We've all seen it, more than web publishers would like. That dreaded 404 Page not found error. A couple months ago, someone wrote to me regarding my company site saying they got an external link back to my site and received a 404 error because the linker mistakenly referenced the URL. It happens. Then one day I stumbled on Smashing Magazine's article that showed creative 404 pages. I hadn't even known that using the 404 error to go to a specific page was possible. But now that I did, I was determined to use it to my advantage, and I recommend you do the same with your site.
We created a simple 4 panel video with some Green Leads messaging about appointment setting. It's sweet, short, and conveys what we want to convey in 15 seconds. Now that's a good use of someone's typo mistake.
To see it work, you can type any url address at www.green-leads.com that may not exist, like http://www.green-leads.com/missingpage.html or yourname.html, whatever. The missing page will redirect your browser to our video. Try it. Type in anything you want after the ".com/" and it will work.
You can learn how to create your own custom 404 page here.
If new clients for your business is a pure numbers game, then you have to look at ConnectAndSell. This is one Sales 2.0 offering that I have to rave about! A friend of ours recommended CAS a year ago and at first were reluctant. It seemed like a predictive dialer/call center offshore mashup and didn't resonate and for the price seemed like it would be questionably worth it. But then over the summer a good client of ours told us they were achieving results with it (thanks Char!). So we finally gave it a shot.
ConnectAndSell is what we thought, an autodialer on steroids, topped off with humans guiding it. It's actually like an outbound sales control room with prospects popping up every couple of minutes for a pitch. It's INTENSE and I don't recommend more than a 2 hour session at a time.
What kind of results are we achieving? It's all about "connects", so let me define it. A connect is when the CAS system delivers a prospect you have targeted for a live phone call where you can start with "Hi Joe Prospect, this is Steve the Sales Guy, how are you?" Think about how many true connects/pitches one of your outbound sessions might yield today. Two or three an hour with a full hour of dialing? Well, the CAS community brags about hourly connect rates of 8-10 connects per hour (CAS humbly promises less than that, but they know you get more). This results in 10 pitches an hour with prospects you want to be pitching. How long do you think it takes one of your sales executives do 10 pitches? Ask them, you might be suprised at the answer.
Basic ROI study: from one of our clients outbound telesales projects selling $1200 maintenance and support licenses for an open source IT analysis tool that is downloaded freely. They typically connect with an average of 23 targets per day, send 6 quotes out (25% interest rate) Close 1 of the 6 over time (16% close rate). So an average week's production is 92 connects, 23 quotes, 3-4 deals per week for $4800 in revenue. By adding just two CAS sessions a week to this rep, the production is increased to 167 pitches per week, 42 quotes, and 7 deals per week's effort for revenue of $8400. Less the additional management cost and service fees to CAS, it has resulted in a net increase of $2400 per week.
Knowing a good thing when we saw it, Green Leads decided to tune the CAS system and do one better. We fed the machine with validated lists from our research group, which are all direct dials and nearly 100% accurate. We have actually achieved hourly connect rates as high as 22 connects. Need I say more? We've been doing it to augment our production and have even been hired to just take over CAS sessions for clients. ConnectAndSell has been a great addition to our arsenal and I'm sure you can use it to your benefit as well. If you have an inside sales team or outside reps that do outbound calling and the law of large numbers is factored into your ROI model, then reviewing ConnectAndSell has to be on your to-do list.
Read more about how it works in great detail at this blog post by Arron Ross, ConnectAndSell: 100x ROI in generating pipeline!? (p.s. I really like Arron's posts, seems to be on a little hiatus, wish he would come back).
Walking around a networking event the other night I noticed everyone's nametag was just a name (no company). Once around the room I realized this was a great application of the new iPhone LinkedIn app (iTunes App Store: LinkedIn). It is a networking secret weapon. Here's how I used it:
- Research: As I was mingling, I'd plug in the person's name in the LinkedIn search and find out a little about them. Perfect if you are connected to them somehow, "Hi, I'm Mike from Green Leads, I think you know my friend Jonathan."
- Save a Tree: If I hit it off with someone and we were about to swap business cards, I'd say "hold on, you're on LinkedIn, right?" (and of course I already knew that). "I'll send you an invite right now." Forget about the business cards and save some trees.
- Topics: Instant backgrounders popped up. Their work history. Even links to their blogs and favorite books. Incredible for conversation topics.
- Faces (my favorite): I had a partial pre-registration list and there were five people I labled as "must meet them." I plugged in their name, looked up their profile, and four of them had photos. I scanned the crowd and went over and thrusted my hand out.
- History: When the event was over and I got home, I reviewed the search page on the iPhone and there were all the people I had plugged in. Like a history of my networking.
So if you see me coming and my iPhone is in my hand, watch out, I'm going to introduce myself.
Having already experimented with outsourcing some database work to India, we thought we should give a try to Amazon's Mechanical Turk. From the FAQ page:
"Amazon Mechanical Turk is a marketplace for work that requires human intelligence. The Mechanical Turk service gives businesses access to a diverse, on-demand, scalable workforce and gives workers a selection of thousands of tasks to complete whenever it's convenient.
Amazon Mechanical Turk is based on the idea that there are still many things that human beings can do much more effectively than computers, such as identifying objects in a photo or video, performing data de-duplication, transcribing audio recordings, or researching data details. Traditionally, tasks like this have been accomplished by hiring a large temporary workforce (which is time consuming, expensive, and difficult to scale) or have gone undone."
So I decided to to load up a database project. The project is comprised of thousands of repetitive tasks and some research that anyone with basic business background can accomplish. We get these projects every week and have interns on staff to tackle them. I figured if an intern can do it, I'm sure some stranger a world apart can do it.
I proceeded to loaded the project which consisted of: look at the data, research a piece of the data, post the results. It probably takes 1-2 minutes per piece of data. Getting the project ready was fairly easy using the site's WYSIWYG form builder and data mapping. I posted a price of $0.15 per piece of data researched (in mturk terminology, each task is a Human Intelligence Task, or HIT). For this project there were 1,000 HITs so $150 was available. You hit "Publish" and it is live. 48 hours later, the project was complete. Interestingly, most of the work was completed by the same three people, yet an additional 5 participated in a smaller way. Also, most of the work was done in the middle of the night. The workers were most likely from the other side of the world. Total cost: $150 even and the workers invested 25 hours. That's $6 per hour. Comparitively, this would have taken one of my interns six or seven half days and cost me possibly more than twice as much. It's off-shoring for the masses. It works and it is cheaper, and the networking of multiple people get the tasks done much faster. Still checking on quality, but thus far the random spot check looked good.
That was the Wonder, now for the Ethics. Is what I paid for the work a fair price? If the person is working in India, for instance, the average white collar wage is $2 per hour. In the US, a white collar, non-managerial worker, earns $11 per hour. So I think my $7 per hour is fair, considering cost of living differences and the fact that the workers earned more than they could have working full time for a company. mTurk also gives them the ability to work their own schedule, be entreprenuerial, and in this case make more than they would have otherwise.
A friend asked me what my interns would do now that I off-shored their work. Well, I have some proactive marketing projects that might not have been funded had it not been for this project, so I'll assign it to them. The mturk workers win, my interns get more challenging work, and my company gets additional marketing. I think this is good for everyone.
I'm still not sold on the fair trade aspect of this, although the economics look fair. So as a feel good, I made another kiva.org micro-loan to a woman in Equador starting an egg business. I'm sure she will learn how to market with courage! Kiva is so addictive.
I LOVE reading Lifehacker, Treehugger, Engadget and Wired RSS feeds, but over the years they have migrated from blogs with fantastic posts 8-12 times per day, to massive media sites that publish 30+ posts per day, at least a third of which are drivel. I am currently on a business trip and have not been able to read my feeds for a couple days. It's all baked up. Engadget had almost 180 updates, many of which, btw, were crossposted or duplicate posts on Wired. All in all, I had 1500 posts to read, which I didn't. I couldn't. Just not enough time.
Wasn't the whole point of aggregating good feeds together so that one could sit down without surfing, without having to wade through piles of pages, and having everything at our disposal, organized and ready to read? So much for that. Now it's like recieving 8 major newspapers and being expected to find the 10 articles from the stack that are interesting. When are we going to get a Reader for our Reader?
How cool is the latest iPhone TV ad for UrbanSpoon. Free app where you simply shake your iPhone like shaking dice, and it rattles and tumbles like a slot machine and spits out a restaurant. It can use your GPS location and you can refine it by cuisine, neighborhood or price.
And then there's Shazam. Hear a song on the radio or on TV, quick, hold up your iPhone and it will identify the song for you. Thought I would test it with an arcane song an it pulled it up.
So both apps are wonderful and intuitive, but the real Hall of Famers...the marketing folks at apple, their agency and the creative team. 30 second spots on TV, showing the coolness and simplicity of the application. If they could measure click throughs of ads to downloads, I'm sure the relationship is huge. I personally have downloaded 4 apps I've seen on TV. 3 of them within 30 seconds of seeing the ad. Brilliant!
And of course, kudos to past Hall of Famers, the iPhone designers and the iPhone software developers.