The Debate Over Mandatory Registration

February 12th, 2008 | Categories: design, launch, marketing, strategy, trends

Some companies force potential users to sign up for an account before using the service, i.e. mandatory registration. Others immerse the user in the experience immediately. Obviously there are pros and cons to both approaches, but I would prefer the latter.

Obligating a new user (better yet, a first-time visitor) to register for a service they knowContracts little or nothing about is a big leap of faith. Many are unwilling to provide personal information simply to gain access to a service they aren’t certain they will ever use again. Such a structure acts like a barrier to entry.

In addition, a negative byproduct of the aforementioned approach is inactive accounts. Many who simply register to try the service will ultimately end up dropping their account after their first (and only) experience, skewing user data and statistics.

From an opposing point-of-view, it is clear why any company would want as much information from a user as possible. For this reason, I don’t think it is necessary to expand on this point.

Perhaps the perfect solution is a “tiered” registration system. For example, anyone can browse Digg and discover news stories without signing up for an account. But in order to submit a story, an account is needed. Such a system removes the initial registration disparity. Once the service is confirmed as being valuable by the new user, additional functionality may be sought. At this point, it is fair to impose a sign-up process. is also a very good example of this situation.

Removing as many initial obstacles as possible expedites the learning process and maximizes the experience. This translates to a more desirable first impression, a more credible service, and (hopefully) an increased user base.

What do you think? Should registration be required before a user can try a given service?

Entrecard: More Viral Than BlogRush?

February 8th, 2008 | Categories: blogs, launch, marketing, networks, social media, strategy, widgets

In late September 2007, I wrote about the explosive “success” of BlogRush. At one point,Entrecard logo BlogRush nearly hit 500 on the Alexa rankings - an amazing feat in such a short period of time. This rise to glory was quickly followed by a fade into oblivion. Nevertheless, a new kid is in town and his name is Entrecard. He claims to be the next big thing, but can he live up to the hype? Even more importantly, can he sustain long-term success where so many others have failed?

Since the launch of Entrecard in mid November, the site/service has exploded onto the scene. Traffic has soared. The site has nearly broken into the Alexa top 1,000 - a phenomenal feat in just 3 months. Sound familiar?

The success of these two start-ups have followed a similar path, although the long-term prospects of Entrecard have yet to play out. Don’t get me wrong, BlogRush has only been around two months longer than Entrecard, but with such viral and volatile services, two months seems like an eternity.

In short, Entrecard is an easy way to network with other bloggers and market your blog. Although it seems like a novel idea, I’m not convinced the model is sustainable. It “feels” like an affiliate/MLM-type process, which doesn’t interest or excite me. Those who use it, swear by it - somewhat akin to MLM associates. These fly-by-night type deals tend to exploit an inefficiency in the market that quickly gets filled or copied by others. For this reason, I don’t see success over the long-term as more players move into the space, saturating the market.

I can bash all I want, but my gut simply tells me this won’t work out. I give it another 3 months tops. In any case, check it out and let me know your thoughts. If you happen to be using the service, post your comments and opinions.

A Plug for the Plugg Conference

February 7th, 2008 | Categories: launch, marketing, off topic, social media

Plugg logoOn March 19th, entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts will converge on Brussels, Belgium for the Plugg Conference. This one-day event has been designed to provide much needed exposure for European start-ups in the web 2.0 and mobile spaces. An attractive list of speakers will voice their thoughts throughout the day. These impressive speakers include CEOs, venture capitalists, strategists, bloggers, analysts, and more. In addition, a “Start-ups Rally“ will take place. Twenty start-ups will showcase their business ideas and voting will ensue. Only one will emerge with the coveted “Plugg Start-Up of the Year Award”.

MappingTheWeb readers can purchase tickets at 25% off using the discount code: MAPPINGTHEWEB. Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend this conference due to logistical circumstances, but I encourage all European readers (and those willing to travel) to check out this exciting event.

Is The Widget Gold Rush Over?

February 7th, 2008 | Categories: acquisitions, blogs, launch, marketing, networks, social media, strategy, trends, widgets

In my mind, widgets have never been a business model. They are a marketing tool that provide exposure and funnel traffic back to a parent property. This is where a business model and subsequent monetization emerge. I think that companies (and VCs) are starting to realize this, and widget fever is nearing an end.

For clarification purposes, I believe widgets will be around forever. However, pure-play widget start-ups won’t be. The funding of these initiatives will die off as potential investors realize the risks.

Up until recently, it seemed like everyone and their dog was launching a widget-based start-up or a web 2.0 company that served up widgets. The hope was that these widgets would spur viral distribution, creating widespread exposure. In many cases, this did occur. But now what? Where is the monetization? How can revenue be generated via these eyeballs? Most held on to the hope that eyeballs would attract potential acquisitors. In other words, their revenue model was an exit strategy in disguise - the infamous “web 2.0 revenue model”.

VCs just don’t seems to be funding these start-ups like they used to - and for good measure. Without revenues, these companies are unable to sustain themselves. At this point, it becomes a time game. Will the cash run out before an acquisitor comes along? I would bet on it.

Ask Me A Question

February 6th, 2008 | Categories: off topic, social media

Question MarkFor this post, I’m asking readers to pose me a question in the comments. It can pertain to web trends, new technologies, predictions, or even a specific company. It will be an opportunity to get my opinion on a certain topic or matter. This will create an interactive form of content.

The benefit for the reader posing the question is this: if I find the question interesting and post about it, I will provide exposure and a back-link to your blog or website. I likely won’t answer all questions, so be sure that yours is interesting and thought-provoking. I eagerly await what people would like me to post about.

So… I encourage you all to develop meaningful questions and add them to the comments :)