It’s been said everyone has at least one book in them.
The irrepressible Eric Peterson, he of the self-published book as well as a (soon-to-be) published by O’Reilly book, has decided he needs to write another. In the spirit of information wanting to be free (and perhaps getting some early arrows that will sharpen the information), he’s posting his writing to a new blog.
Eric’s picked what I consider to be one of the hardest jobs in web analytics — defining and making sense out of key performance indicators.
Wi-Fi Planet, part of the Jupiter Media keiretsu, reports on a Jupiter Research study that claims municipal Wi-Fi (wireless) costs about US$150,000 per square mile over 5 years, and wouldn’t break even even if it charged users $25/month.
But .. not everything gets built to make money. Freeways are an example. They are considered enabling infrastructure. A municipality’s self-interest is improving the “way of life” for its citizens, and having access to services such as wi-fi certainly do that – first as a unique offering, later (as more cities offer it) as a defensive or “me too” offering. But they also build wi-fi to attract people with laptops, on the assumption that they have money to spend in the area. Maybe not every time they open their laptop. But eventually they learn about local restaurants, notice there’s a playhouse or theater, etc. Maybe with the character of the area changes subtly, attracting people to live there. Tax revenues increase.
If everything was always cut along profit & loss lines, there’d be no instant messenger services as we know them today. But Yahoo!, MSN and AOL consider IM a draw, a gateway if you will, into other services that do make money. Producing and maintaining an accurate multi-channel contribution model is tough .. it’s one of the things that SDS does today, and as you can imagine, plenty of business units have strong opinions on how much they should be credited for their contribution. So yeah, there’s a cost involved to build out infrastructure, and it’s worthwhile knowing what the cost is. But there’s more to infrastructure than just the direct cost.
Harte-Hanks surveyed 1,000 companies and found that 71% of them want to monitor their web site for problems, but only 34% do. Also, 71% want tools to find the root of problem, but only 21% have them.
The survey was commissioned by Symphoniq, a provider of monitoring tools, who additionally note that more than 3/4 of the time, IT departments find out there’s a web site problem from users calling the help desk.
Y! search blog talks about a new way to access Y! search by SMS. Yeah yeah. But wait, there’s some cool stuff here. First, no dorking around putting your phone in Internet browser mode, just send an SMS to 92466 (YAHOO). Even better: there are shortcuts (e.g. “d” for dictionary definitions) for when you’re deep in discussion with somebody about the usage of the words “indefinable” vs. “undefinable”. And it’s smart enough to reply with dumb text or rich content (e.g. maps) links, depending on your phone.
Frankly just typing “movies 94089” would be enough to meet a common need I seem to have. I pay 10c for sending an SMS message, but $1 or something to call 411. And don’t get me started with mobile web – I’m still on a prehistoric cell phone (which people like to point out any time I use it).
I probably read (OK, scan) a couple dozen press releases every morning, in the industries (or keywords) that are of interest to me. If you’ve done much of that, you tend to get jaded pretty fast, with organizations announcing essentially nothing, or obviously piggybacking on other big names in the hope that they’ll get some coverage. It sometimes works.
But this morning I laughed when I read this lead:
July 6, 2005 — (organization) has taken a step in the right direction (by adding a feature) …
I don’t mean to poke fun – it appears to be a Good Thing for their customers, and may get them more customers. But wow, doesn’t this illustrate how hard it is to write compelling copy? A step in the right direction? I get images of an organization lost in cyberspace.
ForeSee and FGI Research produced an insightful report called the Top 40 Online Retail Satisfaction Index (pdf is available here). It looked at the top 40 eCommerce sites and used the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to scientifically measure (1.6 million users) how satisfied each retailer’s customers are. Here are the top dozen:
They had some great takeaways, like
Don’t waste time and money driving people to your website if you haven’t maximized the browser experience.
Netflix and Amazon have both been a couple of those “no brainer” destinations for a while now — known for their customer-friendly site and features, as well as innovative approaches to customer satisfaction. So it’s not surprising to see them at the top of the list.
What might surprise you is that Netflix’ original product manager of customer experience — who’s quite passionate about retailing and user experience, and scientifically proven (!) to be great at it — is available. Interested?
It is difficult to type this, but increasingly I find myself pushed away by Google’s intrusive attempts at personlization [sic]. At the same time, I am actively courted by Yahoo!’s lightning-quick embrace of current trends and technologies.
For the job seekers: jobster notes that HotJobs search results now contain Job Results From The Web. Sponsored listings get top billing, but check out all the new listings that have been found from hither and yon (do people still say that?). Nice to be able to go to one place rather than poke through every employer’s web site…