Follow @DukeCancer on twitter to see this cool tweet about Martin's Ride:
Join us for the start of Marty's Ride. Follow Marty, a cancer survivor, as he raises money for Duke's cancer research. http://bit.ly/9gHqSb.
Martin's Ride kicks off from Duke Hospital 7:00 AM June 29th. Read the Duke's Martin's Ride Press Release and join us if you can.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
I used to believe in perfection. There was an absolute right. It made sense to work toward some greater end later versus imperfection now. I’m older and eleven years of working online changed my thinking. Perfection doesn’t exist.
Even as false idol perfection is costly. Holding out content from search engines while tweaking removes the most effective feedback loop – traffic and the opinions people bring. Early and ugly is better than later and perfect in Internet Marketing. In fact, too much polish creates suspicion and can align your marketing efforts with Big Bad Brother.
I don’t advocate poor spelling or grammar for its own sake, but it isn’t the end of the world if your customers point out mistakes and corrections. Think of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a massive emergent system with little to no top down control. Content comes from casual and dedicated tribe members. By out sourcing the most expensive thing about creating a living encyclopedia Wikipedia kills two birds with one stone: they keep cost to almost zero and they create the most dynamic living research tool online.
Who owns Wikipedia is an interesting question. Once a community is established and creating content its ownership model is established. Wikipedia’s ownership is shared across its community members. If Jimmy Whales started to include ads he would have full-scale editorial revolt. Wikipedia’s business model is defined as communal. Any significant change to Wikipedia’s unwritten rule and everything changes.
WebMD and Revolution Health are commercial sites with some community involvement. These commercial health sites have the polar opposite problem from Wikipedia. Commercial sites are clearly in business to make a profit. Their business model is clear and comes with restrictions. WebMD and Revolution Health will never become an emergent system. Some portion of their content, say 25%, can be created by users, but the vast majority of content will need to come from editorial creation because for profit communities have a hard time creating Wikipedia-like allegiance and loyalty.
Since there is no “perfect” community it is best to make an informed decision about what community can and can’t do for your web site. Web sites fit into several broad categories: content arbitrage, e-commerce and not-for-profit.
WebMD, Revolution Health and About.Com are online magazines structured to attract traffic and sell or arbitrage those “eyeballs” to advertisers. Editors, writers and customers create content usually grouped around profitable keywords such as “cancer” or “breast cancer”. When you visit a content arbitrage site your attention is packaged and sold to advertisers. How long you are on what pages is watched, summarized and charged. Content arbitrage is the online equivalent of television and radio with slightly more mathematical precision. Your “click path” in a site may play a role in the ads you see. If you ignore ads you will see different ones. Everything you do is piped into algorithms in order to capture your attention and get you to click. You don’t “pay” for content on a traffic arbitrage site with anything other than interruption from ad blocks.
An electronic commerce web site wants to sell you things. They may or may not warehouse the things they sell. If they don’t warehouse a majority of what they sell then they are content arbitrageurs, but let’s leave that discussion for another post. Here again content is “free” as it is being paid for by those who purchase. E-Commerce sites will have user generated content (UGC) usually consisting of product reviews and comments. More sophisticated e-commerce web sites include review the reviewer information and may Wikipedia-like allow users to answer questions. E-Commerce sites have the same content creation limitation as content arbitrage sites. E-Commerce sites will always need to create a substantial amount of their content. UGC is critical since no e-commerce site can sell anything without a system to promote user reviews. Customers trust each other more than any selling company. E-commerce web sites need UGC for legitimacy and because the best sales agents these days are friends and crowds. An e-commerce site can have a voice as part of its online brand and its voice can be helpful and authoritative, but it must be placed in a “wisdom of crowds” context. This means it is possible to explain or provide more information about a product, but if the crowd has decided against it good luck turning the bus.
Wikipedia is a not-for-profit community using an emergent system of unpaid volunteer editors to create the most dynamic content site online. Wikipedia’s motives seem consistent with the web’s founding ideas such as “content should be free”. Content is many things but FREE almost never. As an e-commerce director I used to pay from $.05 to $1.00 a word for content. Newspapers implosion flooded the market with writers driving content’s price down. Even the best online editor has limited time and budget. This is why Wikipedia works so well. Wikipedia is the ultimate “crowd source” site. Crowd sourcing taps into the power of the many using law of large numbers. If millions visit your site you only need a fraction of them to turn editor to create a lot of content. The problem for content arbitrage and e-commerce sites is they need more quality content faster for less but their “for profit” business model places limits on how much people are willing to contribute. They will never be Wikipedia.
The Perfect Community
Even if perfection is a useless illusion there is a model that is more right for your online business than others. I wanted create a Wikipedia-like emergent system within our e-commerce web sites. Trying to create such a "users are in control" engine in e-commerce was a fool’s errand. Better to understand possibilities and limitations of your online business model and build the earliest and ugliest model possible using fast feedback loops to modify initial ideas.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Miles Davis Site
Want to see some great music marketing? Sony's legacy team is one of the best music marketing teams on the planet. I purchased the anniversary addition of Kind of Blue and was amazed at how much great stuff came with the CD boxed set. They even included a blue record. These guys think of everything and they get way out side of the box (so to speak).
For the 40th Anniversary of Bitches Brew Sony partnered with Dogfish Brewery. I don't drink, but must have a six pack of Bitches Brew along with Sony's new boxed set. I know a hundred bucks is a lot for CD's these days, but these sets are stuffed with one-of-a-kind collectibles. The pictures in Kind of Blue worth worth the price of admission and that is before I played the first tune.
I really like how this team understand the web. They've built their own video player and gladly let little blogs like ScentTrail load up precious Miles footage. Bravo Sony. Bravo.
Read about the time I saw Miles Davis (seeing Miles Davis) read the amazing note from a British fan.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Good MVT Summary Page
Web sites are complex. There is a lot happening all the time. So many variables can complicate site testing. Traditional A / B testing can create misleading and wrong conclusions. Multivariate testing (MVT) is better. The link above provides a summary of enterprise software options for MVT testing. I've spent time with every vendor on the list and I come to much the same conclusion as the page creators - Google's MVT tool is hard to beat.
MVT testing requires a new mindset. An A / B test it is easy to understand. You test a headline against a headline and a visual against a visual. You don't try to rack up as many variables as MVT testing because it muddies the A / B water. The problem is any conclusions could be WRONG! Every moment on a web site is different than the previous moment. Sometimes A / B is more than sufficient (most times). You are trying to make a simple change and you want reassurance your gut isn't off. A / B testing can help you make those leaps you already understand, but A/B is unlikely to revolutionize your web marketing conclusions. A/B is a good quick, easy to install a testing safety net.
MVT requires a mental paradigm sift. Variables are thrown into a huge regression machine and the best image, copy and button color combination across hundreds or even thousands of variables becomes clear. MVT testing is way beyond gut. MVT testing uses sophisticated math to find small changes that make a huge difference. We added quotes to copy on our home page clarifying the copy came from customers not us and conversions tripled. This result was so dramatic our CFO refused to believe it. I wasn't that surprised. I sensed the lack of quotes was causing confusion about who was talking. Once we included quotes it became clear we were quoting customers not marketing speak. We created a scenttrail on the corresponding landing page with an expanded version of the quote and attribution.
Attribution is critical. Even if you use anonymous attribution, as we did, it still helps. Martin Durham, NC is an anonymous attribution, but it is more powerful than "anonymous" where no one is willing to stand behind the quote. Even better than anonymous name / state attribution is community screen names. Community screen names provide dual benefits. Reviewers have a commitment to the community because they created a name AND you can market the screen name in "review the reviewer" content. We never did MVT testing on the best way to attribute a review, but reviews are worth their weight in gold so that test panel is not a bad idea.
If you are managing million dollar web sites with your gut or A/B testing you should look into MVT testing. How your mental paradigm shifts as you learn what questions to ask is worth the price of admission especially with Google because that is (mostly) free.
Good luck. Martin
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Efforts to cure cancer are at a critical tipping point as outlined in this presentation from the American Association of Cancer Research. We must INSIST cancer be cured in our lifetime. Learn how to become a Cure Cancer Advocate at MartinsRide.com.