25 July 2006

Last minute planning

Phil has a contact who needs some Sales and Marketing support. The business is well established, but has just lost its sales specialist. Phil believes that our combination of front-end sales and marketing services will provide the fillip the business needs to convert some of its serious opportunities into cash. We discussed it yesterday at our Operations meeting and decided that we would make a proposal. Phil has met his contact again this morning to make sure he understands the situation in detail before we develop the proposal.

What's that got to do with last minute planning? I'm off to Italy for a few days so we are meeting briefly this afternoon to hash out our response and Chris and Phil will tidy it up before they go back to Phil's contact. These meetings are hugely valuable. Working together we develop better proposals because we critique our thinking. We establish the feasibility of the approach and the way that we want to present the ideas to the client. This is difficult for a micro business to achieve, but it's the kind of service that a mentor or a coach could provide to make sure that the Business Development activities are not only 'on strategy' but that they develop a compelling case.

24 July 2006

Access to accountants

I was with a couple of accountants at dinner tonight and the conversation moved towards reading material. I've got to declare a professional interest here, some of my clients have products that need promoting to the accountancy community and we have already looked at using professional magazines as a way of delivering messages about new products.

The bad news for companies like ours is that, if my dinner companions are typical, access to accountants is a lot more tricky than putting an ad in a professional magazine. Neither of them read the primary journal which claims to have the widest readership amongst accountants in the UK. They subscribe, they look at the cover but they don't read it.

This takes us into OTS (opportunitities to see) territory again - how can you get a message into a segment when the journals which are claiming greatest reach don't appear to be getting eyeball time from the people they are claiming as readers? This problem isn't going to go away - I've got messages about two different kinds of software and a well-defined target audience. All I need now is access.

What's more distressing for those of us who like web access is that they didn't use the web to inform themselves about technical changes in their area. I can see that this is going to be awkward. It's obviously time to buy a list and write a few letters or flyers.

21 July 2006

My friend the client

I've known him for years. I worked for him in the early 1970s. We don't see him as much these days because he's up there and we're down here ... He was in town this week for the Air Show which takes place every two years. He runs the sales and marketing function for a business which provides a range of services to companies in the aerospace sector. He had a stand in a hall with inadequate air conditioning and came round to have dinner with us on Tuesday and Thursday. He wasn't impressed with the quality of the facilities at the show, but that's another story.

As normal in these things we brought ourselves up to date on what we have been doing and he asked how Chris, Phil and I shared out the work amongst us. I gave him the elevator pitch so that he wouldn't fall asleep and said "Why don't we take a look at your site and see how well your team is doing".

In only a few moments we were able to show how he ranked against his major keywords as well as providing him with details of his links and a robot's eye view of his site. We also dug out some search volumes. It was, as the saying goes, an eye opener. His team had been telling him one thing, the reports that we were capturing from the screen were telling him something quite different. At least he is now better prepared for his next meeting with them.

For me, that's the key to being a good client - if you aren't informed there is a non-zero chance that you won't get best value out of the contractual relationship. If you don't understand what your contractor is doing, then you won't be able to give them your best insights into how the work should be modified to reflect the opportunities which are available. Without current information, you are not able to manage your contractor effectively. Resources will always be tight - there is never enough time or cash so prioritisation is key - and a lack of information means that the prioritisation task isn't well informed.

20 July 2006

The eye of the beholder

Yesterday we had a message from someone who didn't like the appearance of the Premier Cru champagne site. In previous posts I have set out some of the rationale for the site's appearance - this is a boutique product and we aren't trying to sell a branded equivalent product at a discount. If we were, the site would look very different.

I don't remember the entire contents, but the gist of it was that the writer had never seen "anything so dull". It's an opinion. If Mr Anonymous had left his email address, I might even be tempted to send him a note. Fortunately, virtually the next message into my inbox was a PayPal credit from someone who had just bought a case of champagne from our dull site. One instance where the credit card action outweighs the anonymous opinion.

19 July 2006

New clients

We have got some genuinely interesting problems to solve for clients at the moment and Phil and Chris are working on one of them this week. The client has an excellent high performance coating system for use in a hostile environment and wants to improve his level of reach. This is a product that sells for several hundred pounds for a pack. The good news about the price is that it can be sent anywhere in the world, rapidly - it is relatively dense so freight is not a significant factor in the footprint of competitiveness.

The decision to buy the product is not made lightly and if a customer does decide to buy and use it then they won't need to buy it again for many years. The lifetime value of a customer is almost inevitably worth much less than the lifetime value of referrals. This looks like an excellent opportunity to offer a lot of value and help grow the international sales base significantly.

We'll be using a variety of promotional channels although the mix hasn't been thought through in detail yet - one of the key elements will be AdWords because of the ability to test and tune it at short notice and its ability to sit alongside any other promotional channel.

An ex client's progress

One of our ex clients published his new website yesterday. It was interesting because it hadn't been proofed properly and there were a couple of errors which should have been trapped. One of them was a doozy which actually made me smile. They had taken on board some of the things that we had talked about in relation to pricing, but not much more.

One of the things that we didn't talk about with them was the psychology of how people buy from a website and their site could do with a few pointers. The primary sales process was a bit bald and didn't help a potential buyer to make up his/her mind and the incentive to become involved in the secondary sales process simply wasn't enticing.

I'll be interested to see if it is successful.

A telephone seminar

I listened to a telephone seminar yesterday - it was supposed to be the lowdown on an aspect of eCommerce but it was a really a puff for a restricted entry programme of telephone seminars supported by a forum and email access to the great man himself.

What was fascinating was the level of the seminar - I know expertise is easy to claim but the hour was a mixture of the banal leavened by the inaccurate - he even managed to get his limited duration offer wrong towards the end of the session. So why did I listen in? Partly to understand what people regard as expertise. People did take advantage of the limited duration offer (buy now - first 50 get a special price - when they're gone, they're gone ...) which tells me that people know less than I think they should and we should be in a strong position to benefit from that.

One of the offers from this telephone seminar and the restricted entry programme was a series of recordings that you could access "24/7 just in case you need to refresh yourself about any aspect of this seminar". That is an offer I won't be taking up. I'm not going to wade through a one hour recording to satisfy myself that he said the widget was purple when he actually meant brown. There is a way I might be persuaded to make use of the recording, but only if it was broken into small tracks and classified in a carefully structured taxonomy so that I could quickly find what it was I was looking for.

At one of the first places I ever worked, I met a guy who told me "Any fool can file, it's retrieval that's hard." Of course, at the age of 17 I had no clue what he really meant but his thought has stuck in my head and I still use the phrase, even today.

18 July 2006

and just when I thought that I wouldn't see it again ...

Looking through the stats this morning, I notice that Linkie Winkie has been browsing again. It is well over a week since I last saw it so this is a timebase which doesn't look simple to interpret.

What's the link?

During the last few days, over a dozen sites have asked for links to three of our sites. Everyone knows that links are a good thing, so why are we hesitating?

In an ideal world, the site providing the link would :
  • be in a complementary business, so our site would help to make their offer more complete
  • include the link within the core text rather than in some link farm, buried away at the end of the site
  • give us some control over the language used in the link text - did you know that Adobe is the site which appears first in Google if you do a search for the words 'click here'?
The sites which have offered the links don't meet these criteria and so we're more inclined to decline than accept, even if this means a slower growth to our sites' Page Rankings.

14 July 2006

What are they looking for?

I've noted in the past that the majority of people who visit the Red Splash site enter after a Business Development search of some sort. What is stranger is that quite a few people come in to look at a photograph ...

About 18 months ago, when the site looked quite different, we realised that we wanted to give it a quick revamp and Phil pulled down some stock photos from a range of sources, but I think that one of them was morguefile which I have mentioned in the past. One of those photos was a pile of financial newspapers. In a more substantial revision last year, the picture of the newspapers disappeared from the site, but it has stayed on Google images and we still get people entering the site after finding it in an image search.

I don't suppose that it is really very remarkable - there are lots of tracks on the web and that type of search for an image is typical. Most of those visitors leave quickly as soon as they realise that they can't find the photo. Yesterday, one visitor was much more persistent - they stayed on the site for over 5 minutes, which counts as quite a long visit for someone who is not already a client or an Associate.

12 July 2006

What should you pay for an AdWord?

I saw a post by an American colleague the other day which said - "never, ever, pay more than 5 cents for an AdWord". I can understand why people make these rules for themselves and indeed why they offer these rules as advice to others. The reality is that the cost of any AdWord needs to be factored into the cost of sale and if the cost of sale is too high then something needs to be adjusted. An expensive AdWord can make economic sense if the cost of sale is acceptable and the conversion rate means that the offer makes economic sense.

Lawyers who are bidding for expensive cancer-related keywords costing $50 per click need to do their maths carefully, but why should the analysis be more careful than someone who puts in a 5 cent bid for a high volume keyword which doesn't produce any lifetime income? The grim truth is that many of the people who are losing their shirts on AdWords, are doing so on relatively low cost keywords and they are buying volume because they have convinced themselves that some of that volume will convert into buyers.

Everything about an eCommerce campaign needs to be tested: the AdWord language, syntax and structure; the quality of the landing page; the quality of the offer; the primary sales process and the secondary sales process. Many people don't do enough testing and they fail to make the sales that they need to cover their costs.

As the AdWord market matures we can expect click prices to increase as more companies make use of the flexibility and speed of response of an AdWords campaign - where will my colleague be then?

"In times of change, learners will inherit the earth, while intellectuals will own a world which no longer exists"

11 July 2006

A Champagne moment

Phil has just had a call from someone who had seen the Mathieu Princet site. He wanted to know how quickly we could deliver and wanted to talk to a real live person. The best bit was, he liked the site a lot. Let's be clear, this is effectively an unbranded site selling a high quality product which has limited recognition in the UK. There would have been no point in making the site attractive to someone who wants to buy a famous Champagne at a discount. We have to make the association of value by proximity (the Mathieu Princet vines in Grauves are adjacent to Bollinger's) - we know that we now have to work on getting 3rd party testimonials (hoteliers and restauraters who buy it for their own cellars) in order to de-risk the purchase further.

With that in mind, we have written the site in the form of a long copy letter which sets out a story to people who know they want to buy a Premier Cru champagne, and would really like to buy something that is a little bit exclusive. The product we sell is certainly from a boutique producer - Michel, our grower, produces only about 80,000 bottles per year which is roughly 0.03% of total Champagne output.

We know what our ideal buyer looks like, and this morning's phone call to Phil sounds as if he was pretty close to our photo-fit. I hope that he becomes a satisfied buyer - we're in this for the long haul.

I've got to stop moving so often

Sitemeter reports that within the last couple of months I have lived in Milton Keynes, Bristol, Tameside and today, Rotherham. Actually, it isn't me that's moving, it's my IP address which is allocated to me from a rotating pool. I get an IP address issued for a week or so and then I get another which bears no logical relationship to the first.

I imagine that the database which allows Sitemeter to interpret which IP address is allocated to which geography runs slightly behind so that's the reason that I appear to keep moving so often.

There's a link somewhere

I started to draft a post about Technorati's technique for measuring authority a few days ago and finished it today. Like an idiot, I assumed if I posted it today, it would get listed with today's date. Not so, Blogger publishes in the order you begin editing. You can read the post here.

Linkie Winkie

10 July 2006

Three minutes and counting

The average visit time on this blog is now 182 seconds. Given that I have visitors who quickly make up their mind to go somewhere else, you can see that for the average to keep on increasing, some people must stick around to read for long periods.

I'm still attributing a lot of this to traffic which has visited from Linkie Winkie.

Helping the Buyer buy the project

A colleague has pointed out that 80% of all project proposals fail, often after lengthy negotiations. He suggests that if more Sellers included project financial architects during the sales process that they would enjoy a higher hit rate - at least until their competitors cotton on!

Contract negotiators tend not to use financing as a commercial tool in the project negotiation. A Project Finance Architect supports the Seller by showing the Buyer the project finance options which exist in the Buyer's own country. That extra service to the Buyer could very easily tip the balance when the Buyer has to choose between competing proposals.

Project Finance Architects deliver other benefits, too:
  • they help to weed out bad apples very early in the commercial process, so that the Seller wastes less sales time on projects which cannot be financed in the Buyer's country at attractive terms
  • a focus on financing options early in the process avoids surprises during the closing phase
Project Finance Architects are still relatively rare. They tend to be generalists who don't focus too strongly on what they have learnt about their own own banking industry. Their primary skills are in applying a commercial analyst's eye to the project from the Buyer's perspective and developing a series of options which the Buyer can consider in financing the project. If he is right, the sales strategy of firms hoping to build their revenues on large projects will depend on identifying and developing suitable candidates.


09 July 2006

Well, since I've already complained about audio ..

The new black is streaming video - a neat technology which should allow you to deliver pearls of wisdom straight into your customers' ears. There are several companies promoting this hard and it's inevitable that we're going to encounter quite a lot of examples over the next few years.

The problem for me remains audio quality. I resent having to listen to an audio track which sounds as if it was recorded in an oil drum. My immediate reaction is to close down the video and ignore the message. Why do people assume that a streaming video with poor audio will be a more powerful tool than poor audio? Even if the audio were crystal we are often at the mercy of the flat delivery of someone who hasn't heard of the word inflection or what it means in speech.

Incidentally, I'm not having a dig at the developers of the technology here - there is no technological barrier to sending out clean audio, but in the examples I have seen so far, the videocaster has been so overwhelmed by the technology that they have lacked the self awareness to criticise, edit and re-do what they had produced.

All these things need to improve for me before streaming video becomes a powerful tool in the sales process.

08 July 2006

Crawler frequency

I seem to be getting obsessive about Linkie Winkie. I see that the crawler has visited me on 5 occasions, but the experiment seems to have stuttered a little, the Alexa traffic grew rapidly at the beginning of July and now seems to have dropped back.

Perhaps this is a consolidation phase before it takes a further growth spurt?

07 July 2006

More people are seeing the PPC ads for towels

The experiment with the egyptian cotton towel keywords was relatively successful but we will have to monitor it over a period. Adding the new keywords increased the number of impressions by several orders of magnitude. That increase in searches meant that our highly structured, pre-qualifying PPC ads suffered a significant fall in click-through rate. That was to be expected, since our potential customers would be a smaller percentage of the increased number of impressions. If click through rate remained at that rate and visitor quality dropped we would soon go broke.

Overall, the thing that made it a success was the conversion rate on the site which was a full 33% of the visitors coming in through PPC.

We've got this site, doctor

It's an eCommerce site which sells Egyptian Cotton towels. The click-through rate is over 7.5% which probably isn't enormous to some of you, but it seems respectable to us. Total ROI is highly positive as well, but the total number of Google searches against our 15 keywords is currently 10 per day in the UK. You can see that we specialise in the arcane and the unusual.

We use PPC advertising very carefully - we try to pre-qualify our visitors before they come to the site. We know that we can increase click through rates very sharply, but there isn't much point if visitors don't buy from our primary or secondary sales process. We will be extending the number of keywords which the ad runs against. If we get the wording right, we should still pre-qualify hard, so we aren't expecting visitors to the site to balloon, but we are expecting a steady increase in volume.

Now, if I could pre-qualify some of Linkie Winkie's traffic ...

I know that no-one is average

... but my averages have changed quite a lot as a result of the Linkie Winkie traffic. the most obvious is that the visit time has increased sharply and is now standing at 165 seconds. Those new visitors must read very s l o w l y !

Learning how the customer feels

Phil came around yesterday to help me with some technical problems that I needed to discuss. It turned into a long session and we eventually got most things sorted out although a sale made us re-think our eCommerce sites.

We use PayPal on our eCommerce sites - it has a great reputation and so it immediately puts people's minds at rest. Someone living outside the European tax zone had left a message at the office that she wanted to buy some towels - she couldn't use the site directly because we hadn't put in a tax-free option on the site. Simple we thought, we would put up a page - just for us - which would allow us to key in orders offline. That was the easy part. Then we tried to place the order using the new page.

We keyed in all the customers' details and the credit card that she wanted to use for the transaction whereupon Paypal noticed that this was a card which was linked to the customer's email, address and credit card and wanted to put the sale through as a PayPal transaction rather than a simple charge to the card. It annoyed us and I'm sure that it would annoy many other potential customers, too. We may have lost business because of it and we might never have known had we not encountered the problem for ourselves. I eventually went back to the customer and asked her for a card which wasn't linked to a PayPal account. We just don't understand why PayPal is forcing the transaction to go through the PayPal route if this is not the customer's choice.

We are now looking at alternatives. Maybe Linkie Winkie has the answer.

06 July 2006

How to find a really good SEO team ...

Simple, put a regular query into an organic search engine and see who comes up top of the heap over a period of about 3 months. SEO is a pretty competitive area - although not as bad as Business Development - so a team that can get their site to the top of an organic engine, fighting tooth and claw with other SEO teams must be reasonably talented.

You want to know how competitive it is? According to Nichebot today:
  • search engine optimization has a ratio of competitors to searches of 19.73
  • search engine optimisation has a ratio of 81.03
  • Business Development has a ratio of 893.53


What does the figure 47 million have to do with Technorati?

The answer is the number of blogs monitored by Technorati and the number is continuously growing. But all bloggers are not the same. What separates all bloggers is authority which Technorati calculates on the basis of links.

Why are links so important? Is the Sun a better newspaper than the Times because it is read by more people? It seems to me that Technorati links are self-fulfilling. Blogs that have been around a while develop a readership and some of them are more popular than others, so they are assessed as having 'authority' and get listed higher in any search which takes authority into account. On average, any posts in these blogs on a particular subject are likely to get more eyeball time, precisely because they have more 'authority' - higher eyeball time probably means more links being generated in their favour. That circularity means that it is increasingly hard for a new blog to attract new readers. Having a strong voice simply isn't enough. There are plenty of blogs around with good quality posts which don't have a wide readership. It is also true that there are low ranking blogs which are pretty well content-free. There are techniques for improving the number of links, but they take time to deliver.

Linkie Winkie

05 July 2006

The outputs of the experiment so far

I think I read somewhere (a post by Gurtie?) that the Linkie Winkie crawler made its own decisions about the sites and links it selected for inclusion on its site. Whatever, recently this blog has attracted an entirely new readership thanks to Linkie Winkie which has been kind enough to provide links to this blog - the outputs for me have been more traffic and a sharply increased visit time.

Tangentially, thanks to Tribble, it has exposed me to the SEO / Agency issue and I have enjoyed reading and taking part in that conversation both outside and inside this blog. Before this week I was unaware that Ad Agencies and SEOs were so visceral in their assessment of each other.

Linkie Winkie's action has been entirely altruistic, because according to a post by Gurtie on Tribble, only 2 people who have enjoyed the benefits of a link from Linkie Winkie have failed to provide a link in the other direction. I'm one of them.

That isn't Customer Service

This afternoon I received an email from the Customer Service team of a business who was offering a service to us. We had decided not to go ahead some time ago and the last email I had sent them set out a series of queries which we were unclear about. My email was sent to them on 27 May.

Today's response looked completely boilerplate - it didn't attempt to answer any of our questions and was the same email I had seen in discussions with others who had not taken up their offer of service either.

Trainer tip: customer service emails should at least attempt to answer the questions asked by your prospect or customer, or an explanation of why they can't be answered. Sending a boilerplate message is a waste of your time since the person who receives it won't be impressed and won't feel more inclined to do business with you.

Back to business

I've been proved wrong again. We got a call earlier in the week from someone who had seen our site after doing a search for Business Development. He called our office and left a message and Chris followed up with him today. The result is that he and Chris had a chat over the phone and he agreed for us to do a piece of work.

I'm slightly amazed. I can see how a website like ours - which is essentially a site selling a B2B service configured around sales and marketing - could help to make a sale. But I normally expect the sales process to be external to the website, to take longer and be more consultative. The site could act as an important piece of due diligence, but it wouldn't actually convert prospects into buyers.

It comes from an old piece of consultancy lore: "buyers don't buy from brochures, they buy from people". Getting the team in front of the prospect as quickly as possible was regarded as a key step in making the sale. I had always regarded the site as a brochure - perhaps I should start to re-think of it as a combined sales channel and brochure.

All these years, and I'm still learning.

Visitors, visitor stats

I mentioned here that Linkie Winkie was making an impact on my traffic - what is even more remarkable is how many of those visitors have stayed to read the blog. This blog, like many websites has large numbers of hits which don't stay long. I was reading some statistics cited here that web visitors make up their minds on whether to stay and read in far less than a second.

This blog has been running now for just over 4 months and, up until the week-end, the average read time of a visitor was 68 seconds. That's an understated figure because my counter isn't very sensitive for short duration visits. That has changed over the last few days as a result of referral traffic from Linkie Winkie. Average read time is now up to 150 seconds. The behaviour of recent visitors is strikingly different. Visits of 15 or 30 minutes are quite common and one visitor from Pennsylvania stayed over 75 minutes yesterday. I realise that the week-end and the US holiday probably had a part to play, but until now I had not observed anything different about week-end reading behaviour except that my subscriber stats drop off. It's obviously something about the people who are clicking through from the Linkie Winkie site.

04 July 2006

How to sell to the Ad Agency - there's a value proposition there, somewhere

If a SEO team wanted to take advantage of my free advice on developing its real life intermediary channels, how could it make a compelling case?

Here the Value Proposition is very clear:
  • bright and bushy tailed SEO team can do better work than the Agency's in-house team - it's all they do, they specialise, they learn from each other
  • an external team isn't constrained by internal politics when it offers advice on SEO
  • an in-house team will always be called to resolve in-house issues as well as client issues
  • better SEO applied to the Agency's client sites will deliver better rankings to those sites at lower cost
  • better rankings at lower cost means better service for the Agency's customers and higher levels of satisfaction
  • higher levels of customer satisfaction should feed out into the marketplace and make Business Development easier for the Agency - they can also use their relationship with bright and bushy tailed SEO team as a differentiator
... and the best news is that Ad Agencies are easy to find - the key limitation is that they would probably want an exclusive relationship. Depending on the size of bright and bushy tailed SEO team that might be a problem, but consultancies have been handling the conflict of interest issue for years, so it isn't insuperable.

Brand or SEO

Now that Gurtie has clarified that Tribble and Linkie Winkie aren't intimately connected (see her comment here) I thought it would be fun to explore one of the questions raised by Tribble. Tribble (We look cute but boy do we consume resources) makes the case that Advertising Agencies don't understand web marketing and that many of the things that they do are actually counter-productive.

In a thread started by the Founder, several SEOs set out their belief that SEO is significantly more important than brand. I'm not sure that's true. When the web was new and eCommerce was just beginning, the type of people who bought on the internet did so because it was radical, adventurous. Brand wasn't important in that environment. As the internet matures (the last stats I saw suggested that over 70% of the world's population had never made a phone call, never mind seen the internet), the people who buy will be different. Already, the internet is a channel which sells predominantly branded goods and services.

Brand is a way of providing a short-cut in the sales process. It overcomes issues of integrity and trust. A site without a brand, selling against a site with a brand has to address those issues head on. SEO will help both, but the primary and secondary sales process on the unbranded site will have to be significantly more powerful for the non-branded site if it is to be successful.

The truth is that the Agencies and the SEOs need each other. Creative copy and images remain the drivers to many people's buying decisions. SEOs can't afford to ignore ad agencies - they should be an important source of business and if I was acting as a Business Developer for a talented SEO team I would be looking at developing all the intermediary sales channels I could. Ad agencies can't afford to ignore SEOs - their clients will eventually realise that there are more cost-effective ways of delivering their commercial objectives over the web.

Refer anyone - moi?

Blake Schwendiman has posted an analysis of the impact of the Linkie Winkie social experiment on his traffic. It's had a pretty dramatic impact on my hits, too. Where our experience is different is that unlike his graphic, many of my hits from Linkie Winkie have read several pages. One visitor - obviously with too much time on his / her hands - spent over 31 minutes reading some of my posts. I would put it down to the fact that they were visiting from Canada except that another visitor yesterday spent over 45 minutes on the site and they were from just down the road.

I wonder if the SEOs who developed the site are trying to make a more serious point about how a site can catch traffic. What they have done of course is generate a lot of blog posts - many of which are content free. Doh, virtually all blog posts about any subject are content free. What it has done is to encourage me to take a look at some sites and forums which I didn't know about - thanks guys, a useful learning experience.

I'm still very tickled by the Tribble Ad Agency which began life at very much the same time as Linkie Winkie and I wonder if any of the posts there reflect the views of the team at searchguild and greyhatnews.

03 July 2006

The murk clears a little

Linkie Winkie has been put together by a team of SEO types from searchguild and greyhatnews. It is supposed to be an experiment.

What's very impressive is the amount of traffic that they have managed to develop for the site in only a few days. The site appears to have been set up on 22 June and current traffic levels are around 43,000 per week - that's probably not accurate since these figures come from Alexa, so it is probably worth monitoring it for a few days to see how it progresses.

Now we know that traffic isn't the answer to everything - it needs to be qualified, eager traffic if a site is going to turn it into buyers - but 43,000 hits a week from a standing start is an excellent place to begin.

Oh, and I loved the strapline for the Tribble Ad Agency - "We look cute but boy do we consume resources" which I assume has been put together by the same team.

02 July 2006

It's all a risk

Before I joined Red Splash I had a client that carried out consultancy assignments in the risk management area. It was an area which grew pretty rapidly post-Chernobyl and their consultants tended to come from the major utilities and the nuclear power industry. Over time they developed a couple of other revenue streams, but the assessment and mitigation of risk remained a strong business for them.

What made me think of them recently was that I was reading about possible replacements for the World Trade Center towers in lower Manhattan. Like the rest of the population with access to a TV, I watched the destruction of the towers with morbid fascination. While many businesses suffered a short-term downturn following the disaster, businesses like my client's enjoyed an enormous boost to their sales pipelines. Targets who had talked reluctantly about risk management (mitigation, avoidance and contingency planning) suddenly began to ring them unprompted. Risk management moved up the management agenda. It is possible to argue that the world was a riskier place for business post 11 September, and that's certainly an argument that my client's targets accepted wholeheartedly.

As they used to say when I was a child - "It's an ill wind that blows no-one any good." The point of the post is that Marketing and Business Development are both considerably easier if the external environment is receptive to the message. In the absence of that sentiment, both become much harder and significantly more expensive.

A social experiment

In my last post I talked about some User Agents that I wasn't familiar with - User agents is what Feedburner calls them. Linkie Winkie calls itself something else - a bit of a social experiment - and if you go to its site then you won't find much there. A plain page with an Alexa traffic graph and some links back to posts which refer to Linkie Winkie.

Well, having posted about my stats yesterday evening that plain page has been directing traffic in my direction - perhaps that is what it means about being a very altruistic little site that loves to be talked about. Is traffic a proxy for altruism? Linkie Winkie sent its crawler to my page on 26 June and has delivered more traffic to my page than any other source in the last 24 hours. I'm fascinated that they have generated such a good Alexa position in such a short time. Perhaps they will share more with us as time goes on.

01 July 2006

Feed Readers and User Agents

I have just taken a quick look at the Feedburner stats and I was surprised at the range of readers and user agents that people use to access this blog. It's all the more amazing when you compare it with the consistency of operating and browser systems. Readers and user agents are obviously a matter of personal choice. During the last 30 days, subscribers have used in order of popularity:
  • Feedblitz
  • Thunderbird
  • Google Feedfetcher
  • Linkie Winkie Crawler
  • Firefox Live Bookmarks
  • Newsgator
  • Biz360
  • Blogwise
  • NetNewsWire
  • Snapbot
  • URI
  • A Java based feed reader
  • an unidentified reader
How many of those would you have been able to list in a test of unprompted recall?