Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

MSNBC/BusinessWeek recently published Gene Marks’ Tech ‘Solutions’ Your Small Biz Can’t Use where he seems to dismiss “all things internet” and debunks “highfalutin software and gadgets aim to help you run your company.” The comments shred the article, and are very interesting to read.

5 Methods to Track Offline Conversions – and Plug Huge Marketing Budget Leaks.

One of the most difficult challenges is tracking paid search performance via telephone calls for the small business. While a few will spring for a new 800 number or IVR system to get some of that information and train phone staff in its use, many cannot due to the workaday reality. Often the busy office environment means metrics go out the window in favor of just getting the order out, so the company continues to guess.

The Amazing World of Navigational Searches

In the past few months’ time I’ve spent more than my usual amount of time watching others surf the web. I am always astonished by how poor people are at knowing where to type searches, or web addresses, or login information. When I ask someone to go to a website, there is genuine confusion about where or how. It’s no surprise to me that a thriving sub-economy exists based on navigational searches – which I define loosely as “typing a web site URL into a search box because you want to visit it.”

Most of the time it’s user issues that causes navigational searches IMO:

The toolbars have been dragged out of whack.
I don’t even think about, I just type.
Ambiguity between “search”, “find”, and “address bar” in browsers such as IE7.
Alcohol or Drugs, Senility, or perhaps Loud Children.

Some people have real reasons for it. Here are a few:

I don’t have to worry as much about typos.
I sometimes want to look at the cache
I get a quick glance at other sites referring to it (talk about ad-hoc reputation management!)
I’m a rebel, damnit, and you ain’t gonna change me.

A terrific article on navigational searches prompted me to begin a list of good resources on this matter. I also found this terrific write up by Jeremy Crane over at compete’s blog. It was also eye-opening.