Thursday, June 12, 2008

Coupon Codes, Should we use them?

I've had a series of discussions with a client today regarding the use of coupon codes. He loves them, saying that they are a major marketing tool. I agreed that they were quite useful in building customer loyalty but had issues with two points being raised.

First, I felt that link from the email should contain the customer code; that way the customer wouldn’t have to go back to his email and enter the code. There was relatively no extra coding work so we could ease the customer experience at no cost to the client. The argument raised against this was the same raised by many retail operators – that the retailers count on customers not mailing in the rebate coupons; or forgetting to mention the coupon to the cashiers. The customers come to the store for the sale and end up purchasing the item at full price.

My second point was that customers seeing the coupon code, and the missed sale, would be alienated. It would be better for the coupon code to be invisible to new customers and instead display notices pointing out that if they signed up they could participate in future sales.

Unfortunately my points were overruled and a new clunky customer code system was developed.

Meta Tags and Title Tags

There is no magic bullet in getting your site to be ranked higher. It is doubtful that either the keyword or description tag helps with any major search engine. The tags were abused by spammers to such a point that, as far as page ranking is concerned, they are ignored. There is still some debate as to the value of title tags in page ranking. That tag, as with the meta tags are also being abused.

The value in the tags come, if at all, in the higher clickthrough from the search pages.

Content Management Systems cannot write useful META and TITLE tags without input from the user. Google and the other search engines start to ignore the META and TITLE descriptions when too many pages display the same information. Your CMS can be modified to help in the creation of these descriptions based upon directory information and other information given to the system. But even the most well-thought out system requires someone to tweak the final result.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Facebook and Third-Party Apps

I have my problems with Facebook, but the one thing they do very well, and for me the most appealing aspect of the site, is their incorporation of third-party applications. There are many options to choose from and it is constantly expanding: quizzes, travel maps, feeds and much, much more.

This willingness to add more functionality, especially third-party apps, gives me confidence that they will not go the way of Friendster. Looking at the popularity of Facebook's Travel apps; their willingness to accept 3rd Party apps; noticing that Google's PicasaWeb is superior to what Facebook has yet done; knowing that Google is becoming an App superstore; it's not unthinkable that the day will come when Facebook and Google will combine forces. Or one will swallow the other.