Strategic Corporate Research

Front page of strategic corporate research

This site is both university course curriculum and troublemaker’s handbook guide to doing research on corporations.

The WordPress site uses a customized version of Colorway. This is usually a pretty good option – rather than making themes from scratch – if you don’t happen to have the deep pockets of the corporation you’re researching and yet you still want to look good.

Email in a bilingual land: evidence that language of choice is more effective

Canada is a bilingual country. The federal government (and many national organizations) operate with stringent standards on services and communications being available in english and french.

This is done to protect people’s right to access government services in either english or french, whichever they prefer.

I get that. What I don’t get is why people doing online communication think that means we have to give everyone both languages in the same message.

For bilingually mandated organizations – governmental or non-governmental – it seems that being seen to be bilingual is actually more important than being understood in english and in french.

That’s fine for government. I suspect the current government would make its program information available in Latin if they thought they could get away with it and it would keep costs down.

But for social change organizations, whose health and success involves public engagement, sending email (for example) in bilingue, Canada’s third official language, is bad news.

See, no one speaks bilingual and they’d prefer not to read it in email either.

I’ve always thought this. But now I have proof. Some proof anyway.

Where I work, we have serious religion about producing everything in english and in french at the same time and with the same quality, etc. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But someone interpreted that to mean that bulk emails must always contain french and english in the same message.

This means both languages in the subject header and either english column/french column or english-follows-french email body. Both these are fraught with problems:

  • The second language in the subject is almost never read.
  • Hansard style messages don’t render well in many email clients – Blackberries? Hello!
  • Over-under messages must always put one language first.

And people who read both, or prefer to read in the language-put-second have more work to do and are less likely to open your message and less likely still to click.

As proof I offer the following.

We sent out a notice of an online survey (complete with juicy incentive) to a 35,000 or so member list. For some addresses we had a language preference. We sent them a message in the language of their choice.

For others, we did not, so we sent them a Hansard style ‘bilingual’ message. The results tell the story:

MessageOpen RateClick Rate
French only46.9%23.8%
English only48.6%23.8%

Language-of-choice emails got a 20 or 21 per cent higher open rate and a 16 per cent higher click rate than bilingual messages with the same content. They’re more likely to be forwarded and less likely to be the subject of a spam complaint.

At the Altar of the Bottom Line

At the Altar of the Bottom Line Screen captureI’m pleased to announce the launch of a new site: The site promotes At the Altar of the Bottom Line, a book and CD workplace ethnography project by Tom Juravich that chronicles work in the George Bush era.

Imagine Studs Terkel’s Working, updated for the era of the internet. Though it’s striking to compare the two to see how our political landscape has shifted since Terkel published his interviews in 1972. Gone are the preoccupations about “meaningful” work or self-fulfilment, etc etc. In Altar, it’s all about fear, stress, and exhaustion. The workers main aspiration is to avoid them, get through another day and make it past the next bill payment.

For me this was a dream project because I was working with really compelling artwork, fabulous and compelling content, and a great client who, while being attentive to detail, was willing to let me be the designer. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a sound track as well.

Logo equals link to home: your mileage may vary

logo link home page

logo link home pageDo people actually know that on most sites, the logo is a link to the site’s home page?

I know Jacob Nielsen says so. But recently on a site I run I’ve been trying to highlight certain days of the year by changing the site’s logo to an appropriately themed version. You know, like Google does.

I thought it was a great idea.

But every time I put up a carefully crafted, painstakingly placed ‘special day logo’ I get a few complaints from influential people about how inaccessible or invisibe the text about the day is.

They argue that no one sees our explanatory text because they don’t know to click on or mouseover the logo. As evidence they offer up the fact that they personally don’t.

“But it’s a web design practice that’s been widely followed for almost ten years now,” I reply, exasperated. “Surely you’ve noticed it.”

I am met with silence.

So I’m doing an informal survey of my online friends to see if this they are aware of and do they use the hyperlinked logos.

So far it looks like the more likely you are to read Jacob Nielsen columns, the more likely you are to know that click-the-logo means ‘home page’.

The more likely you are to read Jacob Nielsen, the more likely you are to know

People do click the logo to go home. Of the thirty or so (on average) ways to leave a page on the site in question, click-the-logo is the most often used way. But it counts for only about ten per cent of the “exits” on any given page.

So if you have a little bit to say, which is better? the article on the front page, or the explanatory text accompanying the changed logo?

It’s still the explanatory text with the logo if for no other reason than your odds of it being seen are much higher. The front page on this site is the most frequently viewed page, but it’s still only about 20 per cent of the total page views in a given month. Whereas the logo is on every page.

The page views also tell a story, though a confusing one. The latest special logo didn’t fare as well as our trial balloon special logo. Only about a third as many page views. But still significantly more page views than last year’s front page article.

It’s hard to isolate all the reasons for that. Maybe this special logo’s purpose wasn’t clear to people. It was about Earth Day. Someone emailed me to say, “Nice logo, really spring-y.” Thanks. I think. Bet that person didn’t click.

Maybe our visitors care more about poverty than the environment? A bit of a stretch of a conclusion, given what public opinion polls say about the subject.

Traffic in general on our recent day was significantly higher 38% more visits than our ‘trial balloon’ day (Wednesday vs Friday).