Sunday, September 07, 2008

Some websites have it, some don't

Bangalore already has local politicians putting up billboards wishing you "Happy Ganesh Chathurthi, St Mary's Feast, Ramzan". It's that time of the year when marketers start thinking about e-greetings and email signatures for the holiday season. What? Did I hear you say cards?! Ooh, that is so un-green. Well, maybe just a few. On recycled paper, of course.

Anyway, I researched the history of viral marketing. Hotmail, which pioneered this marketing medium, went from 500,000 users to 12 million in 18 months, just on the strength of its email signature which said "Get your free email at Hotmail". I didn't know that Hotmail wasn't the first free service, and that there was a competitor called Juno which went the traditional marketing way and achieved considerably less number of subscribers - 3 million if press articles of the time are to be believed. Hmm.

I found this cool post on the Top 10 Viral Marketing programs at http://www.blogstorm.co.uk/the-top-10-viral-marketing-campaigns-of-all-time/ There isn't a B2B service campaign there - can anyone point me to one? Is there more to viral for B2B than cutesy email signatures, widgets like calendars, competitions? Yeah, these work for awards and to drive event attendance, but certainly not on the scale of Hotmail. The google chrome cartoon was pretty cool, but it's still B2C.

I'm really grateful to y'all for visiting my website from the 176,748,506 vying for your attention. (Yup, those are the August figures). So why do people visit some sites and not others? I was looking at the alexa rankings of the top 10 sites in India vs the US, and apart from the obvious suspects of Orkut and Rediff being more popular in India, I spotted Blogger at #7. Isn't that cool? We've always been a nation that likes to talk, and now we're doing it electronically. So much so that today's newspaper had a whole piece on what assorted bloggers thought of the nuclear deal (they had the grace to name the bloggers though not their sites).

Oh, and the other interesting discovery I've made during my viral marketing research is that hardly anyone visits the homepage anymore. They key in their topic of interest into google, and then visit the relevant page directly. So all the fancy research we did on site navigation, homepage design is just a tad redundant now. We could just string up a bunch of useful pages and not worry about the flow and all that jazz. We could go back to those minimalist websites we had back in the mid-nineties. For a trip back in time visit http://www.archive.org/ and key in your favourite url.

1 comment:

manuscrypts said...

or maybe its a fundamental change in design perspective thats required... from 'what we want to communicate' to what 'users/consumers' want to know about...