PSA: Morces DOA

morceThis is a quick blog post to alert MORCES customers, users and (former?) developers that the MORCES site is down hard, and we suspect down for the count.

I noticed that our own home page was loading very slow for about a week on all browsers and at several different connections. After doing a quick review of all home page scripts we found it was the Morces javascript with no redirect destination that was the culprit.

Because they had a good product that was usable for free (and probably little revenue coming in from upgrades) their business model more than likely collapsed. In any event it’s not worth the downside risk, so we’ve removed the Morses code from the sites we were using it for, and will offer a responsive redesign at a discount instead.

We did notice that Morces Facebook page was still active (sort of) but the last post was on December 2012, a fairly prescient sign that some lights may be on, but nobody’s home. (RIP).

How Do You Measure Your Web Site’s Success?

engageFor most people, the answer to the question above may seem obvious, and yet, when you think about it, the best answer may not be as obvious as it seems.

I can tell you for a fact that most businesses cannot articulate the top three objectives of their web presence on a moment’s notice. I also know of at least two large organizations who (informally) rate “increase visits to the website” as the number one priority of their web department. And yet, if and when the question is posed, “Why?” no one at the executive level has a clue. And if you were to ask, “What kind of visitor?” the deer in the headlights look would be even more pronounced …. after which tensions can be reduced with the light-hearted follow up question, “Humans?”

Like any other worthwhile endeavor, the development of a web presence should have a strategy, clear goals and objectives, and a way to reach them.


As a business or organization sets out to define objectives, being completely honest may reveal things like:

1) Because we want to look cool
2) Because everyone else has one
3) Because it’s just something you have to do in this day and age

… and similar types of reasoning. To admit that these are your goals, if they are, is a great first step in evaluating how to improve them, and make them a bit more meaningful. To set meaningful goals and objectives requires some self-reflection, corroboration, buy-in and support in many cases, but it’s a relevant excercise, because a good web developer can turn goals and objectives into actionable items like:

1) make the phones ring
2) have them forward policy issues to House and Senate
3) sell a lot of our stuff
4) attract and retain quality staff
5) get that contract business that’s been out of reach
6) change the mindset on that issue
7) attract a buyer (or seller)
8) gather up fresh, new ideas
9) increase our exposure in that area
10) reach a larger audience
11) articulate our value proposition to a global market
12) change the world 🙂

All of these goals and objectives, whether reachable or not, and to what degree, are within the scope of a well developed web strategy.

Come to think of it, I’ve implemented web strategies over the years that have successfully accomplished nearly all of the above.

I’m still waiting for that customer to challenge me to do number 12. Even if only a little bit at a time….

Ebay Marketing Gone Wrong

Sometimes, when you see a company, especially one as big as eBay, breaking one of the cardinal rules of social media marketing, you just have to call attenton to it, and since eBay isn’t a client of ours, they’re welcome to follow my advice without the 104 page report and $20 K “strategy” piece that a big agency might charge a global company with eBay’s market cap.

That said, we’ll stick to the KISS principle, and get right to it:

Bid now so you can get a deal!? Really??
Now as everyone who has a couple hundred eBay transactions on their member page should know,  “bidding now” or “bidding early” ALWAYS benefits the seller, not the buyer. I could fill 50 of those 104 pages with all sorts of empirical data that confirms this, but like I said, everyone knows this, so why bother?

And that’s a big problem for eBay’s credibility to it’s buyer / bidder / members. As a bidder, I cringe every time I see this, as it is an absolute LIE (as well as an insult to my intelligence). When you bid early you will NOT “get a deal”. And please, let’s not spend a lot of time about defining what a “deal” is. Let’s just acknowledge that getting a “deal” infers paying less money for the buyer, not making more money for the seller.

Now the other thing we can infer from this, (which is true) is that eBay isn’t having such a hard time attracting buyers as much as it is having a hard time keeping quality sellers. Why? The pure economics of  global price arbitrage, which puts pressure on local and regional sellers, who really make up the bulk of eBay’s commerce (since international shipping is cost prohibitive). That’s about another 15 pages there in the report I’m not writing, but that’s not the biggest rub either.

Really, there can’t be an experienced eBay bidder out there that doesn’t see what’s going on here. eBay is misleading bidders to bid early so that its buyers can get more bids, and as everyone knows (another 10 pages here, greatly condensed) early bids mean more bids, more bids mean bigger bids, and with a little luck, a bidding war, which means: (1) buyer happy, makes more money, (2) eBay happy, bigger commission, and (3) bidder loses, doesn’t get as good a “deal” as if he or she had waited until the last minute.

Now, the proliferation of snipe (automated final moment bidding) programs alone should tell us all we need to know, without an additional 29 pages of proof … that bidders who wait until the last minute help to create the impression that there’s no interest in the auction, therefore the psychology of a bidding frenzy never has a chance to go viral.

Yes, we could spend some time on the social psychology of “wanting something more, when you see others wanting it too” but please, we even have a social share button right next to the “get a deal” recommendation to help get that bidding war started early among your network of Facebook friends. Case closed.

HOWEVER … and not being one to criticize a problem without offering a viable solution … what eBay could do is recognize the ONE thing that does occasionally happen when bidders wait until the last minute. And that is … they could time the auction wrong, miss the end, and both the buyer and the seller lose out.

This is called … (wait for it) … the TRUTH … and it should resonate among experienced eBay members who have probably had this happen to them by trying to manually snipe an auction. Even a sluggish computer, or a last minute interruption (guilty), or even falling asleep (I admit it) can be to blame.

So, as my good deed for the day, and saving eBay the cost of all that empirical data for the recommendation, how about trying some truth in advertising and changing that phrase to:

“Bid now, so you don’t miss out”.

What a big difference such a tiny change would make.

It’s something refreshingly honest that most bidders can relate to, and it certainly comes across as being more genuine than what eBay is doing for its bidding “members” today.

OK eBay, that’s all you get for free. DO THE RIGHT THING, and get with the program. Social media marketing today is about transparency. And it’s shamefully transparent that you’re pretending to help buyers “get a deal” when you’re really helping your sellers (and eBay) make more money.

And by the way, there’s nothing wrong with making money for your sellers, or yourself … only with how you’re doing it.