Multivariate testing

Posted in Audience Development, Business, content, Data, Online, SEO by solle on 31/03/2009

Time to revisit econsultancy’s list of multivariate testing tools written by Ashley Friedlein in 2007.

Checking over Ashley’s list to see who’s still in business with a relevant offering (and who’s been snapped up by a competitor):

Specific multivariate / multivariable / split testing tools and services:

Adlucent – a variety of testing tools including landing page optimisation

Google Website Optimizer – Google has kindly released a 26 page Techie Guide to Google Website Optimizer which everyone has no excuse not to take a look at to get you started

Memetrics – is now part of Accenture’s Digital Optimization Marketing Sciences

Offermatica – is now Omniture’s Test & Target

Optimost – is now Interwoven Optimost offering a wide range of testing services

SiteSpect – a variety of testing tools

SplitAnalyzer – $129, online demo available, immediate download

TaguchiNow – free webinar available

Vertster – free demo available

Site conversion optimisation solutions (typically continuous learning approach):

[x+1] – with its Predictive Optimization Engine

Kefta – recently purchased by Acxiom

Maxymiser – selection of products

Touch Clarity (Omniture)

ATG Campaign Optimizer

Wunderloop – international offering

And from the article’s comments:

Amadesa – range of tools including form and cart optimisation

Clickdensity – more of a usability toolkit including heatmaps (see my data visualisation round up)

Sokel Choicepoints (site itself looks like it needs ‘optimising’)

Mixpanel – a range of tools

Plenty there to choose from. Obviously anyone new to this who wants to get their hands dirty should start off with Google’s Optimiser tool.

Crime mapping

Posted in ideas, Online by solle on 24/03/2009


The London Metro today has splashed the story of ‘How your tweets could be an invite to burglars

Mentioned here three months ago 😉

A while back the London Metropolitan Police very kindly produced an interactive crime map that is kept up to date with the latest levels of crime, levels of seriousness and by type of crime.


Obviously at a top level the centre of London varies between High and Above Average and the rest of London as Average. But when you start searching by postcode/borough/street etc say for the crime of Residential Burglary it gets far more interesting. Areas with Below Average burglaries sit right next to areas with Above Average and you start to get a picture of a complex London with its varied populations and economic classes.

The result of this – obviously London residents in Below Average areas are going to be less worried (you would think so anyway).

My question though is – if I was a burglar or car thief (or potentially a prospective one after coming across this handy tool) and had a penchant for a Goggle Map Mashup would I not be saying “Mr Metropolitan Policeman, thank you very much for providing me with this handy tool so I can see streets of London where I might ply my trade (and where residents are going to be less worried about being burgled or having their cars nicked)”.

Stranger things have happened.

The other day it had also occurred to me when your opportunistic house breaker was going to get themselves on Twitter to monitor and see if they can take advantage of the frequency that twitterers tell the whole Twitter world that they will be away from their homes for X period.


naming and shaming

Posted in Business, content, Data, forms, Online by solle on 16/03/2009

here begins the naming and shaming of organisations that after you enter extensive personal details etc on their website they immediately email back to you the password you have just entered (and confirmed) unencrypted for anyone to see.


Passwords look pretty damn scary in plain text.

First up (and many more to follow):

1. StepStone Solutions with responsibility for Channel 4’s recruitment are the first guilty party (appalling, they even sent a reminder with the naked password repeated a week later)

2. Lastminute

3. Be

4. EventBrite

5. Live Nation

6. Grazr

7. Sky News

8. AddThis

9. The Daily Express

10. Harringey Library (in regard to wi-fi)

11. British Library (in regard to wi-fi)

12. Daily Star

13. Serph

14. Newscred

15. Days Out Guide

16. Fused Network

17. Wired.com

Audience Development

Posted in Business, content, links, Online, Twitter by solle on 10/03/2009

Notes from a recent presentation (the link to the presentation is at the foot of the post):

Audience development – pivotal to success

Audience Development is split between retaining satisfied customers and growing the customer base.

customer acquisition


manage SEO of all pages taking into consideration current best practice

by order of importance

on page:

  • <title> tag
  • Keyword frequency and density
  • Keyword in headings
  • Keyword in document name
  • Meta name description
  • Meta name keywords

off page:

  • Link anchor text contains keyword
  • More backlinks (higher PageRank)
  • Link Popularity within the Site’s Internal Link Structure
  • Page assessed as a hub
  • Page assessed as an authority
  • Link velocity (rate at which changes)

and remember

  • Balance paid & organic listings
  • Blended/universal results
  • Search term research & targeting
  • Ensure site design is search friendly
  • Avoid duplicate content & multiple site issues
  • Get authoritative mentions online by going beyond Linkbait

(thanks Dave Chaffey)

and then work on the 77 tips found here


network with SEO and audience development professionals to keep abreast of current best practice and innovations within the sector

make sure you are on Linkedin and join the

audience development group
Digital Publishing Network
LinkedSEO Group

make sure you are on

Twitter and follow the right people


run inhouse guerilla SEO best practice workshops in collaboration with marketing departments for content teams and front-end development

for content teams look no further than presenting the
BASIC principles of online journalism

for development teams look no further than running through point one


develop content sharing partnerships with third parties

research your sector and communicate with competitors direct and indirect and any other sites with similar content

start non-commercial content sharing by linking to each other’s content

remember – the link is king



ensure that you link from your content

remember – it’s a conversation

the web conversation should have no walls

build up links

tools and people that can help

Yahoo Buzz

and Twitter Tools


manage Social Media reputation:

embrace trends such as microblogging tool Twitter as access to new audiences and method of communicating with existing audience

“Dell believe $1m worth of business from Twitter”

Twitter Tools

PleaseRT.me and Retweetist – retweeting tools
Filttr – filtering Twitter
beamagpie – advertising
Twist – trends
twilert – email alerts
Pingvine and Twitterfeed– RSS aggregator


For content/news sites: every morning email a list of keywords to be used in titles and intros for the day’s content Google Trends and Google Keyword Search

customer retention


strengthen culture where customer retention is as important and vital to the business as customer acquisition

customer feedback should be viewed as some of the most important data available

involve all employees in positive and negative feedback

from it all employees will learn

what is important
what is relevant
what can be done to make positive change


customer retention is an ongoing conversation and that conversation requires managing and developing day to day

get to know your customers

beta groups
customer feedback roundtables
user testing
outbound calling

involve all departments including marketing, product and contact centre to develop a better understanding of customer’s needs and requirements


action customer feedback and develop further customer loyalty


feedback to customer the positive changes you have made


increase online dialogue with customers with a willingness and courage to publish and share concerns, questions, grievances


continually test important areas of the site using no/low-cost tools and action feedback into site enhancements/tweaks/BAU improvements

Website Grader
Web accessibility tools
Userfly and Feedbackarmy – User testing
Yahoo Site Explorer
Silverback – Guerilla user testing
Chalkmark, Treejack, OptimalSort at Optimal Workshop


create ‘User Experience team’ with existing members of staff to place the user voice into decisions

even if the team is only of ‘one’ a lot can be done


Leah Buley’s How to be a UX Team of One


reputation management: monitor the web for discussion (positive/negative) and proactively re-act

set yourself up with the monitoring tools for Twitter


Google Alerts
Trackur (+ free guide)

(Audience Development presentation on Slideshare)

or download a PDF of it

My photography has changed

Posted in ideas by solle on 09/03/2009

I used to spend hours cleaning up digital photographs in Photoshop  – pixel by pixel for stock photos and major banality around perfection. I was concerned with megapixels and sensor sizes and pined after a Canon 5D. I would treat photo opportunities with great gravitas and seriousness, looking for the perfect composition, light, series of events. My camera bag was my constant companion and Cartier-Bresson quotes would fly around my head – I often would wield around various cameras even on the most mundane shopping expedition (including my heavy Canon F1).

Now it’s all changed.

It’s all about information. Recording information. Sharing information. With speed – immediacy. Quality and composition are of secondary importance. The iPhone, either with just the standard camera and the direct to Flickr by email, or AirMe, or Brightkite is the tool of choice. I don’t care about the 2 megapixel camera – it doesn’t matter – or the no flash (though that is obviously limiting)  it’s the fact that I always have it on me. It loads fairly quickly and I can share the information, research, ideas quickly.

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Beyond the Crisis: Debating the role of innovation

Posted in Innovation Beyond Crisis by solle on 02/03/2009

Nico Macdonald has organised an Innovation Forum event ‘Beyond the Crisis: Debating the role of innovation‘ for the 2 March 2008 (tonight) at the Hub Kings Cross (34b York Way, London N1 9AB) to debate that ‘there may never have been a better time, or a greater need, for profound innovation’ and that ‘during and after the economic downturn, innovation and transformational change will be more important than ever. The sooner far sighted strategies are developed and implemented by government, business and other agencies the better life will be for ordinary people – in the UK and beyond.’

Themes to be discussed are:

  • How can we explain the causes of the crisis: Financial system failure? Greed? Lack of productive locations for investment?
  • To what extent is the crisis a product of lack of innovation?
  • Where and how is value created today?
  • What role can government play in facilitating innovation and value creation (or getting out of the way)?
  • Does fundamental research need to be championed?
  • Where do ordinary people’s interests fit into debates about the future?
  • Is the crisis a basis for taking on more ambitious challenges?
  • Are networked tools a key to dealing with the recession?
  • What are the contemporary barriers to innovation?
  • Is there untapped potential in the design and creative industries?

There is no doubt that innovation is in short supply – most institutions are chanting the mantra ‘retrench, retrench’. I’m finding widespread belief that the present crisis is viewed as merely a blip and things will soon return to a semblance of how things were before (advertising, magazines as examples). There seems to be a lack of understanding that the game really has changed and there is only a future, a future with different rules and business models.

So many business models are still operating with the one way channel of selling to their customers but not listening, involving and opening up to their customers. The financial sector (including financial services) is a good example.

Taking into consideration a number of the questions above there is no doubt that many industries, particularly many elements of the financial services sector, need to reinvent themselves and innovate to survive and prosper.

This recent Wired article – Road Map for Financial Recovery: Radical Transparency Now! – regarding the need for radical transparency of financial data is a brilliant example of what is required.

Tonight a range of London professionals will debate the above points and I will update my post with the findings.

I will also endeavour to Twitter the main points of the event as it happens using this tag – #InnovationBeyondCrisis which you will find here – Twitter Search


Event was a success. Excellent participants and excellent points. Much food for thought and an excellent beginning to an important subject (and one that is obviously not being embraced as widely as is necessary for the economy to climb out of these present difficulties).

The selection of the initial responses to the questions posed prior to the event have been updated:

Here they are:

Mark Stringer of Agile Lab noted that “with the credit crunch, there is a real danger that clinging to old old stories can prevent us from making any real sense of new data that we need new models and new stories to understand” (Agile Lab: Innovation and the Credit Crunch: tell me a new, new story)
Rob Killick, CEO of cScape, argues that “governments should lead. A big problem with our government is that it is often not prepared to take bold action, for example in pushing ahead the nuclear power station building programme, because it is afraid to face down the opposition” (UK After The Recession: Innovation island?). (See also his white paper The UK After The Recession [PDF].)
Tobi Schneidler of Maoworks argues for “whole new era of enlightenment that connects the global financial, industrial and environmental challenges into one forward looking vision, sparking a wave of innovation not seen since World War II” (Maoworks Department of Information The blue ocean has dried up. Who will do the refill?).
Kevin McCullagh notes that in design world has celebrated superficiality, but “the bring-on-the-slump crowd are equally self-indulgent”. He believes that their “sense of shame is not based on a clear analysis of the benefits people gain from stuff relative to overblown problems like landfill. The self-doubt instead stems from the intellectually paralysing effect of sustainability ideas”. (Design and the depression, Kevin McCullagh, Blueprint, April 2009)
Mark Nicholson of Interactive Investor (writing in a personal capacity) argues that the crisis “may actually be down to innovation” [our italics] in the financial sector. “Value is created in solving customers’ real needs profitably [and] through continuous improvement” he notes. “We now need to apply the same approaches that have worked so well in manufacturing to the knowledge economy.” He argues that government “must support education and lifelong learning”, and he advocates fundamental research “but not at the expensive of more beneficial areas such as championing continuous improvement”. On people’s needs he notes that “[w]e should not bring in anything which will harm the ability of people to fulfil their needs”. He believes we should take on “basic challenges before we move onto ambitious”. On the network he argues that our tools “are not sufficient for collaborative working which will be vital in creating new products that will thrive in the recessionary times”. And he believes creative industries need to “combine their innate creativity with critical thinking”. (technology @ iii.co.uk: Beyond the Crisis: Debating the role of innovation. Also at Dwell Upon: Response to Beyond the Crisis: Debating the role of innovation)

And from the actual evening some thoughts:

“a lot of mentions of innovation but what exactly do we mean by innovation?”

“innovation as connective innovation”

“does all design have to be sustainable?”

“do small things well first – the smaller pieces/incrementations – it’s all in the detail”

“global innovation agencies retrenching”

“is this debate too lofty? No panic yet. Things happen incrementally”

“always keep an eye on what’s happening at the bottom”

“in financial services we need to ‘make the invisible visible’ and make visible risk”

“how can you visualize risk?”

“causes of the crisis – lack of trust, which will return in a different model”

“should we create a hub at a national level?”

“have we not noticed the arrival of the information age?”

“causes of the crisis – reeducate the ways we behave and take personal responsibility – balance left brain/right brain”

“we are in the middle of a cult of managerialism”

“problems with middle management to innovation”

“potential of mobile operators/networks to support new forms of currency”

“international borders in innovation – what is the future?”

“innovation comes through individuals not a company creating an innovation team”

“Managers demand outcomes from R&D ‘before you have even put your coat on’.”

“innovation is a good idea that makes it – and managers can help”

“social capital and financial capital have become very disconnected”

“innovation as evolution – Darwin isn’t about better tho, more about fit for current purpose”

“supply-side innovation and people buying things they don’t understand: behind every bubble”

“When I think of social capital, I think of a ton of wealth, when I think of real money, I draw blanks”

Photos from the event on Flickr

More details of further developments to follow

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