Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What is your digital vision?

I hear a lot about corporate online strategy and the need to outline 'roadmaps' for: functional website & mobile development, integrated digital marketing and even business-orientated data approaches.

These are all great things (which sometime even co-exist and work together for some organisations).

However, what is sometimes missing is the even bigger picture. For example "engage existing customers via social media" is not an over-arching digital vision. In fact, that's not even a mature & considered social media strategy! However, I hear lines such as this regularly uttered (or was that muttered) my senior teams in strategic planning sessions about their online presence.

So here's a thought.....

Before trying to document your lengthy digital strategy and outlining the different deliverables you think are necessary for online success, take some time to paint the overall vision of what success actually looks like.

For example, I'm sure Jeff Bezos didn't initially say "I'm going to build automatic product recommendations and a handy one-click ordering system". I think he said something like "I'm going to be the number online bookseller, with fantastic features to help people find & buy what they want as easy as possible".

Have you therefore considered your vision of what success looks like first?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Combining paid, owned and earned media

In a post from earlier this year, I gave my thoughts on the blurring boundaries between paid, owned and earned media http://press20.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/paid-owned-and-earned-blurring.html . I was therefore very keen to read the report from research and advisory company Altimeter Group on 'The Converged Media Imperative'. This paper lays it out clearly, that brands now need to combine the different media channels of paid, owned and earned to get the most from them.

Now to me, this is hardly a revelation and it is great that this report has been published. My post from last April suggested that rather than there being definitive boundaries between the three, there's significant cross-over. And this is the point Altimeter have explained too. In fact our models of this integration are incredibly similar, see below:

My diagram to show the blurring
(The star representing press releases)

Altimeter's diagram showing the convergence of paid, owned & earned

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Is your PPC agency working hard enough?

I've worked with paid search campaigns long enough now to have more than just a basic idea of how the main bid systems work. I've also learnt that there's numerous ways to waste money on PPC campaigns, when just a few changes can yield much better results.... Meaning your online marketing budget can go further. Much further!

This issue can sometimes be amplified when you use a digital agency to run your paid search campaigns. Especially when said agency gets paid a percentage of the budget for setting up and managing these campaigns.

For example, why wouldn't an agency bid on higher priced terms and use up the budget quicker? (Compared to structuring the account around a lot more mid to long tail terms).

There's also no point in the agency advising you when your search campaigns are yielding a low quality score. Why would they? An improved QS merely means there is more work to be done for the same amount of commission.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why I'm moving to Scotland

A personal post from me today.

Most friends and family will know by now that The Sutherlands are moving to Scotland in matter of weeks. For some this will come as a shock, but for others it will seem an obvious step.

Most people who know us, know that my wife Moya is originally from the Scottish town of Paisley near Glasgow. There she has a large & welcoming family, plus a great set of friends she has had forever. Not forgetting that our kids were both christened in the local cathedral where we got married there.

Moya and I have been discussing and subsequently planning our move (to what my brother once 'politically incorrectly' called "North England") for a couple of years now. So this most definitely is not a short-term venture, this is a change of country, lifestyle and outlook. One of us is going 'home' and the rest are either going because we want to (me) or to get our own bedroom (the kids).

I'm also longing to get out on my bikes more, as both the mountains and road in Scotland are better for cycling compared to West London. This is part of my commitment to lead a healthier lifestyle (and lose that spare tyre that seems to be inflating around my midriff).

So what am I leaving behind?
Well, it's fair to say I've built up a great network of contacts, clients and colleagues in London and the South East. I know my way about very well and I know where to go for business drinks, impressive dinners and the best burgers (Wolfs near Covent Garden do an amazing wagyu beef burgers that IMHO hard to beat). I don't have this sort of knowledge where I'm going, but I'm not one for standing about....

Yes, I will miss running the Ealing Tweetup, something that I've coordinated for about a year and a half. That's been a great event for me, with the chance to build up friendships, meet local social media users and even to sing at the top of my voice whilst backed by a live band (thanks to Brace Yourself).

One question I have been asked several times by those who already know of our departure and that I've avoided answering, is whether our decision to move away from Ealing was influenced by the riots last year. The honest answer to that has to be "no". You see we'd already decided to move by last Summer, however the madness that happened across the UK (but not Scotland) only ratified our decision.

One last thing. Just because I'm moving to Scotland, it doesn't mean I'm not going to be down in the metropolis. You see....

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How O2 is responding to critisism

Although I am currently suffering from having no mobile and data signal for around 7 hours now, it must be nothing compared to the stress O2 must be going through, given the network issues they have all afternoon and evening.

I therefore turned to Twitter tonight to see what is being said on that account. Take a look at this insult from an unhappy customer and the UK online service centre response.

Well done to O2 for being assertive and yet not patronising it it's response.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What your insurance website UX says about you

I've been reviewing a number of insurance websites lately and have been genuinely surprised by the poor user experience they have.

Its not just a few tiny things either..... There's some pretty important issues you can find if you take the time (and boy have I!). These issues include: a lack of contextual help, incorrect or missing error messaging, system time-outs for no apparent reason and accessibility failings nearly across the board.

Are we actually in the 21st Century?

Surely these pretty basic failings (that are more suited to sites 10 or more years ago) actually tell us something about the companies that create them and rely on them as an important revenue stream?
IMHO is says they are still treating the digital channel as an addition to their traditional business.... Even if the web makes up the majority of their revenue now.

It's not all negatives though. Some insurance company sites I've looked at do cover (most of) these essential requirements and a few provide an intuitive experience that seems to have the right balance of mandatory information fields and optimised user journey. These organisations have obviously taken a more considered and user-centred approach. It shows.

Companies in every market really need to keep developing and evolving their ecommerce experience, with insurance companies being no exception.
Because if you don't, then your users will notice and vote with their mice.