The New Netscape

posted by hal…….

As reported by Reuters, The New York Times and others, Netscape came back to life this morning as an uber-news and blog aggregator. Jason Calacanis, famous for Silicon Alley Reporter and Engadget, is the driving force behind the push to re-invigorate Netscape in it’s new guise as an AOL service.

Nothing wrong with the concept – a lot of others are doing it, so why not jump on the band wagon? You weren’t expecting anything original were you?

I checked it out. Tried to sign up, maybe loft a comment. Sign-up didn’t work on Safari. Didn’t work on Firefox. I went to the trouble of downloading the Netscape browser (7.2 for Mac) – the site still choked on sign-up.

Honestly – today, tomorrow, the middle of next week – it doesn’t matter when you launch a new service AS LONG AS IT WORKS. This would seem to be especially true for a damaged brand like Netscape.

Will I go back to the site? Maybe. Maybe not.

The New Netscape – probably as irrelevant as the old Netscape.

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June 15, 2006 at 3:47 pm 4 comments

25 Worst Products of All Time

posted by Jes… 

PC World recently released its 25 Worst Products of All Time article. While I don't necessarily agree with all of their choices, I think the 'worst' products tend to earn their status because of one (or more) of these things:

  1. Bad usability
  2. Sketchy ethical practices
  3. Poor customer service
  4. Trying to shoehorn a revenue model into a free product
  5. Buggy software

Much of what is often categorized as buggy software actually has more to do with the first item on the list: poor usability.

As I was thinking about my own personal choice for the worst products ever, most of the things that came to mind were products that had poor usability. Poor usability combined with items (2) and/or (3) above creates a powerful cocktail for a truly infamous product.

With that in mind, here are a few products with poor usability in my opinion:

  • Yahoo's small business web site services
  • Toyota Prius' bluetooth calling feature
  • Almost all wireless print servers

Please post comments with your own products, and maybe we can compile the list of 25 Worst Usability Experiences of All Time.

Incidentally, if you need to improve the usability of landing pages or registration processes for your online e-business initiative, contact us here at Brooks Bell Interactive.

June 14, 2006 at 7:41 pm 3 comments

Show ‘Em the Money

posted by Greg…….

The other day I wrote that when it comes to newsletters, people only want to read about things relevant to themselves. Let me go one step further. Whether you are an individual employee answering to your employer, a business unit reporting to a division, a service firm with clients, or a corporation with shareholders – at the end of the day, it’s all about how you make or save them money.

Applying this to newsletters then: What’s more relevant to business people in decision making positions than how to save or make them money? Create content that squarely addresses this subject and you have a winner! MarketingSherpa’s case study, How to Create Email Newsletter Busy Execs Will Consistently Open, Read & Click On, covers going about this.

June 14, 2006 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

Write About What You Know

Blogs are all the rage these days. It seems like if you don’t have one you’re out of the loop, especially if you’re an online marketer.

The problem is, if everyone is doing it, it becomes harder to generate an interesting voice amongst all the clutter. It’s kind of like newsletters. They’ve become so easy to produce that everyone seemingly has one. The standard company newsletter has become predictable. People forget – no one wants to read about another company’s news; they want to read about themselves! (Or at minimum, about things relevant to themselves).

That doesn’t mean blogs and newsletters aren’t important and valuable. It does mean, however, that you can’t roll out the standard fare and expect to generate interest. You have to look very closely at what you do well as a company – at the reasons other companies do business with you – and use blogs, newsletters, and other similar forums not as a trendy offering but as another way to further communicate your company’s core value and expertise.

Two articles in today’s iMedia Connection newsletter address this subject, and got me thinking about it in the first place:

Get Started with Email Newsletters

Michael Mayor states that the key to successful email newsletters is staying focused. As an “interest starting point” for your customers, email newsletters need to stay on target and provide relevant and valuable content.

What Matters Most in Email Marketing

Tricia Robinson also acknowledges the importance of email marketing, when done correctly, and applies the traditional 40/40/20 direct marketing principle to email marketing – offering our target audience what they want, when they want it is the key to success.

June 13, 2006 at 2:01 pm Leave a comment

Internet Acronyms

posted by hal…..
In the word dodge, two rival camps compete for dominance: those who would keep the language “pure,” and those who see language (especially English) as changing and dynamic.

Shakespeare coined many words, gravitating particularly toward Latinate endings. Lots of people are still pissed. Authors, journalists, bloggers and writers of all stripes coin new words and phrases daily. Some terms will join the main body of language (“google it”) while others will wither away (“bling”).

But what do we make of Internet acronyms? You know, that annoying little shorthand used for IM-ing and text messaging. Scourge or savior? What would Shakespeare make of it?

Lots of websites have sections on internet acronyms, but Netlingo has one of the most complete.

Here are a few amusing entries –

BTHOOM (Beats the Heck Out of Me)
BTSOOM (see above)
CSL (Can’t Stop Laughing – it’s the new LOL)
DQYDJ (Don’t Quit Your Day Job)
GAL (Get a Life)
IIIO (Intel Inside, Idiot Outside)
ILICISCOMK (I Laughed, I Cried, I Spat Crumbs On My Keyboard)
KYPO (Keep Your Pants On)
OMIK (Open Mouth, Insert Keyboard)
PAL (Parents Are Listening)
SSEWBA (Someday Soon, Everything Will Be Acronyms)

You get the idea. Some of these terms are migrating into everyday language – my teenage daughter seems to speak exclusively in acronyms.

ME: Hey Jill, you want to help me wash the truck?
JILL: Kimwas, Dad.

It means “Kill me with a Spork.”

Whatever our position on the “sanctity of language” as enshrined in the OED, it’s beneficial for us as marketers, writers and advertisers to recognize the widespread usage of Internet Acronyms and employ them where it is appropriate. It may also help us communicate with our kids.

What’s a Spork?

June 9, 2006 at 12:02 pm 1 comment

Martha Fires the Donald

posted by hal…
In today’s Media Daily News, Randy Siegel takes us on an imaginary journey through the next ten years of media and technology – Exxon meges with Yahoo, Google buys South Carolina and ABC’s “Desperate Grandmas” debuts to top ratings.

Of course, none of this would be funny if it didn’t have a whiff of truth. It points to the triumph of managers over people who actually make things and highlights our slow cultural drift toward blandness and comformity. Here’s the link – Headlines from The Next 10 Years of Media & Technology

June 8, 2006 at 12:05 pm Leave a comment

Less Is More

by greg…….
Following up on my comment yesterday that “today’s consumers are so inundated with choices that they are looking for a reason to reject an option and move on rather than making an active decision,” I have some quantitative evidence in support.

The Marketing Experiments Journal has an article out today that concludes “emails offering one service compared to emails offering a choice of services bring higher conversions.” Their findings, they observe, aren’t surprising given that a website landing page which focuses on a single product or service will almost always do better than a similar page which tries to sell multiple products or services, and in their test the email with 1 free offer outperformed the email with 4 free offers in sales conversion rate by 464 percent.

Here’s the link to the article as published on iMedia Connect

And if you have a chance, check out MarketingExperiments.com – it’s a performance-based online marketing gold mine!

June 8, 2006 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

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