Software Marketing Resource Articles: May 2006

You wrote the code, now how do you sell it?

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Long Tail

The phrase "The Long Tail" was first used in 2004 by Chris Anderson a writer for Wired Magazine. Anderson used the phrase to describe business models. The article initially referencing The Long Tail referred to the fact that a small handful of blogs have a large number of links pointing to them, while millions of smaller blogs have only a handful of links. Chris Anderson described the effects of the long tail on business models and argued that products that are in a low demand can effectively and collectively make up a market share that exceeds the few of those that are in high demand.

While initially the phrase the long tail was used to reference statistical distributions, like web 2.0 the meaning has been expanded to encompass a marketing mantra.

Capturing The Long Tail
So what is meant by capturing the long tail? Capturing the small volume will result in a collectively large volume.

Keywords and keyword phrases provide a great example of how the long tail works. There are a relatively small number of keywords that receive the vast majority of searches, and additionally there are millions of keywords and keyword phrases that make up a fraction of Internet searches. So by capturing the keyword long tail an Internet marketer targets all of the less popular keywords and keyword phrases, because in mass these less popular keywords are a more significant volume than the popular keywords and phrases for a specific business sector. Internet marketers that are able to "capture the long tail" will receive significant traffic. The long tail includes everything other than the popular terms. The idea is that the total volume of lower popularity keywords exceeds the volume of high popularity keywords.

While the concept of The Long Tail is fairly simple in nature, it is very difficult to implement in practice.

Using the same example in order to grab the keyword long tail Internet marketers need to locate and optimize for keyword neighborhoods. Large online businesses like eBay and Amazon that contain user generated content tend to have an easier time of capturing the long tail. It can be a challenge for smaller online companies. Generally speaking user generated content like that found in forums and blogs, tend to be helpful when optimizing for the keyword long tail. There is no substitute for magnitude and while capturing the keyword tail will help any business increase traffic, it is important to not forget that tip to tail is ideal.
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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Malcolm Gladwell The Tipping Point

I recently attended the PubCon conference in Boston. Malcolm Gladwell the author of The Tipping Point and Blink was the keynote speaker. He was very engaging and raised some very interesting points.

The book, The Tipping Point, in part discusses the concept of connectors and mavens, and how they bring about change. Connectors are those unique individuals who have an uncanny connection to an unbelievable number of other people. They typically cultivate relationships and grow extensive networks in a variety of different social circles. Connectors have extremely diverse social networks, while most individual have three to five social networks; connectors have an astounding fifteen social networks. Mavens are those individuals who consistently provide highly specific and relevant information based on analysis of a specific sector, they might evangelize a specific brand or be known for being price conscious.

Along with these unique social traits, come what Malcolm Gladwell refers to as social power. It is Gladwell's belief that in today's society Social Power is far more important than political or economic power. An interesting concept to be sure. Taking a closer look at the examples that Gladwell provided it is easy to see how important these unique individuals are to our society and the future's developing trends.

According to Malcolm Gladwell a boxing match between Jack Dempsey and George Carpentier in the 1920's was said to be the tipping point for radio. How is that possible? The radio was initially marketed as a way to receive news stories. At the time, everyone had access to the news through daily newspapers. The majority of society in the 1920's, saw little benefit in purchasing an expensive radio to hear news that was already very accessible.

An individual within RCA conceptualized broadcasting the boxing match live. The idea faced significant resistance but moved forward. Prior to the boxing match radios were installed in a multitude of locations where the general public congregated. The boxing match was broadcast live and it was the first "play by play" sports broadcast.

The boxing match was the tipping point for radio, because it reframed the purpose of radio. No longer was the radio just a mechanism for delivering news, it brought information to individual in their homes as it occurred. The key components that contributed to the success of the radio was that the purpose of radio as a communication medium was reframed. Additionally, the individual behind the idea to broadcast the boxing match was a connector, who had an extensive network of individuals to draw on.

Another key part of Gladwell's talk focussed on the notion that change can happen quite quickly. Many of us assume that complex problems require complex solutions. Invariably the more difficult the problem, the more we feel that we need to throw money at it, to resolve it. This is not always the case.

Gladwell's classic example of a complex problem that was resolved with a simple solution, was illustrated in the Fall of the Berlin Wall. While most political pundits at the time would have predicted that the wall's destruction would have a significant cost and require an exhorbant amount of time. In reality the the political climate change happened quite quickly, and the wall came down in thirty days. While most people understand the intrinsic value of political and economic power, few grasp the importance of social power.

In the US for years the government attempted to force drivers and automobile passengers to wear seatbelts. Laws and fines were instituted in many states, and the idea of buckling up was rebuffed by all. Drivers resented the government legislating what happened in their car.

Eventually the seat belt movement tried another path, they decided that they were making little progress with adults, but felt they could make strides with promoting the safety aspects of seatbelts with children. Children are vulnerable and keeping them safe made sense, to all on both sides of the issue. There was little argument and children buckled up. Being taught at a young age to buckle up resulted in children becoming the evangelists for seatbelt safety. While Mom and Dad would not buckle up when facing fines, when their children asked them to they did. A simple solution to a complex problem.

Gladwell also elaborated on the iPod's success. Gladwell pointed out that the iPod's success was a factor because of tow things. iPods were not sold as electronic gadgets, they were marketed as fashion accessories. All the advertising focused not on the features or complexity of most technical gadgets, it focused on the iPod's sportiness and design, iPod's were fashion accessories NOT scary electronic gadgets. Apple's marketing of the iPod is another example of reframing content. Additionally Apple gave purchasers very little choice. Making a decision presumes a level of knowledge that many purchasers don't have too much information can often cause confusion and doubt. iPods were presented simply and users had to select between large or small.

As far as applying this to software consider ways to reframe your product. If people think of it in terms of "audio editing software" reframe it as a way to "record history".

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage a wireless text messaging software company.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Google Paranoia or Cause for Concern

Anti-Google sentiment is on the rise. Web pundits have tossed around monopoly theories and privacy advocates have warned of a day of reckoning. While Google has made friends on Wallstreet, it has disappointed the technical evangelists who were once its fiercest followers. Google has grown into a big scary company and web watchers are expressing their concerns about the information Google gleans from their various services.

Google Analytics is free, no one can beat the price, but what is the real cost? The cost is your data. While not terribly important when analyzed alone, when aggregated with other information Google has access to, it could be damaging. Data mining has made the collection of data meaningful. It has become easier to find patterns and trends in large volumes of data.

While any of that information independent of other data, might be non-threatening or irrelevant to someone doing analysis, when combined with other data Google has access to, it can paint a very clear picture of how, not only individual companies are performing, but the aggregate data could possibly paint a picture of how entire business sectors or industries are performing.

The big question is how will Google use this information? Will it affect search engine ranking? Will it influence keyword costs?

Paranoia? Lauren Weinstein doesn't seem to think so, her blog post entitled "The Dark Side of Google" , paints a very clear picture of the danger of a single entity possessing all of the data.

According to a recent USA Today article "In just seven years, Google has emerged as one off the most influential companies of the 21st century, a multinational whose recent forays into classified ads, book publishing, video, Wi-Fi and telecom make its data empire ever more powerful." The article goes on further to quote Jeff Chester, head of the digital Center for Digital Democracy saying "Google could easily become the poster child for a national public movement to regulate data collection".

Lets take a look at Google's new analytics tool. As a reporting tool, Google Analytics offers good features and functionality. Google Analytics tells publishers who their website referrers are, what pages visitors are viewing, the length of the visitor stay, what items are purchased. Google Analytics data can be used to develop new technologies, and optimize pay per term influence ranking.

Google wants to make money, and like it or not, data is a commodity. Google will likely use the data from their various ventures to develop new technologies and personalize content. Conspiracy theorists believe that the Google's aggregate data will also be used to optimize the fees charged for pay-per-click, influence organic ranking or worse yet sold.

Unbeknownst to many users, privacy advocates say that Google's technology give Google the ability to collect enormous amounts of data about interests and online habits of web surfers. That said, Google's growth will continue to motivate privacy advocates and those in the technology field behind the Attention Truste movement to work together, to improve how personal information and subscription information is used online. I expect we will see a lot of energy and effort in this arena.

Lets face it, Google wants to make money; no, now that they are public they *need* to make money and like it or not, data is a commodity. Whether Google will use your data or not is still to be determined, but the fact remains they can if they choose to. Google's storage capacity, is as deep as its pockets, meaning that it is far ahead of competitors. All of this has motivated privacy advocates and eyes are on and will continue to be focused on Google and the type of data they are capable of collecting.
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