Saturday, December 24, 2011

QR Codes - 5 handy tips to help you

f you are a trendy urban dweller (or even if you just have access to
regular news or magazines), you will have seen the huge growth in the
use of QR Codes recently.

If you haven't used one yet, or if you're unsure of how they can help,
then its probably worth me mentioning a few things that I've found

1. Creating one is easy
You don't need specialist software, there are several sites that let
you create one for free. Personally I use
Don't worry, the QR code is not dependent on the site you use to create it.

2. Each QR Codes is unique to a piece of text (typically a URL).
As no 2 QR Codes are the same, there's no real chance of you getting
the wrong web address when scanning one.

3. QR Code scanners typically store the address.
This means that despite hearsay, you CAN put them on adverts destined
for the underground (e.g. In the free papers & magazine), but you are
relying on your user reopening their scanner app at a later stage when
they have a data connection.

4. The shorter the URL, the better
The more text a QR Code has to store, the more complex it becomes.
This may be an issue if the QR code is then badly printed, scanned
from a distance or snapped through think / dirty glass. If you have a
particularly long URL (including any sub-directories, file names,
analytics tracking references, etc) then you can get around this issue
by using a URL shortening service such as or

5. Track as much as possible
In coordination with your website analytics package,make sure you can
identify when visitors to your site come via a QR code (e.g. if you
are using Google Analytics, they you will probably give the Campaign
Source as 'qrcode' in the Google Analytics URL Creator).
Tip: If you have several locations where your QR Code is shown, then
it is possible to identify each unique location. However be careful
that you are not creating codes just for the sake of it.

6. Measure the impact
Although its pretty obvious to mention, ensure you understand the
value you get from creating & promoting QR Codes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy eCommerce Christmas from North Korea

Here's a little bit of online shopping silliness using TV news footage from North Korea:

I hope this isn't your eCommerce experience this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Is your brand your domain?

In June there was an announcement by iCann, the global domain name registration authority. And if you are a branding strategist, corporate identity manager or brand positioning and design consultant, then there's something you need to know. Along with .car .sports and .bank there's a new Top Level Domain:


Applications for new these new TLD's will be accepted from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012. However the approval of the .brand (dot brand) top TLD creates both opportunities and issues for brand owners.

ICANN apparently plans to allocate only a maximum of 500 .brand extensions each year, however it is expecting to receive thousands of applications (estimates are anywhere between 1000 and 4000 requests). However expect a bun fight for those names that are used in more than one context. Brands who share names are going to have to to resolve some pretty fundamental differences.

Polo anyone?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ealing Tweetup gets political backing

As regular readers will know, I run the Ealing Tweetup. This is a Social Media networking and fun night run in a local pub (hit tip to The Rose & Crown). Back in September we had our biggest event yet, where there were over 200 people in attendance, 2 bands playing (thanks Brace Yourself & The Bible Code Sundays) and we raised a bit of money for the riot fund.

However also supporting the event this time were local politicians, including Ealing Central and Acton MP Angie Bray and even Deputy Mayor of London Richard Barnes .

However since then a couple of months and another smaller but successful Ealing Tweetup has passed. So I was nicely suprised to see this article on the front on the Ealing Conservative newsletter come through my door:

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Site Conversion - a presentation

Earlier this year I posted an article or two on why your new website will not be converting as expected (or promised).

Well..... last Thursday I gave a presentation to attendees at the ECMOD event in Islington, London on this very subject. Below is (a slightly edited, to make it more understandable without my voice-over) version of this presentation:

Friday, December 2, 2011

The physics of Social Media

Newton's laws of motion are three basic rules of physics that govern how forces and things behave when you start to involve movement.'s_laws_of_motion

And strangley, as I observe Social Media being used by a growing number of organisations I meet, this has made me think back to my old physics lessons I had as a boy. I've therefore asked myself if there is any similarity between the laws that Sir Isaac Newton came up with and certain behaviour around the adoption & use of Social Media.

First law:
The velocity of a body remains constant unless the body is acted upon by an external force.
(Or to translate that... you carry on at the same rate unless something pushes you in a different direction)
Now you've probably heard loads of examples where social media allowed disparate individuals to communicate and act, however their velocity is anything but constant. Some trends go as quickly as they come, whilst others linger and develop..... often with no logical reason.
But like Newton's apple, everything in the real world (e.g. not in outer space) is subject to gravity, including some Social Media ideas that quickly bring users down to Earth with a bump.
E.g. the recent "Qantas Luxury" hashtag campaign that spectacularly backfired on them.

Second law:
The acceleration of a body is parallel and directly proportional to the net force and inversely proportional to the mass.
For this I initially thought you could substitute the word "body" for the word "rumour" and the law still stands. A single person can post an opinion on a blog and it is instantly put out into the digital ecosystem (albeit with very little impact or velocity). But get a few people agreeing with this opinion and it becomes amplified and accelerated across the social web.
However mass (aka substance or Klout) does play a role in determining the proportion of the effect Social Media has. For example a 'retweet' of a charitable cause on Twitter by a popular person such as a celebrity will have far more effect that someone with very few followers doing the same.

Third law:
Newton stated in his third law of motion that "To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction" and this is never more true than when new technologies and processes are involved. You see, for every person who is an adopter and user of social media, there's a person who is only too happy to highlight the risks and negative side.

Regardless of the rules, its clear that Social Media (like my old Physics classmates and I) still has a lot of learning ahead.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Conversion Optimisation makes a difference

I was lucky enough today to quickly get into a seminar at the
Conversion Conference. Thanks to both Paul Rouke
( and a friendly organiser, I managed to
listen to Paul Francis from Dominoes Pizza give a case study on how
the company improved an already great website.
Note: from the response of those attending on Twitter and what I saw
myself, this event should be a fixture in the diary of all serious
ecommerce managers.

This fascinating 45 minute presentation explained how both moderated
and un-moderated (remote) usability sessions not only proved that a
complete redevelopment of their ecommerce platform was not necessary,
but gave powerful insight that led to a suite of smaller changes. This
in-turn led to a significant financial improvement of the site. For
example just changing a button colour from red to green on their
checkout had a £2.6million uplift!

So next time the boss says there is no value in usability testing or
that once a site is built it is complete..... Tell them this little
story. This is further proof that an ecommerce site is never perfect
and you should always look to improve it by testing with real users
over and over.