How to Kill Your Web Business

So a company has some custom ‘download 2 free tunes” card done for a tradeshow from Puretracks.  I tested the service Friday after we’d had a couple complaints that people couldn’t download.  What resulted is an utter web horror show.

For the record, I had told the folks doing this promo not to even bother if the download didn’t come in mp3 format.  Which of course it doesn’t.

The problems were quite extraordinary.  First, no macs need apply.  Gee, that’s a great way to win business.  Then, two windows machines were unable to get through the registration process without crashing their browsers. 

I was able to get through the heinous process of registration and actually enter the codes to get my two free tunes.  They downloaded okay, but then promptly through a “License Error” – you see, these were in WMA format, and had to be played via Windows Media Player.  So I followed the troubleshooting instructions and downloaded the latest version of Windows Media Player, then retried.  Still nothing. 

So I tried to open a support request.  Up pops a login screen, only this little gem won’t accept my login that I’d just created and had verified by email.  Turns out you have to register…again for support.  So I did that, and sent off an email. 16 hours later, I’m still waiting for a reply.

Here’s the scoop – if I wasn’t testing, I would have stopped at the registration process.  Forget it, I don’t need the stinking free music if it’s in a format that won’t work on my IPOD, that I can’t switch from machine to machine (I use several different computers, and I’m not about to try to move DRM Licenses around.  This is an utterly failed business model.  A couple of hints:

  • The price point of the product that is delivered here is under a dollar.  Make the effort level required to redeem it on par.
  • If it’s easier to register for online banking, there’s a huge usability problem.
  • If your system isn’t working due to a temporary glitch, let people know via a system message.
  • Provide an easy means to get support without making users register (again) and answer support requests immediately.  No email unanswered within 30 minutes would be the gold standard here.  Better yet, a chat service link ought to solve this.

For those thinking about using free downloadable music cards for handouts:

  • Use a reputable source 
  • Test before you give them to your customers
  • If it’s a Rube Goldberg DRM scenario that is virtually unusable, go with something else.  You will just annoy your customers.
  • If it relies on a single player, such as Windows Media Player, run away.
  • If they can’t use them on an IPOD, don’t bother.
  • Most of the web uses ITunes – your downloads should be ITunes compatible.

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