Business-to-Consumer is changing before our eyes

Over the years, it has taken industries decades to embrace new ideas or sometimes to fend off new ideas. But what we are seeing today is how consumers are defining the rules by which the will allow marketers to reach them, not the other way around.

A recent study by Forrester Research shows that members of social networks like MySpace and Facebook will not allow traditional marketing methods to be effective. “People no longer want ‘interruptive’ brand communications; they want interactions with their peers and true value from companies”.

Also today reactions are pouring in about YouTube‘s new transparent ad format. While some viewers like the innovative format, some are once again demanding their preferences be honored when being marketed toward.

Unlike years ago, today’s viewers have too many options to choose from. If a marketer, or more importantly, the service provider does not cater to their viewers with respect to marketing efforts, the viewer will all too often more on down the road.

The Power of Web Analytics

I just returned from a week in the very dry state of Utah getting certified to implement Omniture’s web analytics product, SiteCatalyst. Without getting into the technically boring parts, if you are not familiar with web analytics, you may wish you were. Even if you are no more than a user of the Internet.

Web analytics is the study of the behavior of web users. Think about using Google to search for “left handed scissors”. At the top of the search results page is a sponsored placement for a company that paid to be there. That company probably wants to know which phrases in the ad make you more likely to click through, but more importantly it probably wants to know which phrases in the ad make you more likely to click through AND BUY. This is but one of the common uses of web analytics.

Web analytics can answer the following types of questions:

  • The ability to see how people find your website, including entering through non-existent pages (should I create a partnership with them? Should I tell them about their broken link into my site?)
  • Which input field people are in when they leave your registration form before completing it. (Is there a problem in my form that is frustrating my users?)
  • Which background color on my website is more appealing (and therefore more revenue-generating) to my website users (this is accomplished through A/B testing and multivariate testing)
  • What are the most common keywords searched for within my site that return no results? (this could be an opportunity to add something that people are expecting)

If your website is nothing more than an online brochure then you are not likely to get much value from web analytics. But if your web presence provides a more integral part to your company’s marketing, sales, support or whatever, then you can probably use web analytics to boost its effectiveness.

Now Omniture, my personal favorite, is one of many offering analytics tools. Google even offers a free analytics tool that is great to get use as a learning tool. But the more powerful products, that are going to make a difference on your website, are not going to fall into the free category.

Either way, try it out and let me know your thoughts or questions.

Babysitting Gets a Web 2.0 Makeover

Babysitters, petsitters and senior caregivers and even tutors have a new marketplace for their services. Care.com is blend between Monster and craigslist for this highly specialized space. Their goal is to take the risk out of hiring for these services by providing background checks and screenings. Add to that a sophisticated interface for searching and a review system and everyone of us is hoping this company takes off. We all win if it does.

Why didn’t I think of this?

Travel is getting worse

I just flew out to Orem, Utah (a Provo suburb) from Tampa, Florida. What a long day. I am now beginning to understand why there is a market for Very Light Jets (VLJs).

Here is my complaint. 38% of my time was spent not moving! Here’s the breakdown:

:15 drive to Tampa International Airport
1:30 at airport checking in, walking, waiting
4:00 fly to Phoneix
1:10 wait for connection, taxi, etc
:55 fly to Salt Lake City
1:10 taxi, wait for luggage, wait for shuttle
1:00 shuttle to hotel

Total = 10:00 hours (3:50 mot moving!)

That’s ridiculous that I have to spend over a third my travel time not moving. Unless you live at an airline hub (Tampa is not one), you can not efficiently make travel a part of your business.

So annoying!

Which brings me back to the VLJs. They will be taking to the skies in massive numbers soon. The major airlines are fighting it by pushing the FAA to tax these flights. It is an indirect bully move. But they will fly and they will have an impact on air travel. I don’t know if they’ll ever offer me a price I can’t refuse, but maybe there will be some more elbow room next to me as I wait on the tarmac — not moving!