On‑line Networking And Thoughts From Eric Mattson

July 25, 2006

After my podcast with Eric Mattson, I spent some time talking to him about what he is up to. I am actually one of his listeners, and although I pick and choose among the podcasts, I have noticed that there is a strong analytics bias to them. (If you can call it that.)

Two of the topics that we talked about were really of interest to me:

1) The Long Tail. Eric is currently reading Chris Anderson’s book by the same name, and so I complained about the difficulty of managing the long tail. Everyone oohs and ahhs over how wonderful those long tail words are (my example is always, “Honda 5-speed 4-door red EX” — when you type in a tail word like that, you are ready to buy.) But I find that when I work with long tail words, the customer spends more on me than on the keywords. Eric’s take on that one is, it has to happen by itself. As soon as you try to manage the tail, it breaks. “Just crank out great content,” he advises, and visitors will find you in the natural search. (This echoes the advice I gave to Justin Cutroni about blog marketing — when your blog is big enough/has enough content, visitors start on the interior pages because they find you in the organic search.)

2) Relationships. Eric maintains that relationships are the ultimate competitive weapon online. Although he started off referring to mass relationships (like the relationship that Google AdSense advertisers have with Google), I think that we don’t focus enough on real one-to-one electronic relationships. The kind where you’ve never met someone, you start writing them professionally, they write you back, and they become your friend. They send you business, or recommend your blog, or recommend that you speak at a conference. Most important of all, they just plain old help you with what you don’t know while you help them with what they don’t know, and everybody wins.

For example,(as I pointed out in a recent post), I was reading David Meerman Scott’s excellent e-book (The New Rules of PR) on the plane to Portland. I finished the paper and scrawled on the front of it, “Write him.” And then I looked at those words and realized that I would never have done that two years ago. I would have assumed that David is a busy professional who has no time for fan mail (much less email that says, “you got 96% of this right, but let’s talk about the other 4%.”)

Ultimately, I didn’t write him, I just blogged about my thoughts — and then heard from him in the comments.

This phenomenon — professional electronic relationships — is a little bit like web analytics. We understand what takes place but we don’t know why. That doesn’t stop us from speculating…

*Do we create more electronic relationships because we don’t have time to go to conferences?
*Is it because we are on our computers all day (or at least, those of us in Internet Marketing are?)
*Is it because with broadband, our email is on all day long?
*Is it because more people work in smaller offices or at home, so electronic relationships are the Internet equivalent of talking at the water cooler?

One shouldn’t think that this isn’t about conversion. I’ve been having an electronic conversation for some time now with someone who is about to become my customer. And we’ve just been talking…

BTW, Eric is moving back to Seattle this fall and loves the analytics of CGM, so I hope those companies snap him up. (I told him he should work for FeedBurner, but they are in Chicago.)

Robbin Steif