Archive for October 2008
(repeat for emphasis)
In recent weeks we’ve had an number of conversations around this this topic with customers, partners, technology suppliers and interested individuals. As software distributors begin to move completely away from physical distribution, there is increased interest in the reliability of the internet as a distribution medium.
Over the next few weeks we will try and document the many different reasons for why downloads fail, and what if anything, can be done to help mitigate the risks of an interrupted download. Hopefully we’ll be able to compile a useful that you can use as you address the challenge of improving download completion rates, or need to explain the situation to others in your business. There will be no particular order or rank to this list for now. When we complete the list we’ll look through the available data and try rank them based on rates of occurrence.
Why Downloads Fail #1 – Users Stop the Download
Yes, Its true. Users will sometimes stop a download before it completes.
Sometimes the download takes too long and we stop. Other times we may be in a hurry, and close the laptop and leave the office. We’ve all done it at one time ore another.
The problem for service providers, including OMS SafeHarbor, is that these incomplete downloads are largely indistinguishable from other ways downloads fail. If the user closes their laptop and kills the network connection, on-purpose, we just see the disconnect. We don’t get a signal that says the user intended to disconnect.
Isolating user-behavior from legitimate errors is time-consuming, costly, and imperfect process that we go through to maintain our quality-of-service advantages and reporting relevance.
Sometimes the user decides they want to stop the download of the software update, or new release, for reasons we can only guess. We need to make sure to include this end-user behavior in all the discussions of why downloads fail.
Here is another post from Steve Rubel on RSS Feeds. Given we asked last week about which RSS readers you used I thought it was appropriate.
Forrester Research today published a new report on the state of RSS. In short, while there are bright spots, it does not paint the picture of a technology that’s going mainstream anytime soon.
On a positive note, the resarch entitled What’s Holding RSS Back?, says that nearly half of marketers have moved to add feeds to their web sites. Further, RSS adoption among consumers is at 11% up from just 2% of users three years ago. RSS feeds usage is more dominant among men.
Here’s the kicker, though. That might be all she wrote for RSS’ growth track.
According to the research, of the 89% of those who don’t use feeds only 17% say they’re interested in using them. In fact Forrester spends much of the report helping marketers better explain the benefits of RSS to their customers. ‘Unless marketers make a move to hook them — and try to convert
their apathetic counterparts — RSS will never be more than a niche
technology,’ the analysts (who include Jeremiah Owyang) wrote.
Lord knows, as someone who spends three hours a day in Google Reader, I am a giant evangelist for RSS. But I am also a realist. Feeds are way way too geeky for most and the benefit does not outweigh the learning curve. So I think RSS has peaked.
Still, while feed adoption may have crested the idea of online opt-in communications is just getting going. The Facebook newsfeed, Twitter and Friendfeed are perfect examples of opt-in vehichles that bring content you care about to you. In each case, you’re total in control. You can unsubscribe from individuals or groups and tailor the stream so that what you want finds you.
RSS is only one form of opt-in communications. The potential is bigger when you look more broadly to social networking. This larger promise still holds and as the technologies become more invisible the newsfeed could even one day subsume RSS.
Imagine a world where personal privacy is protected yet companies can still gather marketing intelligence to help develop and sell their products better. Not long ago, we used to hear about TV watching statistics based upon polling from companies like AC Neilsen where they had according to urban legend sample representative families wired with set top boxes monitoring their TV watching habits along with personal surveys they we paid to fill in. Thanks to those folks we got binges like the sitcom mania of the past or more recently ‘reality TV’.
Today, most of us use digital cable and/or satellite boxes to watch TV but with the advent of Tivo and personal digital recorders maybe we aren’t really watching what they think we are. I guess I would not be surprised if the digital cable set top box I use did track and send back times and channels but given my own watching habits I believe the data sent back would likely be more erroneous than beneficial. For one thing, I do not turn off my cable box just my TV. So without being able to sense the TV being on my stats would show 24×7 TV watching. Secondly, I like DVDs commercial free and able to be paused when I want and since I own them I can watch them multiple times (actually improving my ROI). Again, while the cable box is on and the TV is on, I am watching a DVD, so my data is false. In the system of the future the TV would need to be the monitoring tool and be able to determine the source of the program being displayed; but alas, even then people leave the room and even the TV does not how many people are watching it or sleeping while it’s on. Perhaps the couch can be wired.
Fortunately, not all marketing intelligence needs be so convoluted. This is the case for your existing customers and their use of your products right? Well, maybe it’s not exactly as clear cut as you would want but most companies could probably build a customer profile out of existing data, but do they? Why build a customer profile, aside from CRM usage, the marketing people can review the information to look for patterns and the sales people can look for opportunities. In any company with more than two products and two licensing options it becomes important to understand not only who buys from you but what they buy.
Building a customer profile out of static information is a good start but if the people are like me, they don’t register products and they don’t keep their profiles up-to-date. So where can we get accurate data, well generally speaking the sales order is a good start. Okay we sold it, are they using it? The license key management system might be able to help us there. If the licensing model is done in a configuration specific manner we might be to track activation and supposed usage configurations. In the world of independent customer self-service given the right infrastructure you can answer what was downloaded, when and where (and since notification is direct to the user their email address is maintained up-to-date or bounces). So matching up the instance of software from the order (entitlement we call it), to the license information for the instance, to the activity related to downloads (including keys and updates) looking across multiple products, we can sketch a customer profile. Yes there is missing data but it does form a better outline than polling.
The upshot really is: it is generally easier to sell your existing customer more things than it is to sell a new customer. Companies with many products can look for opportunities via bundling to increase their penetration and increase the long term probability of staying in an account. Adapting more data elements and sources can create a more detailed profile. One that could look at features and benefits in a new light (what’s used) and that can be used for both existing and new customers. In the world of marketing intelligence, the approach and the tools can be as equally limiting as the data.
Just read this post over at ArsTechnica. We were just having a conversation on the pros and cons of securing all the transactions in our customer-facing entitlement and download tools, so this is a timely post for us.
Essentially, we agree with the premise of the article: HTTPS (or TLS) is now so inexpensive from a cpu/cyle-time perspective, that encrypted communications should be the default for all transactions, including downloads.
Here is the link to the ArsTechnica post.
Adam Langley wants to encrypt all web traffic, but without having to type those pesky HTTPS URLs. His solution: opportunistic encryption without user intervention.
(Via Ars Technica.)
Is Anybody Listening Out There?
As OMS has just recently started this blog site, I was reminded by our CTO to put a reminder in our last email mail-out for people to add our blog site to their RSS Readers. Now, there is something I never setup myself. I rely on good old email and my own searching of the web to find out what’s new in the world.
Although I have never seen any statistics not even anecdotal, I am guessing I still in the majority of people not using an RSS reader (but that’s probably shrinking). The concept of needing to know immediately whenever any interesting sites are updated, made little sense as I am interrupted enough as things are.
About a year ago, our Digital Product Management tool RESCUE enabled an RSS feed for product alerts, in addition to the traditional email method. It seemed to me at the time, this was useful for this specific case. I guess I always thought of using the RSS Reader like instant messaging (which I also do not use due to the interruption factor).
But here is the thing that I realized (okay a little slow on the uptake) unlike IM I do not need to be listening constantly, I can use it to go gather the data (updates) and then look at them at that time or so I assume. I guess I am interested if and how others are using the RSS Reader function and why. Quite possibly I am missing the true power of a productivity tool rather than wasting time with the hunt and look method or worse waiting for the message to arrive in my inbox several hours/days later on things I am interested in.
So if anyone is out there listening, let us know how you feel about RSS Readers and what you recommend or at least what works for you.