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Review: PercentMobile.com

I’ve been using PercentMobile for a couple of weeks and while the service is pretty simple to use I am impressed with tool’s value.

Founded by David Harper, PercentMobile is built on top of a much more robust service called TigTags. The service is quite expensive at the moment, but promising a tiered service in the near future. However, PercentMobile, provides a basic and high-level view of your mobile analytics at no-cost.

The reports are visual, giving you and your team a quick view of the devices accessing your site. Additionally, the service aggregates the analytics of more than 1070 sites and frequently publishes those results.

Unlike Google Analytics which uses JavaScript for traffic information, PercentMobile uses simple pixel-tracking. The benefit is that the tracking is much more accurate because many mobile devices can not execute JavaScript code.

We in the technology business often forget that not everyone uses the mobile Web. In fact, most sites that are part of my portfolio or that I work with have less than 2-3% of their overall traffic coming from mobile devices. While that can still represent a significant amount of people on larger sites, it can be a very niche audience on a smaller Web site.

Designing for a mobile site has become much easier in the recent past, but there is still a cost associated with it. Every one of the sites I do monitor see the Apple iPhone as the most popular mobile browser, usually at 1.2-1.5% percent of the total.

I definitely recommend checking out PercentMobile, it’s easy to install and provides enough information to help you decide if you should have a mobile strategy.

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The Difference Between Organic and Paid Customers

Woke up to an interesting article in the New York Times this morning detailing a recent study by Engine Ready. In short, the study found that a customer coming to your site via paid links was more valuable than a customer that clicked on your organic link.

By “more valuable” I mean that the customer actually purchased more, on average $11.00 more.

In the article, “Jamie Smith, the chief of Engine Ready, speculated that human shoppers might be turned off by the tricks that make a site show up higher in Google rankings. In particular, Google’s Web trawling software is lured by pages with lots of material.”

The study also revealed that paid traffic converted at a 20% higher rate than organic traffic. I would speculate that the difference is between a customer “in-market” vs. the casual searcher. Especially when looking at the conversion rate.

This is definitely interesting information, however I would have liked to see the difference between paid and organic customers based on search term. If the conversion rate continued to see a 20% lift with the same keyword, ex: a product name, it would be quite clear to me that the difference was a researcher vs. a buyer.

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Voice Activated Copy/Paste on the Apple iPhone

To set the stage, I’ve had an iPhone since launch and have been using the iPhone 3.0 OS since I had access to the beta program in early spring.

I am now a few months past the hype and excitement for the new features and one feature that has become essential is “Copy and Paste”.

Using the current incarnation is definitely better than not having the feature at all, but at times it can be a little sticky and accidentally pops up when I am scrolling.

With Apple pushing it’s Voice Control feature I began theorizing on how the same technology could be used as an interface.

It would be nice if you could begin using an additional palette of features or functionality through voice controls. Whether it was formatting, copy and paste, or text input.

Formatting would be nice, you could immediately make your text bold, italic or underlined with voice input.Copy and Paste would be a no-brainer and I wouldn’t mind easy text input for “.com” or “.” or even “quotes” as I ended typing or selected text.

Additional opportunities could include attaching voice notes to documents you review or application controls. Imagine saying “zoom” on your camera or “send” within your e-mail application? And I would really love functionality that was voice related or predictive that would help me manage e-mail organization. If I want to “move” a message to a folder it sure would be nice if it looked at my current folder structure, saw the message was from Steve Jobs and suggested I filed under “People > Jobs, Steve”.

Until then, I guess I’ll keep dreaming about the possibilities.

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What Your Analytics Aren't Telling You

So you’ve logged into Google Analytics and notice that your top referrer this past week was Twitter. Excellent, your social media strategy is working. Or is it? You might not even have a Twitter account setup, yet you are receiving traffic from Twitter. What sort of conversation is happening around your brand that you are receiving traffic from the site?

And even if you do have a Twitter account setup, can you determine if all of the traffic is coming from your tweets? How do you intend on confirming that the traffic you are seeing is coming from your tweets?

Your analytics team or guru may not even care. Your client might not either. They may only be interested in knowing that site traffic has increased, that you saw more unique visitors this past month and that your average time on site decreased.

How about your online campaigns? Sure you may be tracking your impressions and CTR through DART or a similar ad trafficking tool, but do you know what consumers are doing after clicking on an ad?

Maybe you are seeing a very high CTR on a banner campaign within one network or site. But did you dive in and explore their behavior once they’ve gotten to the site? Maybe the audience you receive on another site with a low CTR is actually more valuable.

The Web is more than understanding one piece of the puzzle, it’s about understanding the connectivity below the surface. Unless your team has developed a dashboard collecting all your important data here are a few tips to help you track the origin of your site visitors.

  • Google Campaign Tags – Use the Google URL Builder to help you create and define campaigns for tracking in Google Analytics
  • Bit.ly – The tool can be used to shorten URLs you share anywhere. It’s especially useful for microblog services like Twitter and when combined with Google Campaign Tags you can analyze who clicked on your Bit.ly link and then how they interacted with your site
  • ReTweet – Services like CoTweet and ReTweet allow you to filter on your tweets that have been shared. It’ll help you understand if your tweets were valuable enough to be shared by others
  • FeedBurner - Services like FeedBurner allow you to track the subscriptions to your RSS feeds. It can provide valuable data on understanding what content your consumer is pulling on their own

There are many other programs and services out there that provide even more tracking. The point is that you may not be getting the entire picture when you see a referrer or data point in your analytics program.

And I believe you can never have too much data. You may not need all the tracking today, but it may be very valuable in the future when you do have the time to analyze all of the data.

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Think Different, Apple Bans Google Voice Applications

This morning Stan Schroeder reported that Apple has banned Google Voice applications on the iPhone. Google began development of their own applications, which already exists for the Blackberry and Android platforms, but never made it to the App Store.

But a variety of applications like Sean Kovac’s GV Mobile have been in the App Store for months. It’s an awfully big pill for the consumer to swallow by taking away the functionality and an even bigger pill for the developer. While he may have a full-time job or another set of applications in the works, how does he fully recover his time developing that is now lost?

Luckily I purchased GV Mobile and will still enjoy use of the application on my iPhone 3GS.

It’s as if you almost need prior approval from Apple before developing for the platform. And while Apple is front and center when thinking about the controversy you do need to dig a bit deeper and likely blame AT&T. They likely are afraid of an application that challenges their suite of services. But I already pay an extraordinary fee to operate the iPhone on the AT&T network and they are collecting my fees regardless of me using a Google Voice number or not.

In fact, as a small business owner Google Voice gives me the opportunity to have a vanity phone number or one in a different area code. Maybe AT&T should focus on competing with their feature set instead of pressuring Apple to dump valuable applications.

Apple’s motto has been “Think Different”, and in this case they are thinking very different than I am. Maybe the motto should be “Status Quo” or “Closed Platform”. Apple I love you, but you do not need to ban these applications. In fact you hold the bargaining chips, just let AT&T know you do not intend to extend their exclusivity with the iPhone. I’m sure they’ll “Think Different” then…

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Will the Apple Tablet Revolutionize Music Again?

The big news yesterday was that Apple is expected to launch a tablet-sized computer this Fall. Besides playing your iTunes movies on a 10-inch screen the device will be competing with Sony and Amazon for a share of the eBook market.

The Financial Times reported that Apple was working closely with music labels to develop an interactive music booklet.

“The entertainment industry is hoping that Apple, which revolutionised the markets for music players and for phones, can do it again. “It’s a portable entertainment device,” said one entertainment executive. “It’s going to be fabulous for watching movies.”

Recording industry executives said Apple planned to use the larger screen to offer new services such as interactive booklets and liner notes that come along with purchases of entire music CDs.”

The article continues and says “While iTunes moved legal sales of digitised music into the mainstream, the digital take-up for full CDs has disappointed the industry. Consumers usually select just one or two tracks.”

The consumer only selects a few tracks, is that a surprise? While I embrace Apple launching a tablet-sized device I am a bit weary if it’s primary uses are to be as a video player, eBook reader and music device.

The music industry should really look in the mirror, sales have eroded because they chose not to embrace the digital revolution, not to mention most albums are a vehicle for a single nowadays. For years the music industry forced the consumer to purchase a complete album. (Except for the occasional CD and tape singles and 45′s back in the day.)

Do they really believe everyone was purchasing the album for all the songs? Now that the consumer has a choice they are worried about lost revenue when they should really be worrying about the quality of the albums.

Steve Jobs doesn’t swing and miss, so I hope the tablet is everything it could be and more. If so, I’ll likely be in line on launch day.

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Evite, EventBrite and Facebook Events

How do you chose to share and post events online? A recent blog entry by Nick O’Neill has me thinking about the opportunities with Facebook events and what it’s competitor’s are offering right now.

Evite has been around a long time, for more than 10 years. They are often top of mind when you think about sending out an invitation online. However the service is geared towards more personal events and they do not offer the ability to collect event payments. But that isn’t stopping people from using the service, Evite boasts 9 MM unique visitors a month according to Compete.com compared to just under 1 MM unique visitors for EventBrite.com.

Evite currently is the most popular online invitation service

Evite currently is the most popular online invitation service

On the other hand, EventBrite is quickly becoming the most popular platform to publish your events online and sell tickets. It’s incredibly scalable and works well for small and mid-sized businesses and organizations. With the ability to collect money and RSVP’s it’s a simple platform for one-time or reoccuring events.

EventBrite could certainly make things even more interesting by using the Facebook API to push event information out to your friends and then aggregate the responses as well.

So what could Facebook do to compete? Nick suggests that their tests with micro-payments could be leveraged for a service much like EventBrite. He also suggests that it could become a revenue stream for the company.

It certainly makes sense. If Facebook were ever able to harness it’s reach and provide that sort of service it could compete with EventBrite. One draw back is that Facebook does not allow for customized event invitations. When you compare it to Evite you can see why it would be preferred for a social function but Facebook does allow for the social interactions within your stream, something that you dont’ get with Evite unless you log in.

I’m curious to see if Facebook ever extends the platform to push out SMS updates as reminders, integrate applications, or customize an event with more graphics. Once that is possible, and combined with micro-payments, there wouldn’t be a reason to use anything but Facebook or their API for events.

Google has built loyalty through their service offerings. As a result they control an immense amount of data, especially personal data. Facebook continues to mimic that model and insulate themselves from future competition by giving you reasons to use their service exclusively. This would just be one more reason why.

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Facebook Ads, Now Featuring You?

Did you know that Facebook has recently agreed to let third-party advertisers use your posted photos for ads targeted to your friends? Did you know that this change does not require an advertiser to have your permission by default?

Even as a marketer / advertiser I’m quite surprised by this. For me it’s very much about protecting my “personal brand”. While I wouldn’t mind being attached to Apple or Nike as I am a fan of those brands, why should any advertiser be allowed to use a photo of me without my permission? What can be said along side a photo of me? The advertisers do not have any restrictions.

Facebook does give you the ability to change this, but this should not be something that is allowed by default. It’s disappointing that Facebook offers this feature as a way to appeal to advertisers and increase their own revenue.

From Facebook, “Facebook occasionally pairs advertisements with relevant social actions from a user’s friends to create Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads make advertisements more interesting and more tailored to you and your friends. These respect all privacy rules. You may opt out of appearing in your friends’ Facebook Ads below.”

To change this setting navigate through your “Settings”, select “Privacy Settings”, select “News Feed and Wall” and then the tab labeled “Facebook Ads” you’ll see the toggle to allow “No One” to use your photos in ad units across the site.

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