A Myriad of Decisions for Internet Startups

I continually get questions from students and startups such as: Which
email solution provider should I use? What is the best affiliate
program to launch? What about payment processing? What is the best
low-cost or free web analytics software?

These are tough questions for anyone to answer because most of us, even
internet veterans, have tried only a handful of solutions in each
category (email, affiliate, analytics, payment processing, etc.) and
often have deep experience with only one.

And today there are literally hundreds of available solutions, from

Shop.org Takeaways

Last week Shop.org held their annual
conference in Las Vegas. This week it\’s the Electronic Retailing
Association, same place. If you haven\’t been to an internet conference
recently, it\’s amazing how big things are getting and how fast things
are moving.

I visited every exhibitor at the Shop.org event last and met at least a
dozen companies that I hadn\’t heard of before that are doing
interesting things in online marketing, comparison shopping, search,
and web analytics.

Here are a few impressions:

How to Get Funding: Traction and Trajectory

Today I decided that in order to be compelling, business plan
presentations really need to have two things: traction and trajectory.

It\’s pretty hard to convince anyone, especially an investor who is
naturally protective of his/her own money, that your idea will actually
work.

Entrepreneurs often count their chickens before they hatch. In fact, we
count our chickens before we have ever sourced the eggs. We just
believe. We just have faith that somehow it will all work out. So we
invest time and energy in our idea.

Investors aren\’t \”full of faith\” like that. Investors have wealth and

Never Miss a Chance to Test Online Ad Copy

I really like Google Adwords.

Several hundred thousand companies now bid on keywords using Google AdWords.

A recent interface change makes it easier to select additional keywords. A previous change made it possible to change the maximum bid for each keyword individually.

I like what Google is providing for advertisers.

MarketingSherpa Disappoints?

I\’ve never met a bigger fan of MarketingSherpa
than myself. I\’ve read hundreds of their case studies, attended their
conferences, and purchased many reports. But the latest report on Landing Page Design
(which I\’ve merely glanced through while two of my marketing guys are
reading it cover to cover) may be the first product I\’ve ever been
disappointed by.

The reason is this: I\’m a huge fan of the ClickMap feature of
SiteCatalyst. In fact, years before they added Click Map to their

Free Web Analytics for All Advertisers?

NetIQ is selling WebTrends, one of the older and more popular web analytics applications, to a SF-based private equity fund for $94 million in cash. This surprised me, since NetIQ acquired WebTrends in 2001. Then again, their 5-year stock chart doesn\’t look so good.

But far more interesting is Google\’s acquisition of Urchin, one of the well-known low-cost web analytics solutions. The price was reportedly $30 million. I haven\’t used Urchin for a few years. I helped a client switch from Urchin to SiteCatalyst, a far better commerce-oriented web analytics solution. But in September 2004 Urchin launched a hosted solution in version 6, which represents a major step forward.

5 Most Valuable Services Most Entrepreneurs Can\’t Afford

I was very fortunate to be involved from the beginning of Ancestry.com: an internet startup that achieved positive cash flow (by July 1998) before raising outside capital. This required some self-funding, bootstrapping, and using all the online marketing tactics that we could discover. It also helped that we sold annual subscriptions to our online databases. We would collect the money up front, but recognize the revenue over a full twelve months. So we achieved positive cash flow well before we reached profitability.

Omniture Co-Founder Spoke at BYU

John Pestana, co-founder of Omniture, the world\’s leading provider of enterprise-level web analytics, lectured on the importance of web analytics at BYU earlier this month. (View his entire lecture here)

As John said, this is a hot field. Anyone who studies and masters marketing and web analytics can do extremely well as an internet entrepreneur or key player for a larger ecommerce concern.