Mary Meeker's 2013 Internet Trends

Jun 12, 2013

Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and the goddess of Internet analysts is out with her 2013 Internet Report. Growth continues, mobile is on fire, get a computer science degree.

Here is a video of Mary's presentation.

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Posted in Internet

Speed Matters

Feb 05, 2013

My friends over at Rigor put together this litte infographic on the ROI of web performance. A little speed goes a long way for an ecommerce company.


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Posted in E-Commerce, Internet

Social Is Big, Mobile Is The Future

Mar 09, 2012

Over on the Nebo blog Kevin Howarth is doing a series of interviews that feature marketing thought leaders both locally and nationally. Kevin was gracious to ask me to participate and we had a fun conversation about interactive marketing. Kevin's interview, with much better graphics than FoG, is being republished here with permission.

What do you feel is the most important aspect of how interactive marketing has developed over the last few years?

Interactive marketing has transitioned from command and control to a more user-generated focus. For any online marketer to be successful, they have to embrace user-generated content and online communities. That means empowering communities to help them spread the word about a company’s products and services. This kind of focus has led to a heavier emphasis on customer service. If you don’t have happy customers, then they’re not going to talk about you. Or they’re going to say bad things. The vast majority of good marketers understand that they are no longer 100% in control. Five years ago, people really didn’t understand this lack of control but I think they understand it now.

How is search and interactive marketing impacting how companies start up their businesses today?

It’s where they start. When a company begins, all they have are themselves and some word of mouth elements. An online presence via social is the least expensive way to amplify what you’re trying to do. SEO and SEM are obviously very important as core aspects to any technology company’s marketing. For example, at Half Off Depot we’ve seen that the way local merchants used to go to market has gone away. The Yellow Pages, local magazines and newspapers are gone or in steep decline, and merchants need a way to market online. We help them with the online piece so that they stay in front of their customers face-to-face.

Companies also have to figure out where “home” resides. Home might be their webpage, or it might be a Facebook page. Either way, companies really have to integrate social from the start while building this “home” presence. Website design has really started to emerge as a competitive advantage. For example, is a beautifully designed site, and they actually used design to demonstrate how they’re going to be different from competitors. I don’t think people talk enough about the importance of good design or take into consideration how it can really impact the customer experience. In turn, customer experience can impact word of mouth and viral marketing.

What’s your current assessment of the Atlanta marketing community?

In my opinion, Atlanta is very strong from a technology marketing perspective. But we do a bad job letting the world know about it. We have established well-known companies like MailChimp and WhatCounts, and there are a number of email service providers like Silverpop. There are also quite a few companies starting to play in the social space, and we still have a strong cluster of traditional interactive marketing companies. Atlanta marketers have such deep domain knowledge of interactive marketing that it’s inevitable that they’re starting to apply that knowledge into different verticals and new emerging areas. At its core though, Atlanta is best at B2B. Even the more well-known consumer-focused companies have a heavy B2B bent, and a lot of Atlanta’s marketing companies direct their energies toward that demand.

You’ve mentioned social quite a few times. Why is social so important in today’s marketing climate?

The opportunity for social is understated. Everything is eventually going to be that way. Today, my teenage children cannot imagine a world without the Internet, and they are part of a demographic completely immersed in social. I think marketing is eventually going to become all social, and social is going to be one of the primary marketing drivers as other traditional mediums continue to fragment.

And how does mobile play into the mix?

Social is big, but mobile is the future. Anything that you wanted to do on a computer five years ago, you can now do on a three by six inch device. Today, I think it’s still a little bit difficult to do ecommerce on a mobile device, but that’s quickly going away. Behaviorally, people are not afraid to buy things on a device. It’s just hard to do sometimes because of the initial set up and ease of use, but that’s all going to get solved. For example, Square is making it easier for phones to accept credit cards, and local Atlanta startups such asWhisper Communications are also emerging into this space to help make B2B mobile transactions easier and more secure.

What are your thoughts about how marketing measurement has changed over the years?

If you look at one of the primary drivers of why interactive marketing is growing so quickly, it’s because people are spending more and more time online. That’s half of the equation. The other half is that interactive marketing is much more efficient than traditional marketing from a structural perspective. Not only is it less expensive online versus offline, but you can very accurately measure the effectiveness of what you’re doing in real dollars and cents. More and more companies are demanding that kind of measurement, and I see that trend continuing as audiences fragment and spend more time online.

How does content strategy fall into the marketing mix?

Content is king again, but it’s not necessarily because the content is truly unique. It’s because it will drive traffic to your site. You need good, strong, consistent, and deep content in order to effectively drive traffic. You’ve got to give people the content they want, in the format they want, at the price they’re willing to pay, and when they want it. There are many different variables, but the people who are successful at putting those things together are really good at getting people to buy their products and services.

What marketing trends do you feel will have the most impact in 2012?

Marketing spend will continue to follow people. People are spending much more time on the Internet than they did in the past, and marketing dollars have yet to completely follow that trend. Marketing dollars will continue to go where the people go. Right now, people are on social and I see that trend continuing for the foreseeable future until the next “social” emerges. I often talk about how there were the PC wars, the browser wars, the search engine wars, and the social wars. We had winners in each one of those categories. I don’t know what the next war is. But there is going to be something that pops up that’s truly disruptive and that no one’s really thought about. Consumers will interact with technologies in ways that we can’t even think about right now.

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Posted in Internet, Marketing, Mobile, Social

Think Different

Oct 05, 2011

Steve Job 1955-2011

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Posted in Angels, Business, Computing, Current Affairs, Customer Focus, Deals, E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship, Film, Fun, Games, Internet, Management, Marketing, Mobile, Music, Networking, Personal, Photography, Presentations, Science, Social, Startups, Stocks, Web/Tech

The Winning Formula

Sep 01, 2011

With Groupon mishandling its IPO, Facebook closing down it's Deals offering and Yelp cutting back on its deals staff, pundits are starting to question the viability of the deals market. Lots and lots and lots and lots of questioning. These folks are as wrong as those that said Facebook Deals would be the death of Groupon.

Recently Jim Anderson of Silicon Valley Bank wrote a nice analysis of the online deal market.

The money quote:

This brings us to the critical success factor for all these daily deal companies. Getting repeat customers from the 5 million strong e-mail list is easy. Making your real customers, the merchants, successful with the product is the challenge....

We think a winning formula is sitting in front of anyone who has strong relationships with these local merchants — especially a firm that has a history of helping them with Web marketing and promotions. Whoever teaches the merchants to use these new techniques will own this market. 

Jim and I think alike (except getting a 5 million strong email list may be a bit more challenging than he makes it out to be). I am not a pundit, I am an operator. An operator that is seeing double digit traffic and revenue growth. The deals market is a large opportunity that is not going away anytime soon. The key to success is helping merchants use online promotions to get and keep new customers while offering great deals of value to consumers.

It's as simple as that.

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Posted in Customer Focus, Deals, Half Off Depot, Internet

ScoutMob Invasion

Jun 22, 2011

Nice profile over on Patch about my friends at ScoutMob. Fun folks.

If they could only stop the embed autoroll...

Update: That autroll was getting to be too much, you can view the vid here.

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Posted in Internet, Startups

Deal Facts

Jun 16, 2011

Utpal Dholakia of Rice University has been studying the deals market for some time and a few days ago released a new study, How Businesses Fare with Daily Deals: A Multi-Site Analysis of Groupon, Livingsocial, Opentable, Travelzoo, and Buywithme Promotions. In the study Doctor Dholakia examined the performance of daily deals run through the five major companies listed above in 23 US markets. 

While I have not had a chance to read the full study yet ClickZ has a great overview of the findings:

The was been a lot of chatter about how there is no way a business can make money with a discounted deal. This study shows what I have been hearing from merchants, properly structured deals work. With 73 percent making money or breaking even on their promotions deals are an online marketing method that works.

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Posted in E-Commerce, Internet

Digital & Deals Rescue Local Advertising

Jun 15, 2011

Yesterday I wrote an article about deals not being evil in response to a series of articles that are appearing on TechCrunch. At about the same time the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled Daily Deals Rescue Local-Ad Market that was a bit more balanced then the stories coming out of TechCruch. It includes a great chart that shows the fall of newpaper and yellow pages spend and the growth of digital and deals. Merchants are shifting their marketing spend.Local Advertising Reach

They are doing this because digital and deals are effective. 

Money quote.

Rodney Fong, president of San Francisco's Wax Museum at Fisherman's Wharf, for one, is a convert to the daily-deals model. Just three years ago, he said the museum spent a quarter of its marketing budget on newspaper ads. Now it spends almost nothing on print ads, shifting its focus to daily-deal sites. "I'm sold on it," Mr. Fong said.

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Posted in E-Commerce, Internet

Nothing Evil In A Deal

Jun 14, 2011

Rocky Agrawal seems to have quite the big one with the online local commerce world. I am not exactly sure why, but over the course of the past few days I have gotten quite a few notes about his Why I Want Google Offers And The Entire Daily Deals Business To Die article on TechCrunch. It is one of a series of articles about the online local deal industry.

The specific article above seems somewhat akin to a certain president wanting to attack a certain country to take out a certain leader. I don't really understand why as Rocky seems to be a pretty rational strategic thoughtful deal industry guy. As an example he has a great article on Best Practices for Businesses Considering Daily Deals. Here's the first section.

Before you agree to a deal

While much of Agrawai's writing is thoughtful like the as the above demonstrates major points are either overlooked or ignored in the TechCrunch rant.

  1. Despite some high pressure sales techniques by some companies in the space no one is forcing merchants to sign up for online local commerce deals.
  2. Many merchants love deals and are signing up for annual contracts with specific providers.
  3. There is no concept of consumer frequency in his analysis.
  4. Daily and weekly alternative newspapers are dead or dying. Deal companies are one of the few alternatives that local merchants have to market themselves.
  5. Deal companies are performance based with real metrics.

Rocky closes the TechCruch article with this:

If you know of a business that has run a daily deal and since closed please email

Why the axe to grind? That I don't know.

Agrawai refers to Google Offers as "pretty close to evil." I signed up for my current gig at Half Off Depot to do good not evil. We are providing real value to both merchants and consumers. If anyone wants to know of hundreds of businesses that are thriving as a result of online local deal marketing drop me a line, I would be more than happy to connect you with a few of them.

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Posted in E-Commerce, Half Off Depot, Internet

Groupon S1

Jun 06, 2011

So Groupon filed its S1. The length of the document and the analysis of it is staggering. So this is a blog. A web log. Here are some of my favorite reads on Groupon's filing.

Who Will Be Left Standing Post-Groupon IPO by Erika Morphy of Forbes. An analysis of the daily deal market. Not sure if I agree with her assessment of AT&T, never really seen them as sophisticated at marketing in unregulated markets.

Groupon S-1: Mind The Ratios. A nice article by Jeff Bussgang of Flybridge Capital about deteriorating customer and merchant growth ratios. Those Boston VCs like to pound the numbers.

"Anyone can start a Groupon!" and other startup myths by Andrew Chen lays out some barriers to scale.

Andrew's post led me to Groupon S-1 Reveals Business Model Deteriorating in Oldest Markets by David Sinsky of Yipit.

Sorry, There's Just No Good Excuse For The Amount Of Insider Selling Going On At Groupon by Pascal-Emmanuael Gobry. The title says all that needs to be said.

Groupon IPO: pass on this deal by David Heinemeir Hansson a partner at 37Signals (whose founder Jason Fried sat on the Groupon board for a few years) has a blistering attack on the use of Adjusted Consolidated Segment Operating Income or ACSOI as an accounting metric. Groupon without marketing expenses is not Groupon at all. Indeed.

3 Reasons To Feel Good About Groupon's IPO from the Wall Street Journal. Hugely profitable, scale, and losing money for a while is all good.

My bottom line. Groupon is the leader in a huge market and its growth has been astonishing. They are going to go public and cash a lot of people out. They made the market and are going to be a market leader for some time. A $20 billion valuation seems a bit rich.

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Posted in Current Affairs, Internet
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