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8 Steps to Optimize Emails

A (very) lengthy post by Ina Herlihy on email marketing best practices:

  1. Optimize for mobile.
  2. Pick a welcome email format: 1-2-3 style or recommendations
  3. Test, Test, Test: sender’s name, subject line, content, calls to action, email length
  4. Include photos or a product video.
  5. Send emails in real time.
  6. Segment emails.
  7. Develop a follow-up email strategy.
  8. Automate emails as much as possible.

Bonus: Compare your metrics against industry benchmarks to help identify potential areas of improvement.

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Demystifying SEO With Experiments

Julie Ahn, for Pinterest’s engineering blog:

Our SEO goal is to help billions of internet users discover Pinterest and find value in it as a visual bookmarking tool. Over time we’ve found the only way to verify if a change affects the user behavior positively is to run an A/B test. Unfortunately, we didn’t have similar tools to test search engine behavior, so we built an experiment framework and used it to turn “magic” into deterministic science.

The A/B testing methodology seems reasonably sound.

By their own admittance however:

The best strategy for successful SEO can differ by product, by page and even by season.

Other factors include content age, number of links, or authority of links.

I’m curious about one point though. When running a test, your working assumption is that it’s being run with all other things equal. But are they really?

Are you testing the results of the experiments you’re running, the results of the experiments being run by your competitors, the results of your site being updated or structured in some more or less usual way, the results of Google tweaking its ranking algorithm, or — as is most likely — a combination of all of these? If the latter, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always been skeptical about SEO experiments and data-driven proofs that this or that SEO trick works. You can validate that well-known tactics work. To name a few, use a title, structure your page so it’s easy for the crawler to identify what parts of your document is actual content, structure your site to give your salient content a lot of links, get in-content links from as authoritative sources as you can, make serving pages and then rendering them as fast as is economically viable, or prefer serving pre-rendered content rather than rendering it on the fly using javascript. There are others.

In the end, though, I’m suspicious of how much you can learn beyond the usual suspects by running SEO A/B tests experiments.

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Does Sponsoring Daring Fireball Actually Work?

John Saddington, creator of Desk:

Over the course of that first week’s campaign and sponsorship I had net (profit) proceeds of nearly $16,000, which means that my investment of the $9,000 was made back within the first week of sponsorship!

Cool ROI. And there is more to it.

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US Senate Set to Vote on Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

Puneet Kollipara for Science:

The U.S. Senate’s simmering debate over climate science has come to a full boil today, with lawmakers trading feisty remarks as they prepare to vote on at least two measures offered by Democrats that affirm that climate change is real — with one also noting that global warming is not “a hoax.”

The land of the Indiana Pi Bill is still full of surprises… But hey, if the US military are able to prepare for gravity to be turned off, all bets are off.

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Four Product Market-Fit Myths

Brad Feld:

Ben eventually states, and then explains, four product/market fit myths.

  • Myth #1: Product market fit is always a discrete, big bang event.
  • Myth #2: It’s patently obvious when you have product market fit.
  • Myth #3: Once you achieve product market fit, you can’t lose it.
  • Myth #4: Once you have product-market fit, you don’t have to sweat the competition.

I’ve experienced the downside of each of these myths many times.

He then expands on that. His takeaway:

Every time you work on something new, whether it’s a new feature, a new product, or a new product line, recognize that you are searching for incremental product/market fit. The search is a continuous and never ending quest. Don’t confuse illusion with reality.

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Advice to First-Time Founders: “Hire, Hire, Hire”

From the First Round blog:

Hiring amazing talent is both the most difficult thing a founder will ever do and the most transformative for their business. “If you’re not spending at least 50% of your time hiring — and that’s the minimum — you’re already on the road to failure,” says Hayes. Despite this fact, he’s seen dozens of entrepreneurs avoid this responsibility. And it always comes back to bite them.

Good advice (though not all would agree). There’s a lot more in the post: trust the people you hire, hire before you need to, and a few more very salient tips.

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A Classic `rm -rf /*` WTF

It seems Valve pulled off a classic, “Bourne into oblivion” Daily WTF:

# $PWD
STEAMROOT="$(cd "${0%/*}" && echo $PWD)"
[...]
# Scary!
rm -rf "$STEAMROOT/"*

Oops…

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Samsung Talking to BlackBerry About $7.5 Billion Buyout

Reuters:

Samsung Electronics recently offered to buy BlackBerry for as much as $7.5 billion, seeking its valuable patents as it battles Apple in the corporate market, according to a person familiar with the matter and documents seen by Reuters.

One has to wonder if there is anything but patents that is worth paying for at BlackBerry. They’re not even using their own devices internally if their recent tweeting from an iPhone is anything to go by.

Update: Samsung and BlackBerry both deny the report.

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Don’t Talk to Corp Dev

Paul Graham offers some very sane advice in his latest piece:

Most founders who get contacted by corp dev already know what it means. And yet even when they know what corp dev does and know they don’t want to sell, they take the meeting. Why do they do it? The same mix of denial and wishful thinking that underlies most mistakes founders make. It’s flattering to talk to someone who wants to buy you. And who knows, maybe their offer will be surprisingly high. You should at least see what it is, right?

No. If they were going to send you an offer immediately by email, sure, you might as well open it. But that is not how conversations with corp dev work. If you get an offer at all, it will be at the end of a long and unbelievably distracting process. And if the offer is surprising, it will be surprisingly low.

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Intuit Flunks Its Price Increase

Angry users are murdering Intuit for yanking features out of TurboTax Deluxe. It’s not pretty…

In Intuit’s defense, increasing a product’s price is a lot harder than dropping it. An approach that works, though, is to phase out the current product while releasing a similar one with improvements. (Think MacBook Pro Retina.)

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