May 31st, 2008 — Marketing, Words and writing
Two of my agency clients have recently done extensive testing of personalized landing pages, in which a unique URL is assigned to each person on their mailing or email list and respondents click through to a web page that is just for them. The results have been very different.
Client #1 does primarily ecommerce sites, and their approach to personalizing the landing page was to offer products of specific interest to the customer based on purchase history. Client #2 does business-to-business leadgen. Their personalization was mainly about offering information that was versioned by industry.
Client #1 saw virtually no difference in response from their PURLs, while Client #2 saw a 20-30% increase in registrations. How come? I haven’t mentioned that Client #1 doesn’t make a big deal of the customization on the page, while Client #2 almost overdoes it with use of the name. (“Otis Maxwell, here’s your personalized offer!”) This suggests that, even in cynical and more sophisticated times, folks still love to see their name in print and to believe some care has been taken to respond to their unique needs.
Interestingly, the leader in personalized web marketing has backed off somewhat from its original approach, introduced maybe a decade ago. And we can be sure that Amazon.com does extensive testing. While at the beginning they’d say “based on your recent purchases we think you’d like… “ or some such now it’s always third person “people with your browsing history also viewed…” So maybe there’s a point where too much apparently intuitive knowledge seems creepy. And by allowing its plumbing to show, Amazon is letting folks know there’s no creepy surveillance going on.
February 28th, 2005 — Marketing, Tech
I don’t know how much data you need to be statistically significant, but I expect it would take my modest website awhile to get there in terms of analyzing who does what when they go browsing on www.otismaxwell.com. But I’ve noticed a very consistent pattern on the “examples” page where you can access samples of work. Virtually everyone who visits this page looks at the FIRST entry and the LAST entry but very little in between. It’s sort of like the P.S. in a direct mail letter, which research says is often the first thing read. Folks see what is at the top, what is at the bottom, then they form their judgment about this copywriter’s work.
December 30th, 2004 — Everything else, Marketing, Tech
My hosting company, Dreamhost, is running a signup special–a year’s hosting for $7.77–and there is grumbling on the user discussion boards about the fact they didn’t offer this to current customers. A few days ago I would have been among the grumblers, but then I got caught into a URL forwarding mess (still unresolved as of this moment) which makes the saving of a buck or two seem trivial.
Thus far the inability to reach my website has cost me a/$40-50 in paid-for clickthroughs from Overture and Google where people couldn’t access the link they had clicked on; b/an unknown amount of goodwill, certainly a few hundreds of dollars, from people who’ve clicked on the website since I put it up, came back, and now assume I’m dead or out of business. I’d pay many times $7.77 to undo the problem.
I went with Dreamhost because they got good reviews, were not the cheapest but were cheap, and because the founders went to Harvey Mudd, the place where I used to play video games late into the night when the coop down the hill at Pomona was closed. Though they haven’t been especially helpful, the current issue doesn’t seem to be their fault. (The domain www.otismaxwell.com is at another registrar which seems to have messed up the nameserver instructions and can’t fix it easily).
This reminds me of the early days of fax machines. Suddenly you had to have a fax number, and if the fax number which didn’t even exist last week was down (usually because the machine ran out of paper) it was a business emergency. This is the sort of aggravation that is compounded with one-person businesses because the same amount of person power is involved as for a much bigger company but it’s just you doing the work.
By the way, my backup site is still working: www.otismaxwell.dreamhost.com
October 4th, 2004 — Tech, Words and writing
So, I finally got my website up. It’s no big deal, some HTML with a few images and links, and I will do more later. I’d planned to use GoLive, which I got as part of Adobe CS, but became baffled as soon as I started the tutorial. They wanted me to make a Site Diagram and I tried, but couldn’t make it like the examples onscreen. I then went browsing for simple HTML references and was delighted to find this nice tutorial on the w3.org website.
This brings to mind what a student in my class last week said is the characteristic of good documentation: it talks to the user about the process they are in the middle of. Or, in the case of the CSS tutorial mentioned above, it puts the user into the middle of something and gives them logical, easy steps to take that will pay back with satisfying and tangible results. I certainly did learn from the CSS tutorial, as you can see if you go to my site. And if anybody has a good GoLive book to recommend, or simply wants to explain Site Diagrams, please drop me a line.