The Internet Marketing Driver: Glenn Gabe's goal is to help marketers build powerful and measurable web marketing strategies.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The DVR and Its Effect on TV Advertising Recall, Do Your Commercials Stand Out?

DVRs and TV Advertising RecallOr does that really matter? More on that later. First, I’m a big DVR user and have been one for a number of years. I bought my first TIVO about 5 years ago, quickly added a second, and then moved to the Comcast HD DVR last year. So, I read an article in late February about a study conducted by General Electric’s NBC Universal to document the recall power of TV commercials when DVR users were whipping through them at 6x speed. In other words, do you recall an advertisement as you are fast forwarding through commercials on your DVR? By the way, that’s exactly how I watch the shows I record. In addition, if I choose to watch a live show, I just start watching the show 15 minutes in (for a 1 hour show) and then I can still fly through the commercials. Now back to the testing. The following quote is directly from the Wall Street Journal article:

Tracking biometric measurements such as eye movements, heart rate and sweat, the study found that the ads people concentrated on the most and recalled the most shared several traits. The most successful ads concentrated the action and the brand's logo in the middle of the screen, didn't rely on multiple scene changes, audio or text to tell the story, and often used familiar characters. People were also more likely to remember an ad in fast-forward mode if they had seen it once before live.

Glenn’s translation: A big static logo in the center of the screen. ;-)

Uh, tracking biometric measurement?? OK... The most successful ads didn’t rely on audio to tell the story?? The more I think about this topic, the more I think that this entire study wasn’t necessary. I guess it was for networks trying to hold on to TV advertisers at all costs, right?

Paging Dr. Gabe… Dr. Gabe Please Come to the Living Room:
So, I decided to conduct my own study. That’s right…and without biometric measurements, my heart rate wasn’t monitored, my eye movements weren’t scanned, and my sweat glands weren’t checked! I flipped on my TV, drilled into my recordings, armed with a high tech toolkit for a high tech doctor of technology (a pad and pen) and started my first show. My goal was to fast forward through each set of commercials at the highest speed and see which ads I could recall. That is, if I didn’t go into convulsions first! :) Since every study needs a name, I am calling it “The Strobe Logo Study” conducted by Glenn Gabe, Technology Scientist at Large. ;-)

Without further ado, here are the results! I will also give my quick analysis of the results following the data.

LOST on ABC (Probably my favorite show right now...)
1 Hour in Length
I started zipping through the commercials at the highest fast forward speed. Believe me, the highest speed is darn fast…each segment of commercials was over in a few seconds. I remember seeing a flash of the Wendy’s logo (centered on screen), an Applebee’s logo and a Dunkin Donuts logo (both also centered on screen). More on ad positioning later. Each was up for a flash…probably a quarter (1/4) of a second. Also keep in mind that the three logos I remembered are big brands that have been advertising for years. This obviously helped with my recall of their ads.

The Sports Reporters on ESPN
30 minutes in length
The only advertisement I remember seeing was CDW. I saw this logo twice during the show and for a little longer than the logos in LOST. This intrigued me, so I rewound the show a little to watch the CDW ad. It ends up they sponsor the show (see, I didn’t know this because I never watched it in real time!) So, as a lead into the show, they have a voiceover say, “The Sports Reporters is sponsored by…CDW”. This takes a few seconds, which leaves their logo on-screen longer. I saw this twice during the show when whipping through it on my DVR. This is an interesting note for TV advertisers. Also, the logo was centered on the screen, an important factor during my scientific study. :)

American Idol on FOX (like I had to tell you…)
60 Minutes in length
I remember seeing a Citizens Bank logo (I think) and an Infiniti logo. And, maybe…just possibly… a Lowes guy. Then again, it could have been a 7 Eleven guy or Wawa guy. I told you…it’s darn fast! Any quick movement or elaborate camera angles looks like a blur in fast forward. It makes sense, though. The common thread for TV commercial recall was becoming apparent. Any commercial that ended with a large logo centered on screen had a chance of recall (unless I blinked during the 1/4 of a second!)

Dancing With The Stars on ABC
60 Minutes in Length
I’ll cut to the chase…I recalled 3 ads, Advil, Petsmart, and a Nivea product shot. Again, each logo was centered on screen and fairly large (and the Nivea product was also large and centered). Are you seeing a trend here?

Here’s an interesting side note:
When you watch a recorded show, it will abruptly stop at a random frame at the end of the show…which is rarely when it fades to black. Dancing with the Stars ended on a BBC Worldwide America logo. So, since my DVR stopped on that frame, I saw this logo for about 10 full seconds before it returned to my DVR menu. If you are still looking for ways to appear in a DVR world, this could be one of them. BBC Worldwide America was not an advertiser, but that spot could be opened up for advertising...

Conan O’Brien on NBC (Just a brilliant comedian!)
30 Minutes
I literally didn’t recall any specific advertisement… Not one. So, I went through it a second time to make sure my eyes weren’t just fried out of my head from the previous shows… Nope, not one ad, logo, brand, etc. I guess none of the commercials used a logo centered on-screen. Read on for my scientific analysis of my DVR study.

Is this what it’s come down to for TV advertisers?
Triggering convulsions in people to see if they remember a flash of a logo? Really? I know not everyone has a DVR (yet), but if this is the type of study we are conducting, then there’s something very, very wrong. I can hear the scientists who conducted the NBC Universal study now. {In my best European scientist voice} “Yes, it seems that even 1/8 of a second can impact your brand’s recognition in the mind of lowly consumers. TV advertising is still hugely powerful and we may turn to 60 strobe flashes of logos in the future versus 30 second spots. Sure, some people may be hospitalized from the flashes of light, but it’s all worth it if the Advil logo shows up, is recalled, and then helps the hospitalized person's family overcome its collective headaches by using Advil.” OK, I’m a bit sarcastic, but it’s hard not to be!

How To Really Enhance Your TV Advertising, ONLINE
When I think of the cost to produce high end TV commercials, then the cost for airing those commercials, and then combine that with the growing number of DVR users, it doesn’t take a mathematical genius to understand why traditional TV advertising is not in good shape. I’m not saying that TV commercials should go away…but I believe that you need to supplement your TV campaigns with other campaign elements to maximize exposure and engagement. For example, I always recommend adding an online viral component to your TV commercials. Have a micro-site or landing page to engage your brand and advertisement, to help with lead generation, to work in a contest, to spark user generated content, to add a blog, etc. and then utilize online marketing channels to drive visitors there. So, combining your high end TV commercials with a robust micro-site, and then utilize paid search, organic search, email marketing, social media, blogging, display advertising, etc. to drive people there is a smart way to go. Then you’ve got yourself a serious campaign, covering all avenues, and using innovative methods. Versus…trying to justify your TV commercials with “flashes of a logo” or what I’m calling “The Strobe Logo”. There is so much you can do online to enhance your TV advertisements, and at a reasonable cost. To me, it’s a necessary addition that can unleash the true power of viral marketing.

Now let me go put an ice bag on my eyes and give my poor DVR and TV a break! Until my next scientific experiment, this is Dr. Gabe signing off. Does anyone know a good eye doctor? Maybe I should get in touch with the people who went through the original study to see who they recommend!


Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, scientist, or PHD. Please don’t ask me for medical assistance or to conduct clinical studies. If you need assistance from a medical doctor, please consult your healthcare company for a referral. I am not authorized to prescribe medication, recommend time off from work, or advocate medical procedures. :)

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

G-Squared Catches the Curve, A Review of The Blackberry Curve 8310

G-Squared catches the curve and reviews the Blackberry Curve 8310So there I was standing outside the AT&T store in Princeton thinking about which upgrade path to take…the iPhone or the Blackberry Curve 8310. I love Apple’s products, but I knew that for my given situation, a Blackberry would probably be the better fit. I love the slick functionality that the iPhone provides, but I also knew that the latest Blackberry Curve (8310) would rock at what I needed most… Also add that the new Curve has a GPS Navigation System and it made my decision even easier. So after some internal debate, I recently upgraded to the 8310. Here is my initial review.

Setting Up The Blackberry 8310
I purchased the Curve and was waist deep in testing out the device within 15 minutes. :-) The 2.5 inch screen is clear and large enough for my needs. The interface is easy to navigate and the trackball works extremely well. I was traversing menus on my curve quickly and efficiently. I installed Blackberry’s desktop software and was syncing with Outlook before I knew it. It was an easy and intuitive process, to say the least. So, I’d say that within 1 hour, I was already using my Curve for business. That’s not bad…

Email Setup and Performance
The Blackberry’s claim to fame is its rock solid and fast email connectivity. The Curve supports up to 10 email accounts and I added 3 very quickly. It was a simple process and it took less than 5 minutes per account. Then it took about 15 minutes to start receiving emails. Each account shows up separately in the main interface and customizing notifications for each account was easy. It doesn’t take long to understand where the phrase “Crackberry” came from…

The Qwerty Keyboard
The Curve has a qwerty keyboard that works extremely well. The only issue is that I sometimes mistakenly hit multiple keys while typing (and no, I don't have giant fingers). This has gotten a little annoying so spacing the keys out slightly would be a good solution in future versions of the device. I’ve also heard this from other Curve owners. It’s not horrible, but when you type a few paragraphs and then see the typos, it makes you cringe (like when I’m on the train to New York during rush hour). It’s a good keyboard, but the spacing is a little tight.

GPS Navigation System
This is a new feature for the Curve and it's one that I am absolutely loving. The Telenav GPS Navigator is a great feature and works extremely well. I’ve tried to trick the system a few times and it quickly adjusts the route based on my changes. The price is right at ~$10/month and having everything centralized on my phone is optimal. I’m digging the GPS navigation system. ;-) Actually, it has saved me a few times already…

The Curve’s Web Browser
The web browser does a good job and is easy to navigate. It’s not slick…but it’s also not horrible to maneuver. For my needs, I’ll be using the browser for quick research, reading articles, blog posts, etc. and for these purposes, I believe the Curve will do just fine. As long as you understand that the web browsing experience won’t be like what you experience at home in Firefox or IE, then you’ll be ok with it. Also, if you keep in mind how you will utilize the web on the road, you’ll be fine with it. For example, I had a meeting last week in New York and I found out last minute (on my way out of Penn Station) that I would be meeting with an additional key person. So, outside the building, I hit Google on my Curve, and researched that person before entering the building. I didn’t care that it wasn’t the prettiest web browsing experience…I just wanted the information quickly and efficiently.

The 2 Megapixel Digital Camera
The Blackberry Curve 8310 provides a 2 mexapixel camera, which is an outstanding feature. The camera offers a 5x zoom and solid picture quality and color. I’m also digging the camera. :) The Curve offers an LED flash, which sounds obvious to have…but isn’t standard on most mobile device cameras. You can easily choose your picture settings (size, color effect, where to store the photos, and flash setting). It’s definitely a nice camera for a mobile device.

My Only Problem with the Camera…
You cannot capture video. Ouch. I really wanted video capabilities in the 8310…especially since I loved shooting video with my last phone. Sure it was small and somewhat grainy…but I loved the ability to quickly shoot video, if needed. I couldn’t believe that the camera on the 8310 didn’t shoot video. They definitely need to add this feature…

Media Player
The media player on the 8310 is adequate. It supports a fairly wide range of formats, including mp3, aac, and wav audio formats and mp4 (also using h.264), mov and avi video formats. I transferred a bunch of mp3 files and mp4 video files to my Blackberry and they sound and look great. The functionality of the media player isn’t robust, but it does the job. Also, I’m not really looking for it to be my core media player…but it’s nice to know it can handle both video and audio pretty well. I have a 2GB microSD card and we’ll see how much that can handle given my needs.

Mass Storage Mode Issues
Note, I had several problems with Roxio’s Media Manager detecting my Blackberry. (The Roxio software is included with the Blackberry Curve 8310.) I went from easily being able to transfer media files to not being able to transfer anything without notification of what went wrong… This was frustrating…and I can tell you that if happened to me and I couldn’t easily figure it out, then it will happen to many others. A few Google searches revealed several others with the same problem. I basically had to drill into the device settings, turn off mass storage mode, then turn it back on, restart the Blackberry desktop software and then reconnect my Curve 8310. I’m not sure how many others would figure it out quickly, but the fiasco wasted about 30 minutes of my time. I’m hoping this issue doesn’t pop up again.

Bluetooth on the Blackberry 8310
Setting up a Bluetooth device was easy to do. I set up my Bluetooth headset in just minutes and have played around with disconnecting it, connecting it again, using it in several places, on the run, in the car, etc. The setup was simple and the 8310’s Bluetooth functionality works well. Enough said.

Voice Clarity and Performance
The voice clarity on the Blackberry 8310 is solid. Actually, I’d argue that it’s clearer then my land line! Every now and then you might get a slight hiss, but nothing horrible. I’ve tested using the Curve with several friends and family from across the country and it’s very clear. Actually, some didn’t even know that it was my mobile phone….which is always a good sign. Again, I think it’s clearer than my land line! Go figure.

Battery Life of the Curve 8310
Isn’t it fitting to end with battery life? :) The battery life of the Blackberry Curve 8310 has been outstanding. As an example, I used my Curve from 8AM to 10PM the other day in NYC, including using the GPS Navigation feature for part of the time, and my Curve only went from 5 bars to 3 bars for power. That’s pretty darn good. :) I’ll do more testing around battery life, but I know some iPhone owners have complained to me before about the quick battery drain they experience. I definitely think this is a strong selling point for the Curve 8310 (at least in my experience).

Although it doesn’t have the sizzle of the iPhone, the Blackberry Curve 8310 is a sleek mobile device that offers excellent email capabilities, a solid web browsing experience, a strong GPS navigation system, a 2 megapixel digital camera, a solid media player, and a long battery life to boot. I highly recommend the Curve 8310 for any businessperson who is looking for a relatively cost effective mobile device that handles the essentials extremely well.

As I’ve said throughout this post, I’m digging my new Curve. ;-)


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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

An E-Commerce Live Chat Case Study, Can It Help You Increase Conversion and Average Order Value?

Using Live Chat to Increase Conversion on ECommerce WebsitesOver the past year, there have been some studies completed to determine the impact of using live chat to increase conversion and average order value. Some marketers believe that providing answers to questions (via live chat) at critical stages during the purchase process can help increase your conversion rate. In a nutshell, it’s about proactively helping customers overcome barriers so they can make a purchase. A case study that comes to mind is the CompUSA Coremetrics study that showed a 10X increase in conversion when using live chat. That’s a powerful statistic, don’t you think? Let’s take a look at what happened to me the other day…

A Little Upgrade Assistance Please…
A few days ago I sat down to order a software upgrade, and before I knew it, I became part of my own case study! I was ready to place an order (literally having all of my contact and payment information entered) and then I remembered seeing a new upgrade version while quickly clicking through the website. I didn’t want to spend too much time, so I just added the version I knew that I wanted to my cart and started the checkout process. As I was entering my credit card information, a little voice in my head kept telling me to check the other upgrade version just in case… I didn’t want to lose all of the information that I just entered, so I clicked the live chat button (located prominently in the upper right-hand corner of the checkout page template.) I didn’t plan to use live chat during this online purchase…I just didn’t have a lot of time and didn’t want to re-enter my contact and payment information. I was ready to just place my original order when I clicked live chat.

Charles Helping Glenn…or Glenn Helping Charles...
Here is the transcript of my live chat session so you can see how it unfolded. I provide a short analysis of this chat following the transcript. Note, when I clicked the live chat button, I had $375 of software in my cart. Also, the name of the live chat rep and the company have been changed to protect everyone involved. :-)

The Live Chat Transcript:
Please hold as we route your chat to a representative.
Welcome! My name is Charles. May I assist you with your selection today?

Glenn: Hi Charles. I have a quick question.
Glenn: I am upgrading a software package and noticed a new upgrade version available on the website.
Glenn: It looked interesting, so I want to know if I qualify for the new upgrade version.
Glenn: I do own the software packages required for the upgrade, so I’m hoping your answer is yes. :)

Charles: It would be my pleasure to help you with this.

Glenn: How much is the new upgrade version again?

Charles: I'm glad to let you know that you can upgrade to the new version for $1250.

Glenn: Charles, I thought it was closer to $500

Charles: I'm sorry. It will cost you $650 for the current upgrade you have in your cart and $1250 for the new upgrade version.

Glenn: That’s weird; I’m seeing an upgrade price of $375 for the current version since I already own the previous version and then ~$500 for the new upgrade version.

Charles: If you have previous versions of the software package, you can receive the new upgrade version for $475.

Glenn: OK, I got it…that’s what I thought I saw earlier.
Glenn: So, it's $475 for the latest version of the upgrade? I just want to make sure.

Charles: If you have the most recent version of the software, you can definitely get the latest upgrade version for $475 and the one that’s already in your cart for $375.
Charles: Are you ready to place the order?

Glenn: I’m going to think about it for a second. It sounds good, though. Thanks for your help. I appreciate it

Charles: You’re welcome.

Glenn: I’m about to add the new upgrade version to my cart but I’m still a little confused with the language on the upgrade eligibility form. Again, I just want to make sure I’m eligible for the $475 upgrade.
Glenn: It's definitely $475 for the latest upgrade version, right?

Charles: Yes, you are correct.

Glenn: Cool, purchasing now...

Charles: Excellent.

Glenn: Thanks for your help Charles. The new upgrade version seems like a really good deal.

Charles: You’re welcome Glenn, is there anything else I can help you with?

Glenn: No, I’m good to go. I’m downloading the upgrade now…and will be using it shortly. :)
Glenn: Happy New Year!

Charles: Thank you for your purchase today!

My Live Chat Analysis
To clarify, I ended up spending $475 versus $375, but for an upgrade that definitely made more sense for me than my original order. So, have you ever been in a situation like this? You know, where you are sitting on a website debating whether or not to buy something or trying to decide which version of the product to buy. To me, this is where live chat is a killer application for e-commerce sites. Charles (more on him below), definitely helped clarify the latest upgrade, if I was eligible, and waited to ensure the order went through. Charles also generated an additional $100 for the order. So, I ended up a happy customer and the software company ended up just as happy (and with more revenue!) :)

The Live Chat Challenge for Marketers
If you read the transcript carefully, then the challenges you face while implementing live chat are glaringly obvious. In the beginning of the chat, I actually knew more about the upgrade pricing than Charles did. I could have easily taken his word and proceeded with my original order... If you choose to implement live chat on your website, you’ll need to ensure your reps are extremely knowledgeable about your products, pricing, upgrades, and promotions. If not, you’ll end up looking foolish and missing opportunities to increase conversion and your average order value. Heck, you could even lose customers by decreasing the credibility you built up prior to the live chat session. Remember, the point of using live chat in e-commerce is to help visitors overcome barriers so they can move forward with their purchase… Like many things in this world, the very thing that can help you can also hurt you if it’s not used properly.

In closing, I’m a believer in any application that can help you increase conversion or your average order value while also making your customers happy. And it really hits home when it happens to you! Think about this...if Charles and his coworkers can achieve the same result 10 times per day in a 200 day work year, then they could generate an additional $200,000 in revenue for their company.
($100 increase in order value x 10 orders per day x 200 days in the work year = $200,000)

Now think about your business…do you believe that live chat can help you increase revenue while also making your customers happy? It just might be worth a try, right? Just make sure your “Charles” knows your products inside and out! :-)


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Monday, December 17, 2007

The Top 9 Blog Posts From The Internet Marketing Driver in 2007…With a Little Help From Santa

Santa Helps Glenn Gabe Count Down the Top Blog Posts of 2007

Happy Holidays Everyone!

I love annual “best lists” and I of course love the holidays so I decided to do something a little different this year. I was lucky enough to run into Santa at a holiday marketing conference this fall and persuaded him to help me out. So without further ado, let’s count down the Top 9 Blog Posts from the Internet Marketing Driver in 2007…with a little help from Santa himself.

Santa wanted me to let you know that he is actually watching and it can only help your chances of getting what you want this year if you watch the video. :-)

I hope you all have a great holiday season!


GG and Santa

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Analyticza™ Pill Arrives and Curbs Addiction to Web Analytics Reporting

Analyticza pills help curb severe obsession with web analytics reporting.
The makers of Webmarktrium™ now bring you Analyticza™,
the most powerful way to curb your compulsive web analytics disorder.

Just 1 Analyticza™ per day enables you to lead a healthy, normal life free of obsessive analysis of your web analytics reporting.

Does This Sound Familiar?
Do you have a compulsion with web analytics reporting?* Do you feel a sudden urge to check your web analytics reports?
* Do you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about which websites or blogs are linking to you?
* Can you not go more than 2 hours without checking your analytics package?
* Do you search for reasons just to log on and check your web stats?

Then Analyticza™ might be for you!

Analyticza can help you get your life back!Analyticza™ is lactose free, does not contain wheat, fish, nuts, or artificial colors and is 98% organic. Analyticza™ has a soft, gel-like outer covering so you can take as many Analyticza™ as you need while at work, in meetings, during exercise, at social events, or any other activity where you want to curb your addiction to web analytics.

Find out today why the country’s top physicians call Analyticza™, “The cure for the statistics-hungry demon inside every web marketer.”

Don’t wait any longer! Contact your physician today about getting started. Your life is waiting for you…and it’s a life free of web analytics compulsion.

Please view important safety information before taking Analyticza™:

Important Safety Information:

1. The most common side effects of Analyticza™ include tremors, headaches, wheezing, and eyestrain. Less commonly occurring reactions include hair loss and nose bleeds.

2. When taken on an empty stomach, Analyticza™ may cause excessive analysis of referring sites and backlinks, which in some cases lead to stalking of referring website owners. In extreme cases, restraining orders were necessary.

3. When taken in conjunction with executing busy holiday marketing schedule, Analyticza™ may cause sleepwalking and then analyzing web marketing reporting, with amnesia of the event. Some patients were found in their offices, still in their pajamas (or less), reviewing reporting while still asleep. Termination and lawsuits followed in 65% of the cases.

4. Patients focused on gaining high search engine rankings may fall into a search reporting binge, finding each and every keyword they rank for. In addition, these patients were seen randomly blurting out their rankings to people that actually don’t care. In severe cases, patients tracked down competitors they outrank, performed “keyword celebrations” on the front lawns of their competitors, and typically end up in custody. Analyticza™ does not condone “sticking it” to your competitors with excessive celebrations.

5. Missed dosages of Analyticza™ in combination with parenting has caused extreme head discomfort due to spouse projection of coffee mug at patient. This typically occurred as patient relapsed and forwarded key metrics to his/her mobile device during birthday party of child. This was often accompanied by mother in law projection of punch bowl, father in law projection of pinata stick, and overall family disgust leading to potential exile of patient. Analyticza™ cannot be held liable for head injuries, family disputes, contusions from pinata sticks, or reimbursement for hotel as a result of exile.

6. If taken for extended periods of time, patient may become immune to Analyticza™, which may cause extreme relapse of compulsive analytics behavior. During relapse, marketers often obsess about Bounce Rate, with aggressive behavior towards coworkers that were part of high bounce rate landing pages. If you experience an obsession with Bounce Rate for longer than 72 hours straight, or what doctors call “Bouncy Bounce Syndrome”, flush all Analyticza™ pills down toilet, eat 9 pounds of parsley, and jog 14 miles. Symptoms should subside within 48 hours.

7. Caution should be taken while taking Analyticza™ when attempting to understand sales attribution across marketing channels. Studies have shown that even small doses of Analyticza™ while trying to determine what “sales attribution” actually means can lead to seizures, migraine headaches, nerve damage, and even stroke in severe cases. Analyticza™ recommends you contact Coremetrics to gain a solid understanding of how sales attribution can impact your web marketing strategies.

8. Taking Analyticza™ while also taking Omega 3 pills has shown a dramatic effect on the physical appearance of patients. Note, this was not the intended use of Analyticza™ and thorough testing has not been conducted as of yet. Please reference photos below. Analyticza™ cannot guarantee similar results, increased dating, a career in modeling, or enhanced popularity.

Patient before taking AnalyticzaPatient after taking Analyticza

9. Taking Analyticza™ while reading top web analytics blogs may cause a sudden increase in blood pressure and anxiety. This occurs as Analyticza™ tries to fight off the urge for web analytics analysis. This can lead to over-commenting on blogs in question, which often leads to biting replies back from web analytics bloggers, and can possibly spiral out of control as supporters of top bloggers unite and retaliate against patient (or what is called “The Blogtzkrieg”.)

10. If you are taking Analyticza™ and find yourself greeting coworkers in the morning with “Hey, guess what I’m ranking for…”, “Guess who was on my site yesterday…”, “Nice bounce rate…”, “I know what you were looking at last night on my blog…”, “You can’t handle my RSS subscription rate...”, or similar phrases, you may need to supplement your Analyticza™ treatment with chemicals peels, yoga, the cabbage diet, high gelatin intake, and possibly hypnosis. It’s obvious that Analyticza™ alone is not working for you. Analyticza™ is not responsible for rumors about your sanity, negative feedback at work, notices from HR that you’re creepy, or simply being made fun of by your coworkers.

11. In some cases, taking Analyticza™ before social events has led to the phenomenon called the 6 degrees of blogging. This occurs when you take a normal conversation and somehow connect it with your own blog by 6 degrees. For example, “Hey John, how about that Yankee game last night?” Analyticza™ patient responds, “Great game, I can’t believe A-Rod hit another home run, he just did an interview with ESPN, didn’t ESPN just run a segment on his agent Scott Boras, Scott Boras makes his players a lot of money, by the way, did you know that my blog post about sports contracts ranks #4 in Google?" Person leaves conversation and thinks Analyticza™ patient is weird. This may happen multiple times during the social event. If it does, force feed Analyticza™ patient lots of alcohol, as much as you can find until symptoms subside (or patient passes out).

12. Patients that mistakenly overdose on Analyticza™ may lose interest in Web Analytics altogether. This typically results in lack of segmentation, loss of search rankings, misallocation of ad spend, and failed marketing campaigns. Also seen in patients that overdose was an overall lack of understanding of who actually visits the website in question, where they come from, which pages perform best on the website, and how to improve the website. In severe cases, excessive golfing may occur followed by swift termination.

13. How Analyticza™ works is not actually known.

14. In clinical studies, simply reminding yourself that you have a life outperformed Analyticza™ 99% of the time.

15. Try not to take Analyticza™.

Glenn Gabe works hard every day to stop web marketing medication abuse.
Glenn Gabe works hard each day to ensure people don't abuse web marketing medications.

Are you an Analyticza™ patient?
Please tell us how Analyticza™ has impacted your life by adding a comment below!

--Are you looking for the web marketing smart pill named WebMarktrium™?--

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Enterprise Rent-A-Car : The Story That Everyone Wants to Hear!

Enterprise Rental Car and Extraordinary Customer ServiceIt ends up my blog post from last week about the drivers of word of mouth marketing had an interesting effect... no matter who I've spoken with recently about web marketing, we somehow come back to the 7 drivers listed in my last post! It’s a weird phenomenon. :-) Over the past week I’ve listened to many stories about how WOM has impacted a wide range of businesses, and out of the 7 drivers of WOM that I listed in the post, the “Extraordinary Customer Experiences” listing really seemed to resonate. I believe this is because it’s something that you as a business owner can directly impact. During my conversations about WOM, I’m inevitably asked if I have an extraordinary customer experience to tell. No, not a client example, but my own experience as Glenn Gabe. That’s actually an easy question for me…it’s my experience with Enterprise Rent-A-Car… hands down. When I tell people about my experience, I get the same reaction almost every time. “You need to write a blog post about that!” So, based on popular demand, here it is… Buckle up and enjoy the ride. No pun intended. ;-)

Have You Heard the Joke About a College Grad, a Bus, and a Resume?
I had just graduated college and I was ready and eager to interview with companies in Corporate America. I was hoping to land a great job in New York, living only 40 minutes outside of the greatest city on earth (OK, I’m biased). I received a call from Perrier about a position in their NYC office. I did a solid job on the phone interview, and I was asked to visit the Manhattan office for a second interview. Cool. I’m excited. So, I had 2 decent choices for getting into NYC from where I lived, the bus to the Port Authority and a train to Hoboken where I could pick up the path to midtown. Being completely inexperienced with commuting to NYC at the time, I chose the bus. I won’t explain all of the intricacies about why the train is better, but to me, the train rules. So, it’s a hot and humid summer day in NY (more on this later), I’m dressed in a new suit that doesn’t really fit well, and I’m off to Manhattan for my interview, ready to take on the world.

Summer in NY
It was 90 degrees that day with high humidity, which means I was miserable as soon as I left the air conditioning… I parked my car near the bus stop and waited for the bus to show up. The 10 minutes waiting for the bus felt like I was in the Sahara Desert and knowing that I had to stay in that suit while acing my interview was starting to freak me out a little bit. Remember, I’m right out of college. The bus arrives and we’re on our way. I noticed immediately that it was really hot on the bus. That’s the proverbial red flag number 1. Just a few minutes into the ride, I noticed the smell of burning oil. Uh oh… Red flag number 2. About 10 minutes into the trip, the bus broke down. So, here I was, at least 2 to 3 miles from my car, on a hot broken down bus, and with no idea how long it would take to fix. And, since I was new at the job hunting game, I didn’t leave enough time in case something catastrophic happened, like this… so there was a good chance that I would miss the interview. Great…

Go West Young Man!
Well, it was actually North, but that’s not important. I climbed off the bus and loosened up my tie, now throwing my jacket over my shoulder. I thought I might as well start walking back to my car. Remember, cell phones weren’t very popular at this point… It’s not like I could quickly call a taxi from the side of the road. I had about 45 minutes to get into NYC for my interview. Only a few minutes into my walk, I came across a line of stores, one of which was an Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Not knowing exactly where I was in relation to where my car was parked, I wanted to ask someone if I was on the right path. So, I walked into Enterprise, sweaty and frustrated and asked if I was heading in the right direction. The manager answered, “Yes, but you’ve got a few miles to walk back to your car.” I frowned, thanked him, and turned back to the door when he asked another question, “Are you going on an interview?” See, I actually looked more like a college grad going on an interview than I thought I did at the time! Big shock, right? I was young, wearing a new suit, and held a cheesy portfolio in my hand (of course with nothing in it but a copy of my resume and blank paper!) So I answered, “Yes, but there’s no way I’m going to make it, since it’s in NYC”. He didn’t hesitate and grabbed his keys. “I’ll drive you to your car. Let’s land you a job.” On the way to my car, I thanked him a few dozen times and even tried to pay him! He of course wouldn’t take any money, but he asked that I follow up with him to let him know how the interview went (and if I made it in time). “You bet I’ll follow up!”

An Important Lesson…Nobody Knows What Happened 15 Minutes Ago…
I hopped in my car and drove into Manhattan like a bat out of hell. I was lucky…I didn’t hit much traffic. I flew through the Lincoln Tunnel, parked near Penn Station, and ran into Penn Plaza. I even got to the office with a few minutes to spare. The hiring manager actually needed a few extra minutes to finish another interview. Phew…no problem. :-) “Tell him to take his time”, I said to the receptionist. That’s when I learned a great lesson that I’ve taken with me to this day. No matter what happens before a sales call or meeting, how hard it is to get there, what happened on the way, heck, what happened on your way up the elevator, nobody knows that… You just need to perform to the best of your ability in the moment and deal with any circumstances later. Anyway, I didn’t mention what happened with the bus to the hiring manager, I did a great job on the interview, and I was pushed to the next level, which was an interview at Perrier headquarters with the Regional Manager. To make a long story short(er), I landed the job and spent the next 7 years at Perrier. Those 7 years truly helped build the entrepreneurial platform that I use every single day. They gave me the best training, education, and real-world experience necessary for me to grow professionally. To me, my experience working at a large company that was going through tremendous growth, with the ability to learn, execute, test, while furthering my education, was critical to my success… Those 7 years definitely changed my life.

“We simply work hard to be the best.”
That quote is directly from the Enterprise Rental Car website, and boy, do I believe that! See, what the manager of Enterprise Rent-A-Car did that summer day truly impacted my life. It’s not a corny cliche, it’s real life. He didn’t need to drive me anywhere… I wasn’t a customer at that point, and never had been. But, he went above and beyond…actually he went way above and beyond. Think about it, how many of your employees would do what he did?? Not many, right? I ended up writing a letter to his Regional Manager about my experience and I hope they plastered that story all over Enterprise Rent-A-Car Land. He deserved to be promoted…and that very day. And of course, I followed up with him to thank him another dozen times.

They’ve Earned a Lifetime Customer Evangelist
My Enterprise Rent-A-Car story is truly an extraordinary customer experience, and one that will be hard for any other company to beat (at least personally). So, when I travel and I’m presented with several options for rental cars, you bet I go with Enterprise every single time I can. I don’t think twice. In addition, I also recommend Enterprise any chance that I get, and coincidentally, this is typically during the meetings that I’m traveling to! it’s darn targeted. :-)

So, have you experienced extraordinary customer service like I did? I’d love to hear your stories (and they don’t need to be as crazy as the one I listed above!) I know the stories are out there…


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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pop Star Mika Offers Web Marketing Advice - Diversify Your Online Marketing Channels

Mika Teaches Web MarketingFor those of you who obsess about what you do for a living (like me) and you are constantly thinking about new ideas related to your business, you’ll definitely understand the angle of this post. You see, I have an uncanny ability to hear music, and on the fly, map that song to something Internet Marketing related. I know, amazing super power, right? :-) It’s hard for me to turn off this super power… Last weekend one of my nieces started playing a song by Mika called Lollipop….hold on, hear me out! So, my uncanny super power kicked in and I couldn’t help but believe that Mika was reaching to out to internet marketers. I have provided the internet marketing translation of a segment of Lollipop below. Click the button to hear a segment of the song and the Glenn Gabe translation will show up.

Diversify Your Online Marketing Channels
I believe it’s easy for a company to fall into the dangerous practice of focusing on a limited number of online marketing channels to support their business. For example, some companies may focus entirely on search (Organic Search and Paid Search revenue). With the dynamic and competitive nature of Paid Search and Google dominated Organic Search, you shouldn’t rely entirely on your search marketing channel to completely support your business. I love search marketing, but what if Google tweaks their algorithm and your rankings drop for a month or two? It could happen. Another example would be relying entirely on your in-house list. Although I believe your in-house email list is one of the strongest assets you can have as a web marketer, you shouldn’t entirely rely on it to support your business. What happens if your current customers start to go elsewhere? What if they simply aren’t buying that month, quarter or year! Again, this happens.

So What Works? How Many Online Marketing Channels are Enough?
The answer to this question completely depends on your specific business, but I can tell you that you should test as many channels as you can to determine their viability. And…test them while your current online marketing channel(s) are humming. You might find that you need to grow your in-house list and that search marketing is the vehicle you will use to accomplish this task. Then you might find that within search marketing, Paid Search yields the most registrants where Organic Search yields the most revenue. Then as you grow you in-house list, you can use email marketing and other communications to build a solid base of revenue per month. You might test Social Media to see how much quality traffic and/or links you can build, which can increase revenue directly (from Social Media traffic) or indirectly (by increasing your link popularity and Organic Search rankings). You might find that banner advertising doesn’t do anything for your business, but that blog advertising does. Then, within blog advertising, you might find that paid bloggers don’t impact revenue, but forming relationships with bloggers in your industry does. You get the gist!

My point is that if you find something that works, but you don’t expand your marketing efforts outside of what works at that point in time, then you are taking a huge long-term risk. Think about it, you probably wouldn’t invest all of your hard earned money in one stock, right? You would probably diversify your investment to lessen your risk. You should follow the same philosophy with online marketing.

A Hypothetical Example
Cookies, Pies and Pastries Inc. (CPPI) launched two years ago and although they have the best homemade pies in the region, their online business has struggled out of the gates. They rely heavily on Organic Search to gain most of their visitors and revenue. Their site has gained a good amount of natural search power since its inception and it ranks for several competitive keywords. They have a small in-house list and most of their customers from search have been one time buyers. They are hitting their revenue goals, but here’s the problem…although Organic Search is a low cost (technically free other than paying for their SEO consultant), search visitors can be extremely transient. Think about it, compare someone who has bought from you in the past versus someone searching for what you provide. There’s a huge difference in the type of visitor, right? Also, your Natural Search rankings might bounce around and you might be on page 1 this week and then on Page 3 the next, only to return to Page 1 a few weeks later. Relying entirely on search traffic isn’t a viable path for CPPI. So, their web marketing consultant recommends that they expand their online marketing efforts to include Paid Search, Word of Mouth Marketing (WOM), and other online marketing campaigns (both on-site and off-site) to increase their in-house list. WOM would leverage their current customers to help get the word out about CPPI’s great homemade pies, Paid Search would be used to increase registrants and revenue, and CPPI will test several online marketing campaigns (both on-site and off-site) to increase the size of their in-house email list. In addition, to keep Organic Search moving in the right direction, their consultant believes they should launch a link-building campaign. One idea is to invest in their blog and use Social Media to gain inbound links. I think you get the idea…

This is just an example, but as you can see, there are several ways to help diversify CPPI’s online marketing channels...and hopefully while they are already hitting their revenue goals. Leveraging one or two channels is downright dangerous and if you are like me, you are a contingency nut. If one channel starts losing its power, you don’t want to be in a dire situation…like trying to do everything I listed above in 2 weeks since revenue dropped off a table! :-)

In closing
So, Mika knows more than you thought about Internet Marketing, huh? I was surprised too. ;-) The next time a teenager turns on a new song, keep your ears open and see if there are any good marketing lessons to learn. You never know, maybe Mika’s tour next year will be in front of corporate executives and not teenagers!


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Monday, June 11, 2007

Pop Quiz - Trendsetter or e-Commerce Blunder?

Not Your Typical e-Commerce Issue

Online shopping is booming, companies are investing in their websites at a staggering pace, and innovative web technologies are enhancing the e-commerce experience for shoppers. “Click and buy” is now understood by almost everyone sitting at your dinner table…even the grandparents. Based on the first line of this blog post, and the fact that I’m a web marketing consultant, you would think the rest of this post would paint a rosy picture of buying online, right? Although online shopping works well most of the time, there are those times that push my patience to brink. This is one of them.

Here’s the pop quiz:
Based on the photo above, which one of the following statements is true:

A) Glenn decided to be a trendsetter and have the front of his sneakers be different colors. He wants to start a marketing craze where sneakers don’t entirely match.

B) Glenn has always wanted to be mad scientist with a lab in his attic. There he can sew together “Frankensneakers” for the world to buy. {Cue mad scientist laughter}

C) Glenn ordered sneakers online and wasn’t able to view the actual sneakers he would be buying, only to receive sneakers that weren’t manufactured correctly.

Although I do like being a trendsetter and the name “Dr. Frankensneaker” does have a ring to it, the correct answer is C. ;-)

My History with Adidas Trail Running Sneakers:
A quick background first. I love Adidas trail running sneakers. I started running 15 years ago and I’ve tried many of the top sneakers. For me, nothing has come close to Adidas Trails. That said, I don’t like looking like a jogging clown, even though I can juggle and create balloon animals. :-)

You Can Use E-Commerce to Buy Almost Anything, Right?
Based on what I do for a living, and the fact that I buy almost everything online, I decided to visit and buy sneakers online. Keep in mind that although I’m a huge advocate of e-commerce, it can be tricky if you need something to fit perfectly (especially when you are going to be jogging a lot miles in a pair of sneakers…) I was willing to take the risk.

Buying Sneakers Online at
The buying process was seamless. has an excellent website, enabling me to find the line of Adidas Trails easily and efficiently. They also provide great zoom and pan functionality once you are on the product detail page. Sure, I couldn’t try them on, but I’ve been wearing Adidas Trails for 15 years. I was confident that the sneakers would fit. I hoped anyway… In 10 minutes, I had found sneakers that I liked, purchased them online, and now I just needed to wait a few days to receive them. They arrived 3 days later (definitely within my e-commerce shipping window of tolerance), and yes, they fit perfectly! Excellent. Keep in mind, my focus was on how they fit and not how they looked. It’s funny how our eyes can play tricks on us… I didn’t even notice the front piece of the shoe, you know, the one that stares you right in the face when you look down!

Are You Kidding Me? This is what went wrong??
Never in a million years would I have thought that an improperly manufactured sneaker would the problem.

I was entirely prepared for the following e-commerce issues:

* A bad shopping experience
* Poor pricing or high shipping charges
* Not being able to track my order properly
* Shipping taking too long
* The sneakers not fitting properly

But none of these things happened. The experience was great until I put on the sneakers, actually went for a run, drank a Gatorade, and then looked down….What? The front of one sneaker is green and the other is grey! Customer Service:
What would they say, right? The quick facts: I already wore the sneakers, the box is gone, but the sneakers weren’t put together correctly. Let’s see how this goes over at I called and spoke with a great customer service rep. She completely understood my situation and didn’t care that I wore the sneakers already. Not once did I hear a hint of skepticism, which I was completely prepared to hear… The call took 10 minutes and the customer service rep issued an RMA# (return authorization) which I received via email (with a shipping label) a few days later. Note, I think the email should have arrived immediately, but that’s the way it goes. Also, I would still need to purchase another pair of sneakers online, since they can only credit my account. I think they need to be able to issue a replacement, but their system cannot handle it yet...

The Positive Note:
It is amazing what a good customer service experience will do. At least they stepped up, admitted that it was their problem, and handled it quickly. I think many other companies need to follow when it comes to accountability. I will buy from them again, but for me, there aren’t 3 strikes in my e-commerce game. There are only 2 (and sometimes 1 if the customer service experience doesn’t go so well…) I hope my next experience is a better one.

So what’s the lesson here?
I guess there are a few, and I’ll try and summarize them below:

* Buying online has improved dramatically over the past few years, but don’t get too confident. Until you can reach through your screen and hold the actual product that you are going to buy, there are still times where you can benefit from buying at a brick and mortar store.

* Customer service can make or break a buying experience. If the rep didn’t act so quickly and understand my situation so well, I’m confident that they would have lost my business for a long time.

* The hassle of buying online, waiting for a product to arrive, finding a problem, contacting customer service, waiting for the RMA#, boxing up the product to return, dropping off the package at UPS, and then having to reorder the product again, takes a lot more time than running out to a store and buying sneakers. Aren’t the core benefits of buying online speed, selection, and efficiency? I guess only when it works perfectly, right?

So now I have a decision to make (and one that I’ve had to make in the past – see my post about Best Buy In Store Pickup). Do I purchase the sneakers online again and hope for the best or do I run out to the store and just pick them up? I’m a busy guy, so I might actually purchase them again online.

Am I a glutton for punishment? You’ll need to check back to find out…


{UPDATE} OK, so when I left off, I had to ship my sneakers back to Adidas and then wait for a credit (which I found out could take 30 days after receiving the shipment). I went ahead and trusted that Adidas would follow through and issue the credit, and I ordered a new pair. The funny part was that now didn’t have my size in stock! So, I visited a shopping engine to find out pricing and availability at several online stores. I found the sneakers I wanted in my size (and at a $12 discount from what I originally had paid). They should arrive early this week. As for Adidas, I received an email on Friday explaining that they did issue the credit. So, it all ended up ok. Sounds like an e-commerce soap opera, doesn't it?? The problem is...I don't like soap operas. :-)

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Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Review of Google Analytics v2 - Part 1

Google Analytics v2The latest version of Google Analytics (v2) arrived a few weeks ago, and although I'm a big Coremetrics fan, I am also an advocate of Google Analytics. I have several clients that use Google Analytics and I also use it for my own websites. The new version is really strong and I plan to write several posts about the new features over the next few months. Today I wanted to begin my review with some of the top features that I use on a regular basis. Let's jump right in!

The New Interface:
Well, you can't miss this one when you log in. :-) The new interface is extremely slick. Google obviously worked very hard to make it as easy as possible to find the information you are looking for and in as few clicks as possible. For example, clicking the Visitors tab, you are presented with trending in the top area (along with a dropdown for changing the metric). Then you are presented with additional key metrics below the trending graph along with links to even more information (a good drilldown feature). The trending graph is flash-based and enables you to hover your mouse over a time period to see data in real time. Very nice. Using the dropdown, I can easily change the metric from visitors to bounce rate, pages per visit, etc. It's fast and there is no refresh needed...and no need to jump to additional pages.

Screenshot of New Interface:
Google Analytics New Interface

Revenue Just a Click Away:
If you are running an e-commerce site, then revenue is what you are looking for, right? With the new version of Google Analytics, e-commerce metrics are simply a click away. For example, if I click the Traffic Sources tab, then click Referring Sites, I am presented with site usage information (like visits, pages/visit, avg. time on site, etc.) However, there are two more tabs next to Site Usage, which are Goal Conversion and e-commerce. Clicking e-commerce now shows me Revenue for each referring site. I did not have to jump to another page and I didn't even have to refresh the page. Again, fast and slick. Get me the information I want as quickly as possible. Then, I can click on a specific referring site to see more information. For example, I can segment Referral Path and see where visitors came from on the referring site, or segment Visitor Type to see if they are a new or returning visitor. Note that the e-commerce tab is present on many reports, enabling you to quickly match visitors with revenue. i.e. Click the New vs. Returning tab under Visitors and you can easily see the revenue from each segment (as well as goal conversion).

Screenshot of e-Commerce:
Google Analytics e-Commerce

Traffic Sources:
Many people involved with web analytics are fanatical about checking which sites are sending traffic their way. Was it from a blog post, an article, social media, search engines, etc. The Traffic Sources tab enables you to quickly find the information you are looking for, as well as revenue associated with those sources. For example, if I click All Traffic Sources under the Traffic Sources tab, I am presented with a list of sites/channels that have sent traffic our way. So, I see that Google Organic ranks second in sending traffic our way for the time period I selected. Then I quickly click e-commerce to see revenue totals. It shows me that Google Organic was the third highest revenue generating traffic source. So, I'm intrigued...I click the link for Google Organic, which gives me more information about the channel. I see trending over time, I can segment the traffic (maybe by landing page so I can see where Google organic visitors are landing on the site), and I see other key metrics like pages/visit, bounce rate, and avg time on site.

If I click the Search Engines Tab under Traffic Sources, I see the top search engines that sent traffic our way. I can click each search engine link to see the actual keywords and associated revenue per keyword. Fast, easy, and extremely powerful. Also note that there are three links at the top of Search Engines page (under the trending graph). The links enable you to select Total Search Engine Data (both paid and non-paid), Just Paid Search Data, and Just Non-Paid Data (organic). Again, no post back, no jumping to additional pages, it's all right there on one page.

Under Traffic Sources, there are also tabs for Referring Sites, Direct Traffic, AdWords (to track your AdWords Campaigns), and Campaigns (to track non-AdWords campaigns). These other tabs deserve their own blog post, so maybe I'll cover them in Part 2.

Screenshot of Search Engine Traffic Source:
Google Analytics Search Engine Report

The Map Overlay Feature: Wow!
Under the Visitors tab is a feature called Map Overlay. Now, if you ever wanted to segment your visitors by location easily and efficiently, the folks at Google have really stepped up and given you what you needed. I am first presented a map of continents that sent traffic our way, so I click the Americas to drill down. Then I click North America. By the way, if you hover your mouse over a continent, country, city, etc, you can see the data in real time. Also, you can segment the data by using the dropdown I have mentioned throughout this post (so you can see revenue, bounce rate, conversion rate, etc. for each location.) Yes, impressive. Back to my example. Now I see all 50 states, each a shade of green, based on the number of visits. It looks like California sent the most traffic (it's the darkest green), so I click on the state to drill down. Now I am listed with the cities that sent traffic our way. I notice that Los Angeles tops the list. So I click e-commerce to see how much revenue the city has brought in...can you see the power of this feature?? Then I click on the city link to see more data, like trending over time for key metrics. Needless to say, this is a powerful feature that I hope more people find out about.

Screenshot of Map Overlay:
Google Analytics Map Overlay Feature

Exporting and Emailing Reports
Google Analytics v2 has made it easy to export and email reports from the interface. In almost every report, you can click Export at the top of the screen and you are presented with several options. You can export the report as a PDF, XML, CSV, or TSV file. If you want to send the report to someone else, click the Email tab. Here you can enter email addresses, a subject line, description, and then choose a format for the report. In addition, you can easily schedule reports to be sent on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. The email feature is what I use extensively, and it works great. How many times have you found something in your reporting, jumped back, and said "Darn...Jim would love to see this..." Well, simply click the email tab and in seconds your report is on its way.

Summing Up Part 1 of My Review...
I can keep going here...but as you can see, the new version of Google Analytics is a powerful tool for analyzing your web operation. I wanted to hit on some of the features that I use on a daily basis and I definitely plan to keep my review going with additional posts. I am impressed with the new functionality and ease of use of the new version. As I said earlier, I use other web analytics programs as well, but for the money (it's free), Google Analytics is a great package. There are some limitations as compared to a package like Coremetrics (read more about attribution windows here), but if you need a cost effective and powerful way to analyze your web operation, then you should definitely take a hard look at Google Analytics. If you want to learn more, then definitely check out Avinash's blog (he is the master, the official Google Analytics evangelist, and is known in the industry by just his first name!)

Wait a minute...just picked up something in the new Google Analytics that Jim would love to see {clicking email tab, copy and paste his email address, and poof, he's getting a pdf shortly}. :-)

Have fun!


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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Comcast HD DVR vs TIVO

Comcast HD DVR vs TIVO
I’m a big fan of TIVO, but when HD Tivo’s are going for $800, I naturally had to take a look at the Comcast HD DVR. I wasn’t thrilled that I had to do this, but $800? I’ve been using Comcast’s On Demand service for years now, but wasn’t thrilled with the speed and the functionality of the service. I naturally thought that the DVR would be similar, so I’ve stayed away. OK, I was wrong. Read on.

TIVO has been a part of our lives for over 3 years now (since my daughter was born). We knew that time would be limited for watching TV, so we thought it would be smart to watch the shows we like when we want to watch them. It has been an invaluable gadget for us…even my daughter understands that we can rewind a show, that the Wiggles record every day, and that we can zip forward through commercials. (Sorry advertisers.) :-) That said, I really didn’t want to spend $800 on an HD TIVO. So I called Comcast. On one Saturday, I picked up the new DVR, pulled out one of my TIVO Series 2 DVR’s, and started testing out the Comcast DVR. We’ve been using the Comcast DVR in our family room for a few months now and my findings are below:

What I like about the Comcast HD DVR:

Seamless Integration with the Comcast Cable Box:
Tivo was relatively big, a second box that needed space, and was slow to react…more about the reaction time soon. With the Comcast DVR, you only need space for the cable box, which made my wife extremely happy! It’s also darn fast, which TIVO wasn’t. There was always a lag between changing stations with TIVO and it’s communication with the cable box. In addition, there were times that TIVO thought the channel had changed, but it didn’t. Then it would record a show we didn’t want thinking it was recording the correct selection… This annoyed the heck out of us, but didn’t happen often, probably twice per month on average.

At $10/month for the Comcast DVR, there’s not a big investment and it’s covered by Comcast (if something goes wrong, you can call the cable company to come fix it or replace it). Compare this to TIVO HD at $800 and if it breaks, good luck. I’m sure you could call TIVO and have someone repair it (maybe), but knowing Comcast is right around the corner is nice.

HD Anyone?
Yes, TIVO has an HD box, but the Comcast DVR is less expensive, easy to integrate, and I was recording and watching HD footage the same day I picked up the DVR. On a somewhat related note, who else can’t wait for all stations to be broadcast in HD?? It’s hard to look at standard definition when you turn the station from HD. Am I wrong? :-)

Dual Tuners, Recording 1 Show and Watching Another:
This bothered us greatly with our TIVO Series 2 DVR’s. I love being able to watch one show and record another. It makes sense, right? Let’s say I’m watching the US Open and Tiger is on a tear. If the Yankee game comes on, why do I have to change the station? This is what happened with our TIVO… This feature with the Comcast DVR is really nice. It would be hard to revert back…

What I don’t like about the Comcast HD DVR:

TIVO software is better:
You have more functionality with TIVO, and sometimes it’s the little things that you miss. For example, I cannot jump forward in 15 minute increments like I could with TIVO. So, if you recorded an hour long show and you want to hop to the last 15 minutes, good luck. You might actually have a seizure watching the footage zip by at full fast forward speed (which is still a minute per 1 or 2 seconds.) I also liked the ability to watch something in slow motion. This isn’t available on the Comcast DVR. There is a series pass, like the season’s pass on TIVO, so that essential bit of functionality is there. I do believe Comcast will keep enhancing their software, so this might not be much of an issue down the line. Right now, however, TIVO wins the software battle.

Weird Audio Problems:
At first I thought it was my TV, but doing some Google searches revealed many other people having weird audio problems and freezing issues with their Comcast DVR. For us, the annoying little problem is that the audio goes out and you cannot get it back without switching sources or turning off the TV and then turning it back on. So, I switch from HDMI to AVI and then back and the audio comes back on. Yes, this is annoying and I hope Comcast figures it out…

Limited Space for Shows:
At 100% capacity, our Comcast DVR is holding about 40 hours of footage (mixed between HD and standard definition). It’s ok, but we would obviously like more space. It hasn’t been a big problem yet, but I can see it becoming a problem down the line if the space issue isn’t addressed. We don’t watch a huge amount of TV, but we like to record our favorite shows, which are mostly in HD. Then we have our daughter’s shows, mostly in standard definition. My son isn’t old enough yet for TV, but when he gets involved, we will definitely need more space. I’m assuming that Comcast will keep increasing the space as their service becomes more robust, but it’s worth noting now.

Dare I say…
In closing, as a TIVO fan, dare I say that my experience with our Comcast HD DVR has been…pretty darn good?? Well, it has and I need to call it like I see it! There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about TIVO’s lifespan (or lack thereof). I’m not exactly sure what the company has planned and which areas they will focus on in the future, but I can tell you that if I switched to the Comcast DVR, many others are going to do the same. I’ve told countless people over the past 3 years about TIVO (with my very own mini Word of Mouth Marketing campaign), but I feel much less connected with the TIVO brand right now… I’ve still got a TIVO Series 2 in another room in my house, but it’s been getting less and less attention. Do you think it knows that Buzz Lightyear is downstairs recording some HD right now? ;-)


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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

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* Flash and Rich Media
* and dozens of other web technologies!

Please view important safety information before taking WebmarkTrium™.

4 out of 5 doctors agree that taking WebmarkTrium™ along with hiring a highly skilled web marketing consultant can lead to increased profits, likelihood of promotion, increased athleticism, and a longer, happier life.

WebmarkTrium™ is 100% Lactose-Free
and is the First Organic Web Marketing Enhancer
WebmarkTrium™ is Manufactured Without the Use of Animal Testing


Important Safety Information:

1. The most common side effects of WebmarkTrium™ are bloating, wheezing, cramping, and dry mouth. Less commonly occurring reactions include blurred vision, double vision, and severe headache.

2. WebmarkTrium™ may lead to excessive use of banner advertising, including animations that take over a visitor’s entire screen. Please see for examples.

3. Some patients saw decreased search engine rankings, increased search engine penalties, and even search engine banishment in severe cases. Please see Google's Webmaster Guidelines for more information.

4. In some instances, patients experienced hot flashes, profuse sweating, and severe chest pain, especially when taken in conjunction with decreased organic search rankings (Please reference item #3 above).

5. Some delusional behavior may occur, such as believing that Social Media alone will make or break your business. If this occurs, drink 8 tall glasses of water, throw out WebmarkTrium™, and read professional web marketing blogs until symptoms subside. Then reference this primer on SMO for more information.

6. If WebmarkTrium™ is taken on an empty stomach, it may cause excessive frequency of email blasts with poorly crafted subject lines, lack of text content, and ridiculously bad offers. In some cases, abysmal Open, Click Through, and Conversion rates were seen in patients who refuse to scrub their lists.

7. In aggressive marketers, WebmarkTrium™ has been known to cause hostile and frequent spamming of social media sites, which may cause retaliation in the form of attacks on the patient’s website. WebmarkTrium™ is not responsible for server downtime, negative blog posts, or threats from social media users (especially digg users).

8. WebmarkTrium™ may cause extreme nervousness and jitters, especially when accompanied by executive team meetings where patients are required to explain web marketing results. We recommend breathing into a paper bag, drinking exorbitant amounts of green tea, and doing yoga prior to the meeting. If all else fails, try telling jokes in order to deflect any severe criticism and/or termination.

9. Patients may experience feelings of desperation, which may lead to skewed web analytics reporting, especially when reports are generated after failed email campaigns. (Please reference item #6 above.)

10. WebmarkTrium™ has been known to cause duplicate content issues, temporary redirects, extreme use of session variables, and cloaking, especially when taken while implementing website redesigns.

11. Your doctor may choose to start you on lower doses of WebmarkTrium™ if there is a history of unethical use of Word of Mouth Marketing, including paying others to buzz about your products, not revealing the relationship, or in severe cases, faking your own identity and blogging about your own products in a hope that it will drive sales. WebmarkTrium™ may enhance the feeling to conduct unethical WOM.

12. May lead to decreased quality scores, low ROI, and increased click fraud in patients that began the use of WebmarkTrium™ prior to understanding how paid search actually works.

13. Taking WebmarkTrium™ while visiting YouTube may result in the launch of dreadful web video campaigns, shot by a “buddy you know”, with no script, bad actors, horrible lighting, bad audio, shaky footage, and the use of copyrighted music. In some cases, lawsuits follow quickly and aggressively.

14. WebmarkTrium™ may cause some patients to hire agencies based solely on name versus skill-set and actual results.

15. The combination of caffeine and WebmarkTrium™ may cause sleeplessness and fatigue, primarily after launching poorly crafted web marketing campaigns. This was followed by excessive nail biting, fainting, and bouts of nausea.

16. WebmarkTrium™ may also lead to a strong denial that a patient’s products and pricing are actually competitive when all information collected by analysts point to a bad business model and a sinking business.

17. If a patient is new to web marketing and doesn’t understand blogging, WebmarkTrium™ may lead to anonymous blog posts, the faking of identity (infiltration), blog spamming, and other naughty things people shouldn’t do.

18. In “flavor of the month” patients, WebmarkTrium™ may lead to allocation of budget and resources to web video campaign of dancing dog with product dangling from collar. We are not responsible for web video campaigns that tank, injury to animals as the result of WebmarkTrium™, or for customer backlash. Patients are on their own if this occurs…

19. In clinical studies, no difference was seen in patients taking WebmarkTrium™ versus placebo.

20. We cannot guarantee that WebmarkTrium™ will actually increase your web marketing knowledge.

21. OK, don’t use WebmarkTrium™.

I'm Glenn Gabe and I approved this message.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

e-Commerce Shipping - Online Consumers Demand a New Standard

Online Consumers Demand a New e-Commerce Shipping Standard!
Let's face it, everyone shops online now. If you haven't shopped online for something in the past year, then stop reading this post and repeat the following lines:

* My name is {SayYour Name} and I'm a little afraid of technology
* Per Glenn Gabe's Request, I am going to try and overcome my fears and buy something online this week
* Heck, I'm going to buy something online today and then after I realize how fun and efficient it is, I'm going to thank Glenn from the bottom of my heart and recommend his internet marketing services to every marketing manager I know --sorry, I had to add this last line ;-)

Now I know I'm on the "You Better Believe It" end of the spectrum when it comes to buying online, but heck, my mother even shops online and she's 64!

Did You Say 4-7 Days?
I'll now get to the point of this post... I recently made a few purchases online and I was a little shocked to see that it would take up to a week to receive my items (as the default shipping option.) Could that be right? 4-7 days? Maybe I should have just run out and picked up the items from the store... Here's my point. I love shopping online. Not a surprise, right? That said, e-tailers need to understand that consumers today expect more from their online shopping experience. If I purchase something online, I want it delivered in less than 3 days and without having to pay extra for priority shipping. Am I wrong to think this way? I don't think so. I've worked on enough web marketing surveys, focus groups, and persona development projects to know what consumers expect from e-commerce shipping...and it's not 4-7 days!

Online Shopping is an Immediate Action
Let's break it down. Purchasing online is an immediate action. You log onto a site, select items to purchase, enter your credit card information, and then place your order. This can all be done in less than 5-10 minutes if you know what you need. I've actually purchased books from the Barnes and Noble website in less than 2 minutes...which is my all time record and I have this record time hanging on my office wall. OK, I'm kidding about hanging it on my wall, but I did purchase books in less than 2 minutes this year from And yes, this keeps me coming back to their site. They get it. Functionality, speed, reliability, and getting their products into the hands of consumers as quickly as possible is the way you keep quality customers buying from you (and also get them writing about it on their blogs!)

A New Standard for e-Commerce Shipping
Now I'm not crazy to think that overnight shipping will be a standard (we can all dream, right?) but I truly believe that companies selling on the web need to understand that online buyers want their products as soon as possible. That way, they won't feel the need to just run out to the mall and pick up the items with their own bare hands. I know, they'll have to speak to the teenager in the store who seems like he had a few too many the night before and can't seem to focus, but ultimately, they will find what they need and take it home with them.

Calling All Web Marketing People...
So, if you are reading this post and you are in control of your company's e-commerce site, please remember that your e-commerce shipping standard should match your online buyer expectations. i.e. Don't list 4-7 days as the default in your shipping column or you might find that customers who are ready to click "Submit" will instead be clicking "Close Window" and doing something crazy like getting in their cars and driving to a store. God help us all!


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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

2006 Holiday Season Online Shopping Review -, Old Navy, Harry and David, and Penzeys Spices

Since 1997, each year on Thanksgiving morning I try and complete as much of my holiday shopping online as possible. It's a tradition of mine that has saved me countless hours and a lot of frustration. This is the first year I am going to give you examples of my best experiences, as well as, my worst. So without further ado, here we go!

The Good:
* (now that's a big surprise, huh??) Yes, everyone knows about, but it could not be left out of my review... Amazon provides an unbelievable online buying experience. First off, their selection is unmatched. You can literally find anything on I typically fly through the site finding what I need with little trouble. Their cart functionality and one click ordering is phenomenal and their follow up communication with customers is fast and well though out. I ended up purchasing more than anticipated on Amazon this year, mostly due to their on-site search functionality, but I also utilized some of their cross sell recommendations. - The Glenn Gabe No Fluff Rating: 9/10 -- I took off 1 point for some of the B.S. reviews. ;-)

* Old Navy - I have 2 nieces and 2 nephews so a stop at Old Navy's website was a given. I found it very easy to browse the site, moving from category to category and then drilling into subcategories. Their AJAX-driven Quick Look functionality is awesome. It gives you the ability to dynamically trigger the item, along with more views, prices, sizes, etc. right from the browse-by listings. The product detail page is nicely laid out and easily lets you make selections and add items to your cart. Also via AJAX, they dynamically show you if an item is out of stock based on your selections on the product detail page. This is an example of providing great functionality for visitors and to read about some "not so great" functionality, check out a recent post of mine regarding Best Buy In Store Pickup! Back to Old Navy...the purchase process was fast, the follow up communication was excellent, and I left with a strong feeling that I'll be back soon...

Old Navy - The Glenn Gabe No Fluff Rating 8/10. I took off 2 points for the clunky homepage and some of the clunky landing pages (which you can easily get past). Once you are in a category, you can fly.

The Not So Good:
* Harry and David - Hey, the moose munch will only get you so far! :-0
After launching GSQi, I tried several companies for client holiday gifts, but have pretty much settled on Harry and David. They do a great job with their product line while offering items across a wide price range. That said, the online buying experience leaves a lot to be desired. This year, I quickly logged onto the site and started adding items to my cart. This part of the process was painless. --Now, keep in mind that I have purchased from them before and have a list of clients saved in my giftlist. This year, I had some new clients to add to the list, which is where my experience took a turn for the worse. I began by adding items for clients already on my giftlist. Then I tried to add a new client on the fly, whose name showed up in my cart, but her address didn't... So, I decided to go into my giftlist and saw that the new client wasn't there. So, I added the new client's information in my giftlist, only to have to go back and delete the item from my cart, then re-add it to my cart, and finally select the newly added client. Are you confused yet?? I was. This was taking too long. I finally got everything working and proceeded to checkout. From here, the process was fine. It seemed a little clunky, but worked ok. Their shipping functionality is always excellent and they consistently exceed my expectations with regard to delivery. To make a long story short, the online buying experience needs to be more intuitive. I'm obviously a savvy online buyer (I better be, right?) and I had some trouble. So, I took a second to think about how my mother would do....probably not very well.

Harry and David - The Glenn Gabe No Fluff Rating 6/10. The moose munch added an extra point. Darn, that stuff is good!

The Bad:
* Penzeys Spices - (a gift for my wife, of course!) My wife loves this store and their products so I wanted to take a look at Penzeys' website for Christmas ideas. I hit the site and almost fell out of my chair... a splash page?? OK, I click through the clunky graphic to the site and this time I did fall out of my chair! The site was circa 1997. A few graphics sprayed around, a few text links, clipart looking icons, I actually had to check the URL to make sure I was at the real site! Penzeys Spices, what are you doing?? Your customers love you, your products are excellent, but you have a website that my 10 year old nephew could put together. I entered the "online store", which was a ridiculous listing of text links with prices. Part of your allure is your merchandising so don't you want to provide images so customers can figure out what to buy? I understand that you want to drive people to your retail stores, but I would probably just tell them that. Seriously, just add some well written copy that says,

"Hello Online Shopper. Since our business is driven by our brick and mortar stores, we would like you to visit them. We've taken a lot of time to ensure that our employees are nice and knowledgeable so they can help you choose the best spices for the job at hand. This site was purposely built to force you to visit our stores...we haven't updated the site since Bill Clinton was in office. Thank you."

OK, I've hammered the site enough. Please, Penzeys Spices, revamp your website. You are missing out on a lot of revenue... I'm serious.

Penzeys Spices - The Glenn Gabe No Fluff Rating 2/10. My wife forced me to give the site higher than a 1...and the 1 was purely from the fear that after the marketing team at Penzeys reads this post, some day I would come home to see my house buried under tons of pepper, paprika, chili powder, cumin, or some other deadly spice! :-)


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Monday, November 13, 2006

Best Buy's Purchase Online and In Store Pickup, AKA Buy Online And Yell At Your Monitor

There are times that I am working on a tight deadline and don't have time to purchase hardware via the traditional methods I use. That typically puts me in a situation where I need to go to an actual brick and mortar store to buy hardware, like Best Buy or Circuit City. This happened the other day, when I needed a new firewire card and wireless card ASAP. Should I just go out to Best Buy, find what I need, and waste an hour of my precious time? I didn't want to lose the hour so I logged onto to place an order and saw an apparent answer to my dilemma...Purchase online and they will have it ready at a store of my choosing in less than 1 hour. Perfect! Or was it? Read on.

Great Functionality, Poor Execution:
As I was placing my order in light speed (smoke was actually coming up from the speed at which I was typing), I noticed two very important pieces of information on the cart screen. ITEMS IN STOCK AT PRINCETON LOCATION. Excellent. This is too good to be true, I've placed my order in just a few minutes, it will be ready for pickup in less than 1 hour and I've saved myself approximately 45 minutes, which now can be spent cranking away on my deadline! The order goes through and I receive a few confirmation far, so good. Then another email comes through...this one is not so good. One of your items is not available at our Princeton location. What?? You just showed me an "ITEM IN STOCK" message in my cart. Surely Best Buy's systems are good enough to check the inventory at the location in question, right? Obviously not. So, now I had a decision to I go to the store, pick up my item that's in stock, then browse the store for the other item and then have to pay for that separately? Doesn't that take up more time than just running out in the first place?? Again, I'm working on a serious deadline. Oh yeah, do I take the chance of placing another order on the website for pickup, only to see it's not in stock?? ...after the site tells me it's in stock? I'm not so confident anymore. Would you be?

Web Marketing Meet E-Commerce Functionality:
To make a long story short, I ended up taking the risk and ordering another item on the website. I waited for the email notification to come through telling me it was not in stock, but it was! Excellent. I flew out the door and picked up my items at the In Store Pickup Desk, which by the way, made up for some of the frustration I experienced earlier. It took 5 minutes to get my items and walk out the door. But here is my issue...I love the functionality on the e-commerce site, if it worked well. The ability for someone to purchase and then pick up in less than an hour is wonderful. That said, it has to work flawlessly (or close to flawlessly). Don't show me an in stock message when it's not in stock. I'd rather see a message that says "We need to check the inventory at the Princeton location" so my expectations are properly set. Web Marketing at Best Buy did a great job concept-wise, but someone didn't ask the next question, "can our systems tell in real time what's in stock at our locations?" Uh, that's pretty darn important, don't you think?

My final comments:
I love that Best Buy gives you the ability to order online and then pick up at a store location quickly, but they need to polish off the process. Personally, I always had a positive feeling towards Best Buy, then it was knocked down a little during this process, only to come back a little due to the positive experience with in store pickup. With a little more work and systems integration, the purchase online, in store pickup process can help gain customers, keep their current customers happy, and get them closer to truly meeting their customers' expectations.

*On a somewhat separate note, I had the wireless and firewire cards installed and working faster than figuring out my next steps during the ordering process! I hope my next experience with Best Buy is a little smoother.

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