Category Archives: Marketing

How to lose a customer, How to gain a customer

In today’s world people’s need for instant gratification is stronger than ever. We don’t have to go to the video store any more, we can just play movies instantly on Netflix. So Blockbuster loses customers after all the years of pissing people off by charging ridiculous late fees and having an inferior product. Why would I pay crazy rental fees at Blockbuster, when I can pay $9.99 a month to watch as much as I want? Now they are going out of business. Same thing with Borders books. Why would I go to the bookstore and spend $3.45 a gallon on gas, when I can just download the book to my iPad from wherever I am in the world with an Internet connection? Why would I pay $30 for a book when I could have it instantly for $9.99, or for $4 if I bought it used from Amazon? These are just two examples that immediately come to mind as I am watching what used to be two powerhouse companies shut their doors in Tampa and around the country.

This is not a trend that’s going away. It will only get worse as technology improves, and as the younger generations who are used to it get older, making up a greater part of our population. If you don’t think this affects your business, or the business that you work for you should stop being naive. It affects all businesses and organizations. How much software do you still get on CD? Heck how much software do you still install on your computer? It seems like a new SAAS (Software as a Service) provider pops up every two minutes, with great products most of the time.  Why would I want to install software on one computer, or many of them for that matter, when I can access my software through any device that has Internet access and a web browser?

Today Zephyrhills lost me as a customer to a smaller, cheaper, more agile competitor. After receiving my $71.00 water delivery bill from them, I gave them a call to see why I was being charged $7.00 a bottle for water. They informed me that it was because the price automatically goes up after a year. I’ve had service with them for 2 years, so I’m not sure I buy that. The person on the other end also had a very hard time speaking English. On a side note, if you really want to lose customers, hire workers lacking this most important skill set to answer your phones. You might as well stop offering phone support all together. You probably wouldn’t aggravate as many people.  After getting frustrated with the rep and the answers I was getting, I was transferred to speak to someone about changing my service. At my old office I had a water filtration system instead of the water bottles and it was considerably more cost effective. It was also nice not to lug and store 40lb water bottles that needed to be replaced every two days. I was interested in getting this installed again. The new rep, who could speak English, informed me that she needed to contact the installer to answer some of my questions and that he would be giving me a call back. After two days of not receiving a call back, I decided to call the a competitor, Arctic Spring. They were friendly, answered all of my questions competently, spoke English, had the product I wanted, and could install the next day. One more thing, they were $25 per month, with a $20 install fee! So I get similar water, my bill is cut into a third, they have good customer service, they are local, I have a person I can call instead of a company, and they came out to install the next day. Zephyrhills couldn’t even give me a call back the next day.

Folks this type of stuff is going on all around us. This is a real life example of how companies are changing the game to put a beat down on their competition. The old way, just doesn’t work anymore. The important question to ask is this; is your company Zephyrhills or Arctic Spring?

Do you rely solely upon Google Analytics? You are probably missing out.

Every SEO I have ever spoken to thinks that Google Analytics is the bee’s knees. Most of the time stuff from Google is. I love gmail and Google Apps. Google Docs has kept me from the nasty presence of MS Office rotting on my desktop. Google itself is an amazing search engine. I can’t remember how I ever used the Interweb without it. I mean I’m no Al Gore. I didn’t invent the thing. Then there is Google Maps. Google Earth. Google Talk. All of their cool code libraries and APIs. I can’t wait for the upcoming release of Google Farts, their venture into what we used to call “Smell-a-vision.” That’s going to be big. They are the most fascinating company in the world. For the most part, everything Google does is great, just not their Analytics product.

Before I get going too much here, I must admit, I am a dumb user of Analytics at best. With that said I have yet to meet a smart one. Perhaps I am jaded by the so-called experts who have tried to sell me on it in the past.  The funny thing is when you ask these experts to explain what all the numbers mean, and how it is affecting you, they start spinning in circles of confusion. Is it because they have no idea what they are doing? Perhaps for some, but I think the real problem is in the tool. It really lacks clarity in some areas. The absence of  instant feedback disconnects you from experiments you are running and the traffic that results from them. If you are happy with your data being a day late and a dollar short, feel free to continue using this tool and stop reading here.

Ok, I’m being a little harsh. To be fair Google does give analytics away for “free.” Additionally I think there is some integration into “Adwords” for when you are spending big money with them.

When I started this blog, I had a desire to see my traffic in real time. I wanted to know if I was wasting my time with things I was trying, or if my efforts were bearing fruit. I was never able to really gauge this using Google Analytics for the reasons I stated above. Because this blog is built on WordPress, you can all to easily hop over to the plugins section and search for anything you want. I found Hit Sniffer when I was searching for stats. It’s very simple to install and I’m very happy with it. It gives you information in a more understandable and useful fashion that Google Analytics, and more importantly it’s real time. Sure it’s requires a large investment of $4.99 per month, but I really feel like it’s worth it. I have to be honest, I’m not an expert in the field of website analytics and stat tracking. I’m sure there are better tools out there. This post isn’t about that though. This is about me not finding Google Analytics helpful. Most people like it because it is free. Isn’t there a saying that you can’t argue free? Most think free is good, but generally there is a trade-off. In this case I wasn’t willing to settle for the inferior product, just because I didn’t have to pay for it.

As a matter of fact I would say costs me money to use Google Analytics. Why? Not knowing the immediate effects of time spent posting links, comments, tweets, and status updates makes it feel different when you look at the numbers the next day. If you post something on Twitter, using a certain wording or hashtag and it was very successful, you know it immediately. With Analytics, you have a harder time feeling this. You lose the affirmation of success or failure. You miss out on learning something. Being that marketing experts have always told me that what they do is an experiment, I would think that learning is the most important thing you can take away from your efforts. If I’m wasting time, I’m wasting money. Will Hit Sniffer keep me from wasting time? No it won’t. I just think it will keep me from wasting as much time as I did when I just used Google Analytics.

To give you a great example of what Hit Sniffer can do, I can see that right now there is a visitor on my site. They are from Norway and found the site from a link on the Basecamp website. It’s their first visit to the site, they use a Mac, Chrome 8 is their browser, and they have Flash 10 installed. They have been on my site for 5 minutes. Within the next month I will be able to know how many kids they have, their SSN (only if they are a US resident) and what their blood type is. Ok I’m just kidding about the blood type part. But you get the point, the tool is very effective if you want real time feedback. You can see the current online summary below:

Screen shot of HitSniffer

By the way, I was kidding about the number of kids and SSN part for those of you stalkers out there who were getting excited. Settle down now.