Sprint PCS Web Site Growing Pains

Corporate mergers have many challenges, including standardizing on a domain name. A few missed steps in the transition can hurt a brand, and cost a sight some hard-earned and well-deserved traffic.
After Sprint’s merger with Nextel, Sprint has been working on consolidating all services on the Sprint brand and domain name, www.sprint.com. Good choice. However, what happens when you type sprintpcs.com (a domain used by Sprint for their wireless services for years) into a browser:

End of the world? No, but dead web pages like this are not exactly positive brand builders. It also hurts site traffic: According to Yahoo, 588 web sites have linked to http://sprintpcs.com (make that 589). People clicking through from those links will currently meet the same fate I did.
How can this be avoided:
1. Standardize on a new domain.
2. Point previous domains to the new domain (both www and non-www versions of your previous sites)
3. Point internal pages of your old domains to their locations on the new domain.
4. Ask web site owners to change their links to your site’s new location.
Is this tedious work? Yes. Valuable? Absolutely.
Proper execution of the above strategies creates a stronger post-merger online presence that truly is a sum of its parts.

A Quick Tip for the Holiday Bargain Shopper

Are you a bargain shopper who takes advantage of the deals offered by retailers on the day after Thanksgiving? This year, consider skipping the dark parking lots. Instead, stay at home and get the same deals online.
Many major retailers are offering the same deals on their web sites, so you can avoid pulling a hammy during the stampede at the store. Stay at home in your pajamas and get the same deals with less hassle.
Here’s one quick example: Walmart.com is promoting a 42-Inch Plasma TV for $997 in their Friday Only Specials circular. Their web site states that this item is available in stores and online, and is in fact “not available in all stores.”
Retailers don’t heavily advertise this bargain hunting loophole because they know you’ll spend more money on average if you physically go to their store. But web savvy bargain hunters know that time is money.
Good luck making the most of your holiday shopping dollars.

Coordinating Offline and Online Marketing Efforts 101

I recently returned from a conference where I received cards from dozens of attendees. Upon returning, I sent a thank you email to each person I met using the email addresses on their business cards.
To my surprise, over 8% of the emails I sent bounced!
I verified each bounced email to make sure I sent it to exact address on each business card. I had.
What does this say about those businesspeople?
Are they having bad technical luck?
Do they know their email is down?
Have their domains expired?
Why are they handing out business cards with email addresses that don’t work?
Rule #1 of offline web marketing: don’t market addresses (email or web) that don’t work. You’ll only appear techie until someone tries to contact you.

Google Analytics Goes Free – But There Is a Cost

Google recently finished the integration and rebranding of Urchin as Google Analytics. This included changing the pricing from a monthly subscription to free. However, there have been some costs for loyal Urchin subscribers:
1. The reports have been painfully slow to update. As of this writing, the data is 22 hours behind. While it’s interesting to know what happened yesterday, it’s not nearly as valuable as knowing what’s happening in real time on a web site.
2. New registrations have been halted.: Due to the overwhelming popularity of the new product, Google has stopped accepting new accounts for now. Andrew Goodman touches on this at Traffick.com
Both issues are particularly painful to a business who was perfectly content paying for the service before.

What could Google have done differently?

1. Run legacy clients on a separate platform, so they continue to receive the service they’ve come to expect.
2. Let legacy clients opt-in to the free version once they’ve had a chance to compare the service to the paid version.
3. Charge something rather than nothing for the service. This would be a better throttle than shutting off new registrations.