Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Forget creating a digital strategy

Digital Strategy, I hear & read the words repeatedly in the line of my business. It seems that it’s the current phrase to use within a company, which is annoying as I’ve been writing them for around a decade and a half now.
Now typically in this blog I would drill into the subject of the different aspects of creating and maintaining a digital strategy, covering things from a top-down perspective and giving my views on how to implement one.
But not today. I think I need to clear some things up first that have been on my mind.
  1. What’s the point in having a digital strategy when there are probably a number of different online initiatives around your organisation that don’t know (or care) about the more strategic direction being taken?
  2. Why even plan a digital strategy, when there are simple digital projects that have either failed to get off the ground or have subsequently turned out to be turkeys? (These don’t have to be monumental projects to entirely redevelop your online business, they could be something as basic as a quick microsite that has failed to comply to HTML standards)
Sure, planning an overall approach to all online engagement and interaction is a noble cause. But hoping to just lay this new lush green grass layer over the rubble of bad or missing quality standards or known gaps in your organisation’s digital capability is a recipe for almost certain failure.
Or in other words, forget creating your digital strategy, get your digital tactics right first!

Monday, July 29, 2013

British Airways pricing might need work

The other day I was buying a flight down to London to see a client and used the British Airways website to book. I looked at various options to get the cheapest flight, but was a little surprised to see that the cost of flying from Glasgow to Gatwick costs more when you take less baggage.
Yes that's right, to fly with a suitcase up to 23kg in weight is £11 cheaper than just travelling with hand luggage.

Note: I know that BA's digital revenue management team can't be expected to get pricing exactly right and that errors will occur. However on this occasion I did book the cheap ticket and simply 'forgot' to take my large bag.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

eCommerce and the dehydrated mare

Ever heard the phrase “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink”?

Well, if you leave a thirsty horse right by the water trough, make it as easy as possible for them to take what they want and show the water off in the best way possible… you are more likely to get it drinking.
The same goes for eCommerce websites, where the you have no control over the actions of a specific user… but by a clever combination of: thought-out usability, customer insight & segmentation, an acute focus on maximising customer revenue and a ‘test & learn’ approach, you stand a far more likely chance of converting prospects into customers and makin more money in the process.
There's unfortunately no one-size-fits-all model for eCommerce, but typically there are best-practice models to follow in each market sector. Understanding what works for your business is then a process of trial and error to establish what combination works best.

Remember, you may drag your customers to your site via a number of different marketing channels; but what they do when they are there is yours to shape and persuade.

Monday, July 22, 2013

email to Stephen Halpin of Merchant Soul


The time has come for us to stop working together.

Currently Ideal Interface is owed £24,600 by Merchant Soul, not including our final invoice due at the end of July for £1,680. This is a significant sum outstanding and has now become of considerable concern to Moya and myself, also meaning we have not able to meet certain financial obligations.
As I see it, there is either a lack of concern on your part or an inability to pay. If it is the former, then I need to inform you that we have been speaking to a corporate lawyer to take action to claim this money back via whatever means. If it is the latter, then there has been no mention of this by you at all and therefore your company is continuing to trade on money that should have been used to pay suppliers such as us.
You have therefore given me no option but to do the following:
1. Conclude our working relationship with immediate effect
2. Inform any known suppliers of Merchant Soul of my decision and that they are also at risk of non-payment
3. Contact Merchant Soul’s digital clients and inform them of my decision 
4. Lodge this debt against Merchant Soul Holdings with the relevant agencies & authorities
However, from my perspective, what is perhaps the most concerning of all is that you have not responded once to Moya’s emails, calls or texts over the last few months. She has gradually escalated the issue with you and not once have you replied, questioned or apologised for leaving us with this amount of money owed.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

True content marketing is calculating page value

I see so many articles on the subject of content marketing it makes my head hurt. They nearly all just witter on about blogs, infographics and social media, but hardly any even mention one key thing... return on investment.

Its like we've stepped back once more to either around 2008 (when social media gained a lot of attention) or the early days of the dot com bubble in the 1990's. Both were a time when a lot of people lost a lot of money, by not focusing on value.  The value of what you're doing compared to what you get out and the value you're adding.
So before rushing into loads of content marketing efforts and wasting everyone's time and money. .. ask yourself "do I know the value of this page I'm either creating or maintaining?".
If you don't, might I suggest you stop right there and work that out first?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Going Global with eCommerce?

If you're looking to take your Internet retailing wider than just the UK, then you'll need to understand the complexities of multi-country, multi-lingual and multi-currency eCommerce.

I'm a great believer in learning from those who have gone before. So I thought I'd share this email from our pals at Cranberry Panda, who recently filmed every speaker at the EcommerceUK event called Going Global.

Here  Dave Elston, Head of Ecommerce at Clarks, presents the challenges that the shoes retailer faced in reaching a global market.

A copy of his presentation can also be found here:

Monday, July 8, 2013

How do you segment financial services customers?

In an earlier post I made it clear that I thought a certain way of segmenting customers has had its day. The method of classifying customers just by their life stage is no longer relevant, with both lifestyles and finances having moved on.

So rather than dwelling on this, I thought it better to look at ways that banks in the future could segment their customers. But to be honest, I couldn’t come up with a single simple way of segmenting financial services customers that made sense in the modern world. Nothing really fitted nicely and any possible model had loads of exceptions to the rules.

And then it struck me... that perhaps there's no longer a few simple segments that fitted all financial services customers. Perhaps this subject is just too complex to put into simple terms... or in other words, perhaps now with the advert of clever data analysis and personalisation, there's no need to segment them into a handful of categories, everyone is in their own segment!

It's therefore my prediction that banks will eventually integrate big data analytics into their CRM systems. This will develop their understanding of who each individual customer is, alongside a record of what products and services they have already got do describe how best to meet their needs.

Some financial services companies may already be on their way to delivering this vision and this should be an interesting space to watch as the use of dig data analysis takes off.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Don't base digital shopper activity on ecoupons.. yet

Research just published shows the growth of electronic coupon usage slowing. Does this mean the predicted dominance of ecoupons has stumbled before it's learnt to run?
In a recent report on this subject the use of money off coupons has now grown in usage to cover 90% of all consumers.  However digital coupons have only grown in use by 9% over the same period. 

It therefore seems that paper-based redemption methods are more popular than ever, but that ecouponing hasn't got the mass adoption it should have.
Why is this? 

Here's a couple of possible reasons:
1. Retailers don't support them
The major supermarkets have so far failed to embrace digital vouchers. Even my Tesco Clubcard app on my mobile phone, which uses a simple bar code shown on the screen, only works on a limited number of their scanning tills (and none of their smaller local stores near me, which seem to be the type growing in number right now). Yet I walk in with a handful of paper - based ones (from newspapers, magazines and even self-printed at home via sites such a and they all bleep through with no problem.
2. Brands are slow to use them
Perhaps as a result of the point above, even the major FMCG brands (typically the early adopters of these sorts of things) have not taken up the opportunity to use electronic coupons in any sizeable numbers.
Perhaps when both the retailers and brands collectively get their act together on ecouponing, then there will suddenly be lots of  uses, linked in with tracking and other eCRM initiatives for the ideal digital shopper marketing campaign.