Sunday, August 30, 2009

Love my Kindle2 - but the Amazon Kindle forum and feedback loop stinks

First let me start by saying I love my Kindle2 which I've had for 2+ weeks now.  Also I just finished reading the book "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies" on my Kindle which drives some of my frustration about Amazon, their Kindle community and feedback that end I left the post below on their main Kindle community forum page.

Couple of quick things related to the Kindle, the Community and the feedback mechanism
  1. I've had my new kindle for 2+ weeks now and really enjoy the kindle.
  2. You've got a great product and it has viral effects...I've shared my thoughts and let no less than 2 dozen people hear me / see my kindle since I've owned my Kindle2.
  3. My key point about this one is YOU Amazon need to read the book Groundswell which I've just read.  Just in case you don't know of the book I've inserted a link :-). "Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies"
  4. It is ridiculous that finding this forum is difficult.
  5. Users who own a kindle should be able to provide recommendations, and see other recommendations (feedback) on this community.  You can still accept emails from your customers and post them to the community, but then at least we can all rate them and help you in future product improvements.  As an example I really liked one posters comment about reducing the 'slip' factor by placing some rubber on the back edges of the reader so it doesn't slip out of your hands. If you had a rating factor I would have rated that feature. That rating coupled with other Kindle owners rating could then be applied in your decisions about future product development plans.

Now for some feedback on the Kindle 2
  1. Automatically turn the kindle to off mode if it has been in sleep longer than 15 minutes.  If you don't we will likely have screen burn-in, not to mention it drains the battery!
  2. Let me push books to my wish list when I'm reviewing from the kindle store on my kindle device.  I don't want to buy the books I see every time, but there are some that look interesting that I may want to purchase later.
  3. Give me an option to archive items after I'm done reading them.  Or, at least give me an option to create 'Read' folders so that it helps me keep the 'Home' menu clean.
  4. Tied with the point above - Let me delete Samples from the device after I've read them, or if I've downloaded the book let me delete the Sample.
  5. Related to the 'Sample' feature.  If I download a Sample tag that and index where I left off within the 'Sample' to the actual book if I download.  I've read a couple of books now this way and it is frustrating to get into a good book only to have to 'Next page' continuously to find where I left off reading the 'Sample'.
  6. I just saw how to delete 'Samples' - not an intuitive any means.  I accidentally clicked on the navigation button and saw I can 'Delete This Sample'.  You let me 'Buy This Book Now' from the menu, but you don't let me delete....
  7. To an earlier point, let me categorize / create my own folders.  I would like to be able to start the morning and flip to my newspaper folder read all the newspapers, then over to my blog folder.  This can be an optional feature...if users don't enable they retain the laundry list sorting they have now, but tagging and organizing content would make life easier IMHO.
  8. Let me offer feedback directly from my kindle where I'm probably going to come up with the ideas / feedback anyway.  I get the free ability to shop the Amazon store from my device, but I can't send you feedback...that is crazy!
  9. Give me the ability to lock my device just like my cell phone.  I would hate to lose my kindle or have it stolen...but to make it worse if it were stolen, users could buy as many books as they wanted and I'd be screwed.  If I do forget my password, let me reset it from my kindle, but disable the ability to purchase from the store until I reset my account via the website.
  10. Make the keys a bit bigger.  I'm young (early 30's), but the buttons are still small for someone who types a lot on my iPhone and computer you could make better use of the empty space on the bottom but before the screen, plus you have a bit of extra space still on the left.
  11. Give me some type of option or setting to turn off the 'Next Page' button on the left of my screen.  I maybe the only person to ask for this one, but being right handed and using my mouse to navigate back all the time I think of the buttons on the left as 'Back' buttons.
  12. Respond to your users when they give you least an automated message that you received my last email would be nice.

Again, after only a few weeks the Kindle is one of my favorite technology devices and travel with it all the time.  I hope to help you continue your future product lines and look forward to debate and conversation on the forum, etc.


Bryan Karp
- midnitecoder

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Study - People aren't using turn signals

I'm thinking about starting a study to track the number of times people don't use their turn signal when they should. I'll expand more over the next several days based upon observations and feedback from people. So, please let me know your thoughts and if you've seen the same where you live.



Should sales people be measured on more than just quota

While doing my tweet reading tonight I ran across this tweet from Paul Krajewski, from Toronto. His tweet/blog post was asking
"Should Sales people should be tracked, measured, or accountable for anything other than quota?"
My response was Absolutely! see my thoughts below and adjust / tear apart as necessary :-).

Yes, Sales people must be measured by much more than just their quota. I run the Pre-Sales and Analytics department where I work and engage with multiple internal sales people and our external channel partners. I spend a good percentage of my time reviewing and analyzing metrics for various aspects of the business and metrics are critical, hence my view "Unless you can measure something, your attempts at managing it, and maintaining or improving its performance, will be unscientific at best." by Lord Kelvin.  So, yes sales must be tracked and measured on each aspect of the business, and while quota is certainly an important aspect in what sales people need to be measured by it can by no means be the only measure.

I'll walk through each of the points, but sales people should also be measured by the
  • ROI of the deal
  • Lead to close time
  • Customer satisfaction after the deal is closed
  • Accurate population of data within the CRM
  • Forecast-to-actual sales
  • % Penetration within account
  • % Conversion rate by lead type (hot/cold)
  • Time per sales stage
  • Attrition rate per sales stage
  • Average deal size
  • Ramp time

Metric: ROI of the deal - It does no good for a deal to be sold if the return is going to take years, or there will never be a return because the contract ends before a return can be recognized. Far too many times I have seen in companies where the sales rep pushes for a deal to meet their quota without regard for the level-of-effort required by services, or support after the deal is closed. This then kills any margin left.

Metric: Lead to close time - While not a metric to hold a rep 100% accountable for it is a key metric. Imagine if you knew for all your deals the typical lead to close time from when it entered the queue from BusDev and/or marketing to when it was closed. This can enhance your visibility and forecasting capability. Additionally it can help highlight individuals how might need additional training and who might be able to help them.

Metric: Customer satisfaction after deal closing - This ties back to ROI and later in the account when you try to get a reference. If you have a true 'Cassius the closer - character from Selling the Wheel' they worry about getting the deal closed, not always what is required afterwards. This can lead a bad taste in the client's mouth and put the deployment team in a precarious situation.

Metric: Accurate and complete data population within the CRM - A no brainer! I have heard the reasons why it isn't done from various sales people and it ceases to amaze me.

Metric: Actual-to-Forecasted sales per time period - this does tie to quota, but really it ties closer to how well the rep does at forecasting. Additionally if you track this over time companies can increase their visibility in corporate forecasting, and also detect problems earlier. If you detect a sales person is historically off by 10% you can adjust in your corporate forecasts and help them with training to improve. If you see a one-time drop you can keep an eye on them for the next time period vs. trying to guess what happened last reporting period. Seems like a no-brainer, but as I've talked to people it seems this metric is never reported on or tracked.

Metric: % Penetration within account - In most sales engagements there are specific roles that need to be identified. Where deals can go bad pre or post deal closing can be attributed to not having fully penetrated the account to find all the key players.

Metric: % Conversion rate by lead type (hot/cold) - Simple measurement by resource to determine what % of leads they are given convert.

Metric: Time per sales stage - Quickly highlights for management and sales person if displayed properly deals that need attention. These would be the deals where it is taking significantly longer in the current deal stage vs. the average. Additionally it helps to identify problem spots if it is tracked. We measured every stage in one of pre-sales efforts and were able to quickly identify key areas for improvement, and develop a longer-term plan. By doing this we reduced our step within the sales stage thereby helping the sales person move the deal faster. My point is...IF you track the time per stage by deal you can quickly find areas that need improvement and focus a team to improve the methodology.

Metric: Attrition rate per sales stage - Where are deals falling out of the sales process and of equal importance is why?

Metric: Average deal size - Easy metric to measure, but if you measure properly you can get a good feel for the number of deals you'll need to close when doing next year's budget.

Metric: Ramp time - Sales people just like everyone else need to be measured on how long it takes them to be self-sufficient. While most have the sales background every company has a unique value proposition, methodology and of course product / service. If a particular rep is taking longer than average you can work with them to close the gap with training or determine if you need to make a change.

I'm sure there are other metrics that can and should be measured, but the list above are my thoughts.  Again let me know if you think I'm off base, or just plain missed some key metrics. 



Saturday, August 8, 2009

Can you find me? My SEO project at work.

I've been spending the past couple of months doing a lot of research on SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and SMO (Social Media Optimization).  I have to say there is a tremendous amount of information on the web, and a lot of people who want to bill you for services you can do yourself, especially as it relates to SEO.

Based upon all this new knowledge we are in the process of implementing several sets of changes to my companies website.  One of the frustrating aspects of this update is our site was recently revamped, and while the new design looks nice the company which said they knew and understood SEO clearly did not know anything about SEO.  They are several basics one needs to understand to implement SEO, and we quickly found out they didn't understand them, or they were speaking about things they couldn't implement.  So starting in the next few weeks we are going to be implementing changes to our website so when people search for us, or terms we have optimize for on our site our pages (hopefully) will show up towards the top of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).  This is going to take a lot of work and will be an iterative process so, we will be measuring the changes using Google Analytics to determine what is working and what still needs improvement.

A sampling of the changes we are going to be applying are:
1.) Improve site for SEO - Insert and update the following
  • Page meta descriptions - descriptions of what the page is about e.g. author, content, category
  • Page meta keywords - while not used much anymore it doesn't hurt to include them on your site
  • Page names - a small but important item to optimize e.g. seo.html doesn't mean as much to google as search-enginge-optimization.html
  • Page titles - a no brainer, but this was a key area the company that revamped our website failed
  • H1 tags - defined as critical by the W3C and by most sources I've read as very important by search engines.  This is a touchy subject with most people, but in the end my take is it does get used and is probably more important if your page uses flash to get its point across.
  • Alt text - since the engines can't see images this tag gives your images textual descriptions
2.) Improving site content, visibility and infrastructure
  • Update first sentence to include relevant keywords
  • Submitting site to directory services and improve sitemap
  • Improve site links to eliminate no brainers such as click-here :-)
  • Removing PDFs and replacing with html pages from previous press releases

After we get those aspects done we will start with the second phases of our project, which for the time being I will not be commenting upon for obvious reasons.  What I will share is we are evaluating a couple of tools to help with this phase and later phases.  The two primary tools being considered right now are HubSpot and Pardot.  What is really interesting is how I found HubSpot earlier today.  While I was gone on vacation to Cabo (more on that trip at a later time) I got several emails from LinkedIn to groups I subscribe.  One of those emails was about B2B Lead Generation which took me to where I spent a bit of time reading various topics, ultimately reading their ebook Volume 1 Online Marketing.  Their ebook is where I found out about HubSpot, subsequently spending several hours watching HubSpot's webinars, reading whitepapers, etc.  Ultimately I don't know which company we will end up selecting, but right now I'm very impressed with what I saw and read today from HubSpot.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has gone through a similar process, learning about and driving an SEO strategy in-house.  Also if you have used other internet marketing software what was your experience and what tool(s) did you use.