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April 2005, Week 4 Marketing Archives

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Email Marketing ROI Alive And Kicking

MarketingVox points to a story from eMarketer which cites data about email marketing and the return on investment associated with it. eMarketer said 63% of the respondants to their survey use email marketing to retain customers and increase loyalty. But I didn't see anything about any actual ROI data, bummer.

When I spoke with Craig Donato the other day he actually talked about how integral email is for alerting Oodle users when a classified listing has been found that matches their criteria. He also said they'll end up using RSS as well but not because he thinks it will work better than email but just because industry analysts will blast them if RSS isn't in their vocabulary. Those are my words, not Craig's.

It's pretty interesting though because the reason Craig is using email inside Oodle is in line with the report.

"retain customers and increase loyalty"

Very interesting indeed. Especially since I know of a company that has an email server that's completely CANN Spam compliant and fits inside the price point of 90% of SME's and SMB's [small businesses] out there that conduct business online. Add to that the fact that it can send out over a million emails an hour and provides all the necessary data about the batches from delivery rates to bounces to opens and clickthrus... it's pretty impressive.

I must admit that a mysteriously delicous iPod photo 60 gig with an inscription of their company on the back arrived in the mail a few weeks back, but I do think they have a killer product and when they are able to do a head to head comparison with their server and StrongMail I know who will end up on top. My friends!

Email Marketing ROI Alive And Kicking By Jason Dowdell at 01:42 PM
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Search Engine Fight: Yahoo Lunch vs Google Lunch

Look, they're cafeteria fightingMy wife and I have this inside joke about fighting. It was inspired by the film Zoolander, when Zoolander and Hans were competing against each other on the runway and Mugatu says:

Look, they're break dance fighting!

Anyway, ever since we saw that we began applying the same mentality to pretty much any sort of competition, the more meaningless the funnier they are.

Some examples would be:

Setting 1: While flipping through the channels Shannon stops on the cheerleading competition on ESPN. My adhd brain immediately goes into emergency mode and tries to find a way to get her to change the channel. It's clear that humor is the only possible method of getting her to realize cheerleading isn't a sport and isn't something I care to watch. Then I say it.

Me: Look, they're cheer fighting!

Setting 2: Shannon and I are sitting at the table in the kitchen on opposite ends with our laptops directly opposite one another. I peer over the top of my laptop monitor to see what she's doing and she looks at me. I as her what she's doing and she says she's posting on her blog. I find that funny since I'm doing the same thing, then that undeniable urge to say something stupid hits me.

Me: Look, they're blog fighting!

Setting 3: President is giving the State of The Union address on tv and there is an interpreter for the deaf on each side of him. It's virtually impossible to find a channel that's not airing the speech, and although I'm all for finding out the State of The Union, I need to escape. After flipping through 30 channels and finding nothing but crap I realize what's going on and blurt it out.

Me: Look, they're sign language fighting!

To Make A Long Story Just A Bit Longer
I had lunch with Jason Shellen last week at the Google campus. It's not the first time I've been there or eaten their food but it is the first time I've been there for lunch. As Jason was giving me the rundown on what types of food were being served in the different lines I began having de-ja-vu.

Flashback 6 months ago and Datar was doing the same thing at Yahoo's campus. He was pointing out the different lines and what was being served at each line.

Back to Google's cafeteria w/Shellen. So then the Zoolander thing hits me and I realized the two biggest search engines are cafeteria fighting! Here's a blow by blow in case you don't get to grace the cafeteria of Google or Yahoo anytime soon.

Yahoo Cafeteria vs Google Cafeteria

Cost: Google's food is free to employees and guests of employees. Yahoo requires you pay to play[eat]. Lucky for me, Datar had my back.

Time: Google lines were short and lunch was fetched in under 3 minutes. Yahoo lines were very long and it not as easy to find the food you're looking for.

Seating: Google had plenty of available seats, inside and out. It was difficult hard to find a seat at Yahoo, inside or out.

Quality: Both cafeterias are good, even though I only sampled a single meal at each and that was merely a deli meat sandwich. Beverages are a plenty at each but I felt Google could've had larger cups for their fountain drinks. I think they were the 16oz size and I didn't see any lids. I'm a 64oz kind of guy... oh yeah, I didn't see Mountain Dew at Google, what's up with that?

All in all, both companies have good cafeterias and food. I always think free is better and being able to suffer as little embarassment a possible while finding a seat is a big deal to me. That beig said, I'm going to say Google wins the search engine cafeteria fight.

Search Engine Fight: Yahoo Lunch vs Google Lunch By Jason Dowdell at 07:22 AM
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Greg Sterling BabySitting Marketing Shift

The Dowdell family is on vacation in CuracaoOkay, so I'm leaving for vacation Friday afternoon and where I'm going my laptop will not follow. I'm looking forward to spending quality time with my girls and my wife in Curacao. I know, I know, you guys are going to miss my sporatic posting and my keen since of sarcasm but I'm sure you'll get over it. To this end I've enlisted Greg Sterling. He's going to be babysitting MarketingShift while I'm gone. Greg's got a lot of great insight in the world of search, data and market opportunities and I wanted to extend this platform to him in my absence. Not like he doesn't have anything else going on, hah!

Anyway, I'm really looking forward to vacation and I'll have lots of stuff to post about when I return. I've been fortunate enough to speak with a lot of great folks recently and when I return I should have enough energy to migrate some of those talks and thoughts from my head to mshift.

P.S. There may be a few other guest authors during my vacation but all of them will be going through Greg. I'm sure it will be quite an interesting week here since I'm encouraging Greg to play while this mouse is away.

Greg Sterling BabySitting Marketing Shift By Jason Dowdell at 06:29 AM
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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Thunderstone Enterprise Search Appliance

Thunderstone, first enterprises level search engine appliance When Thunderstone released their first search appliance aimed at the small business market I had a bunch of questions for their VP of Marketing [Doran Howitt]. Most of them revolved around how much one could tune the algorithm to meet their specific data needs. Well, they answered the call and are rolling out a full blown enterprise level search appliance that's completely customizable.

I love it when a company gets it. Here's the 411.


Cleveland, Ohio, April 25, 2005 -- Thunderstone Software has announced a major step forward in the enterprise search market. It is the first search appliance vendor to offer comprehensive administrative access controls for distributed management.

The new capability extends Thunderstone's technical leadership in turn-key search solutions. The breakthrough allows departmental administrators to control their own subsets of a Thunderstone Search Appliance enterprise index.

Thunderstone's innovation is conceptually simple, but underneath is an advanced permissions management database. It enables a top-level administrator to delegate Search Appliance control privileges to any number of other managers. Each manager receives whole or partial responsibility for one or more document indexes, and has access only to those specific controls.

Security features are key to making distributed management possible. Search Appliance sub-administrators cannot interfere with other managers' indexes or settings. Controls are accessed from a secure web page.

"This is a major advance in the enterprise search space," said John Turnbull, Thunderstone general manager. "Distributed management, with its associated security, is crucial to many enterprise search situations. Thunderstone is proud to be the first search appliance vendor to offer administrative access controls."

Thunderstone's innovation solves a key problem in indexing across multiple web sites or file servers: Typically, each department administrator - not an enterprise level manager - knows which departmental content should be included in the enterprise index. Equally important, department administrators know which content should be excluded for reasons of confidentiality or security. But until now, they could not control the way an enterprise-level search appliance crawled their documents.

Using the new features, the top Thunderstone Search Appliance administrator may even give different controls to different sub-administrators. Example controls are: document file types; re-indexing schedule; category assignments; document inclusion/exclusion; and many other settings.

Separate indexes may be searched alone or combined into one or more "meta-searches." Thus there may be several different "views" of enterprise content. In a typical scenario, there are different but overlapping indexes for business partners, regular employees, and corporate management.

"And unlike other search appliance vendors, Thunderstone allows customers to index third-party information such as government or industry web sites," said Turnbull. "This policy enables enterprises to create unique targeted collections of web information for their users or for competitive intelligence."

Many other features of the Thunderstone Search Appliance are intended specifically for enterprise requirements. These include:
* Files system crawling. File servers may be indexed directly without web server software.
* Document-level security. Search results are limited to only items that each user has permission to read.
* Mirroring. Organizations may maintain an optional redundant system.
* Real-time indexing. Documents may be added to or removed from the index instantly.
* Automatic scale-up. Larger document limits may be enabled by remote software upgrade or by adding appliances as needed.

Thunderstone Search Appliances scale up to handle collections with hundreds of millions of documents. The Appliances also provide excellent value. Example acquisition cost is $15,000 for a version to index 500,000 documents.

Thunderstone Software LLC is a pioneer of search engine technology, providing text retrieval products to industry, government, and educational institutions since 1981. Thunderstone's TEXIS text-relational database technology powers the Search Appliances, or may be licensed separately. The Appliances provide a "plug and play" search solution for intra-nets and web sites; index most document formats; and can be extensively customized by non-technical managers.

For more information, visit or call +1 216-820-2200. U.S. government customers may purchase Search Appliances through Thunderstone's GSA contract GS-35F-0914P.

Doran Howitt +1-216-820-2200 or

Tell em MarketingShift sent ya!

Thunderstone Enterprise Search Appliance By Jason Dowdell at 09:22 PM
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Oodle, Apple Pie & iUpload - New Business Models Emerging

K, so it's been nuts lately but here's a sliver of a glimpse at what's going on in my world. I had a good conversation with Craig Donato [ceo of Oodle] yesterday. We talked about their business model, why there is even a need for such a service and possible implications on the local search market on down the road. I'll post more on it later but right now there's just no time.

Quick Thought About Oodle & The Impending NewsPaper Crisis:
I think they might be one of a handful of online content players that can save newspapers. Another company that has a great shot of becoming a newspaper company savior is iUpload. Think communities via apple pie...

Add a pinch of social networking & mix in some good content.
Let the best ingredients rise to the top.
Bake at 350.
Give everyone you like a piece of the pie.
Find local shops that want to sell your pie to their customers.
Let the market realize how good your pie is.
Bake more pies.

Can't expand right now... gotta go.

Oodle, Apple Pie & iUpload - New Business Models Emerging By Jason Dowdell at 04:09 PM
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Monday, April 25, 2005

Chatting With Konstantin Guericke CoFounder of LinkedIn

While at the Kelsey Group conference I got to chat it up a bit with Konstantin Guericke, the VP of Marketing and CoFounder of LinkedIn. We had a good conversation, but like all conversations at a conference, it went by way too fast. Konstantin agreed to let me come over to the LinkedIn headquarters and snap a few photos, however, I had meetings the following day that ran into our prearranged time and Konstantin had scheduling overruns as well... so you'll have to wait til I post an interview with him and some pics from LinkedIn's headquarters in a couple weeks.

Today, Konstantin followed up with me again, I'm quite impressed with his follow through. That's something you don't find often with those of us who are chronologically challenged. In one of his emails he posed a question to me about blogs. I wanted to know if he maintained a blog and he responded with an answer and a question. I obliged him by answering and got to thinking... it would make a good post, so here you go.

Konstantin Counter Punches And Asks Jason Dowdell A Question

JD: Do you have a personal blog I can point to for a brief entry on linkedin>
KG: I don’t have a blog—given how many interesting blogs are out there, I’d rather contribute to existing ones than start one more that doesn’t get read. My sense is that we need fewer bloggers, and more people responding to blogs. My guess is that most mailing lists have a better ratio of involvement of readers than most blogs, which put one person at the center. What do you think?

JD: Yeah, I think you're right. I subscribe to far more blogs than I do email lists and the email lists tend to keep my attention better than do single / multiple blog entries. Probably has to do with the variety of content around a central theme in an email versus a few posts around one theme [all from the same perspective] in a blog. But I think blogs have more power around a focused subject / perspective than any mailing list can have. I say that because blogs are personal, heavily opinionated, and when controversial, everyone in the blogosphere is pointing to them. I can't remember the last time I was pointed to an email from a mailing list. And when I do get forwards it's usually annoying whereas if I see many people citing a particular post in the blogosphere, I'm all ears. And I can control whether or not I go there instead of having an email pushed on me without asking for it.

There's a need for a reverse forum business model with bloggers. Whereby several bloggers who have similar interests and cover similar content can be aggregated editorially in one central blog. That way, the editor separates the signal from the noise and only brings out the best. I think this is one of the reasons is so popular. You get several different authors / editors receiving / sorting / posting about a variety of topics around a central theme. And it plays into our need to feed our own egos. "Can I get my post accepted?" "Does Xeni even know who I am?" "I'm gonna be famous when I'm on the cover of BoingBoing!".

This is the business model I think will best fit blogs / advertisers in the near future. The monetization of smaller, less known blogs is a much harder play. I'd equate that to local marketing, be it search or blogs.

On a related side note: Many of you reading this are small business entrepreneurs and know that it takes a lot to get your business off the ground. I would like to challenge you to do what you know is right, even if it requires more work in the short term, because the long tail will reward you for doing so. In recent months I've been put in contact with some of the most inspiring people who answer my questions with questions of their own. They have challenged me to grow professionally and to think more than I've ever done in the past. Konstantin's question to me is a perfect example of one such person.

If you want to be the best you have to surround yourself with the best. The only way you can do that is if you come to play with your homework already done. You have to know your market / client / business like the back of your hand and be able to provide insight like noone else in the world. It's hard to do that when all you have is an idea and a good work ethic. But do it now because the benefits of taking the road less traveled will long outweigh any immediate gain from a shortcut in the beginning.

Chatting With Konstantin Guericke CoFounder of LinkedIn By Jason Dowdell at 05:45 PM
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SEW Evaluates Brilliant Shopper - Meta Search Engine

SEW posted a review of BrilliantShopper, a new meta shopping search engine that focuses much of its development on the user interface. I spoke with their CEO, Phillip Lan last month but focused the post more on a good approach by a PR firm to make contact with a blogger. I did speak with Phillip about their new shopping search engine and will post the results of the interview when I find them.

Man, my life is a wreck right now, stay tuned.

From the SEW post...
Brilliant Shopper has been in beta, and plans its official launch on Wednesday. The new service looks promising, but has a few rough edges. For one thing, it's difficult to know where search results are coming from. The company has several partners, but other than product listings obviously provided by and sponsored listings served by FindWhat, there's no indication of where content comes from...

...But I'm willing to give the company a break, and watch the service as it evolves. As with most other vertical search spaces, there isn't a clear leader yet in the shopping search arena. The major players continue to improve, but none have yet dominated—certainly not to the point of providing one-stop shopping search.

Which is good news, for us. It creates opportunities for companies like Brilliant Shopper to push out new services, which in turns spurs competition among existing players. I suspect my annual round-up of shopping search services next November will feature some interesting new developments, especially from some of the new players like Brilliant Shopper.

SEW Evaluates Brilliant Shopper - Meta Search Engine By Jason Dowdell at 05:26 PM
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« April 2005 Week 3

  • Week 1 (3 entries) April 1-9
  • Week 2 (4 entries) April 10-16
  • Week 3 (9 entries) April 17-23
  • Week 4 (7 entries) April 24-30

Thunderstone Enterprise Search Appliance
as I know, there is a much more powerful search en...
by steven

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