Great experimental marketing sites

June 3, 2015

I’ve written before about strategies for avoiding A/B tests. The most important one is just to do your homework, and take advantage of the huge number of documented usability and conversion rate optimization studies that are already out there. I’ll update this post with more sites that I find matching this description. Nielsen Norman Group. A lot of their content is paid, but much of it is free, too. Their blog, which is under the “Articles” section of the site, is great weekly reading, and of course, extremely easy to understand.

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Twitter's got it right?

June 1, 2015

I think marketing should be far more data-driven than it currently is. But I’m still really surprised that Twitter appointed its CFO, Anthony Noto, to run marketing. (And, by the way, that “CMO” hasn’t been officially added to his title). I think that a lot of the business world, especially in tech, suffers from the idea that just anyone can do marketing, that it isn’t a separate discipline and craft of its own, requiring expertise to do well.

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Marquess, a bash script that makes it easy to use PrinceXML for templated collateral generation

May 21, 2015

Typically, marketing assets like whitepapers, datasheets, and case studies are maintained by the graphic design team.

This can be frustrating for everyone who’s not on that team, because when you want to make a fix or update, even if it’s just fixing a typo, you have to get graphic design involved. And it can be frustrating for graphic design, too, because who wants to spend all day fixing typos?

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Content doesn't have to expire, but if it does, try to match the user's intent

May 15, 2015

It’s easy to think that content is one-time thing. You write a blog post, and it’s done. Or you create a whitepaper or give a webinar, and you’re done. But it’s much more accurate to think of your content as something you’re saying in an ongoing conversation. That’s great, because it means that you can: Promote old content, including linking to it from your new content. Consider using old content as a template for your new content.

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Responsive diagrams and photos

April 6, 2015

Responsive design is critical for a high-quality, well-designed site. Many layouts are fairly straightforward; there are decisions to be made, to be sure, but you can accomplish a lot by stacking things up in one long column, especially on informational sites. But if you have complex images, such as diagrams, or even if you have photos, it’s a lot less clear what to do. Simply shrinking what you have down to a mobile device width might make it unintelligible.

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Why does enterprise software look so bad?

April 2, 2015

I’ve become a big user of enterprise software in the past couple years. The design of most enterprise software ranges from unattractive to hideous. Color schemes don’t make a lot of sense. There’s no whitespace. Interfaces are busy and unintuitive. There isn’t any sense of fun, either. I’ve seen a few explanations for this. All of them seem like they’ll go away pretty soon. “Enterprise vendors have no taste” A recent post on Hacker News speculated that enterprise software looks bad because enterprise software vendors have no taste.

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Accepting error to make less error

April 1, 2015

If you accept that you will make some errors, you’ll probably make fewer errors overall. In this post, I wrote down some ideas about why people don’t trust algorithms (by which I mean sets of decision-making rules). I speculated that people don’t trust algorithms in part because of a desire to maintain control over their lives; we want our decision-making to matter. But the research pointed to the idea that people don’t trust algorithms because they hope for perfection in their decision-making.

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Why don't people trust algorithms?

March 28, 2015

Here’s an interesting article: “Why People Don’t Trust Algorithms To Be Right”. (The actual title is “Why People Don’t Trust Machines To Be Right”, but algorithms don’t always run on machines, and the article also conflates algorithms with data). Anyway, it’s an interesting problem. A good algorithm can be an extremely efficient way of making decisions. Gerd Gigerenzer, a German psychologist, talks more about this. For example, in his book Risk Savvy, he spends several pages talking about the 1/n stock market portfolio, which basically just means that you allocate your money equally to each of n places.

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Styles of translating Ancient Greek

March 23, 2015

One thing that I reliably get huffy about is modern translations of Greek and Latin classics. (Yes, really.) I can’t remember exactly why, but I was recently reminded of the Fagles translation of the Odyssey, which I’ve never really liked, and I wanted to compare it to my favorite, Richmond Lattimore’s. Reading Lattimore is about as close as you can get to reading Ancient Greek, without actually reading Ancient Greek. It helps that that each of Lattimore’s lines is exactly 14 syllables, approximating the meter that the Greek poem is written in.

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