January 21, 2009

What Is Important To Us?

It turns out that I created a unique lab experiment this week.

I wrote three articles that have varying levels of importance.
Based on RSS readership stats, site stats, clicks, and comments, here is the rank-ordering of what you interacted with.
  1. Simple Attention To Detail: Creative And E-Mail, When Did We Stop Caring?
  2. Profit Importance: Zip Code Forensics, Version 2 Is Free And Now Available.
  3. Strategic Importance And Profit Importance: The End Of An Era In Catalog Marketing.
Regarding e-mail, you loved clicking through the link, you wanted to see what I was talking about. Then you told me to get back on topic, you defended the notion that the foot did touch, you defended the artificial match of images via software --- a match creating a false version of reality, and you stated that this won't impact sales at all. You interacted with the article, you thought about the implications, you formulated opinions, and you openly criticized me.

When given an opportunity to learn about a free way to make your business more money. you interacted much less with the content. Who wants to ignore making additional profit at no cost? Apparently a lot of us!

And when offered the opportunity to consider one of the most important strategic topics of our time in catalog marketing, we were completely silent. Why?

What is important to us? Explain this inverse relationship by leaving a comment below.


  1. Anonymous10:28 AM

    In many organizations, success is measured by Sales, not Profits.

  2. Anonymous1:22 PM

    >> we were completely silent. Why?

    Because our mouths are open and our eyes are shut from fear.

    How do we begin to imagine changing our business model in the midst of such uncertain economic times? (Our catalog business has been this way for over 50 years)

    How can we be certain that the "new" methods we need to develop will outperform the dying model we prefer to cling to?

    I guess we would rather sink slowly than jump into a whole new boat.

    Excellent stuff Kevin, thanks.

  3. Jim --- yup, you'll see that ... it is sometimes challenging to speak the language of profit when folks have never had reporting to help them see how sales and profit fit together.

    Anonymous --- no need to fear! Though I will say that there is no guarantee that the new methods will outperform an evolving business model. I think we just need to experiment --- and we simply need to talk about the concepts with each other.

  4. Anonymous6:22 PM

    I read the emails in my RSS feeds at lunch or while on the phone, so I don't always get a chance to comment but once ro twice a week.
    I notice you don't always get back to old posts when new comments are posted---is that because blogspot doesn't notify you of new comments or because you are beyond the topics?
    I actually found the catalog marketing the more interesting. As to one way to meet those needs, saw an article about ebags joining with shoes.com to cut catalog costs: http://www.catalogsuccess.com/article/how-peter-cobbs-successful-battle-cancer-led-him-co-found-grow-ebags-149773_2.html

    Oh,and just because there may be a lack of feedback, that doesn't mean people aren't interested. I pass many of your articles at work to my colleagues and several of your topics are recurring themes in our discussions.

  5. K - I tend not to answer all comments when readers comment on six or eight posts in one setting --- I'll simply respond to one or two of the ones that readers might be interested in.

    And folks may be interested in topics, but overall, I can clearly see what people are interested in and not interested in. I see how many RSS subscribers read an article, clicked on an article, how many folks visited the site, how many people clicked on links within an article on the site. I can see when visitors come to an article after it is e-mailed from somebody else.

    With all of that data, I can clearly see that folks are more interested in talking about photoshop issues in e-mail marketing campaigns than they are interested in talking about profit. Not sure that that is good or bad or otherwise, I just want to understand it.

  6. Anonymous7:02 AM

    Hi Kevin,

    I obviously don't have access to your web analytics data (I'm in the web analytics & online optimisation market).

    From your comment to K it sounds like you have identified a trend ("folks are more interested in talking about photoshop issues in e-mail marketing campaigns than ... about profit").

    I would speculate that one reason might be simplicity. It is easy (and safe) to comment on design issues because they are largely subjective. It also requires very little thought and time. That is certainly one of the reason I commented.

    I think relevancy plays an important role here. Your audience is very varied.
    I specialise in online and I live in the UK. Therefore, zip code forensics might not be immediately relevant to me. Though I'm sure I can learn from your analysis, with limited time and attention I will naturally focus on what I perceive as most relevant.
    I’m sure this applies in one way or another to many other of your readers.

    Using Google Analytic’s advance segmentation might help (if you’re not using it already). It certainly could help you if you segment US traffic vs other countries, frequent visitors vs non-frequent (different ways to define them) and engaged vs non engaged visitors (not so easy to define and possibly pretty unique per site). But I’m sure this isn’t new to you.

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

    AEP Convert

  7. I read every post Kevin. And have passed along an average of 1-2 articles a week including "The End of an Era..." But I will say I was drawn in by your "experiment"


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