by Paul Slack
Being in business means making money. It also means investing in training and infrastructure. Sometimes you can find those “how-to’s” on your own, for only a time investment, on youtube.com or with free tutorials. Most of the time you can’t and you need to do some investing with dollars. Every decision you make for your business has ramifications and you need to know what those are and how to get there.
LinkedIn Buys Lynda, an Online Learning Company
Not to give LinkedIn a black-eye because it is great for business, who’s-who, and semi-promotional news, but it hasn’t offered a lot more. The recent $1.5 billion acquisition of Lynda.com may change how you (and others) use LinkedIn – ultimately making it a more valuable network.
Lynda.com offers video-based online education about business, technology, software and other skills. It can be accessed as an individual – or purchased by a corporation or school as a subscription. LinkedIn sees a real fit and so does Lynda.
Lynda Weinman, Executive Chairman (and obviously the namesake), says that LinkedIn will provide stewardship and be a “perfect” fit for the company’s mission.
The acquisition will let LinkedIn’s 350 million users access the platform for skill-building and education – giving Lynda a bunch of users and giving LinkedIn a bunch of ready-made on-line lessons. It will also prompt jobseekers about skills needed for a particular job – with a list of courses they should consider.
The service is being offered free to LinkedIn members…right now…for 21 days, with unlimited access to Lynda.com and the purchase is expected to close sometime this quarter. After the free trial, users will have to pay a membership fee that will be monthly or yearly on an auto-renew. Get educated at Business Insider.
Point is: This is one of those “cheap” things that you need to consider that can pay off big-time – for yourself and your employees. Later you will have to pay some for the service but not nearly what the education will probably provide – and for now it is free, only costing your time and you should check it out to see how much it can be worth.
Shakable and Twistable Motion Ads for Mobile
They will offer pre-coded templates that you can customize. Currently over 200 “different user experiences” are available and they say that 20 to 30 will be added each month.
Once the ad is created, a java-script tag can be deployed to any ad platform and the script calls the ad from Adtile’s server.
Ads can be tweaked at any time and pricing will be on a CPM or revenue sharing model, but creation of the ad is free. Adtile claims that Motion Ads get engagement rates as high as 30 percent in comparison to a 7 or 8 percent for “normal” ads.
Right now the service is only available to “invite-only” clients but open availability is expected by the end of the year. Get the full shake at Venture Beat.
Point is: This is serious hi-tech and may be just a gizmo but when it comes out, it might be something to check out, especially if development really turns out to be free and you can “do it yourself.” If it fits your company product and model – it may be worth a shake – depending on what the CPM price point actually is.
Do you Need a Website Redesign? Think Again
You may think your website is tired and outdated – and it may be. You may need to consider a website redesign to meet mobile demands, but you need to carefully consider the why’s and how’s of your update. If you are looking for “revolutionary design,” you may be barking up the wrong tree – what you need is “evolutionary redesign.”
The average website undergoes a major update every 3 to 5 years but large-scale redesigns can be hugely unsuccessful, depending on how and why you are doing it.
Three major examples of huge structure changes that were colossal failures demonstrate the issue:
Digg.com – did a major “upgrade” in 2010 that resulted in a 26% loss in traffic. The problem was that Digg turned off a lot of users – and they never came back.
Yahoo mail – tried to match Gmail’s format in 2012. Yahoo users complained – a LOT, actually starting an online petition at Change.org to bring back the old design. The company went a step further and did another overhaul in 2013. The result: 25% of users left and never came back – many of them migrated to Gmail…that Yahoo was trying to copy.
CNN.com – rolled out a redesign earlier this year. The company said the old site needed a “new look.” According to CNN, the new site was designed to cater to social media and mobile users – but the updates have triggered outrage. The new homepage takes longer to load and has fewer news stories, making the site less intuitive.
The problem is that they used “revolutionary design” which is focused on aesthetics, fonts, images, color…hoping that a trendy new look will result in more page views, more users and a better “feel.” “Evolutionary redesign” blends art and science into a single process so that, hopefully, you don’t have to go back and change it again.
Evolutionary redesign focuses on changing elements that produce results – and is tied to ROI data rather than looks. The key – A/B testing. Testing changes in periods – “Did the orange button produce more results or the green button?” kind of thing. ER also focuses on customer feedback – “Do they like it or not?” Entrepreneur.com has the whole story on Evolutionary Redesign.
Point is: Your website may need an update. It may need a complete overhaul. You could go on the cheap and do it yourself with internal resources or even hire a contract graphic designer. Consider though you may be looking for new customers, you don’t want to drive current customers away. If a lot of your business depends on interaction with your website, do yourself a favor and put the money in upfront to get the job done right.
First A/B Testing, Now Optimizely Personalization
Optimizely is big into A/B testing (just referenced in case you didn’t see).
The company has announced a big push into “personalization” with, oddly, “Optimizely Personalization.”
Optimizely’s goal is to make user customization possible for companies that don’t have thousands of engineers – like Amazon, Facebook and Netflix have been doing for several years.
The company operates on the premise that not only is A/B testing necessary – but that different users may need or want different things from an online experience – and here is the way to do it.
The service can connect company data about their customers and pool it with data from information services and then recommend target audiences. This is all meshed in with location specific info – including the weather, traffic and other stuff…with zero coding required. Basically it is hi-tech marketing that doesn’t require hi-tech knowledge.
The company plans to start a limited beta test soon with a full launch in the fall. Check out how to optimize at Tech Crunch
Point is: First – consider that even an A/B testing company launches a beta test…Second, again this is really hi-tech and it won’t be free but for the right product or company, it can offer a marketing edge that few competitors will have. If the Optimizely Personalization isn’t needed – at least learn more about how they do A/B testing.