Scott “UnMarketing” Stratten: “First Name and Email are Enough” and Other Thoughts on Online Interaction

Last night at a gathering of Toronto digital marketing and social media types held by TheBizMedia – I’m not sure I qualified for an invite, but hey, free beer!Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing, gave a very entertaining, funny and insightful presentation in which he talked about the lessons he learned as an online marketer.

I shot a five-minute video snippet of his presentation, where he talked about:

  • First name and email address are often enough. When you need users to sign up for things like contests or surveys, do you really need to take up their valuable time by collecting information that you probably don’t need? (I know that at Microsoft, we ask for great gobs of information when you sign up for even the simplest of things. I do try to get them to tone it down.)
  • How to get people to take your surveys. Telling them that “your answers will help us” isn’t going to get them to take your surveys. Scott found that what works for him is offering a chance at a prize – even a $50 Amazon certificate – boosts the number of people who take survey by orders of magnitude.
  • Auto-DM replies on Twitter. Don’t. Just don’t.

You’ll probably want to turn up the volume on the video. Scott was speaking without a microphone, and as good a videocamera as the Flip Mino HD is, I would’ve had to get obnoxiously close to the stage to get better sound.

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Games, News, Maps, Social and Music are the Most Downloaded Mobile App Types: Nielsen

What Types of Apps are People Downloading?

The surveying company Nielsen recently posted some mobile app figures from its report, the App Playbook, whose data is based on a survey of 4,200 people who downloaded a mobile phone application in the past 30 days. Here’s their chart showing the downloaded apps by category:

Graph: Categories of Applications Used in the Past 30 Days

I reworked the chart to list the categories from least to most downloaded (I also gave it a more accurate title). You can click the revised chart below to see it at full size:

Graph: Phone Apps Downloaded in the Past 30 Days

As you can see, the top 5 mobile app categories are (from most to least downloaded):

  1. Games
  2. News/Weather
  3. Maps/Navigation/Search
  4. Social Networking
  5. Music

These top categories, once boiled down to their essence, would seem to indicate that mobile app users want to:

  • Be entertained
  • Find out what’s happening
  • Know where things are

Perhaps it’s time to come up with an app that combines all three of these. I’m leaving that as an exercise for the reader.

Smartphone Penetration

Graph: 1 in 5 wireless subscribers

In the fourth quarter of 2009, 21% of American wireless subscribers – a sliver over 1 in 5 – had a smartphone. That means that there are still 4 our of 5 U.S. wireless subscribers who have yet to make a smartphone purchase.

This figure is up from 19% in the previous quarter and a significant jump up from 14% at the end of 2008. I don’t know whether the Canadian figures are similar; while we’re similar to the U.S. culturally, they get much better deals from their mobile companies, which may affect usage patterns.

Who’s Downloaded Apps, and How Many?

Graph: 1 in 6 downloads

According to Nielsen’s survey, 14% of American wireless subscribers – a shade under 1 in 6 – downloaded a mobile app in the last 30 days.

Smartphone users had an average of 22 installed apps, while feature phone users had 10. Here’s the count of installed apps for smartphones broken down by OS:

Graph: Number of Installed Apps (iPhone 37, Android 22, Palm 24, Windows Mobile 13, BlackBerry 10)

There are more figures in the NielsenWire article covering mobile app use – be sure to read it!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.


Like I Said, Netbooks Suck

Netbooks are just like Burger King apple pies

My article from a couple of weeks ago, Fast Food Apple Pies and Why Netbooks Suck, got a lot of reactions from both the “You’re right!” and “You’re dead wrong!” camps (the article on Global Nerdy got a fair number of comments, but the same article on the Accordion Guy blog got a hundred comments).

Here’s some evidence to back my theory that netbooks are like Burger King apple pies – that is, they look like laptops, but don’t offer the same capabilities, leading to disappointment: a report from NPD Group, a market research company titled NPD Finds Consumer Confusion about Netbooks Continues.

Some highlights from the report:

  • 60% of the people interviewed by NPD who purchased a netbook instead of a notebook thought their netbooks would have the same functionality as notebooks.
  • 58% who bought a netbook instead of a notebook said they were “very satisfied” with their purchase, compared to 70% who planned on buying a notebook from the get-go.
  • In the 18- to 24- year old group, the group that many commenters said would embrace netbooks, 65% said they bought their netbooks expecting better performance; only 27% said that netbook performance exceeded their expectations.
  • Portability is a big selling point for netbooks and a point that many commenters brought up, but 60% of the people surveyed said that they never even took their netbooks out of the house.

It’s just as I said: the form factor of netbooks – they look like laptops, but smaller – sets up people for disappointment in the same way that Burger King’s apple pies did. They looked like homemade apple pies, but didn’t taste like them.

The Real Point of Fast Food Apple Pies and Why Netbooks Suck

When I first wrote Fast Food Apple Pies and Why Netbooks Suck, my intent was to post it in the official Microsoft Canada Developer blog, Canadian Developer Connection. I didn’t want the legal department on my back, which is why I referred to Burger King and McDonald’s as “Monarch Burger” and “Jester Burger”, respectively.

I feel that there’s a little too much excitement about netbooks at Microsoft. I think that part of it stems from the old company mantra, “a computer on every desktop and in every home”. The PC is the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg, and the closer that a device is to the PC, the more Microsoft “gets” it. I feel that Microsoft sees the netbook as an exciting new space, where I see them as smaller, less powerful laptops. I think that eventually, as technology catches up, netbooks will simply be considered “computers” – just on the small end of the PC size spectrum, and that Microsoft should treat them as such.

The article is also an open letter to Microsoft stating my concern that netbooks are a dangerous red herring distracting us from where the real potential in mobile computing is: the smartphone. It’s an area where Microsoft had an early lead and dropped the ball. It’s an area where I feel that Microsoft is showing a lack of vision, from Steve Ballmer’s ill-considered dismissal of the iPhone (“There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.”) to Windows Mobile 6, which feels as though it was half-assedly slapped together by PDA designers frozen in an iceberg in 2000.

I think I’ll close with the graphic that summarized Fast Food Apple Pies and Why Netbooks Suck:


Microsoft Canada Wants to Pick Your Brain!

Microsoft Canada’s Audience Marketing Team wants to pick your brain!

Zombie picture: "I can has brains?"

If you’re a reader of this blog, Global Nerdy, chances are that you write software, manage computer systems or do some kind of work in the realms of software, IT or the internet. If that’s the case, the folks on my team at Microsoft – the Technical Audience Team – would like to hear your opinions.

Cat with cheese slice on its face: "Cheez: You're doin' it wrong"

The reason we want to pick your brain is simple: we want to be able to avoid a “Cheez Cat” kind of situation like the one pictured above. We’d like to be able to correctly identify the kind of opportunities – things like conferences, events, workshops and other things for developers and IT pros – that you’d be interested in. We’d also like to know whether you’d be willing to share your insights, or participate in activities that we’re putting together and with the developer community.

"Toothpaste for Dinner" comic on surveys

And now, it’s time to cut to the chase: yes, I’m asking you to fill out a survey. Yes, I know that there are things you’d rather do – maybe someone’s made a new Keyboard Cat video – but this survey is a chance for you to steer “The Empire”. We try to make sure that we’ve got hard data to back up the decisions we make, and surveys like this one are where we get the hard data from. We’d rather you tell us how to connect with you in a way that best fits your working style, skills, interests and passion than make what we call a S.W.A.G. (Silly Wild-Ass Guess).

Modified "Uncle Sam" poster: "I want fill out the survey"

If you’re based in Canada and you either write software (for the desktop, web or mobile) or manage computer systems, I’m asking you to fill out the survey. The official notes for the survey say that it takes about 15 minutes to fill, but you’ve probably guessed that you can fill it out in less time.

Big red arrow: "Click here to TAKE THE SURVEY"

To take the survey, you can either click the giant red arrow above, or you can click this link. If you’ve already taken the survey, I’d like to thank you for doing so!

If you know a developer or it pro whom you think should take this survey, please forward a link to this article to them!