What’s Your Blog-Gender?

gaThere’s a gimmicky Website called Genderanalyzer that claims to be able to predict the gender of a blogger by scanning their site.  They’re 64% certain that I’m male.  They also nailed Clayton (79%), and Fred (75%).  But they’re 74% sure that Bill is a woman, and also 75% confident Jessica Hagy (one of the most popular female bloggers in the world) is a man.

So my point is not that the thing is accurate, but that it’s even conceived.  This is one of the types of services the Web will be able to do well in 5 years or so – get human-quality impressions of a person or company by perusing their online presence.

The gender of a blogger is, of course, a trivial thing for this kind of automatic analysis to determine.  But what about the kid-friendliness of a restaurant, or the hip-hop friendliness of a night club?  Or the honesty of an online merchant, or the quality of a hotel?  Or, to get back to personalities, how about the compatibility of a potential friend, spouse, physician, lawyer, or golf buddy?



Whales Will Be Watched this Weekend

This weekend, we are going to beautiful St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, NB, to go whale watching.  We will be sailing out into the Passamaquoddy Bay (part of the Bay of Fundy) on the Jolly Breeze, a 72′ gaff and square rigged cutter.  We will be staying at the only accomodation in town that has an indoor swimming pool (for my daughter’s pleasure), the St. Andrews Motor Inn.

I had a wide range of choices to select from, all the results of a series of quick Googles.  I probably shortlisted 4 or 5 whale watching outfits and 6 or 7 B&Bs and other accommodation options out of the dozens of (relevant) hits I got.

But the thing is, there are dozens more of both kinds of operation that were completely invisible to me because they didn’t show up in the first two pages of the Google searches.  It’s as if they don’t exist. 

If you bothered to click on the links to either of the businesses, you’ll note that their sites are no great shakes.  But they were sufficient to get on my radar, and that’s why they’ll be getting our business.

ASIDE #1:  The large structure up on the hill on the Motor Inn’s main page is the Algonquin Hotel, where I worked as a lifeguard in the mid 80s.  We’re not staying there because their “pool” is a beach on a private cove, and probably a tad nippy right now.  They also have a regular outdoor pool, but not heated.

ASIDE #2:  Because of this trip, there will be no post here tomorrow.  And none on Monday, either, because it’s Canadian Thanksgiving.  Happy Turkey!

Webinar No-Shows

I’ve noticed a trend in Webinar attendance lately:  just as many people seem to be registering for live online events, but far fewer are actually showing up at the appointed time.

This highly unscientific observation is based on nothing more than my personal experience, but in my career I have had pretty good exposure to many different types of Webinars over the last 10 years or so.  I have seen events where the email invitation was sent to 16,000 people and ones where the invitees were in the dozens.  I have seen clickthroughs in the 50% + range and less than one percent.  I have seen conversions (the number of people who click though that actually fill out the registration) from 100% to less than 25%.  I have seen multi-touch methods like following up the email with voice mail or actual telemarketer event boosting dramatically increase the number of registrations.

Of course there are dozens of variables that drive these wild variations in success: the level of permission you have with your intended audience; the relevance of your topic to them; the quality of your presenters; how well organized you are; the history you have (or don’t have) of delivering informative content; timing; the frequency of reminder emails you send; etc.  But one thing had seemed to be fairly constant in my experience:  about 50% of people who register for a live online event actually show up at the appointed time.

But not any more.  I have seen attendee rates slowly drift down to where 25% – 30% is considered a good showing, and 10% is not unheard of.  I can think of several possibilies for this decline:

1. Webinars are no longer a novelty.

2. The presentation skills of most people are abysmal, and the general population is starting to figure that out.

3. In this On-Demand, Information-Pull world, even people who want to view the content know that it will be available as a recording, and they can watch it later.

4. People are busier and schedules are more fluid, and when daily calendars are getting shuffled, items that don’t involve interacting one-on-one are the first to be sacrificed.

The good news is, that despite people’s failure to show up at the Webinar, post-event follow-up is just as effective as before.  I have even seen a couple of recent campaigns where registration numbers were decent, event attendance was poor, but the leads coming from following up with the no-show registrants have been stellar.  I guess the message is, that volunteering to be given more information about something is the key indicator of interest (or granting of permission) — whether you actually show up to collect that information is secondary.