poelog: Commentary, thoughts and opinions on the web, ebusiness and marketing -- a web log by Rob Poel
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Friday, November 30, 2001

I've always thought there would be a market for an online gift site that sold innovative, unique gifts. Surprise.com seems to fit that bill. It's essentially a gift giving portal, linking you to top-rated gift ideas anywhere on the Web. Ideas are submitted by users that share what's worked for them. Another great example of how the best sites on the web leverage a community of common interest to compile their content (others include eBay, epinions, askme.com, and Yahoo! Groups (formerly eGroups). In other words, why have one gift-giving guru at Surprise.com try and scour the web for links when you can rely on thousands of consumers to do so for you. (Surprise link found via Kottke).

NY Times: Free Music Service Is Expected to Surpass Napster - Although I'm not a die-hard music swapping fan I've enjoyed following the Napster story and the ongoing drama in which the record labels continually try and scramble to save their empires by suing any service that threatens their livelihood. Enter Fast Track, the latest P2P game in town. Eager to swap mp3s again? Download software (try KaZaA, Grokster, or Morpheus) using FastTrack's Technology and off you go. (via Scripting News).

Wednesday, November 28, 2001

What company has near or at the top of everyone's list of savvy ebusiness companies (other than the obvious answers of Cisco and Dell)? Enron. They were lauded for their highly lucrative and innovative online energy trading system, Enron Online. Enron was recently ranked as high as #7 on the Fortune 500 list. At its peak it had a market cap of almost $80 billion. It now has a market cap of $500 million and appears near collapse. Unbelievable.

CNet: Silicon Valley's need for oblivion - Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital, the VC firm profiled in eBoys, says that the haze that has engulfed the start-up world since the explosion of the Internet bubble is finally beginning to clear. As Winer points out, it would be even more interesting to hear what VCs like Benchmark learned from the excesses of dotcom gorging which they led. Benchmark would have an interesting vantage point here as they were the capital source behind both the homerun, eBay, as well as the disaster, Webvan.

CommerceNet: The PayPal Phenomenon: Lessons from the Leading Edge of Online Payments - I've been a PayPal advocate for some time now. This case study goes into extensive detail on the company, its history, its business model and its role in the development of the online payment industry. It includes six simple rules for developing new payment services that can easily be applied to developing a new business. They are:
  • Focus on the customer
  • Keep it simple
  • Exploit the Internet
  • Design for adoption
  • Think incrementally
  • Costs matter
    (via Internet 3.0).

  • Tuesday, November 27, 2001

    Another resource for those (like me) interested in Internet Marketing: Internet Marketing Focus (link courtesy of Larry Chase's WDFM newsletter).

    Monday, November 26, 2001

    ClickZ: Sales Versus Marketing - Although the sports analogy is a bit cheezy, the point is well made: Marketers lead the team, Sales follows but claims the glory.

    Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox: 10 Best Intranet Designs of 2001 - The best intranets of 2001 emphasize iterative design and standardized navigation, and feature collaboration tools and content management systems. On average, companies saw intranet use increase by 98% following their winning usability redesigns. Hopefully someone at our company reads this article. Our intranet is an absolute mess.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2001

    Ya just gotta love eBay. My wife has been looking for some Ugg boots to help her survive the upcoming Michigan winter. Now, if you've heard of Ugg, you know that these aren't your typical winter boot. No matter where we looked (online or offline) the best deal we could find was $145. My initial search on eBay lead to no results. So ... I completed a "saved search" for "Ugg Birch" (Birch is the style of boot my wife preferred) and then waited. Amazingly, only a week later I was sent an email saying that a product had been added to eBay that met my search requirements. And, even more amazing, the boots were a women's size 7. I promptly entered my bid and after a few back-and-forths over a week with another Ugg-Birch-Size7 wannabe, I won the bid. The results: an almost brand new pair of UGG Australia-Birch Boot Ladies 7 for $98 + shipping.

    Thursday, November 15, 2001

    Ask and ye shall receive. On Sunday (see post) I lamented my omission from the fishrush :: 5 fish blog award list. Four days later and I'm on it. Guess that means they've visited me more than once since then. Thanks fishrush.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2001

    Wired: Dubinsky's 15 Lessons For Success - The co-creater of the Palm and current CEO of Handspring shares lessons on entrepreneurship, business and life (via bBlog).

    ClickZ: Connecting with the Customer: Ofoto-Genic: A Case Study - In this case study on Ofoto, the author highlights several points that strongly encapsulate the best practices needed for success in this post-bubble period. If more Internet companies had followed this recipe for success there would have been a lot less dot-com carnage.

    E-Commerce News: The Bottom Line in Web Design: Know Your Customer - Seems obvious ... but it bears repeating.

    Monday, November 12, 2001

    Don't get me wrong ... I'm a huge fan of Google. But they definitely need to improve the way in which they index blogs.

    In the last few months my site has seen an increasing number of referrers coming from Google searches. The problem: most of the referrers probably ARE NOT finding what they're looking for when they come to my site.

    Example: POELog is #3 of 106 results for the search Watch the full length video of the plane crashing on wtc. Now granted, it's not the most well structured query but none-the-less, there's no way my site is the 3rd most relevant result on the web. How does this happen? Mainly because my archive pages contain 30 days of posting on a wide variety of topics. In this example I had posts during the month of September that used the word "video", "watch", and "full" - 3 words in the search query but none of them were related to the WTC disaster. I did also mention the "WTC" and the "plane crashing" which, combined with the 3 words above, is what brought my site up so high on the list.

    In the example above, I imagine that 9 times out of 10 the user gets to my page and immediately leaves because they see very little relevancy with the content of my site and their search terms.

    I'd suggest that in cases where tags are found in the code (or similar tags provided by Userland or Greymatter) that Google index each entry rather than the whole page. This could be done by looking for the permalink anchor tag after each post. That way my site would be a seach result only when all the relevant terms were within an entry, as opposed to spread across the page. Granted this isn't perfect but I think it would improve the relevancy of queries in which blogs are included in the results.

    Sunday, November 11, 2001

    fishrush: Match the Blog to the Pope Contest - I'm #33 on the list. Guess I'm not engaging enough, however, to receive the prestegious 5 fish blog award. Perhaps some day.

    Friday, November 09, 2001

    Business 2.0: Finding the Geek Within - The 20 tech-savviest business schools. 49 straight-to-the-point executive ed courses. 25 books, gurus, conferences, journals, and corporate training programs that get it -- and will make sure that you do too. Nowadays you're handicapping your chances of climbing the corporate ladder if you don't embrace technology. The leading story in this feature asks: Are You Geek Enough? Do you know enough tech to compete?

    MarketingSherpa: Liquidation.com Has Tested Almost Every Online Marketing Tactic -- Here's What Worked Touches on virtually every online marketing trick-of-the-trade. (via bBlog).

    Wednesday, November 07, 2001

    A plethora of blog-related links: Weblogs and Other New Forms of Journalism (via Internet 3.0).

    According to Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting): 68%of Executives are Unable to Measure Marketing Campaign Return On Investment. Kinda supports the old adage: only 20% of advertising works ... you just don't know which 20%.

    Another nail in the coffin of free web services. Stats4You, the free web site activity tracking tool I use to track activity on this site, has decided to stop its free service. As quoted in the email I received this morning: To serve our clients better, we have decided to make Stats4You.com a fully paid service. This will help us provide better and faster tech support to our clients, better hardware resources to enhance the performance and better technology upgrades.. Can't say that I blame 'em. Am going to pay the price? Nope. Why? There are plenty of other free services out there. There will be someone else hungry enough ... eager to attract eyeballs that can be monetized at a future date. Oh, so you say I need to give back. I need to fund the web ... fund the content ... fund the services ... and if I don't this great Internet that we know and love will soon come to its knees. I don't think so. I'm more than willing to pay for content or services on the web - it just needs to be worth paying for. And in the case of a web site activity tracking service for my blog ... the value provided just isn't in line with the price.

    Tuesday, November 06, 2001

    Thank you Reading Gonzo--Engaged for the Blog Bog link. I'll repay the link and add you to my Blogs of Note like I've been meaning to for some time now.

    Friday, November 02, 2001

    MSN Money: The 7 steps of investor evolution - Still obsessing about paying $75 for Cisco stock and watching it fall to $13? You can defeat that sinking feeling, but these are the steps you'll go through to get there. I'm somewhere inbetween steps 3 and 4 and I defnitely started with steps 1 and 2. My innocence/ignorance was evident after my first year of investing (1998) yielded a +500% return as stocks like Amazon, Cisco, Yahoo and eBay soared to unfathomable levels. Step 2 kicked in at the end of 1999 and early 2000 as those same stocks came crashing back to earth. Since then I've become much more knowledgable (step 3) through reading many books and articles on investing and I've also gained a good deal of understanding (step 4) - putting money and investing in its proper place in life. I've started thinking more about step 5, vigor, but haven't been disciplined enough to put a well-refined strategy in place.

    Time to sharpen my affiliate marketing skills by brushing up on the latest strategies and tips in the ClickZ Affiliate Marketing archives. I got a call from a former co-worker yesterday who has a client that needs an affiliate program set-up and managed. I would need to manage it on the evenings and weekends but I think that's do-able. Should be interesting. I'll keep you posted as I learn more (and am allowed to disclose more).