WordPress.com vs. Blogger Duel

April 17, 2008

I have created a duel on my Squidoo page to see which you think is better:  Wordpress.com or Squidoo.  Give us reasons why you feel this way.  Make it interesting, people!

VOIP Calling From The iPhone

April 17, 2008

Fring has announced that they will be offering VOIP calling capabilities to the iPhone.

From Fring’s web site:

fring™ is a mobile internet service & community that enables you to access & interact with your social networks on-the-go, make free calls and live chat with all your fring, Skype®, MSN® Messenger, Google Talk™, ICQ, SIP, Twitter, Yahoo!™ and AIM®* friends using your handset’s internet connection rather than costly cellular airtime minutes.

Bringing PC-benefits to the mobile, fring will empower you with mobility and availability as never before, integrating all contacts in to one, searchable buddy list, allowing you to see who’s online before dialing with contact availability indicators, engage in multiple conversations simultaneously, send & receive files and more.”

As an iPhone user/fanatic, I am thrilled about this capability.  It remains to be seen if AT&T and Apple will allow this to be done on a locked iPhone, but it will be pretty sweet if they do.  If they don’t allow this, then I just might unlock my iPhone.

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Customer Service: Make It Easy To Leave

April 16, 2008

I spent 25 minutes on the phone today with Nextel trying to cancel my account. My experience went like this:

  1. Dial the 800 number
  2. Listen to an automated voice go through multiple options that don’t relate to me
  3. Hit ‘0’ out of frustration
  4. Listen to the menu again
  5. Choose 6 because it seemed kind of close to what I wanted to do
  6. Enter my cell number (for faster service)
  7. Sit on hold for 5 minutes
  8. Finally, I am greeted by an operator
  9. Give him my cell number again
  10. Give him a pin number that I had to guess at because, as I was tersely told, he couldn’t help me otherwise
  11. Tell him that I wanted to cancel my account (step 11, and I finally have an opportunity voice what I want to do)
  12. He can’t help and has to transfer me to someone else
  13. Sit on hold for 4 minutes
  14. Enter my cell number (third time for those who are counting)
  15. Greeted by another operator
  16. Give him my cell number
  17. Give him my pin which was thankfully asked for by the previous operator
  18. Ask to cancel my account
  19. Am transferred to another operator
  20. Only sit on hold for 2 minutes
  21. Greeted….
  22. Asked for cell number (fourth time….) and give him my pin
  23. Ask to cancel my account (third time)
  24. Am told that I shouldn’t do that now because my billing cycle started yesterday and I would be billed for the full month anyway

…….after expressing my disbelief at the absurdity of this, I took great delight in finally being permitted to cancel. Canceling my account felt like a hard-fought victory.

Moral of the story is this: think about your customer experience at every point of interaction. What is your service like? Do you take care of your customers even when they choose to leave you? Do you encourage them to never come back?

From SeekingAlpha:
Future analysis will provide the details of poor decisions by Sprint management and directors over the last few years. Customer service issues were resultant of top down policies to extend customer contracts over every concern of customer satisfaction. Future college business policy textbooks will contain case studies of Sprint’s downfall being precipitated from internal mismanagement rather than external market factors.

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How To Send a Trackback With Blogger

April 16, 2008

This is a nice tutorial for how to add Trackback capabilities to your Blogger blogs utilizing the Firefox add-on called GreaseMonkey. If you are a user of Google’s Blogspot software, this tutorial will definitely help you out.

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Business of Software Conference 2008

April 16, 2008

Announced earlier this week, the Business of Software 2008 – A Joel On Software Conference is now open for registration. The conference will be held in the Seaport Hotel on Boston’s waterfront on September 3rd and 4th.

The confirmed speakers include:
 

  • Joel Spolsky, founder of Fog Creek software, author of several books and the man behind the joelonsoftware blog.
  • Seth Godin, Business Week’s “Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age”, is the best-selling author of 7 books (including Permission Marketing and Purple Cow) as well as the most popular eBook of all time.
  • Eric Sink, founder of SourceGear, author of “Eric Sink on the Business of Software” and the person who coined the term “Micro ISV”
  • Steve Johnson of Pragmatic Marketing and winner of last year’s Software Idol competition
  • Richard Stallman launched the development of the GNU operating system, now used on tens of millions of computers today. Stallman has received the ACM Grace Hopper Award, a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer award, and the the Takeda Award for Social/Economic Betterment
  • Paul Kenny is one of the UK’s top sales trainers, consultants and speakers. He has worked with many customers in three continents, including IBM, Perot Systems, The Guardian and tens of others.
  • Dharmesh Shah is a geek, serial entrepreneur, founder of HubSpot and blogger at OnStartups.com
  • Jessica Livingston is author of Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days and a founder of Y Combinator
  • Jason Fried is founder of 37signals (developers of Basecamp and Ruby on Rails) and Signal vs Noise blogger

This looks to be an incredible conference full of insightful personalities and great ideas. I highly recommend anyone who is in the world of software startups plan on attending.

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Blogging Brevity

April 12, 2008

Marketing Integrity has written a post entitled “Blogging Brevity” that captures a point that many bloggers miss — getting to the point!  From a marketing point of view, this speaks to working with your customers on their terms.  

If your products or services are great but you aren’t communicating them in a way that your customers care about, then what your selling isn’t that great.

No Silver Bullet For Web Traffic

April 11, 2008

During a digital coaching session, a potential customer and I were discussing different mechanisms she could use to drive traffic to her website and generate interest in her business. She told me that numerous vendors have promised her front-page listing on Google within a matter of days if she chose to do business with them.

This morning, I spoke with an old friend of mine who works in the funeral industry. He told me how he gets a call a week from vendors promising him the same success rate for prices ranging from $500 to $3000 for their services (not the purchase of the Google Adwords).

My response to all of this stuff is that it’s bunk. Sure, if you pay enough money, you can get on the front page of Google. With deep enough pockets, it’s easy. The thing is, what kind of traffic do you want to get? Are you willing to pay a premium for people to visit your site who have no intention of buying from you? Are the traffic numbers so valuable to you that when people go to your site they get absolutely nothing out of it?
Why do this to yourself and your visitors? Why pay for traffic when it is not relevant to the service that you are offering? That’s foolish. Relevant traffic is the key.

My recommendation for driving traffic to your site is this: start with unique, updated and useful content. Make your site so good, so compelling, that people share your message with others. Write your content in such a way that Google’s robots pick up on it naturally. The best traffic is free traffic. Once you have mastered this concept and have a site that is working really well, then start paying for Adwords. At this point, you should have been studying the behavior of the people who come to you without your needing to interrupt them with an ad. You will know what content effectively drives your message and subsequently the right words on which to pay for clicks.

The moral of the story is this: target your marketing to people who will possibly buy from you. Make your products so compelling that they will tell others about you. Understand your customers and speak to them directly. This is an organic, slow-burn process that demands a continuous improvement mindset.

You can’t get good traffic with no effort and little understanding of your visitors. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling snake oil.

The Importance of Coaching

April 9, 2008

We recently went live with a new promotion, and so far, the results have been wonderful. I attribute a great deal of that success to coaching that we received from people outside of Hinutech. We know our technical and business offerings very well (too well, probably), and as a result, we thought that the message on our website was very clear. Turns out, it was clear to us because we wrote the copy.

A coach can be anyone. Your spouse, a paid coach, a group of usability testers. Anyone who is willing and able to give you thoughtful advice on how you can improve yourself or your business is a coach. Seek one out, and you’ll be able to see things through a different set of eyes — your customers.

Seth Godin on TED

April 4, 2008

During a Ted presentation filmed in 2003, Seth Godin talks about the importance of making your products remarkable.

Sliced Bread and Other Marketing Delights

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3 Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Site

April 3, 2008

Here are 5 easy ways to drive traffic to your website. Do them well, and you’ll be swimming in traffic. Do them poorly (or not at all), and the worst thing that can happen is….nothing.

  • Comment on other people’s blogs
    • First off, it’s an easy thing to do. If you are an active reader of blogs and see a topic to which you can add value, do it!
    • Your comment will be there forever, so that any future crawls by Google or views by people will pick it up.
    • When you provide a link back to your site, it helps with your own site’s ranking.
    • Ensure that your comments are inspired enough to add value. The world has enough spam and mindless comments, so don’t add to it.
    • Don’t do this as an afterthought to your traffic-generation plans. Do this daily and on a regular basis. Your traffic and other bloggers will benefit.
  • Write good, “sticky” content generates a response in people.
    • When other people comment on your blog entries or Digg your site, it gives social proof of your authority on a topic and will cause search engines to index the relevancy of your site.
    • The more authority that you have on a topic, the more people will write about/link to your content further establishing you as an expert.
    • If you need an example of this, think Seth Godin. What image comes to mind? Aspire to that.
  • Adwords and Pay-Per-Click are good, but nothing is better than good ole’ free search engine traffic
    • LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) Algorithms are how Google analyzes the content of your site for relevant and related keywords. In the old days, Google would look at the frequency of words on your site and index them appropriately. For example, if you sold cars and had a site littered with the word “Cars” in an attempt to rank highly in Google, you’d be all set until someone did a search on “automobiles.” With Google’s old algorithms, you’d miss out on that traffic. If you write in a natural language and have good, solid content that is related to the topic that you are promoting, then you should see traffic coming through search engines.
    • Evaluate the content on your site thoroughly to ensure that the search engines are seeing you the way you want to be seen. Open an account with Google Adwords and use their keyword generation tool to scan your site. It will come back with a list of recommendations for words that it thinks would work well were you to start an Adwords Campaign. Do those words describe what you are hoping to accomplish with your site? If you, you’re golden. Odds are, there are some surprises or omissions. Correct those by creating or refining your content.
    • Traffic coming from search engines is much more likely to convert to a sale or a prospect. Why? You answered their need early on in their search.

Each of the points above deserves a great deal more detail, and I will continue to delve into each in the future. However, I am a big fan of lists that tell me what to do quickly (and I also don’t like long, drawn out blog posts), so I thought that I would keep this list short.

Please share your thoughts on these ideas or let me know if there are any other topics you would like me to cover in later posts. My next post will delve into topics such as how to benefit from social bookmarking, email lists and RSS feeds.

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