Filed under: Advice for Startups, Entrepreneurship, Incubators, Internet Marketing Tactics, My Organization, Provo Labs Companies, Search Engine Optimization, Software for Entrepreneurs, Utah Entrepreneurship, Web Analytics, Web Design and Usability
Yes, this is an advertisement.
It’s an invitation for you to bring your startup company to the new Provo Labs Academy, where you will learn dozens of important internet marketing tactics that can help you find more success for your business.
In September, a new office building will open in Provo with space for dozens of small startup companies. It is adjacent to BYU on Ninth East, across from the Creamery on Ninth. If you like the BYU Dairy chocolate milk (best tasting in the world) you will love moving your small business into our new space.
For as little as $200 per month, you can join the Provo Labs Academy and learn all about growing your business through internet marketing. I will be drawing on 10 years of personal experience (including what I learned at MyFamily.com and 10x Marketing) and hundreds of case studies to teach you dozens of tactics on how to get your web site noticed and build up your customer base.
You’ll learn about pay-per-click marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, online advertising, affiliate marketing, web site design and development, blogging, using web analytics to improve your conversion rate, customer surveys, online PR, using auctions to generate revenue, viral marketing, how online audio and video can help you succeed, and much, much more. Provo Labs tracks its portfolio companies in 51 important areas. You’ll learn how to make smart choices in each of these areas in order to improve your chances of success.
You may be a BYU or UVSC student preparing your business plan for a competition. Or perhaps you want to start a new company on the side and need just a few hours a day of office space. Or maybe you just want to learn internet marketing skills every week so you can more effectively promote your current company. We may have exactly what you’ve been waiting for.
Or, if you need dedicated space so you can work around the clock, we can accomodate you as well.
We’re even offering a chance to win a free one-month membership in the Provo Labs Academy, a $200 value, if you sign up on our web site by August 31st.
Provo Labs has leased the entire 1st floor of this new building and divided it up into small spaces that are ideal for a small startup company. You can sign up for as little as $200 per month: that includes space, desk, computer, phone, high speed internet (using iProvo’s fiber optic network), access to our business library, conference room and break room. And, it includes all the training that the Provo Labs Academy will provide.
I teach internet marketing at BYU and love to help students and entrepreneurs learn online marketing tactics. To help you succeed, I will be inviting dozens of friends and associates who have been incredibly successful in their own internet careers to come to our training meetings and teach you the valueable things they know.
This is a rare opportunity to learn from true experts and to network with other entrepreneurs. We hope the Provo Labs Academy will become a center point of innovation in Utah.
This offer ends soon and space is limited.
End of commercial. Please spread the word.
Filed under: Advice for Startups, Software for Entrepreneurs, Web Analytics
I’m encouraging every Provo Labs portfolio company to set up a shareable Google spreadsheet to keep track of daily web statistics. One of the keys to success in an online company is to look at very simple web stats every day to find opportunities and problems. For example, someone needs to look every day at the top referrers to your web site and the top search terms that are bringing you visitors. Every domain that sends you traffic becomes an important part of your company’s ecosystem. These partners need to be watched, tended, encouraged, and rewarded.
I like to look at the top 5 referrers every day and log them in the spreadsheet. I hope to see new top referrers regularly as we get more sites linking to us. But I also check for declining referrers, sites that used to send us lots of traffic but no longer do.
If you have a small team, the Google spreadsheet is perfect. Each person can update their own little piece. Whoever is over sales can input the daily revenue numbers. Customer service can track number of calls and emails. Your marketing team can input how many emails went out, new affiliates, new landing pages, and how many new incoming links were recruited. You can also keep track of new articles published online as well as press releases–both of which help with search engine rankings. And you can have a separate tab to keep track of your SEO efforts and your rankings over time.
Another good use of a Google spreadsheet for a startup is to keep track of the cap table–who owns the company, who has options or warrants, and how the ownership changes after each round of investment. Cap tables are notoriously difficult to keep track of. You don’t think about them every day. But when an investor or employee needs to look at the ownership structure, it would be nice to invite them to View the current spreadsheet, but not have Edit rights.
Google spreadsheets are fantastic. The shareability outweights some of the current limitations for simple applications like daily stats and cap tables.
Sometimes the opposite is true. Some online applications have shareability but their limitations outweight that fact. When one of my startups tried Quickbooks Online a couple years ago, I love it for its shareability, but the person who used it everyday found the data entry so tedious that it wasted his time. So we switched back to the software version.
What online apps do you find most useful for your startup company?
Compare that to Web Side Story, another web analytics company. WSSI’s market cap is $237 million, more than twice as high as Omniture’s. Their revenue is lower, with TTM revenue of $45.94 million and their quarterly revenue growth rate (yoy) is lower, at 93.2%. WSSI does have a positive EBITDA of $9.9 million, while Omniture’s is negative. But with a higher revenue base and a higher revenue growth rate, it could be just a matter of time before Omniture is worth significantly more than Web Side Story.
I think it is also significant than both companies growth rates are near 100% even with Google Analytics in the picture. I’ve tried Google Analytics and find it lacking in some critical features. So my companies continue to rely on Omniture, as do many of the largest and most profitable internet companies in the world.
I own a very small stake in Omniture. As a customer and shareholder, I think it will be interesting to see if the market cap gap between Omniture and Web Site Story narrows in the coming months. I think it probably will, one way or another. There were 2 million short shares on Web Side Story as of June 12th, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
Filed under: Companies to Watch, High Tech Stocks, IPO Watch, Utah Entrepreneurship, Web Analytics
I’m so happy for everyone associated with Omniture for successfully completing its IPO today. The shares opened at $6.50 and ended the day up slightly at $6.53 per share. Visit Yahoo Finance for more. This high tech IPO is a big deal for Utah, which needs more IPOs. And Omniture now has a war chest to help it maintain its leadership position in the web analytics space. This is a great company with a great product that many of my companies (and many of the really big online companies) rely on for real-time decision making, and for optimizing revenues.
Full Disclosure: I am a shareholder in Omniture. Do bloggers have to disclose that when blogging about a publicly traded company? Somebody tell me the rules …
Filed under: Email Marketing, Internet Marketing Tactics, Web Analytics, Web Design and Usability
LDSMedia.com — our LDS search engine — has a new subscribe page. Using SiteCatalyst, I can run a report showing every visitor in June who hit the signup.php page, and using the Next Page Flow Report, see visually what each of them did next.
16.3% of our visitors who hit the signup.php page exited the site. Not good. 4.7% went to the home page (using the ClickMap I would be able to see if they clicked on the logo in the upper left corner of the landing page.) 2.1% went to the login page. The vast majority of visitors left the signup page and went back to the content page they were looking at. In the few seconds they take to look at our signup page, we lost almost all of them. Only 1.8% clicked through on one of the green “Sign Up Now” buttons.
1.8% would be an okay conversion rate for a content subscription web site. But this isn’t the site’s conversion rate. Only a small percentage of these people who clicked through actually completed the credit card process, so the overall site conversion rate is extremely low.
To me, this is a huge opportunity. Fortunately, we’re only a week into offering the subscription and this is the first landing page we’ve tested. The good news is that we are an internet company. We can make a few changes, test the results, make a few more changes, test again, and over a period of time optimize our subscription process so that the messaging is just right and the signup process is easy and appealing. I can’t wait to blog in a week or two about how our next landing page doubled or tripled our conversion rates!
With hundreds of thousands of people searching the internet for important LDS religious content, much of which is only available on this web site, our conversion rate should be (and will be) much higher.
By using web analytics, we have a starting point from which to measure our progress.
Web analytics is one of those essential ingredients to online marketing success that most people aren’t familiar with. There are a lot of free web stats packages out there that just don’t give you what you need. And more commonly, there is so much data available that it is nearly impossible for the untrained webmaster or marketer to know which web analytics reports are really important.
This morning I came across this excellent article about web analytics. I’ve been using web server log files and custom analytics reports since 1997 and SiteCatalyst since 2002, so I’m extremely familiar with hundreds of different reports.
But I love how this article focuses on six practical reports that online businesses should run regularly in order to understand their customers and how their web site is working (or is not working).
I think in all the years that I’ve been involved in online marketing, this is the best introductory article on web analytics that I’ve ever read. I’m definitely going to be using this in my BYU internet marketing class this fall.
I would like every Provo Labs employee to read this article and run each of these reports of one or more of our web sites.
We’re going to have some Omniture SiteCatalyst training in an upcoming meeting, but in the meantime, try to run each of these six reports and carefully review them to determine what we should do differently or what we should do next on our web sites.
Most importantly, if you’re on the LDS Media team, let’s put up a new landing page today or tomorrow that isn’t so complicated. The one we are using right now has Basic and Premium packages (too complicated) and has way too much text. It was patterned somewhat after a popular genealogy subscription web site’s signup page, but it is obviously not working for us.
I would like us to test a completely different page layout that is patterned after RealNetwork’s SuperPass 14-day free trial signup page.
What I love about this page is that it offers a 14-day free trial and captures an email address at the very beginning of the subscription process. Since growing our email database is a high priority, this approach makes a lot of sense.
We don’t have to try to convert a visitor into a paying customer on the first visit. If we can capture their email address and permission to contact them again, then we will have many opportunities to interest them in our premium content in the future.
Let’s launch this new 14-day trial email capture landing page and start reporting on how many new email addresses we get each day in addition to the number of daily subscribers.
Neal: I’d like an email or SMS every day with those two stats in them.
Jakob Nielsen in 1997 wrote an essay on why every amateur web designer should do usability testing, at least with a couple of people.
Sit down with someone and watch them try to do something with your web site.
In 2000 he did a statistical analysis on why watching 5 users is enough to get almost all of the usability testing problems out of the way.
This is pretty simple stuff. So ask yourself: when is the last time you watched a person try to use your site? How much effort would it take to actually get with a few people and ask them to use your site? What kind of dividends would it pay if 90% of your usability problems could be detected with a simple test like this?
Why is it that the simplest things that pay the biggest dividends so often get overlooked in our day to day business operations? If you are too busy to talk to your customers or watch them try to use your site, then something is wrong with your business culture. Fix it.
My brother pointed out to me that my name shows up (finally!) on a US patent application search.
The patent advanced search engine is highly fielded but has one of the worst interfaces I have used in a long time. I finally figured out how to query it to find our application on what I call the “Visual Next Click Analysis Tool” that we used in-house.
This is much like the Omniture Click Map feature, which I love.
A patent attorney friend told me that only 3% of all patents that are issued actually generate commercial value.
Another patent attorney recently showed me a patent on a way to comb your hair from four different sides to cover up male baldness. So some patents are silly.
But it is still nice to see your name in lights, er, online, every once in a while.
(Note: I left MyFamily.com in Feb 2002 and haven’t been directly involved with the company since then. I am not a company insider.)
I have a friend who uses Zoovy for her e-commerce system. That is the only way — until today — that I had heard of the company.
But today I was very impressed to discover that they have already integrated their e-commerce services with Google Analytics, Google Base and Google Site Map.
My friend really likes Zoovy. Now I can see why.
Most companies I know dedicate all or most of their developers to longer term projects–projects that take weeks or months to implement. They don’t have resources available to rapidly respond to outside opportunities.
Zoovy seems different. I am impressed at how quickly they have responded to Google’s new services.
Has anyone seen any other e-commerce service provider already announce an integration with both Google Analytics and Google Base?
I am going to subscribe to either Hitwise or Comscore in the next couple of weeks. For many years I used Media Metrix, Nielsen Netratings and then Comscore. I liked all of them, but in the end I used Comscore most because its data covered the top 10,000 sites each month.
Hitwise covers 500,000 sites in 160 industries. I’ve never used it before, but I’m tempted to use it.
Has anyone out there used both Comscore and Hitwise? If so, can I talk with you and ask you about the relative strengths and weaknesses?