BO.LT, Web Content editing so simple ...

Today's focus, a new online service called BO.LT, allows you to generate edited versions of existing Web pages. That may not sound too exciting but where BO.LT differentiates itself is in making the editing and deployment so simple that ... and if you're in marketing, forgive me ... even marketing can do it.

The way BO.LT works is to make a copy of the content of a URL you give onto the service's content delivery network. A customized short URL is assigned to the copy and then you can edit the copy using the BO.LT visual editor.

The visual editor is a terrific piece of user interface engineering and allows you to add, remove, and or replace images, text and links. You can more or less completely change the appearance of the original page although BO.LT is designed to retain the original page's ads and analytics data.

Once you're happy with the result you can then share the modified page and unless the edited page comes from your own domain, the new page carries a message clearly stating that the content is a copy generated using BO.LT and displays the original URL.

An obvious concern is piracy but to generate and deploy the modified pages requires registration and agreement to BO.LT's license. BO.LT itself is protected under the "Safe Harbor" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by having registered as an agent and having processes in place for dealing with both sides involved in DMCA takedown notices.

So, what could you use BO.LT for? One of the obvious uses is for business operations such as enabling, ahem, marketing to generate their own content changes for programs such as A/B testing and short term offers and promotions.

In many organizations such content changes have to be executed by the IT department but this is frequently much slower, more complicated, and less effective than marketing would like. BO.LT's editing process makes this so simple and efficient that marketing can get what it wants done more or less painlessly while IT can avoid being involved at all (which is usually what IT prefers anyway).

Subscription to the service is still on a selected invite basis but you can sign up to get in the queue for the launch and in the meantime try out the BO.LT visual editor on the invite request page.

The company tells me that they used a referral system for their beta test whereby someone who scored an account could invite several other people. They could also, if they wished, use the BO.LT service to modify the invite. While only something like 5% of users modified the invite, the modified invites generated a greater number of signups compared with those that didn't.

Surprisingly, as BO.LT's CEO, Matthew Roach, told me, the most successful of these redesigned invites featured an image of Darth Vader, a marketing ploy Roach said the company would have never thought of (really? When I think of Internet service, Darth Vader is what always leaps to the forefront of my mind).

Roach contends that when groups like marketing makes their own content changes, the messaging is more effective because the process is quicker and more intuition-based.

The invitation example also points to another possible opportunity with BO.LT, crowdsourced content development -- think of BO.LT as novel kind of wiki mechanism.

The company is very well funded; in 2010 Benchmark Capital invested $5 million in Series A funding in BO.LT.

Check out the BO.LT visual editor on the signup page and let me know what you think of it and the service concept. I'd definitely put BO.LT in the "one to watch" category.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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