Sunday, March 30, 2008

Free/cheap web telephony?

Not much time to write on my blog these times, anyway: I found this interesting article on how to make free/cheap calls from web browser and I regret to notice that Sitòfono is not listed there.
But I guess this is due to the "free" model that has been considered: free calls that nobody pay, except the VoIP company holder of the free web telephony product.

BUT this is not a sustainable model, it needs to gather some revenue stream, which is not VC funding!

On the other hand, Sitofono is based on a more realistic revenue model: Sitofono is bought by companies/professionals who want to be reached from the web by various media channels (email, chat, voice call). Caller does not pay for the call, which is offered by the sponsoring company/professional.

Just one more point: one of the disadvantages of web call back model is the possibility of making call tricks or jokes to some victim. In this case, the offender puts the number of the victim in one of the boxes, and starts the call. The offender is not immediately recognizable, unless by asking the VoIP company who started the call.
There is no "perfect" answer to this, but one strategy is better than none :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why Nokia should wink at thunderbird

Nokia is moving steadily on a wholly new terrain, that of Mobile Internet Users.
MIUs are not business people. They don't use blackberry. They do have some sort of business to do of course, but their usage of mobile phone is a mixture of work, family, love, friends, games.

People will have different profiles of their digital lifestyle.
They are TV consumers, on the couch, with their media center.
They are news consumers and producers, at home, with their internet tablet or laptop.
They are dwellers of an on-line village, and they send messages, write scraps, do some twittering, participate in a chat and, last but not least, they read e-mail.

Therefore, people have many devices and use them to do many activities. Sometimes you need to switch from a device to another, and you need your activity to be transported on the other devices. Then, you need synchronization so as to keep the same information in more places.

Just think about all the various kinds of information you produce/consume on your mobile phone:
  • addressbook
  • agenda
  • notes
  • messages
  • photos
Nokia is already doing a great job with Lifeblog, which allows me to sync my SMS, videos and photos on the PC and online, in a true mobile blog. Even the sync conduits that are currently present on PCSync work well, but the point is: where is Thunderbird synchronization?

Trying to flip the question: why Nokia is not focusing on the eldest and the more widely spread internet communication system, e-mail? Why Nokia is not working on a PC calendar system that integrates with Lifeblog?

My digital life would be marvellous if I could sync my contacts, their photos, the conversations I've had with them, the dates I planned to see them?

Nokia has acquired intellisync (enterprise mail and PIM synchronization), avvenu (remote locker), navteq (navigation technology), Loudeye (digital music aggregator), Twango and recently Trolltech (widely used GUI technology).

Therefore, Nokia intention is clear: "put contents online, use Nokia mobile computers and live with them".
OK, fine mr Nokia, but I also want a docking station, a bigger monitor and a full size keyboard :) And that's my PC, and my PC has thunderbird, and -guess what? Thunderbird is powerful and open source...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Estara more and more on e-commerce

As you already know, eStara is becoming more and more focused on e-commerce solutions and aligned with the incorporating company, ATG.
A clear sign of this is the announcement that the estara blog "Multichannel musings", a fruitful reading for my mind, is going to be merged with the more specialized
To continue bringing the strengths of ATG’s and eStara’s market insights together, beginning February 18, eStara MultiChannel Musings will find a new home within ATG’s eCommerce INSIGHTS blog, since the coverage areas are so complimentary.

This is a clear sign that "action-to-ease-purchase" tools are becoming more and more important.
As Chris Andersen states in his book "The Long Tail", infinite choice is an advantage, provided that you support your customers with tools that give hints and support, without confounding them with a multitude of undifferentiated products.

I think that ATG is doing really well, by providing the powerful combination of recently acquired CleverSet and eStara click-to-call and click-to-chat tools.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

mastercard parody :)

Getting expert advice on how to gather visitors to your website and increase traffic: 3000 $, with WebMasterCard.

Planning a full fledged web marketing campaign with web advertising so as to put banners and ads on Google Adsense and Yahoo search marketing: 8000 $, with WebMasterCard

Changing your website behavior, by continuously publishing updated content and periodically revamping its look and feel, 12000 $, with WebMasterCard

Installing customizable KPIs on Google Analytics and aggregating e-commerce sales data with website statistics: 2000 $, with WebMasterCard.

Watching your 5000 new visitors per day disperse everywhere and abandoning the online sales path like rats on a sinking boat, just to earn 1 purchase per day... priceless

Would you NOW consider some smart mechanism to engage your customers and keep them on your online shop?

I can help you: just call me, it's free!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The power of crowds:

It seems to me that there are more social networks than users. It's a joke, of course, but it's also partially true.
Indeed, each social network specializes on some kind of "environment". I am a passionate product manager with a focus on online communications, I like sailing and windsurfing, and I love torturing my family and neighbors with my clarinet.
That means that I belong to three environments, to the least:
  • Online techno geeks and community passionates
  • Sailing
  • Classical music
For each of these environment, I feel I belong to a network. It'l like the "networks" of Facebook, or the "communities" of Orkut, or the "tags" of Spock. Sometimes people (elements of the network) overlap, sometimes they don't. But they are, and will be, mostly the same elements. It's just a collection of people I won't improve my relationship with by using the social networking tool.

But then, how can I socialize with people that share an interest in common with me? How can I do this without pretending to add people to my network in the hope that he or she will be a good "network element" to be friend with?

The wise answer is: ask.
In you ask lots of questions. People ask lots of personal, political, religious questions.
Everybody has an opinion, you have to answer a simple "yes" or "no". It is addicting.
You can make a choice by asking the crowds, they will give you the results: like flocks protect themselves from predators using their collective behavior, we humans can use our common knowledge to empower our own decisions with the power of wisdom of crowds.

Moreover, the magic that's under the hood of computes an affinity score. People who think alike are matched and grouped. Clusters and "sub-flocks" form, and new groups with a strong cohesion on certain topics arise.

It's like the principle of cross-selling, isn't it?
What a pleasure for a marketing manager, all these profiles available... Even Google, with its immense archive of personal taster would be interested in this kind of data...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Customer care - who does *really* care?

My current focus is on customer support. Proactive customer support.
Pro-active: it means that I start doing something before somebody asks me. I do not react, I precede the other party. I would play the usual plot that shop assistants are so good at: "Hello sir, how can I help you? Would you like me to assist you?". This is acting before your customer (potential or acquired) falls into the pit of indecision.

Proactive customer support is going to be the future for online marketing, internet firms must be aware that they cannot lose more visitors on their websites. The definitive year 2008 resolution for online shops is: increase conversion.

OK, we are ready to give customer support, so we have equipped our e-commerce site with everything needed, our weapons loaded and shields up but...
(ahem, too much Star Wars during the holidays!)
...but what happens then?

Your customer starts a dialog with your "operator". Operator of what? Would she be just nice and well-prepared by reading the whole documentation about your products?
Does she know about all the possible technical questions?

Let's suppose you sell homebrewing products. Does Laura, your wery well prepared "online operator", have a passion for homebrewing? Is she the right person to talk to, when it comes to passionate technical questions? Would she advice adding hot acid water to the mash-out phase, to ease up the sparging phase and stop enzymes? There is somebody who takes it very seriously

Normally, she does not. But then, is she instructed to pass the call over an expert? What if experts were customer champions?

What if Dan, a passionate homebrewer and satisfied customer, agrees to offer expert advice (paid, of course) about your products for selected people? This behavior is overhyped, it would be called Web2.0, User Generated Content, WikiSupport. Fact is, human beings tend to cooperate. It's our nature.

Getting back to Dan... what if Dan does this expert advice job on his phone, without the hassles of installing CRM software or operator clients?