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April 2011

AOL Patch A Hidden Gem

Image representing AOL as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

I'm going to place a bet right here, right now that the breakout web content property of the year is going to be the AOL owned  Patch what might you ask. is comprised of local sites, edited by professional writers, who pull together local news on the town or village level (population size 15 - 100K)  For example, there was a traffic accident on the road in front of my house in the 36,000 resident village of Plainview,  N.Y..  The Plainview Patch had pictures, a well written description and details on what occurred.  In fact, only Patch covered the accident.  The same for the gas leak in the local Chinese restaurant and coverage of various events around town.  The coverage was high quality, appeared quickly after the event happened and provided just enough detail to keep you interested.

When my wife opens her AOL, the Patch screams the news of the neighborhood. Literally our neighborhood, as in down the block.

While I can't speak to the economics of this hyper local coverage, it's incredibly addictive.  After all, once you get past world news, national news etc, what you really care about is what's happening in your little corner of the world.  In an era where any writer can carry a quality camera, Patch reporters are defining the future of journalism.  It's local, it's next door and it's high quality. will be the content phenomenon of the next 12 months. With 50% of all advertising revenues considered to be local, the Patch is going to grow quickly.

Huffington Post and Yahoo move aside, the Patch is where the action is and it's the start of where AOL will rebuild their content franchise.







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How Not to Fail

Image representing Seth Godin as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

Seth Godin has a great list of questions/project goals that can be used by any successful person to define a project.  I'm going to use them for a presentation I'm giving tomorrow:

  1. Whenever possible, take on specific projects.
  2. Make detailed promises about what success looks like and when it will occur.
  3. Engage others in your projects. If you fail, they should be involved and know that they will fail with you.
  4. Be really clear about what the true risks are. Ignore the vivid, unlikely and ultimately non-fatal risks that take so much of our focus away.
  5. Concentrate your energy and will on the elements of the project that you have influence on, ignore external events that you can't avoid or change.
  6. When you fail (and you will) be clear about it, call it by name and outline specifically what you learned so you won't make the same mistake twice. People who blame others for failure will never be good at failing, because they've never done it.



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Words that Inspire Engagment on Facebook


Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBase

Great post today in Mashable on how to get attention on Facebook.  The post summarizes research conducted by Buddy Media that identifies factors such as time of day, and language that leads to some type of action from the consumer.


Engagement was boosted by factors such as time of day (best to post after work hours), day of week (Thursday and Friday are best), and best day depending on the topic. (eg; business and finance are best mid-week, entertainment as we get closer to the weekend. Sunday is the best day to post as a retailer.

Interestingly, urls that were full length had 3x the engagement of those that were shortened using a service like tinyurl.

Words that sparked the most Likes include Take, Submit, Watch, Post, Check, Comment, Click, Shop, Visit, Become a Fan, Tell Us, Share, See, Order.  Words the caused the most comments include post, comment, tell us, check, like, submit, share, click, take, watch, visit, see, become a fan, shop, order.

To encourage "likes" ask the customer with a phrase such as "Like us if....".Click the links above to learn more.





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Online Self Service or Live Service

My first (solo) Guest Post on MashableImage by cambodia4kidsorg via Flickr

Mashable today has an interesting story on 3 Sweden, a telecom that combines on-line commerce and live salespeople via the 3LiveShop initiative. It's a great advance in on-line environments as it gives the shopper the option to either self serve or interact with a live person.

We all know that sales follows a cycle.  Today, that cycle in most cases starts with 1) the consumer (or B to B prospect) gathering information from peers, white papers, reviewed etc. to 2) some type of sales interaction, being self service, customer care or in person, followed by 3) some reassurance that the price being paid is fair.  

The ability to model the sales process on-line, and then to interject a true live experience that is geared to match the preferences of the shopper should have a dramatic increase in conversion.  Just using the tried and true sales math, out of every 100 visitors, approximately 5% are ready to buy.  Approximately 1% will buy and prefer self services.  Another 2 to 3% will want some level of interaction either with live chat or an 800#.  That still leaves another 2% that wants to buy, but has some issue that only human interaction can solve.

These response rates can be further enhanced by modeling the type of interactions that lead to higher volume sales.  The "live" opportunity can then be rationed to the best customer.

Every ecommerce retailer should be testing the impact of live interaction on their ROI.  I bet that this will be the retail trend of the year to watch.

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