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6 Things Marketers Should Know (but often don’t)

2010 June 2

Who is the President of the United States?  How many centimeters in a meter?

Arguably, these are not crucial pieces of information for our daily lives.  We can get by without them.  However, they are things that educated people should know.  Those who don’t are open to ridicule, and rightly so.

It is the same with marketing.  Many professionals can get through their jobs each day lacking critical knowledge and can go a long time without getting noticed.  However, that doesn’t mean that their performance is what it could be.

Here’s a partial list of some things every marketer should know.

Web Menus are for Navigation not for Branding

When you go to the airport, the first thing you do is try to find your destination.  It might be cool to have signs that say, “Home of the Cubs” or “The Big Apple” or “Terrible weather, worse food and a cup o’ tea,” but consumers appreciate signs that say, “Chicago,” “New York” or “London.”

It’s the same with web sites.  People go to your web site to get useful information and depend on menus to find what they’re looking for.  They really don’t care how creative or brilliant marketing people think they are.

As a prime example, click on this Hermes site.  It looks like a modern art exhibit (which I’m sure is some idiot’s idea of creativity) and gives the user no idea what they are supposed to do there.  What’s the point of pleasing marketers in order to piss off customers?

And for heaven’s sake, kill the flash intros!

There is a Difference Between the Internet and The Web

Okay, this one is easy to get confused about.  Many people who work in the digital arena mix them up as well.  However, the Internet and the Web are two different things and they require two different sets of strategies.

The short explanation is that the Internet is hardware and the Web is software (not 100% accurate, but close enough).  While it is the Internet that provides connectivity, it is on the Web which we actually communicate.

The upshot is that you need strategies that address both.  For more on this point, see the The Internet, The Web and The Future of Media.

There is a Difference Between Social Media and Social Networks

These days, everybody is crazy about social media.  However, the real social media successes have been few and far between (albeit impressive when they actually do materialize).

The much more important development is the understanding of how social networks function, which is a new and exciting field.  The basic principles of social network analysis are barely a decade old, but have already become influential in areas as diverse as ecology, cancer research and law enforcement.

Like the Internet and the Web, it’s important to make the distinction between social media and social networks and build strategies for both of them.

Also, for a social network perspective on a variety of things that affect our personal and professional lives, visit Valdis Krebs’ excellent blog, The Network Thinker.

There is No Correlation Between Advertising and Sales

Correlation is a mathematical term which only applies to linear relationships.  It means that an increase or decrease in one variable will give a corresponding increase and decrease in another variable. Moreover, this relationship is constant and applies to any level of activity.

However, marketing is a non-linear endeavor.  If it wasn’t, when we had a successful campaign we could make our marketing budgets infinitely large and get correspondingly infinite increases in sales.  Profits, would also be boundless.  This, obviously, is not the case.

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a relationship between advertising and sales.  We know if our budget is too small it won’t be effective and if it is too large we lose efficiency.  In the middle is an optimal budget range which can be identified econometrically.

That isn’t a correlation, but fitting a model, which is a profoundly different thing.  There is no such thing as non-linear correlation (at least for anyone who’s actually passed Statistics 101).

Media is More than Just Media

In the old days, media meant ad pages, billboards and TV and Radio spots (and eventually banners).  These days it’s a lot more.  Media companies are looking to provide services that go much further than ad placement.

ESPN recently announced the launch of an internal creative agency that will help marketers utilize their powerful brand across platforms.  Meredith Corporation has a unit that incorporates not only their media properties, but their events and databases too.  These are just two examples on a very long list.

As the web forces media companies to integrate across brands, some are getting much better at integrating across functions as well.  Many see this as an important growth area over the next decade as margins in traditional placement get squeezed.

The Most important Consumer Contact is the One that Works for You

In marketing, as in many disciplines, there is a tendency to look for universal principles.  In actuality, marketing rules are mostly a waste of time and each brand and category are different.  Moreover, what works tends to change over time.

My company, ZenithOptimedia has a highly successful program called TouchPoints which measures consumer influence across a variety of contact points ranging from mass media to word of mouth.  One of the key findings after over 400 studies is how vast the differences are between what type of activity is effective for different brands.

Therefore, the key thing to discover is not what marketing action is most effective in the abstract, but what will work for you given your brand’s position and goals. Unfortunately, there are no absolutes.

So there you have it, 6 things marketers should know (but often don’t).  I would love to hear your comments!  Anybody have any other examples?

– Greg

59 Responses leave one →
  1. Einat Adar permalink
    June 2, 2010

    Hi Greg,

    A great post and good point.
    Just one reservation – I loved the Hermes site. It goes for experience rather than information, but isn’t this what shopping is about?

  2. June 2, 2010


    I guess everything is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s terribly hard to find what your looking for. Especially since you have a whole site where you can engage true fans, why put up a barrier on the home page?

    – Greg

  3. June permalink
    June 2, 2010

    Websites are now required by customers to be interactive and to provide a memorable experience – just info alone is BORING especially if you are marketing clothing, music etc – Flash is Fantastic!! Info only is so old school. I agree with the rest of the article, very well written.

  4. June 2, 2010


    Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    – Greg

  5. Robert Neuschul permalink
    June 3, 2010

    Well you asked for the comments to be here Greg, so you have only yourself to blame 🙂

    Broad agreement on your points, but with 2 amplifications.

    1] The confusion of information architecture with business logic, content and branding abounds all over the net: it’s awful and it is counterproductive in a variety of ways – not least of which is that such confusion can make the coherent development or evolution and version control and general management of a web site a total nightmare. It adds entirely unecessary complexity to management processes.

    Flash is [very broadly] a content management and delivery mechanism, not an information architecture or business logic tool. Using it to deliver the architecture and the branding actually works against the marketing objectives.

    As an aside: a note to Einat & June.
    Thanks to security issues with Flash [see listings at US-CERT and the Sans Institute amongst others] there are an awful lot of governmental, corporate and NGO firewalls configured to deny all Flash content at the perimeter. Nobody behind such a firewall will ever see Flash content.

    This is an issue that very very few internet marketers or design gurus seem to appreciate – and continue to push Flash as a delivery solution: it can in some cases mean that significant segments of the target markets will never see their content. I’ve seen this failure in action.
    For almost all cases and uses currently on the web, anything delivered in Flash can be delivered faster and as effectively without Flash, often with identical or near-identical visual design and presentation.

    The deployment of Flash has largely become a marketer’s “me too” fashion statement and a web/flash designer’s ego and resume boost, not a sensible practical or realistic route to market.

    Oh, there’s also one other reason why Flash is often a bad idea: it doesn’t work with most screen-reader tools designed for the visually or motor impaired; depending on the national jurisidiction and the target market, deploying a Flash-only web site may be illegal or actionable, and it may also be denying access to a significant tranche of the target market.
    In the case of the cited Hermes site why – for example – are blind people to be denied access to Hermes’ products and product info over the web? Do Hermes really believe blind or visually impaired people don’t appreciate and want their products?

    2] I would argue that we could, for the decade between about 1998 and circa end 2008, broadly categorise the software element of the internet as the web, but increasingly that’s no longer true; whilst one can – for example – use Twitter through its web interface, fewer and fewer people do. People increaingly use Twitter through Tweetdeck or Seesmic or other aggregator tools on their phones or on their netbooks/desktops etc. This isn’t the only example: we’re starting to see dedicated cloud-based application user interfaces – SAP are one company pursuing this approach, as are Business Objects; there are also rumours of a new portable non-browser UI for Google Wave, whilst some of the Microsoft Azure/Helios cloud services will have dedicated non-browser user tools. And so it goes.

    The implication of such diversification away from the browser is that we need to be thinking ahead towards strategies for other interfaces and media delivery mechanisms.
    In any event, the browser is just about the worst possible user interface the IT industry has devised in the last 30+ years: and is seriously problematic where we need to create and maintain stateful communications between customer and vendor endpoints [cookies are not only dangerous state mechanisms, they’re exceptionally bad at what they do]. We need to be thinking way beyond the browser.

    Though of course such forward thinking is way beyond the “6 things marketers should know.”

    So I’ll add a 7th item to the list.
    What internet marketers should know – is somebody who can give them sane advice on technologies methods architectures etc., and deliver sound general IT psephology, long before they make commitments to any particular methods or tools etc. They need to learn [or attempt to learn] what it is they do not know and take a sanity check before they start following inappropriate paths.
    At its most basic such IT consulting is a risk analysis and risk management process; without which the internet marketer may find themselves called to account by their employer or the company’s stakeholders.
    Marketers need to learn to collaborate with their IT and content people rather than constantly trying to drive them.


  6. June 3, 2010


    Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment.

    btw. I wasn’t aware of the specific problems with flash (I’m not a technical person), so thanks for the info. As far as I’m concerned flash intro are just a stupid (and incredibly narcissistic) way of turning audience away.

    Regarding internet and web, the software/hardware definition is a bit imprecise (there is plenty of software running the internet, for instance). However, I think you go too far. Berners-Lee clearly intended the web to be for display and linking.

    While I agree that the browser has it’s limitations, the simple fact that so much software is now web based (which wasn’t the original intention of the browser) is a success in itself.

    As for the marketing/technical divide, your point is well taken but it is a two way street:-)

    Thanks again for your comment. Much appreciated!

    – Greg

  7. Einat Adar permalink
    June 3, 2010

    Well, I concede that splash screens can be annoying.

    As you say in point, not everything works the same for every company. I don’t think that Hermes were trying to help people find quickly what they’re looking for, but to create an atmosphere of exploration and surprise.

    The buying experience at a luxury store is different from the local grocer’s and the site reflects that.

    As for Robert’s comments about Flash – I do agree that internet marketers need to understand the technical implications of their tools. Still, they need to keep in mind what it is they are trying to achieve and not get into “my technology is better” arguments.
    If flash has limitations, it’s important to be aware of them and make sure the target audience can bear them. There are other technologies to create interative animated site today, yet I believe Greg would not approve of using splash screens with them either.

  8. June 3, 2010

    I agree with you Greg.

    I had a look at the Hermes site and thought

    “What the heck is this?
    What exactly is it trying to do?
    and more importantly, if I knew the answer to the previous questions, I would be deeply frustrated with this in not knowing what to do next!”

    The next (and important) action was !

    Game over for me at least. Ultimately though (as you note later), the proof is in the results. Is Hermes succeeding? If they are, good luck to them – I must not be their ideal client.

  9. June 3, 2010


    I agree with your analysis of what Hermes objectives are, I just think it’s a foolish objective for a home page.

    I’m also not really that opposed to flash, if used well it can really enhance user experience. Tiffany’s site is done in flash, looks great and works well. This Better Homes and Garden’s flash feature let’s users decorate a room.

    I just think that having a “conceptual” feature should be done internally on the site, where people can choose to engage it. The kind of forced engagement that a flash intro and confusing home page entails just makes it difficult for people to get the information they want.

    btw. Jacob Nielsen gives some good guidelines for flash usability. You can find it here.

  10. June 3, 2010


    Good points. I took a quick look in Alexa and it doesn’t seem like Hermes performs that well. Compared to, which is also a flash site, they look pretty puny in not only audience, but time on site.

    – Greg

  11. Einat Adar permalink
    June 3, 2010

    Well, I’m no spokesperson for Hermes, and I don’t really know what they are trying to achieve, how they measure it, and what is the result.

    All I’m saying is that I personally did not find the site so confusing, and actually liked the idea that you can discover beautiful items rather than search for “yellow scarf”.
    I find Tiffany’s site tacky, and boring. When you sell jewlry information is not everything, and their site exhudes an odour of “cheap”. And btw, it’s HTML based with flash sections. Not that that’s so important.

    Since I’m more of a target audience for Hermes than you guys, and since Alexa is skewed towards a technlogy-saavy male audience, I’d say that the site can still work very well for Hermes despite its lack of “information”.

  12. June 3, 2010


    Well as I said before, a lot of it is in the eye of the beholder. (note to self: no yellow scarfs for Einat:-))

    – Greg

  13. Einat Adar permalink
    June 3, 2010


  14. Robert Neuschul permalink
    June 3, 2010


    I think perhaps I wasn’t sufficiently clear; you distinguished between “the internet” [the infrastructure] and “the web” [the presentation layer or medium of delivery] – and that is, I think, a perfectly valid two-layer distinction.
    What I was trying to suggest [badly or inelegantly] is that we’ve now moved past that point: that the core medium of presentation – the upper layer – is itself in the process of dividing into more than one layer or stream – that we will shortly end up with several different non-browser delivery mechanisms as well as the browser.

    What is driving this diversification is complex: in part it’s the technical limitations inherent in what a brwoser is – a general non-stateful UI, and in part it’s led by the desire [and need] to deliver tightly controlled but much more flexible channels or media that do deliver state control.

    As you say, the original conceptions of the web – which go back before Berners Lee to Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson and others – were display and linking. The mistake [made by most Flash producers] lies in confusing the presentation layer and the links or content they display with _how_ that content is organised and displayed.
    IT _is_ complex but there is never a good reason to confuse or conflate information architecture, or with business architecture or branding or anything else. It’s like confusing any one of – the filing cabinet, the suspension files in the cabinet, the reams of paper in those files – with each other: each is distinct and serves a different purpose. Such confusions add unecessary complexity and leads inevitably to chaos and mistakes.

    As for that two way street: entirely agree. In an ideal world I would wish that all marketers and all IT people and all design people could to some extent cross-train. There’s far too much specialisation, with far too little cross awareness of both the job/task requirements of other job functions or roles, and also the difference between what is possible and what isn’t, and why the fact that some things are possible does or doesn’t make them good ideas in specific contexts.

    It’s the old hammer/nail problem: Flash specialists will generally tend to deliver their solutions through Flash: if you ask a Flash developer for a solution to a marketing problem you will tend to get a Flash solution. Nobody senior asked the question before starting “Is this the right way to do this?” – we have an old saying in IT, “Before deciding on the tools, write the requirements specification; otherwise you’ll get a lot of bent nails.”

    Whilst Flash is a perfectly good technology in its own right, when correctly implemented, my major concern with its use is not technical – it’s from a marketing perspective: using Flash as the sole presentation layer is short-sighted and stupid: it denies far too many people access to the company site. Why would any competent marketer _deliberately_ cut their company off from any market sector?


  15. June 3, 2010


    Thanks again for another outstanding comment. As I said, I’m not a technical person, so I always appreciate insight from people who are.

    I agree completely about flash. Although I’m one to comment on the technical aspects, I feel strongly that it more often obscures information than it enhances it. I don’t think it’s a problem inherent to flash. In fact, I think it’s a symptom of the fact that since you can do such cool things with flash, that there is a tendency towards narcissism and away from effective usability.

    Regarding your comments about the internet and the web, I disagree here. I see that both are expanding. Web based applications are getting better and more ubiquitous. However, as technology enables better and more sophisticated solutions, a custom interface is often required. Berners-Lee intended the web to allow for universal presentation and publication and that’s still true, it’s just that for specific applications a specific interface can be more effective.

    We’ll see what happens with HTML 5…

    As for your final point, I couldn’t agree more. The greatest accomplishments are made across domains and the increasing specialization of industry is a problem. Coincidently I have a post coming out soon called “The Power of Synthesis and The Problem with Experts” that address the issue directly.

    Thanks again.

    – Greg

  16. nixon permalink
    June 3, 2010

    I like London.

  17. June 3, 2010


    Actually I do to, but I have a lot of friends there so can’t resist taking a shot:-)

    – Greg

  18. June 7, 2010

    Woo-hoo: I FOUND THE NAVBAR!!!!! There IS one, just hidden. Mouse over the orange bar on the left of the screen. Actual text!

    Which simply proves your point: NEVER HIDE YOUR NAVBAR somewhere in the “pretty picture”.

    Great post!

  19. June 7, 2010


    Thanks. And congratulations on a fabulous url!

    – Greg

  20. June 10, 2010

    June, information is boring only when you don’t need it.

    Suppose you woke this morning and found an inch of water in your basement. Do you want the entertaining flash intro, or do you want the number of the plumber?

    Even in a non-emergent situation, when I’m looking for information (which is the bulk of web usage), it seems to me that forcing me to be “entertained” shows a major disrespect for the value of my time.

  21. June 23, 2010

    I agree with the comments regarding the silliness and inefficiency of the Hermes site. Yes, it is certainly beautiful, creative, and emotive. Beyond that, it sucks. Back in my ad agency days, we used to call the design-for-design’s-sake approach the Black Shirt Factor — as in the insufferable artiste designer dressed all in black who regarded his or her design work as sacrosanct and certainly above something as mundane as marketing. :o)

    If consumers want the “brand experience”, they go to the store. If they want information, they go to the Web. I love Chuck McKay’s response about the water in the basement and getting the plumber’s number — most people go to retailers’ websites to get information. As a marketer, I’m more interested in REMOVING as many barriers as possible between my client, their customers, and the sale, balancing creativity with commercialism and common sense. That’s why Hermes’s curious video of a shadow puppet princess and frog left me scratching my head and saying, “huh?”. Maybe there was something product-related buried later in the video. I didn’t hang around long enough to find out.

  22. June 23, 2010


    I agree, obviously, with one caveat: There is nothing wrong with the “black shirt factor” if that’s what people have indicated that they are looking for. However, the place for that is on internal pages, not on a menu. If someone clicks on a link that indicates they will see something different – you should give them something different.

    The problem comes, as you indicated, when you are putting up barriers to people getting the information they want.

    – Greg

  23. June 24, 2010

    Hi Greg,
    Great post – and I agree with you…
    Many years ago I was involved in the garment center and witnessing and throwing fashion shows – and in those days “flash” ment “exciting” and it worked “live”.
    Now – being a little involved in the beer business – it needs to be exciting too…when you have time check out:
    it’s a bar and grill – I think it’s a cool website – put in a local zip code from here in NY – 11510 – would love to know what you think. It’s an information website.
    Also, I updated my home page – it you have a chance, I would like to know your opinion.

  24. June 24, 2010

    Thanks, Lisa.

    I’m a bit busy now, but will try to take a look later.

    – Greg

  25. June 26, 2010


    Just had to check out the Hermés website after reading the comments. Now I’m not really the target market, but I suppose they are trying to make a statement about striving for originality, something I assume is a key value Hermés sees in its customers.

    I think for a pestige brand like this, you don’t really need to present that much information. Build mystique, get people talking about the page, etc.

    I clicked on the colouring book, and it’s quite amusing, so a point scored for them in that respect.

    – Jason

  26. June 26, 2010


    It is somewhat a matter of taste. Nevertheless, if you actually wanted to buy something or find a store or had a problem, I don’t see how it would help you.

    (And they could keep the flash features without having the confusing menu).

    Luxury brands are about service as much as they are about mystique.

    Thanks for your comment.

    – Greg

  27. June 30, 2010

    Using flash on a clothing/fashion website is a major misunderstanding of their target market’s habits. There is a high percentage of corporate servers that don’t have flash and many people buy clothes online during their lunch hour. It is typical of Hermes and many other “arty” types to go for a flash website…inward facing and self serving. Also there is very little chance of them appearing in the SERPS which is also a problem for all Flash based magazines. How do they get large traffic with so little coming from Google and others?

  28. June 30, 2010


    Good points. The SEO downside of flash is often overlooked.

    – Greg

  29. Simona permalink
    July 14, 2010

    Ciao Greg,
    Thank you for sharing such precious info.
    I was wondering if you can be more specific on the difference between Social Media and Social Networks.
    From my understanding, but please correct me, social media is the big container to have dialogue with people that now more than ever, are looking for interaction not for contents only.
    The social Networks are the “how” in reaching these people…
    I hope to have expressed myself clearly enough , my english is not that great, as you can notice…. 😀
    Thank you so much

  30. July 14, 2010


    Yes, I think your definition is correct. A simpler version is that Social Networks are a natural phenomenon which social media capitalizes on through utilizing user generated content. So social networks is much more than just social media.

    I explain it in more detail here:

    – Greg

  31. Simona permalink
    July 14, 2010

    Thank you so much Greg…

  32. July 18, 2010


    good thinking and making some things clear that i am constantly explaining to clients.

    i’ve tried for more than 5 years to do a rating of media vehicles based on a consumer’s likelihood of reaction to the message according to the product/service being advertised.

    i’ve presented my thoughts to many media pros (as in media directors) who are always excited by it, but can never figure out how to prove it. it looks you figured it out through your “touchpoints.”

  33. July 18, 2010

    one more thing: there can be a correlation between advertising and sales if you’re talking about direct response advertising. in fact, there has to be a correlation. in my experience, there’s nothing scarier or more gratifying than sitting down with a client using DR and going through response numbers week after week.


  34. July 19, 2010


    thx. I should point out that TouchPoints isn’t mine, it’s a program of ZenithOptimedia’s. Anyway, you’re right. It’s a very good tool:-)

    – Greg

  35. July 19, 2010


    Again, I think you need to be careful when you use the term “correlation,” which doesn’t simply imply a relationship, but a linear relationship. If that was true of DR, then clients could spend an unlimited amount and have unlimited sales.

    – Greg

  36. July 19, 2010

    Great article Greg (second time I’ve bumped into one of your threads in a week!)

    Re: “There is no such thing as non-linear correlation”

    I fully appreciate your point – Pearson’s correlation coefficient measures a linear correlation between variables X and Y – and that’s what people normally think of as correlation.

    … however technically you can have a non-linear correlation – the linearity appears between [some morphism on X] and Y; and it makes sense to measure Pearson’s over elements in the set {codomain of the morphism \outerproduct Y}.

    (my terminology might be slightly off – it’s been a few years since I did statistics in academia)

    See e.g. mutual information (an information theoretical measure). Studying the mutual information between two sets of data can show you correlations that doesn’t appear linear – it’s a useful technique in software development for machine learning, detecting spam etc. (including click-spam)

    So there are approaches that let you capture diminishing returns etc. with a mathematical analysis of the data – but even if they are studied, they aren’t likely to be useful to many people. People writing ad targeting software (such as myself) might find this kind of approach useful for ensuring the best ads are shown at all times – but for an average agency or client it’s too much work to understand the figures.

    I still think it’s a very good point for marketers to understand though – Advertising doesn’t have a direct correlation with sales.

    Spending too little can lose out on word of mouth and not achieve enough branding, but spending too much can reduce ROI. There’s an optimum budget for every campaign, and finding it normally requires some trial and error.

  37. July 19, 2010


    I agree with all but the correlation part. Correlation can only be linear. You can fit a model (and this is a worthwhile exercise), but that’s not correlation. It may seem like a small point, until you get people screwing around in excel and actually using “correlation” to describe actual relationships.

    So, if you mean that there is a clear, definable and measurable relationship between DR and Sales, then I agree with you (just as relationships can be derived for many marketing channels). However, if you are saying that people should actually try to calculate something called “correlation” then I’m afraid you’re mistaken.

    btw – Probably the best way to derive a relationship simply in excel is to create a scatter graph, add a tendline a trend line, format it as a “power law” and then check the box in options where it says “R squared.” That should (in most cases, anyway) give you a fairly good feel for both the shape and strength of the relationship (R-squared is a measure of fit).

    – Greg

  38. July 19, 2010

    (/me looks up his definitions carefully)

    Sorry for disagreeing so strongly on that, it looks like there’s some debate over the definition of “correlation” – in some areas it is defined purely as having a non-zero covariance – in which case it is, as you say, purely a linear relationship.

    Pearson himself did publish other definitions of correlation though (as many others have) some of which are more useful in modern computer-science than they are in pure statistics. The definition of correlation used in flourier / wavelet analysis is a special case that springs to mind – where linearity isn’t assumed at all.

    Back to analysing sales vs advertising – I completely agree not to rely on a correlation measure.

    I also agree it’s always necessary to do a convergence test with any model – R^2 being the most common. I don’t use Excel, so I can’t vouch for how anything works there though.

  39. July 19, 2010


    Well, we seem to agree on the important points.

    I’m a bit crazy about this issue because I’ve seen so many marketers take a correlation and expect to extrapolate it (every curve can approximate a linear curve if the data range is short enough.

    btw. Correlation would make sense for a wavelet analysis because you are looking for a linear relationship between two non-linear waves. The linearity would apply to the residuals, not the waves themselves. (At least I think so, I’m getting a bit out of my depth here:-)

    Thanks a lot for your comments. They are very much appreciated.

    – Greg

  40. July 25, 2010

    “There is no such thing as non-linear correlation”.

    Of course there is. Even Wikipedia will tell you that (even if Statistics 101 doesn’t.)

  41. July 25, 2010


    From Wikipedia ” The most common of these is the Pearson correlation coefficient, which is mainly sensitive to a linear relationship between two variables.”

    Have a nice day.

    – Greg

  42. July 25, 2010


    Thanks for the great example. btw. I also agree that there are some very good uses for flash (i.e. product demos). The problem isn’t with the technology, but that flash is so good that people want to use it even when they shouldn’t.

    – Greg

  43. Sarah permalink
    July 25, 2010

    I’ve always thought the worst websites as far as marketing to consumers are websites from the auto industries. Ugh – it makes me cringe when I want to look vehicles. Don’t give me the video, don’t give me the flash; just let this ol’ soccer mom do a search for what she needs in a vehicle. (I’m not really a soccer mom, yet).

    These websites are not designed for the consumer in mind, in my opinion.

  44. July 25, 2010

    And your opinion counts, Sarah:-)

    – Greg

  45. July 25, 2010

    K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid…

    Advice on this goes along way, but your intention to clarify that web menus are for navigation are spot on, we tend to give more emphasis on “looking good” rather then “doing good” and sometimes those that try to look good are taking away from the real value of their service.

    But, the above website is a great example of wasting time and perhaps causing the viewer to lose interest because it’s too fancy and complicated…. I spent time on this website and the information is rather good, but as i said, it took time and effort…

    One thing that as consumers and prospects we don’t have “time and effort” to decipher the value in one’s medium….

    There’s so much chaos in this website that it triggers “fear of not understanding” because of it’s complicated branding….

    Thus i agree with you keep it simple and that can go a long way.

    Though I”ve used “flashy flash” to gain hype, it’s effectiveness today is not as much, but i do still believe that flash can be used creatively and contructively if it’s focus is on getting the job done, and for me anything on the web in relation to web content is leading someone towards the value that they need to get their jobs done…

    As far as the rest, these are fairly new terms for many and they are sidetracked but step one in this post…


  46. July 26, 2010

    As usual, a great post – thanks for sharing. Two thoughts I’d like to share after reading it:
    1) The Hermes site is, for someone like me who did not know of the store before your article and is not into clothes that much (I wear them, you understand, but they are not a passion of mine), the site was confusing enough that I would have left it immediately without gaining a clue as to what they sell or do.
    2) Flash has another drawback which no one mentioned above in the comments and is something which marketers should know about! And that is that Flash movies are not made in a way which allows their contents to be “found” by a search engine’s spiders and thus flash movies are excluded from the search engines’ indexes. There is a way to make Flash movie contents “visible” to a search engine, but it’s a very difficult technical task and is thus expensive and is almost never done by people who create or use Flash.
    So from an SEO perspective, Flash is a bad idea, especially when used on Home Page – a key area of your site which you want to ensure is indexed specifically for your keyword strategy. Much better to use a slider/photo gallery, or a carousel type of display as you can give each image an “alt-tag” which is aimed specifically at your keywords and which the search engines pay particular attention to.

  47. Ned Kumar permalink
    July 26, 2010

    Hi Greg,
    Great post. I just bumped into your post through one of the tweet links and I agree with you on most – well, okay all :-). The one statement which I think can be misunderstood by some is “There is No Correlation Between Advertising and Sales”. I know you do talk about ‘linear correlation’ but to me linear or not, there is a correlation – how much depends on the various factors including the vertical, the market, the competition etc.

    Totally agree with you on usability. Don’t want to name sites here but you are right that many don’t realize that while splash, flash, flex etc. are great toys for visual therapy, they are absolutely suicidal when it comes to conversions, search etc. Partly I think this has to do with education – many in the industry don’t realize the negative impacts of using flash from a SEO, mobile etc. perspective.

    Anyway, enjoyed the read. Good work

  48. July 26, 2010

    Thank you, Greg. I basically agree.

    Helen 🙂

  49. July 26, 2010

    Glad to hear it Helen:-)

    – Greg

  50. July 26, 2010


    Thanks. I’m glad you liked it.

    I’ve gotten a lot of comments about this and I guess I didn’t express what I meant very well. I guess it comes down to how you define “correlation,” which you can do in two ways, colloquially or mathematically.

    Colloquial definition: A general relation ship between two different things

    Mathematical definition: A specific relationship between two different things where a change in one variable translates into a change in the other expressed as a percentage.

    If you are talking about the first definition, then I agree completely. However, the problem is that people confuse the two and actually apply the mathematical definition in excel without knowing that this is calculating a linear relationship. While the relation ship might basically hold for a very small range (a small portion of a curve is almost indistinguishable from a line), it has no predictive value.

    There is, of course, a third way, which is to “fit” a model. Then you can derive a relationship that is not linear and get an r-squared value that looks a lot like correlation (correlation is r, but again – only for linear models). So it’s easy to get confused.

    Anyway, you are absolutely right, whatever you call it, there is definitely a measurable relationship between advertising and sales, and I regret that a lot of people took my statement to mean that I was arguing against one.

    Thanks again for your comment.

    – Greg

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