First Great Western QR campaign

27 09 2011

Hi First Great Western

Usually, I’m a pretty happy customer. I travel on this London-Bristol line frequently. Even when the train is slow, sweaty, windy or as the French say ‘retarded’, I’m cool. It’s a far cry from the land of No Public Transport and I deeply appreciate links that allow me to drink wine.

Tonight, I see you’ve gotten a little fancy with your marketing. A QR code promotion on the seat cards.

Now I’m a QR code skeptic. Use ’em if you have a hitech geeky audience. Use ’em if you have a long web link impossible to communicate and more of your audience will get a QR code than a pain in the arse URL to type in. Not so much of ‘helpful’ for the Gen Pop. Mobile (read sms) is SO much more accessible, so lead with that instead… Although kudos for having text and web links as a secondary.

But heck, I’m a little hitech, a little geeky. So I’ll play.

What I get is a link to a web form, non mobile ‘happy’ and what I would term ‘demanding’. And what’s the incentive for completing this demanding form?

A Kindle. Non-specific variant*.

And the kicker? 5 Kindles to be won. Winners to be notified August 2012.

Context, in case you’re reading this in the future: it’s only September. 2011. I can’t wait to win obsolete tech next year. Maybe.

I really hope you’ve also created unique QR codes related to the trip data of each card so that you can get some context to your data. I also wish that you’d just popped a really simple social sharing incentive into the campaign – why not, especially when you’re probably going to be running it all year!

Thanks for listening, FGW.

*always a geek requirement – we want to know it’s not the one without Internet

One of the best things about Google Analytics …

1 06 2011

is the way that it gives you the search terms people have used to find your site. And if you’ve set up a Goal on your search box, you’ll know what they’re searching for on your site. Which in the case of my personal website, can be pretty bizarre!

Currently the top searches are “rattling mango, porno teby, where did angela langford train”. None of which make much sense. Except I do have articles on there with content about rattling mangos and Angela Langford. I’m not sure where the “porno teby” comes into play though but it amused me.

Google Analytics is great. Here is why-

  1. It tells you what pages people like.
  2. It tells you how they found those pages – which search engine and which search terms.
  3. It tells you how long people spend on your website.
  4. It tells you where your visitors come from
  5. It tells you who is new and who has been to visit you before.

So you know what to aim for when you write your copy. So you know whether your content is engaging enough. So you know whether to aim content at certain people. Which will make your users happy and they will come back again and again. And you’ll have a successful website.

Content Management systems and building new websites

31 05 2011

Quite often I get asked to help out with new website builds and to help evaluate various technologies for new websites. This is a difficult task as it can be a large and complex market out there for content management systems, for website technologies and for choosing what tools to use to build your website.

There are so many options out there and everyone will have an opinion on what you should use so my best advice to you is to –

  1. Write down the objectives of your website. Are you looking at it from a SEO perspective? Brochure ware? Online sales? Content presentation? Customer servicing? All of these will require a different solution.
  2. Who is the target audience of your website? Are you looking at a large number of users who need clear sign posting or a limited number of users who will use the system regularly? This pointer means that you need to design and engineer your site in a way to appeal to the number of users.
  3. Are there any systems that you need to integrate with? Things like legacy CRM solutions or automated feeds (Twitter! RSS!) that might need to be displayed.

Now, review your requirements carefully. These are what you would be using to consider various solutions out there.

Bespoke Vs Ready-Made

Nothing polarises people more than this argument. The proponents of the bespoke system will talk about how your website is entirely customised for your requirements, everything can be done and it will all work exactly as required. They will pooh-pooh ready-made systems as being limiting and inflexible and warn you of unhelpful support systems. Neither solution is right and neither is wrong. It’s worth weighing up whether a bespoke solution is going to meet your needs over the short and medium term and as your website and business grow -what the longer term options are and the upgrade options.

Content population

Nothing trips people up more than suddenly realising that they need to write all the pages on their new website before it is launched. It’s a time consuming and brain intensive job and requires lots of time. If you are using a content management system, then you will also need to enter all the content into your website, again, this is a time consuming job and sometimes it’s easier to call in the professionals to do both of these.

Using Photographs to improve usability

Users are visual people and using pictures gives guidance on the subject matter that you are writing about. Choosing relevant and exciting imagery will definitely engage more users as they will be drawn in by the subject matter.

Local Council logo madness

17 03 2011

Think of all the money that could have been saved if the Head City decreed that all councils would have the same logo?

Like maybe just their name. Written in a font. 

Social Media vs The Real World

7 03 2011

Social Media Auto-response dealbreaker

1 03 2011

Follow a business on Twitter and get “Thanks for the follow, let’s hook up on Facebook too”. No thanks. Fan a company on Facebook and get an update in your feed to follow on Twitter too. No thanks. What’s the point?

It’s like subscribing to a feed in Google Reader and then getting an email inviting you to register for the same content in newsletter form.

Social Media is a brilliant permission based marketing tool – but do you really want the same subscriber twice? Surely not. Your click-through numbers will be lower, and while your fan/follower numbers might look healthier in a dashboard for your executives, you’ll lose subscribers to boredom and irrelevance in the long term.

I can appreciate that a person who follows you on more than one Social platform might be a ‘Super Fan’. And that might well be the answer to my question, but surely better to let those ‘Super Fans’ rise to the top of the heap themselves instead of encouraging it with an impersonal auto-response.

And while a Social Media strategy might be advanced enough to have defined different propositions for each channel, it might be a good  idea to tell me, your new fan or follower, what the point of the invitation is.

I’d like to know how many people un-follow after getting an auto-follow or auto-response… My new rule – if a business is going to be purposefully impersonal on a social channel, It’s Over. Now that’s a dealbreaker ladies!

When is an infographic really an infographic?

25 02 2011

I’ve probably been spending more time reading ‘stuff’ online than is healthy. Consuming ‘The Internet’ in such a wide and general way does leave you somewhat frustrated – issues with identifying authorative writers, the inability for the masses to make specific statements rather than speculate (of which I’m guilty), and now – the latest soap box on which I can stand.

Pimping up day-to-day data and calling it an ‘infographic’.

An infographic is data visualisation, taken to new levels by communications specialists like Xplane and vastly awe-inspiring people like Hans Rosling. Thanks to Sébastien Pierre’s fabulous infographic explaining data visualisation we know that a table is still just a table – pure data, no knowledge.

There are some really interesting debates about what an infographic is, and some excellent points made about bad infographics.  But what is not an infographic? People around me rhapsodise about infographics – and why wouldn’t they? When they are real and well designed, infographics bring Real Insight. Knowledge – not information. But so many graphics are called (sometimes pompously) ‘Infographics’ when they don’t give the viewer immediate insight – only a prettier access point to get the insight out of. So, I’m not going to speculate, I’m going to state (look at me, all forceful and um, authoratative):

An infographic is not*:

All of these hover around data, information architecture, dashboards – all at least 2 steps away from actual data visualisation according to Sébastien Pierre.

So I appeal to culprits. Let’s call a table a table, not a supportive work implement.

*No offense intended to the people who made these graphics. Some of them are awesome, they’re just not quite infographics. Also, not all of them are in fact called an infographic, but are just included in a vague pimping brushstroke.

Interesting tactic, el Foursquare

24 02 2011

Earlier today, a colleague tweeted generally to ask how many Foursquare users there are. I happened to have that stat, so pinged him a quick link back about the US stats, but including a comment that I’m not sure about the UK stats.

Scenario over. Or so I thought. A few hours later I noticed a tweet to me and others.

Odd, I thought – I’ve not contributed anything today (except I suppose, to the economy and my company, and the general good cheer around me of course). Click the link and it takes you to a newsletter – filled with content about Foursquare. Relevant content, organised neatly and published simply. And each article is credited to a Twitter account, with original Tweet in a hover box.

Clearly, Foursquare wanted to publish content, but instead of writing their own, they have a Social Media listening tool that enables them to easily collate the content that other people are talking about or sharing, and publish to their followers/subscribers. Idio have a platform that do this, I presume there are more offerings in the market.

How to make content easy and always relevant? Re-publish conversations happening now. Genius. No mess no fuss.

Also, if Foursquare want to step up efforts and add other components of ‘content’, it’s easy to build up from the bottom of the pyramid, innit?

Quora: Only for USA?

13 01 2011

So buzz buzz buzz about Quora. I haven’t yet formed a solid opinion about it, but at the moment it seems a bit hype-y and, like the rest of the world, suspect that it may deteriorate rather fast into Yahoo Answers. Even if co-founder Charlie Cheever thinks that the ‘onboarding process’ will educate people on how to use it well.

But I’m using it. Probably not in the right way but trying to do a little research at the same time. I posted a question yesterday and then, reading this article about how to Hyperlocalise Quora, I was reminded that I had a question going and to check the responses. And I found this.

Who is Alison Stanton? Looks like an editor to me. Does she work for Quora? If so, then Quora’s drawn a line in the sand and stipulating that content must be American-ised. And therefore missing out on one of the biggest trends in Digital – Localisation.

Petulantly, I’ve changed it back to ‘prioritised’. Let’s see what happens!

Playing with Hootsuite Pro…

12 01 2011

Playing with Hootsuite Pro… Is this going to publish?
The answer – yes. Did it do it right? No. Basically Hootsuite is designed for micro-blogging so it’s not got a field to add a title, and so it just repeats what you enter!

That aside, from the massive research I’ve done on social media management and listening tools over the past weeks, Hootsuite seems like the best offering. What I’m excited about:

  • Hootsuite combines publishing management with listening tools (how in depth these listening tools are have yet to be established!)
  • It’s an aggregated platform for social media, with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress and more.
  • There seems to be a good tracking type tool – almost a social CRM
  • Twitter search is allegedly local.
  • What I hope Hootsuite’s going to offer:

    • Search from a designated location – not from your actual location (or location of your server)
    • Listening tools that search the web for other blogs and forums and so on, a wider net than they currently have

    I’ll report back in my search for a good, local social media management tool as it happens! Sign up and play below if you fancy*.

    HootSuite - Social Media Dashboard

    *disclaimer – I did also fill out the quick + easy affiliate marketing form!