Posts tagged ‘ecommerce’

Spammers do A/B testing

I’m a regular reader of Linda Bustos’ excellent Get Elastic blog. Ecommerce isn’t my specialty but it’s something that affects all of us who shop online so I find it very interesting to see just how much work goes into the tiniest of details.

One of the subjects that came up recently and intrigued me was A/B testing. To perform an A/B test, an online retailer makes a change to their website and supplies the changed pages to some but not all of their visitors while the remainder see the original pages. By monitoring the statistics from both groups separately, the retailer can determine whether the change is a good thing or not. For instance you might change the colour of the “add to cart” button. A casual observer might think a change like that makes no difference at all… but test with enough people and it seems that there can actually be a measurable variation from something this small. And if you don’t A/B test then you’ll never find out. The world of online retailers appears to be full of folks fretting over whether they’d get a 0.3% increase in conversion rate if they reduced the width of their checkout button by 2 pixels. And while you might laugh, they have every right to fret – that’s money they could be making… or losing.

I was looking through my email spam folder the other day and noticed something interesting. Spammers are doing A/B testing too.

Look at this extract from my junk mail folder. This isn’t showing all my spam but it is showing an interesting subset of the spam that arrives to various usernames on a domain that I’ve owned for nearly 10 years now.

some of the spam in my mailbox

From the subject lines it’s easy to see that there are two usernames which are receiving this spam. This is backed up by the emails appearing in pairs. But the most interesting feature is that the duplicated emails frequently have different subject lines. So, for example, the baby laundry detergent spammer is sending out (say) 5,000,000 emails seeing if it’s dermatologist testing that helps make the sale, and another 5,000,000 seeing if it’s the stain removal powers (and, for all we know, another 50,000,000 emails trying out other variations). Of course it goes without saying that the links embedded in the two emails are slightly different so the spammer can check the different response rates.

Other amusing things I noticed…

  • the use of famous brands to increase recipient trust (that’s not really from Dell)
  • one spammer selling both Rolex and Viagra (might as well hit all the spam stereotypes)
  • he didn’t really have a job for me (the lying spamming b&%!#*d)
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26th September 2008 at 8:01 am 2 comments

Job application – fail

Just got a job application rejection from Elastic Path

Not my first rejection, I guess I shouldn’t be too upset by it… but I am!

Via a convoluted path (a workmate of my wife is a friend of a project manager there) I got a “we’re looking for developers” email. Phoned up the project manager who was very friendly and seemed impressed by my experience. They’re a Java shop and I’ve got Java experience but have been concentrating on C# & .NET skills. I pointed this out but he seemed pleased that I at least had a couple of years Java experience.

They’re apparently looking for developers at all levels, although their website only makes specific reference to Senior Developer. The company looks fantastic – their primary product is an ecommerce framework built in Java over a collection of strong open source components. Lots of high profile customers, small & dynamic organization, great technology.

So I sent my resume in. A week later he asks me for my BCIT transcripts… and is impressed by my grades (97% and 98% *buffs fingernails on lapel*)… and then rejects me.

But he was good enough to talk to me about WHY they were rejecting me. Seemed to centre around me not being able to hit the ground running… lack of current experience… maybe I should target intermediate positions etc etc.

All true and valid – but kinda frustrating because I understood that. I was a senior developer for many years but, having been out of the industry for nearly 5 years now, I’m not expecting to jump into a senior role and my cover letter explicitly says that I’m looking for an intermediate position.

Still, what’s done is done. A company I’d really love to work for so I’ll be keeping an eye on them in case they add any intermediate positions in the future as I continue working at updating that skillset.

10th July 2008 at 5:52 pm Leave a comment


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