SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Archive for March, 2012

OMG: Skype Click to Call Breaks Excel so it can Only Paste Text?!??

Posted by Bob Warfield on March 24, 2012

This is an amazing bug that should be getting a lot more press.  I discovered it when I found that several Excel worksheets I regularly update were suddenly producing the wrong answers.  I went and looked and saw that instead of copying formulas when I cut and pasted, Excel was acting as if it was copying and pasting the text.  Essentially the formulas were lost.  When you think about all the things spreadsheets are used for, and how many of them are suddenly producing the wrong answers as a result of this problem, it’s scary.

Worse, I have no recollection of even being asked whether I wanted to install Skype Click to Call, it just happened.  It’s a browser add-in that is visible in IE and completely invisible in Chrome.  At least I couldn’t find it listed as an add-on yet I had to close all my Chrome windows to be able to uninstall it.

Skype has always been pretty sleazy and spammy–I hate a program where you can’t shut it down once it starts up unless you use the Task Manager or reboot–but this is ridiculous.

Help get the word out to uninstall Skype Click to Call ASAP if you use Excel at all.  You will not be happy to discover your spreadsheets are wrong!

Posted in saas | 6 Comments »

Why I’m Dropping InstantSlideup Like a Hot Potato

Posted by Bob Warfield on March 15, 2012

This is one of those minor personal rants that come up from time to time.  What good is having a blog if you have to be all serious and to the point all the time?

I recently had tried a little piece of software called “InstantSlideup” (not gonna link to them as I don’t want to help their link authority).  It’s purpose is to offer a slide up message (can be advertising or anything you like) at the bottom of a web page.  It’s unobtrusive in the sense it doesn’t block much of anything, yet it catches the eye a little bit.  That’s my preferred method for these sorts of things.  Popups that totally stop you in your tracks really bother me, although I do understand their efficacy.

In any event, I had it up and running on my CNC Machinist’s blog and all was well.  That site is one I use both for my hobby/passion around machine tools, as well as to run a small microISV business, and just generally to test out various online marketing concepts.  InstantSlideup is in the category of “nice to have”, but not “must have”.  A must have for me would be SEOMoz (see, I gave them a link).  My experience with InstantSlideup is that while it helped a lot more people to “discover” my product home page on the site, most of the new audience weren’t interested enough to convert.  Net net I was ahead on conversions, but by a lot less than the traffic would imply–gotta analyze yer analytics carefully!

Anyway, I liked it okay, a bit expensive for what I was getting, but I decided to hang in there with it.  Until now.

I’ve been pretty successful with this site, digital marketing works and works well given the right strategies.  I’ve put together a very analytics-driven approach (call it Big Data for Small Business, if you like) and have been tuning it up for about 3 years now.  I get circa 1 million uniques a year roughly doubling every year, which is very good compared to my peers in this rather odd niche space.  Unfortunately, this also led to the undoing of InstantSlideup.  The thing is, their SaaS version (and I always prefer the lower hassle of using SaaS to installing it myself), was a one size fits all that only allows 100,000 impressions per month.  Here is the kicker:

When the 100,000 impressions runs out, they don’t just stop running your slideup ad, they start running THEIR slideup ad on YOUR site!

I couldn’t believe it when I saw this was happening.  I guess I should not have been surprised.  We live in a world where most businesses take the liberty and ask forgiveness later.  Even a casual look at all the privacy controversies we’ve seen swirling so far this year should make that clear.  Yet somehow, this just seemed beyond the pale.

There is that certain kind of marketing that’s all spam all the time.  Shoot the prospect into a landing page that has no navigation so they can’t escape.  Don’t give them too much information because Heaven forbid, they might stop to think instead of filling out that contact information.  Get on the phone and machine them into the purchase any way possible.  The darned thing is that it works.  It even works pretty well.

Seth Godin is one of my marketing heroes, and he thinks there is a better way.  Aside from the digital marketing, Seth’s approach of building a Tribe, is more what I’m after.  I think it works as well or better than the all spam all the time crowd, although it is more work.  Yet even Seth acknowledges that the all spam all the time approach often beats us down.  Well I’m feeling feisty this morning, and InstantSlideup took one too many all spam all the time liberties.  So I gave them the boot off the site and off my credit card and I’m letting folks know exactly why that happened here.

Eventually, I will stop and write the little bit of code needed to do a slideup and the site will have slideups again.  Maybe I’ll just open source that little bit of code so others can do likewise.  OTOH, this feisty feeling can only last so long and I have a lot of other things to do first.

For the record, here are some things I would have considered doing instead were I running InstantSlideup:

–  Send a message well in advance, not at midnight when the impressions ran out, reminding the user that based on history they’re within a few days of running out and tell them how to deal with it in just a few clicks.  Perhaps they’d like to just temporarily no show the slideup.

–  Tell the user they’ve exceeded the impressions but that you’re going to comp them another 10,000 impressions on a one-time basis.  Present them with the immediate opportunity to upgrade to 200K impressions for a slight additional charge.  After all, a site exceeding impressions ought to be one of your star customers.  Why not treat them as such and make them feel special?  I’d have not only paid at least 1/2 of another license for the impressions but I would have written here about this kind of treatment instead of doing the blog post I am.

–  Send the message, but just make the slideup go dark until the impressions are reset for the next month.

See how much nicer not being all spam all the time can be?  Isn’t that how you’d rather be treated by a vendor?  Shouldn’t a vendor of marketing tools, of all possible businesses, be more sensitive in these areas?


Posted in bootstrapping, business, Marketing | Leave a Comment »

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