Faster Web Sites = Improved Profits

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Alistair Croll, a leading Web Performance expert.  Alistair is the founder of Bitcurrent; an executive at CloudOps; a partner with start-up incubator Year One Labs; and an advisor to various technology venture firms. He was previously a co-founder of Web performance management firm Coradiant.  The one point that jumped out at me during the interview was that the speed with which a Web page loads into a user’s browser has a direct correlation on Web site’s performance, regardless of the industry which it serves.

Listen to the podcast here –

Don’t spend another cent on your branding campaigns until you read this

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Martin Goldfarb, co-author of the just published book, Affinity Beyond Branding.
Martin is perhaps best known as the official Liberal Party pollster from 1973-1992.  He also happens to be one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs and a leading expert in the study of human behaviour as it relates to the marketplace and society.

He has consulted to numerous corporations, including Ford Motor Company, DeBeers, and Four Seasons Hotels.

Once you listen to my chat with Martin, you will appreciate that this book and the experiences he shares are worth their weight in gold.  Listen to the podcast here

Get your copy of the book here.

Flip the Funnel – What if all of your company’s marketing is completely backwards?

I often discuss books with our clients and business partners that I think can have a major positive impact on their businesses.  One title which has consistently been on the list for the last couple years is Joe Jaffe’s “Join the Conversation”.  His most recent book, “ Flip the Funnel”,  is equally powerful.    The assumption in this book is  that many traditional marketing approaches are getting it all wrong.  In other words,  the focus has been on customer Acquisition as opposed to customer Retention; on the fat side of the funnel, as opposed to the skinny one.

Jaffe passionately argues , and backs it  up with statistics, that investing in existing relationships is far more profitable than devoting the bulk of your budget to acquiring new customers.   “Retention is the new Acquisition”.

I know what you’re thinking – how can I possibly find the time to read another book?  Fear not,  we’ll do that for you, and more.  Below you will find a link to a video where Jaffe himself gives an overview of the book.

Length of the video – 4 minutes and 33 seconds.   The impact it will have on your bottom line – Priceless.

Here is the link to the video

Here is the link to the book –

Your Company Sucks

Just kidding. You know we love our clients. But someone, somewhere on the vast network we call the Internet, may be saying this about your company.  The better known your brand and your products, the greater the chance that someone is taking a pot shot at you.  The issue is not whether the criticism is justified but how quickly you find out about, and respond to, it.  The difference in finding out within hours as opposed to days or weeks can be measured in millions of dollars and, once in a while, can even become a matter of survival.

If your company was “slammed” for no good reason, you can set the record straight.  If the criticism is justified, you can fix it quickly and win points for your lightening-speed response and exemplary customer service — a perfect opportunity to make lemonade from the lemons you’ve been handed.

So how do we find out as soon as possible? By using a set of tools readily available online. We’ve covered some of these before, but they are worth mentioning again:

1. Google Alerts —  A content monitoring service, offered by the search engine company Google, that automatically notifies users when new content from news, web, blogs, video and/or discussion groups matches a set of search terms selected by the user.  The service is free with a Google account and is easy to set up.  The key is to set up alerts for numerous terms, including product names, as well as those of key executives.  I would even go as far as to suggest that one of your alert terms should be “your company name sucks”.  Most of our clients have been using Google Alerts for a while and we are working with them to gain even better leverage with this tool.

With Twitter growing by leaps and bounds on a daily basis, you absolutely have to monitor conversation in the Twitterverse.  Recent stats tell us that users currently generate 2 billion (that’s a “B”) per month.

I previously recommended in this space Tweet Beep ( which enables anyone to receive alerts by email whenever a specific word or phrase is tweeted on Twitter.  Here are a couple of other options for Twitter:

2.  Tweet Alarm –

3.  Tweet Alerts –  With this service, you have a number of options when it comes to notifications, including SMS.

To see the effectiveness of Twitter as a customer response and service tool, Comcast is the classic example. Read the these stories and you’ll become a believer:

Savvy online service can win back customers –

My @ComcastCares Customer Service Story –

LinkedIn- You’ve come a long way baby!

Founded in 2002 by Reid Hoffman, and launched in 2003, LinkedIn ( has become the dominant Web-based professional networking platform.  I’ve been using it and have encouraged clients to do so for some time now.  As good as LinkedIn is, it did stumble somewhat by not embracing social media tools and networks fast enough.

This all changed over the last year or so with the integration of a number of social media capabilities into the LinkedIn platform.  In my view, these are the most important ones:

1.  Twitter ( – you can now have your Twitter feed automatically appear in your LinkedIn profile as soon as you’ve tweeted

2. Blogging – your blog posts now also get uploaded onto your profile right after they are posted on your blog (this feature is available for a number of blogging platforms, including WordPress and TypePad)

3. Slideshare ( – any voice-enabled PowerPoint presentations you’ve uploaded to to SildeShare now appear in your profile as well

These changes are important for a number of reasons.  First, they expose more of your brand and content to your LinkedIn professional network.  These contacts can now see your tweets and blog posts without having to go elsewhere.  Second, they save you a ton of time in that you no longer have to update your LinkedIn profile with content you’ve created elsewhere. Last, by making sure it embraces social media, LinkedIn is taking steps to stay relevant and, in the process, protect the myriad of hours its members have spent in building their profiles and extending their networks.

If a blog falls in the forest does anybody hear?

With March break upon many of us, my mind is onto more metaphysical questions – thus the subject line.  What I am referring to here are metrics and measurement, a subject whose importance cannot be overemphasized.  One of my favourite business mentors taught me that “what you do not measure cannot be improved”.  It is a lesson that we constantly convey to our clients, as well as applying it internally.  When you consider that improving conversions from 2% to 3%, for example, can mean a 50% jump in revenue, you start to take it seriously. 

In the Web 1.0 world, there are numerous software measurement and metric packages that vary in sophistication and price.  The one you choose depends on your type of business and the metrics you look for.  In our business, and for clients, we use Google Analytics, as well as a serverbased package that acts as a check and balance, so to speak.  In my book, when considering data richness, ease of use, and price (free!), Google Analytics is unrivalled.

In the social media world, measurement and metric software is a fairly nascent space but it is developing rather quickly.  One option I have been testing and will deploy in a number of upcoming social media campaigns is Ubervu, which measures “conversation”, “reactions”, and a variety of other metrics in the social media universe.  Go to, input your company name in the “Search for Social Media Conversations” window, and click “Analyze”.

 At the end of the day, it’s the not the software you pick but the fact that you do it consistently and continuously adjust.  Remember: “you cannot improve that which you do not measure”.

Your Worst Customer is Your Best Friend

Huh? How can that be? Well, according to the book What Would Google Do?, in a “google universe” most information is both public and transparent. That means you can save a lot of anxious moments down the road (not to mention revenues) by knowing your worst customers and finding out what they have to say. Imagine a world where customers could not pan your products or services with a few clicks of the mouse. A world where bad product and service reviews could not be easily tracked or discovered. In that world, negative news would spread slowly and stealthily by word of mouth and, by the time you found out about it, it could be too late (and infinitely more expensive) to fix.

What’s the lesson here? Leverage the Web and social media tools to get as much feedback from your customers as possible. Give your worst customers the opportunity to speak up quickly and easily so you can fix their grievances in the same fashion. Here is author Jeff Jarvis’s description of a restaurant run according to Googlethink. Once you read it, ask yourself how it applies to your business. What can you do to find your worst customers/best friends?

“What would a restaurant run according to Googlethink look like—other than being decorated in garish primary colors with a neon sign, big balls for seats, and Fruit Loops and M&Ms on every table?

Imagine instead a restaurant—any restaurant—run on openness and data. Say we pick up the menu and see exactly how many people had ordered each dish. Would that influence our choice? It would help us discover the restaurant’s true specialties (the reason people come here must be the crab cakes) and perhaps make new discoveries (the 400 people who ordered the Hawaiian pizza last month can’t all be wrong??? Can they?).

If a restaurateur were true to Googlethink, she would hunger for more data. Why not survey diners at the end of the meal? That sounds frightening—what if they hate the calamari?—but there’s little to fear. If the squid is bad and the chef can hear her customers say so, she’ll 86 it off the menu and make something better. Everybody wins. She’ll also impress customers with her eagerness to hear their opinions. This beats wandering around the tables, randomly asking how things are (as a diner, I find it awkward and ungracious to complain; it’s like carping about Grandmother’s cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving). Why not just ask the question and give everyone the means to answer? Your worst diner could be your best friend.”

What’s up with Video Blogging?

Video blogging is another of the social media tools we get questions about.  Does it really work?” clients ask.  Can it make a difference to our corporate bottom line? And so on.

As I am fond of saying, one good example is worth a thousand blog posts. Before reading on, open up a second browser and point it to  Once there, be prepared for what Jeff Jarvis (author of What Would Google Do?) calls a jet engine in your face”. “This blast of personality is Gary Vaynerchuk. He is a 32 year-old merchant who has made more than 800 daily wine-tasting shows online – just him, his glass and a spit bucket, says Jarvis. These are all simply made, easily uploaded, video blog posts.

In doing so, Gary took his New Jerseybased family liquor business from $4 million in revenues just a few years ago to over $60 million a year today.  I guess that answers the question I started the post with. These regular video blogs that cost next to nothing to create enjoy a daily audience of 80,000.  As Jeff Jarvis points out, this has not only created explosive growth but is also “transforming retail and making it social”.  Gary calls himself the “the social media sommelier”. Social business, he says, is the future of our society.

 How can you make your business social? How can you leverage all these amazing tools we have at our fingertips to engage your customers and prospectsPlease share your comments, thoughts or questions right here.