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Street Cred is for Rappers, Net Cred is ...

- Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rappers Need Street Cred. So you need... Net Cred?

What's street cred? The urban dictionary of slang gives us this definition:

Street Cred
Short for street credibility (n) -
repsect(sic) from urban communities. usually something essential for making it big in the rap world.

Now if I may offer a definition of Net Cred:

Net Cred
Short for internet credibility (n) -
Respect from the online community, with tacit acknowledgement that the information or propositions you present online are real and somewhat trustworthy. Usually something essential for making it big online.

Unfortunately, Net Cred isn't really measurable - it's more a feeling people will get when they land on your website.

Think about this: when you're surfing the web, you're often looking for something. It might be a gift for your sister, some information for a project, or news on your favorite singer.

Sometimes you'll find something suitable, but then ask yourself: "Can I trust this website?"

That's when the website's Net Cred comes into play; the more apparent the site's Net Cred is the more likely you will buy the product, use the information or believe the news.

Zooming in on Online Businesses for a moment - for every business, there are some basic building blocks of Net Cred that can be (and should be) used pretty easily. If you are a business owner, here are some things you can add or do to your website to lend a basic level of Net Cred in the eyes of your visitors.

  • Your physical office address. Real companies have real postal addresses - so tell people about it!
  • A phone number. Your customers might not call it, but at least they know they can, if they want to.
  • Watch your spelling and grammar. It's simple, but important. If someone has too many spelling mistakes and poor grammar it's too easy to be dismissed as amateur.
  • Think about presentation. Your website should look good. It doesn't need to be a work of art, but spend some time, effort or money to ensure your site is well laid out and easy on the eyes. Either use a professionally designed template (as our online business builder does) or get a designer to put something together.
  • Make sure your site displays nicely on all browsers. Too many sites only work on Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE), and not Firefox or Safari. Websites need to work across IE, Firefox and Safari for mac users - if your site doesn't display correctly to your potential customer, they will not buy from you.
  • Add an About Us page. About us pages are commonly read by people trying to work out if they should trust a company. Make sure you have one! It should tell the prospect 5 important things about your company: who you are, where you are, what you do, why you do it and how you do it.

That's 6 things - and there's loads more, no doubt.

The point is simple: credibility is a huge question when your customers land on your website. You've got to make sure you are communicating your credibility effectively - or you'll lose them lickity split.

The Anti-Sherlock Rule

- Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary detective was often tasked with solving baffling mysteries. Armed with nothing but his wits and some sketchy clues Sherlock Holmes would face up to the challenge. He needed patience, cunning and an open mind. Lateral thinking was a must. What a hero.

Sherlock, however, does not belong in any discussion around web design or online businesses -  and so the Anti-Sherlock rule comes about. The Anti Sherlock rule simply requires that you accept two things as true:

1. Websites are NOT mysteries. Your Online Business and Online Shop should be easily understood by the visitor. You know who your audience is, and you can pretty much guess what they'd be looking for on your site. So give it to them without fuss - serve their most common needs as quickly as possible.

2. Your customers are NOT Sherlock Holmes. While I'm sure a bunch of them would leave Sherlock in their Mensa sweatshirt wearing dust, they're too busy to apply that intellect to work out your website. Don't make them jump through hoops.

This may seem obvious. But why, dear god WHY, do so many businesses have mysterious web sites and expect you to work out what to do next?

If it's a game, I don't want to play.

Your Business is a Burger

- Friday, February 01, 2008
Think of your business like a big juicy burger. You've got the bottom of a freshly baked sesame seed bun. A juicy beef pattie still sizzling from the grill sits on your fluffy bun-half. Creamy cheddar cheese is slowly melting on your grilled pattie, while garden fresh tomato slices lie on their cheesy bed, shaded by crispy lettuce leaves that fan out beyond the edges of your piping hot salt-n-pepper seasoned pattie.

And perched lightly on a throne of lettuce leaves, underside spread with seasoned butter and fresh aioli, is an old, stale piece of bread. Mottled blue and white from mould, the sesame seeds have mostly been scavenged by the kitchen's resident cockroaches. Small bite marks around the edges belie the interest of other small, sharp toothed vermin.

I'm not eating that burger any more. Neither are you.

I think businesses are a little like burgers - burgers have layers, and so do businesses (and so do onions, according to Shrek). So think of your marketing as a buttered bun, your product as the meat pattie. Your website or online shop is that freshly tossed garden salad. Your customer service is the bun perched on top. 

Ok, so now that you're with me, here's where my business-as-burger thinking is headed. Two points:
  1. It's worth making sure your ingredients complement each other. For example, choose the best sauce for your pattie. If your website design complements your product, then the customer's experience improves, their expectations are better and they'll be happier overall. This increases the likelihood they'll be back for more. 
  2. One bad bit can spoil the entire burger experience. A moldy bun makes an entire burger entirely disgusting, even if everything under the bun is fresh, hot and neatly presented. 
Customers don't talk about the bun or the lettuce. No one says "it was a great burger, except the bun was moldy". They say: "the burger was moldy." They talk about the whole burger - their experience from start to end.  

So, how does your business taste?

Upcoming Book: Website Breakthrough 10 Easy Steps

BC Admin - Saturday, January 05, 2008
Recently I was honored to be asked by Luke Hayes to participate in an advanced reading of his upcoming book "Website breakthrough 10 Easy Steps". Luke is an extremely successful internet marketer and has been in the game for a long time. I respect his mission (and drive) to help business owners succeed online. I found his book to be an easy read. He cleverly breaks down all the concepts so that those new to the game can grasp them quickly. More importantly it covered everything a business owner needs to know to start-up and begin to run a successful online business. 

You may have read about my 4C's of online success (Content->Credibility->Conversion->Customer). In his book, Luke sets the foundations for a perfect lead-in to the critical 4th C (the Customer) where Business Catalyst plays such a vital role. Our approach to see the customer (rather than content) as the centre of an online business enables business owners to understand their customers so they can increase their profits. After all it's cheaper to market to existing customers rather than pursue new ones.

Make sure you read Luke's book when it's published, as to get to the 4th C, you need to have covered the first three.

Unwrapping Project Falcon

BC Admin - Friday, December 28, 2007
We had a few big wins with our analytics framework this year. When we launched our action-based reporting we really gave a glimpse as to how closely we can track customer behavior and measure ROI when it comes to email marketing campaigns. You can read about it here. However throughout this year we've been quietly working on something much bigger and it gives me great pleasure to finally reveal and tell you about project Falcon.

Falcon is a whole new way of tracking and analyzing visitor behavior on your website. In fact I'll put it on the line that it will turn existing website reporting and analytics tools on their heads. As a business owner you will no longer be satisfied with metrics such as page views, visits and unique visitors if you want to remain competitive.

Falcon can be divided into two parts.

Firstly, Falcon tracks visitors much more deeply that ordinary analytic tools. Falcon is able to identify and link all past (and future) visits by a customer to that customer. This allows us to paint a complete picture of that customer's activity on your website and understand how they go about learning about your products and services, all the way to buying these.

For example, a customer enquires about one of your products on your website. Would it be useful to know how long this customer has been visiting your website before they made their enquiry? Would it help to know what they've been doing during those past visits? After the customer makes an enquiry it may take another few visits before they actually buy your products. Falcon aims to pull all this information together so you understand your customers and the paths they take to buy your products and services.

The second (fun) part of Falcon is its ability to provide infinite linking of your content and customers. For example you will be able to view a given web page and instantly see a list of those (by name) who have visited this web page. Click on a customer of interest and view a complete history of their activity on your website.

Complimenting all this is the Actions panel which'll allow you to quickly filter and group selected customers with similar behaviors and add them to marketing campaigns, give them discounts to particular catalogues in your shop amongst many more actions.

Our goal with Falcon is to give you a deep understanding of your customers' behavior on your website. This is something that business owners have not had the luxury of but one that will prove necessary to run a successful online business.

I'll provide more detail in the coming weeks with plenty of screenshots. We are working hard so we can get the beta release out towards the end of Q1 2008.

CMS Watch "Twelve Predictions for 2008"

BC Admin - Saturday, December 22, 2007

CMSWatch.com have just released their annual "Twelve Predictions for 2008". It's a worthwhile read. What stands out for us is point #9 "Finally bridging web analytics and online marketing". This is something we've been doing and trying to do better for sometime now. Isn't it time in 2008 that your email marketing provider told you more than just who opened your emails and what links your customers clicked on? Isn't it imperative for your success that you can measure the ROI of your campaigns right down to the last dollar?

Apparently this is coming. Here's a link to one my earlier posts. Action-based reporting is here and it can transform your online business too.

Saying goodbye Russell..

BC Admin - Thursday, December 20, 2007
I had a call from one of customers, LoDingo yesterday. They sell a huge range of digital audio products. If you are thinking of travelling any time soon, then I strongly recommend visiting their online store to buy a digital audio tour of the country you are visiting. But this post is not meant to be an advertisement for LoDingo.

As one of our longest serving customers, I've received numerous emails and phone calls from these guys. They're constantly discussing ways to improve our system which ultimately improves how they run their online business. Yesterday I was told that one of their team members Russell was moving on. I just wanted to take a moment and send a big cheerio to Russell, who over the years, through his constant feedback has done a lot to improve our product. I wish him all the best for his future endeavors.

I can't resist! Star performer? Web Apps - again!

BC Admin - Monday, December 17, 2007

I couldn't resist when I saw this. This one (http://shemoves.com.au/t-perth.htm) is an implementation by one of our web designer partners in Perth, Australia. This is a cleverly designed calendar cum booking system that combines our Web Apps to create a calendar of upcoming gym classes. Various web app items (i.e. classes) are classified in different categories to achieve the layout. It combines our booking engine to automate and manage the entire process of booking members into classes.

Neat? Very much so. The best part about it is that this partner was able to implement all of this himself without a single line of coding and without engaging a developer. The bottom line is a significantly faster turn around and more profits in his pocket.

The evolution of web hosting

BC Admin - Sunday, December 16, 2007
For 4 years we've been preaching online businesses, not websites. In the first few years, it was difficult to make people understand and really appreciate what we were saying. Although a little to our detriment it's been well worth it. This vision has ensured that we stayed on the right track throughout.

The tide of online businesses is here. Business owners are much more engaged with their websites than ever before. They appreciate that their website is their business, an online business. When a business owner has this realization, they'll think of and treat their websites fundamentally differently henceforward. The conversation moves away from web pages, content and hits. They look for key business metrics such as leads and conversions. They think of their customers as the core, rather than their content. They use tools to automatically build profiles around customers so they can understand them better and therefore increase their profits. They look for ways to automate and streamline business tasks using workflows and so forth.

In 2-3 years this is how your typical web hosting will look like for all business owners.

Anonymity is hurting your business

BC Admin - Saturday, December 08, 2007
Over the last 10 years website reporting has become stagnant and boring. There is a constant flow of feedback from business owners who are confused and struggling by their website statistics. In fact what I tend to hear from business owners, even with the advent of Google Analytics, is that they still don't have the full picture of their online business. The problem with these reporting systems is - anonymity. If they can't tell you which visitor is Mr Smith and which is Mrs Jones, how does this help you treat Mr Smith differently from Mrs Jones?

As a fellow business owner I can't think of anything more important. I must know who my customers are so I can best serve them. Something to think about for 2008? I think so!