Monthly Archive for December, 2009

“Did UPS Send Me To A For-Profit Business?”

I wasn’t going to post this to my blog, but my good friend Vickie Sullivan persuaded me that it’s a story that bears repeating . . .

I’ve been following up the leads from the cover story on effective Web strategy in the UPS “Compass” magazine for which I was selected as the sole expert (yes, free publicity is a wonderful credibility builder!)

One woman who contacted me described her business as the world leader in their field (which has to do with animal medicine). Her e-mail then said: “Sitting here reading your comments on Website functionality, and thought that I’d write and have you take a look at ours, and see what insights you can share with us.”

So I started describing my “Leaky Boat Website” review, which would provide her with exactly what I thought she was asking for.

She interrupted: “Is there a cost for this?” When I said there was, she was indignant – “Did UPS send me to a for-profit business?”

I was so stunned that I could only reply that I didn’t understand the question. In retrospect, I wish I’d asked her if she provides her world exclusive products for free!

Why Do We See Our Own Sites Differently?

So I have a new client who is a major landscaping firm in the Chicago area. And I’m talking with her last week about the plans for the reworking of their Website.

Question: “Do we include bios and pictures of our designers?”

At first, my client said that more of their business is on the maintenance side, and she thought that this type of content would be overkill.

Then I reminded her that plenty of research shows that people respond to information about a company’s personnel, their history, photographs, etc. After all, “people do business with people . . .”

And she said: “Now that I think about it, I do click on those sections when I go to a Website where I don’t know much about the business”.

Which brings up one of my favourite questions: Why are we so convinced that people will behave differently at our site? Why do we lose sight of everything that we know – even about our own behaviour – in making assumptions about what visitors will or won’t like? If we know how we instinctively move around other sites, why don’t we apply that knowledge when designing our Web presence?

After all, we’re all human . . .

Are Marketers Not Spending On Analytics, Or Are They Just Not Talking About It?

There’s an interesting article in today’s eMarketer about business executives’ plans for integrating social media and e-mail marketing in 2010. The report quotes from the “2010 Marketing Trends Survey” by StrongMail, which lists the various marketing tactics on which executives plan to increase spending.

But there’s no mention in the spending table of analytics or any method of evaluating the ROI on these activities. And the report states that 23% of marketers admitted that they didn’t know how to measure their results. Bill Wagner, Executive Vice President of StrongMail comments that “. . . companies need to adopt new tools and strategies to properly measure and monetize their efforts.”

So what’s going on here? Are marketers spending on analytics, and that’s simply not listed in the report? Do analytics come under a different budget? Or are executives really willing to put money, time and resources into campaigns without any idea of their return on investment?

Let’s say it again: 95% of the Websites that I’ve audited were leaving money on the table – and their owners had no idea . . .

Do your Online Markets Challenge your Traditional Business Model?

Last week while visiting the UK, I sat down with the Operations Director of a small academic institution.

We started to review their Google Analytics. As often happens, we were immediately faced with data that directly challenges the business strategy they’ve followed so far.

To date, the college has concentrated on delivering high-quality programming to in-person groups – and their marketing and fundraising has reflected this model. Yet without any focused online promotional efforts, their Website is attracting traffic from all over the world – far outside their physical catchment area. In fact, 35% of all Web visitors could not easily get to their campus.

This is a scenario that I’ve seen many times. There will always be visitors to your Website who at first glance don’t belong to your established target market or demographic, and your instinct may be to let them go.

However, in this case we can clearly see from the inbound search terms and the pages visited that these people are specifically looking for the college, or for the subject matter that they teach – this is highly qualified traffic. And 35% is a pretty big number of potential customers to turn away!

Of course our discussion turned to the creation of virtual courses, webinars, podcasts, e-books and other offerings that could be delivered anywhere in the world. This would be a major shift in strategy for the college, and like many non-profit organizations, they’re underfunded and tend to move cautiously.

From what we saw in the analytics, I believe that they’re missing significant potential revenue and outreach opportunities – which in my language means that their Website has some major leaks. At least there are proven visitor numbers to make that case to the Management Team and the Board – I’ll be interested to see how they go forward.