Popularity contest Evaluate competitor sites with Google Trends for websites

Posted by tom klein June 26, 2008 at 7:00 am

There are several analytics services on the market to help you gauge your web site’s traffic and overall popularity. But if all you really want to know is how you are faring against your biggest competitors, there’s a new, but very big kid on the block.

Google Trends for websites is essentially a tool for showing how popular your website is. It generates a snapshot of site traffic and compares results with (up to 4) other sites. Instantly see:

  • daily unique visitors (with graph)
  • where they are located
  • what other sites they have visited
  • what they are searching for (by terms)

Google Trends is free and available to Google accounts holders (which is also free). See if your big competitor offline is really your biggest competitor online by comparing the number of unique visitors. Find out what search terms your visitors are typing beside your brand name, then reevaluate your SEM strategy. You can even identify stealth competitors by seeing what other sites your visitors flock to.

So whether you’re looking for competitive intelligence or just plain curious, check out Google Trends for websites and see where your site stands.

Google utilizes a smorgasbord of sources to populate the information in Google Trends for websites, including their own search data, aggregated opt-in data from Google Analytics, consumer panels, and third-party market researchers. True to form, they reveal the ingredients, but won't divulge the recipe.

Competitive intel is the stuff that just shows up from all over the place. The sales force sends in stuff, you might subscribe to services, you might even pay a consultant to hang out in smoky bars in your competitor's home town. Now there's a new source, that can be integrated into your thinking on a more regular basis.


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  Right on cue Survey your site visitors for free with 4Q

Posted by tom klein March 25, 2008 at 2:30 am

Every website generates a mountain of data. Every visit, every click can be recorded, then sifted, analyzed, and parsed. Oh, you can find out what your visitors are doing.

Just not why they’re doing it. To do that, you have to ask them. That’s the need served by 4Q. It’s a free, 4 question survey tool. When visitors arrive at your site, they are presented with an invitation to participate in a survey after their session. If they accept, a second, minimized window, which contains the survey itself, is launched and waits in the background for the visitor to complete the site visit (see the overview video).

Sign up, create your survey, generate the survey code, place it on your site, and then you’re ready to go. Go on. Don’t you want to know more about why your site visitors do what they do?

The invitation rate can be adjusted at any time on you site’s survey. However, you should be very careful. Just because it’s easy to survey many of your visitors, it doesn’t mean that you should.

Wondering what you might ask in your site survey? Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik (developer of 4Q with iperceptions) suggests you use the opportunity to get your site visitors to answer the following burning questions: How satisfied are you? What are you on site to do? Are you able to complete what you set out to do? What are your thoughts (open end)?


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  That's the last straw Use texting to develop customer insight with StrawPoll

Posted by tom klein March 5, 2008 at 2:30 am

Sometimes a speedy answer that’s at least directionally accurate is better than a slow one that’s definite.

One way to reach everyone in a poll is to use text messaging, as you’ll see in StrawPoll, built using Twitter. It’s a simple system that sends out a poll question per day and then lets you respond and have your vote counted by replying with a text message. Here’s how you can see it in action. Sign up for a Twitter account. Choose to “follow” the StrawPoll by simply clicking on the follow button. Then, all you have to do is wait to be notified of the next question. Once you receive it, reply by twittering [email protected] .” This system will capture the results. What’s interesting here isn’t seeing which is the more important superhero power, flight or invisibility.

It’s getting a glimpse into how you might use a tool like this one to gather information from your customers, your employees, or your channel partners. Don’t you think that you would benefit from more input to help make the right decisions?

Straw Poll is an example of a mashup. It’s a service that takes advantage of another web based service to create something new. You can find out more in this guide to how to make your own mashup.

While it’s not likely to be helpful to get input for every decision, you could imagine that it would be helpful to know about things like competitor activity, important customer feedback, reactions to new product sales, and even up to date sales numbers.

Award winning Twitter mashups Twittervision (Google maps / Twitter mashup)


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  Bored of dreck doors? Use web assessment to identify needs like Keybr.com

Posted by tom klein January 23, 2008 at 2:30 am

Sometimes it’s hard to really define how much your customers need your product or service without doing a little bit of analysis up front.

Here’s some inspiration for everyone who maybe needed a bit more time in high school typing class – Keybr.com.

Use this simple but engaging example of a typing test to inspire you to think about what sort of test you might administer online. When you gather customer data, you instantly have something to talk about, an opportunity to invite your customer to contact you, or even a chance to sell something right there. For this site, it would probably make sense to sell typing software, typing lessons, or even access to a typing service.

If you’re skeptical about how using testing can help you understand a customer need, maybe you need … a free marketing checkup?

This highly interactive site is built using Adobe Flash. With a relatively minor incremental effort beyond creating a simple website, you can create a site that administers a test and is as easy to use as a regular desktop software application.

When you ask a potential buyer to take or submit to a test, you’re really investing in data gathering so you can customize a solution. In the online world, you can automate this approach, making the incremental investment minor and the potential upside significant.


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  Weakest link Create product knowledge tests with Zoho Challenge

Posted by tom klein January 3, 2008 at 2:30 am

None of us like it, but we know it’s true. When we take a test and get a grade, what tends to stick with us is what we got wrong. Could your sales force use some help retaining what’s important about your brand or product?

Maybe it’s time to create selling information pop quizzes using Zoho Challenge. This free service lets you create and manage online tests – mostly multiple choice and descriptive questions. Test takers see a standard form (much like an online survey), but with this service you can also apply a time limit. Results are displayed immediately. While your sales force might need a refresher course, you could of course use this tool wherever you would like to ensure that product knowledge is up to snuff. Maybe even the call center.

If you’re managing a brand and want to guarantee that its essence is communicated consistently at every customer touchpoint, here’s an easy way.

While Google Apps get a lot of press, Zoho is a company that has an impressive array of applications, including a spreadsheet, a CRM system, a Wiki, and even a cool database application developer that we may talk more about in a future article.

When it comes to building a brand, everything communicates. Sometimes what your sales force or customer service team says can outweigh millions in advertising. This year spend some time making sure that everyone stays on message.


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