Monday, 12 May 2008

Site down - this may take a while...

It's bloody hard this digital marketing malarkey. Just found myself smirking when someone mentioned it's really easier to change stuff online. That's always been the "benefit" of online, the dynamism, the ability to change and react to your consumer - but it's balls. In fact, websites are actually a whole lot more permanent than any magazine - and harder to change.

If you want to launch a new magazine - buy some paper, print on it - flog it for £4 (give most of that to Tesco) and you're laughing. Next month, you start all over again and while, in theory, it's a permanent item you've sold - that's only to those who actually bought it and kept it. 90% of them have chucked it (sorry, recycled it) by the time you've thought of your next pithy headline

Meanwhile - your website's just there. Every second of every minute of every hour...there's never any let up. OK, so you could change a typo you made when you put the latest story up but want to change the layout? the colour scheme? the name? Site down this could take a while (am aware of the freudian typo - never worry).

Did I mention it's fragile too? - it'll fall over, go slow, drop out of existence and it can take hours and hours to figure out what the hell has gone wrong. People stop buying your magaizne - it's either (1) a rubbish product, (2) too expensive, (3) out of touch with the consumer (see "rubbish"), (4) not being marketed right so no-one's heard of it or (5) not getting to the shops (Tesco's of course). 5 reasons to look into - possibly there are others but in the 6 years of publishing experience I haven't heard one that was true. (Apart from when the warehouse burnt down that was selling them but that' s really number 5 anyway).

Websites?? WEBSITES??? millions, seriously - MILLIONS of reasons. You might get the product right - the price is free by the way unless you really are stuck in 1994 - have the best PPC strategy known to mankind - be loved by your consumers, perfectly optimised and then... you fall off a cliff. Thanks to a "glitch", or a "bug", or issuse with where your site is hosted...or the fact that Google altered one tiny weeny bit of an algorithm becuase they were bored...and the whole thing falls down.

The quote "once you have elimated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth"... Thanks. Unfortunately, elimating the aforementioned impossible, is - in itself - impossible. Just what you need at 8.30am Monday morning - a bloody digital paradox! Sometimes after 14 hours of pain staking analysis and theory - it may just fix itself and you're left with an empty feeling of being utterly superflouous to events. Sometimes some other sod gets there before you and you wonder at their mastery of all this technology (they're just lucky and we all know it).

There isn't an answer and in truth, the slighly masochistic side of me enjoys digging around in the endless KPIs and statistics that we are drowing in but when you just can't find the answer. Because soemtimes, rarely in my case, you get it. You figure it out - before the other geeks and developers and it's like reading a clever novel and guessing whodunnit...or even better, guessing correctly the price of the antique toby jug on a Sunday afternoon while watching Antiques Roadshow.

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