re serious about these being interesting Canadian ideas — “Techcrunch” has the Valley covered pretty well already!)

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 25, 2006.

April 20, 2006

  • BarCamp Hits Ottawa This Weekend

    The organizers of “BarCamp Ottawa” have done an outstanding job of organizing this “unevent”. A bunch of “BarCamp Toronto” veterans are making the trip up the 401 to join in what looks like it could be one of the highlights of the years for the online community in the capital.

    I particularly like that they’ve set up a “Spread BarCamp Ottawa” page a la “Spread Firefox”.

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    (That’s where the banner above is from)

    Well done! Sorry I won’t be able to make it (this time).

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 20, 2006.

April 19, 2006

  • Should You Ask People To Unsubscribe?

    As part of the enhancements we’ve been doing to One Degree to celebrate our first anniversary we’ve moved to a new outbound e-mail system. Our intention from Day One was to provide daily e-mail alerts but we never had a nicely automated (and cost-effective) way to do this. We added “Feedblitz” to the site a few weeks ago and the uptake and feedback from new subscribers has been great. But we still have a load of subscribers from the past year who came to expect a weekly e-mail digest rather than an overnight push of links to all posts from the previous day. What to do, what to do. Well,

    • * We could just move people over to daily, but that didn’t seem right.
    • * We could tell them to sign-up for the new list and kill the old one (not good from a retention and customer service standpoint), or,
    • * We could let them know about the change and give them a chance to get out before we made the switch.

    We chose the last option and sent this message to our weekly digest e-mail subscribers on Monday afternoon:

    Important Changes To Your One Degree Subscription On Friday, April 21st One Degree will be consolidating this WEEKLY E-mail Digest with our new and very popular DAILY E-mail Alert featuring links to the prior day’s articles. Since you may have assumed you’d only hear from us once a week we wanted to give you a few days to unsubscribe from this list before moving your subscription to Daily Alerts. You can follow the link at the bottom of this message to unsubscribe. Please do so BEFORE end-of-day Wednesday if you DO NOT wish to get One Degree Daily Alerts starting Friday. To ensure that you continue receiving messages from us, you may also want to take a moment to add one (at) onedegree.ca to your white-list and address book. Another option you may wish to consider is subscribing to the One Degree Feed via your favorite feed-reader so that you can get real-time updates on what we’re adding to the site. Visit http://www.onedegree.ca/ to get the feed. Thanks for your attention and please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

    I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about telling our gentle subscribers that they might want to unsubscribe. But my fear was unfounded.

    The fall-out 30 hours later:

    1. 14 people, representing 3% of the total list (430 subscribers), unsubscribed.
    2. Of those, 4, representing about 1%, turned around and signed-up for the Daily Alert immediately (i.e. it seems they couldn’t wait until we switched over on Friday and wanted to get the daily alerts right away).
    3. One comment (“kewl! — A Daily Dose”) for the change, zero against.

    We’ll see what happens on Friday when the new system kicks in. Hopefully, everyone will have updated their whitelists and we’ll get to their inboxes every day without incident.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 19, 2006.

April 18, 2006

  • The Web As Lobbying Tool

    While checking the weather the other day I noticed that “the Weather Network” is running in-house banner ads pointing to “allchannelalert”.

    The site is a public awareness/lobbying site to support The Weather Network’s “CRTC filing” to run a service to provide severe weather warnings across all channels (hence the name of the site). I thought this was a smart move and particularly liked the “madlib” “letter writing campaign” page that offers to mail your letter of support to the CRTC for you.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 18, 2006.

  • Tag Cloud As Heatmap

    Jonathan Snook (“snook.ca”) noted a bright idea a few weeks ago that I’ve been meaning to post. Snook pointed out that “The Guardian” in the UK has adopted a rather unique “heatmap” approach to organizing popular tags in their “Comment is free…” area.

    If you know a bit about CSS(Cascading Style Sheets) you’ll see that this isn’t that hard to execute and the visual effect is very impressive. I’d like to see more of this sort of innovative visual styling driven by real navigational needs instead of simply decorating the page.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 18, 2006.

April 17, 2006

  • Don’t Tell Me There’s Nothing New

    Let me share a current pet peeve with you in the hopes that you can avoid doing the same to your gentle readers (and maybe we can get the Globe & Mail to fix this for me). I like getting the “Daily Tech Alert” e-mail update that the “Globe and Mail” sends out each weekday.

    At left you see a bit of a recent issue of the newsletter.

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    Good content. Well laid out. So what’s the problem? Well, this is the April 11th edition of the daily tech alert. Why on earth are they pointing me to articles that are almost a month old? My guess is the criteria for what to post is something like “give me the four most recent Tech Reviews and place them here.” But obviously they’re posting less than they expected and now we end up the same links literally every day for weeks. I’m losing interest in the Daily Tech Alert because I keep seeing the same stuff. Moral of the story — don’t tell me that you don’t have anything new. Either get something new, or don’t send anything.comments by some of the top thought leaders in Canada.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 17, 2006.

  • No Syndicate Canada This Year

    We just got word from the organizers of “Syndicate Canada” (originally mentioned “in this One Degree article”) that they will not be holding the event this year despite a significant amount of planning that has already gone into it. The official statement is:

    We’ve recently made a decision not to hold the Syndicate Canada Conference at this point in time. This decision is based upon the realization that Syndicated technology is new and emerging into the commercial marketplace and many companies are still establishing themselves and are not quite ready to move forward in Canada. We will continue to monitor and assess the Canadian market to determine the best timing for an event.

    Given the (I believe) overwhelmingly positive response to the “Mesh Conference” and “BarCamp Toronto” it’s hard not to read this as cold feet about the ability of the market to support three major events in such close proximity. Too bad, I was looking forward to it.

    (Disclosure: I was asked by Jai Cole to be on the Advisory Board for this event and had given them my $0.02 worth the agenda for the conference. Note also that “Tucows” (my day job) is sponsoring lunch on the first day of Mesh).

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 17, 2006.

April 11, 2006

  • Use Content To Segment E-mail Lists

    Preference-based and behavioral targeting are key to optimizing and even monetizing your email marketing programs. The more relevant your communications are the greater and more relevant the response.

    At a very basic level, email marketers should allow subscribers to check some key content preferences. This can be used to send them the best version of a newsletter or, better still, a dynamic content email.

    To take this a step further, marketers should be creating content that can be categorized by the type (info, offer, call to action) and keywords (topic, category). This information can be used to measure what individuals are clicking on, and by assumption, what they are interested in. Use this behavioral information to target them with similar content in the future.

    This is best done using emails with dynamic content but can also be accomplished by planning for some specific versions of each email, with each static version targeted at important preferences or behaviors.

    Although a good email marketing platform can measure this stuff and allow you to act on it, not enough email marketers use preference-based and behavioral targeting.

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 11, 2006.

April 10, 2006

  • Bell Comments On One Degree’s Gordon And Frank Experiment

    Back on February 6th, we started an interesting experiment here at One Degree when I registered “gordonandfrank.ca” and pointed it to a One Degree article about the importance of protecting domain names. That post and several subsequent ones drew lots of traffic and a load of comments. One common theme was “why hasn’t Bell or Cossette” said anything about this. Well, now they have…

    Late last week I received this e-mail from Elaine Bissonnette, Director, National Creative Lead and Brand for Bell Canada. Here’s her message to us:

    Thank you for your comments and I must say that everyone at Cossette and Bell visits your web site judging by the number of emails I got. I agree with all of your comments about web domain names and spell check. We actually register all possible spell check errors when we advertise a web site in our communications. In this case since the web site was originally launched in Quebec back in October 2005 and we turned around in a record time to deliver everything, this has been overlooked by the folks at Cossette and me. This has been a great learning experience and most of my colleagues which are actually fan of yours and did relay the message.

    By the way the “www.frankandgordon.ca” site got a tremendous response with an average time per visit of 5 minutes (actually 35% of the visitors spend between 10 to 29 minutes on the site) and judging by the number of “pin the tail” download lots of kids will be playing this game during Birthday parties! We are looking at an update for the new campaign coming soon. Once again the comments are noted and I will make sure the team registers it as a priority in the next web campaign.

    Elaine Bissonnette
    Director, Chef Divisionnaire National Creative lead and Brand Creation nationale et Marque

    My guess is Bell handled this correctly. Wait for the storm to die down and then follow-up with a friendly, non-confrontational e-mail rather than coming down hard with lawyers and counter-arguments.

    So dear reader, what’s your take? What should Bell have done? Does this resolve the issue? Better yet, what should I do with the domain gordonandfrank.ca? Point it to the real site? Keep it here? Or?

    Originally published at www.onedegree.ca on April 10, 2006.