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E-Business Secrets

Readers want more on small-business success and failure
Great interest in benefiting from search engines

By  Brian Livingston August 06, 2002  

The results are in from my semi-annual poll on What Readers Want. And the answer is: E-Business Secrets readers want more on real stories of success and failure (both of which can be educational) and more of an emphasis on small to midsize sites, not just large e-commerce sites. Oh, and my wacky items are fine, too.


I picked three winners from the comments that were submitted. I think you'll find their remarks on the click-through statistics I revealed very interesting, so I've printed the best observations below.

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All the successful "story" links (those that had the highest number of click-throughs) provide useful information to businesses and IT professionals. In this case, the "useful information" involves the following qualities:

1) SUCCESSFUL E-BUSINESS MODELS SUCH AS ISBN.NU AND LANGA.COM. Readers were interested in how these two e-business ventures were formed, how they continue to keep user loyalty, and how they attract new customers.

2) GOOGLE.COM. Google is one of the world's top search engines. Finding successful ways to benefit from the search engine (as demonstrated by Edmunds.com and ISBN.nu) is of great interest to others who are setting up e-businesses and/or considering starting/upgrading an e-business. ...

The Tech Review stories that generated the most click-throughs had the following common characteristics:

1) A "STRANGE BUT TRUE" AMUSEMENT FACTOR. The high-tech hoax perpetrated by Madison Priest is one of the more fascinating and alarming portraits of the '90s investor excess.

[NOTE: See "Is it a 'magic box' or a high-tech hoax?"]

http://www.jacksonville.com http://bri.li/?f274

2) CURRENT TECHNOLOGICAL ISSUES. Text messaging, tiny computers, and wireless networks are the focus of much current research and development. Text messaging itself isn't particularly new, but the medium it's run on is. (SMS is very popular everywhere, but not used in North America.) Wireless networking has major security and other issues to overcome (as evidenced by the Pringles can story). That said, it will prove to be extremely useful, once its major technical issues are successfully resolved. Finally, reducing computers to handheld (or smaller) devices and integrating them into cell phones, PDAs, and other devices is of major interest to numerous companies -- from cell phone makers to software developers. ...

Your column is a wonderful bridge between the technical and business worlds. People with strong experience in one area tend not to be as strong in the other area. From professional experience, I've seen tech staffers cringe at marketing staffers' ideas and vice versa. However, marketing (among other business skills) is essential to any business, as are technical skills. Your column provides a useful look into both worlds.

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I receive a bunch of computer-related magazines and publishing materials weekly. Most of the material I receive is re-duplicated or on the same topic as the issue I browsed. So, what makes me choose to read one article over another is its originality or uniqueness.

However, that's only the first test. Next, the article must be one of interest. I like to see comparisons on e-commerce sites against one another and why some get better results than others.

You generally provide unique articles of interest. I really liked the Hokey Spokes issue because it was something I haven't seen and I immediately began thinking of how I can apply this technology to my benefit. I guess that's the key -- "How can I apply what you are suggesting to my benefit."

[NOTE: See "Hokey Spokes light the way"] http://www.hokeyspokes.com http://bri.li/?13cac

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The results of your click-throughs tell me that readers are super interested in how-to's -- things that work.

So I vote for a brief case study in each issue of how somebody actually DID something -- implemented an economical site search feature on a small Web site, doubled their site traffic by some clever or not-so-clever means, generated online revenue with a simple e-commerce model that didn't require credit card acceptance, made a subscription model partially or fully work, got a local portal to somehow pay for itself, etc.

And I'm not interested in the big sites with millions to spend; I want to know how the SMB sites economically compete.

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The readers, above, who submitted the three best comments will receive a gift certificate for a free book, CD, or DVD of their choice. But I'd like to thank ALL of my readers who submitted thoughtful and practical ideas. You'll see the results, hopefully, in future weeks.

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1. Law student challenges Digital Copyright Act

http://www.chronicle.com http://bri.li/?42e

2. Verizon sues Alan Ralsky for sending 56GB of spam

http://www.detnews.com http://bri.li/?816

3. My original investigative article uncovering Ralsky

http://www.news.com http://bri.li/?bfe

4. Janis Ian site sales triple after posting free music

http://www.janisian.com http://bri.li/?fe6

5. Online-content payments growing 155 percent a year

http://www.microenterprisejournal.com http://bri.li/?13ce

6. New Windows service packs permit secretive updating

http://www.theregister.co.uk http://bri.li/?17b6

7. Can women break into the Defcon hacker convention?

http://www.wired.com http://bri.li/?1b9e

8. Geek Patrol: How we created a wireless road network

http://www.oreillynet.com http://bri.li/?1f86

9. HTML tips: Hand-tweak code with powerful UltraEdit

http://www.webmasterbase.com http://bri.li/?236e

10. A hilarious send-up of "sites you can't link to"

http://www.dontlink.com http://bri.li/?2756

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The main comment about this week's wacky Web site is, "This guy has WAY too much time on his hands." That may be true, but you can enjoy it while it lasts.

Someone named Andy L. has posted an entire series of photos about how he used tiny Lego robots to assemble a new PC from parts. It's a total put-on, complete with a tongue-in-cheek warning from the "Lego Workplace Safety Division" about the deplorable state of the fellow's working conditions.

Andy's page started getting hundreds of thousands of visitors a couple weeks back, crashing his ISP's server, so look now while the page still exists.


http://www.skizzers.org http://bri.li/?c396

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E-BUSINESS SECRETS: Our mission is to bring you such useful and thought-provoking information about the Web that you actually look forward to reading your e-mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E-Business Secrets is written by InfoWorld contributing editor Brian Livingston (http://SecretsPro.com). Research director is Vickie Stevens. Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/?0764534939

Windows 2000 Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/?0764534130

Win a gift certificate good for a book, CD, or DVD of your choice if you're the first to send a tip Brian prints. mailto:Brian@SecretsPro.com

Brian Livingston is publisher of BriansBuzz.com. Send tips to him at brian@briansbuzz.com.

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