Monthly Archives: July 2009

To click or not to click….

Some hot debate about the importance, or not, of the click
has been had this week. We’ve been mulling over why when no other advertising
medium expects consumers to leave what they are happily doing in that moment to
interact with a brand, online continues to value the click as the key sign of
success. When you watch a TV ad you can still catch the second half of
Coronation Street without the media agency or client feeling that the ad spot
has been wasted. How then, within what is hailed as the most measurable of
media channels, can we make sure we are measuring the right things?

Read more on To click or not to click…….

(GakiAttack, not one of the) top seven Twitter apps

I’m still trying to figure out the point of GakiAttack, a Twitter application that allows followers to attack one another in a variety of exotic Japanese-branded methods… but I fear that would be looking too far into its inane simplicity.

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Motivating the CEO

– I just had a call from a brand we’ve been after for a long time – they’re the world’s largest operator in a high profile leisure sector. We’ve been talking with them on and off for the last few months, but things had gone a little quiet.

Now, in a recession, new business prospecting is hard. In fact, as an eCRM agency we’re pretty much honour-bound to concentrate on retention, delivering more bang for our clients’ bucks and making sure what we do really works. The corollary is that (hopefully) word then might get around and we’ll win more business. The truth is that most of our new business this year has come from existing clients (with one or two notable exceptions), and previously having concentrating on winning multi-brand groups, that’s turned out to have made perfect strategic sense.

So it was very nice to find myself on the receiving end of a forty-minute phone call clarifying exactly what the first few steps in a relationship might be. One of the questions I asked during the conversation was what had prompted the call. Seems the CEO had got in touch and told him that retention was a highly strategic issue and that the brand needs to invest in eCRM. Client’s pleased, though I suspect he might have wished for the buy-in sooner. Agency’s happy, because as long as the client’s goals and the budget are right, who’s worried what the trigger is?

But I am. I’d love to know why, after 18 months, the CEO has had an epiphany about digital and retention. It’s slightly like the old days, when we could speak with marketers all day long but it was the CEO who bought the website (and when I say old days, I mean 1995). I’m fully aware that reducing expenditure and improving margins are highly strategic issues, and I’m also aware that digital can address these head on. But I’m wondering why the sudden awareness of eCRM. I’d love to think it was articles in magazines like Revolution, but I’m not certain CEOs read them. I’d be flabbergasted if this particular CEO was following my Tweets about eCRM.

However, I do know that digital has become a strategic issue amongst some business leaders, forced by recession to take a long hard look at how and why the world is changing around their brands. Social media is turning sales funnel-oriented acquisition on its head, Forrester Research are re-educating business strategists with robust models for initiating change – both through listening to what they’ve called the groundswell and by using different approaches to segmentation to drive customer engagement. Don Tapscott’s Grown Up Digital is showing up at CEO professional development organisations like the excellent Vistage. CEOs are really taking note of a (rare) opportunity to leverage the changes wrought by recession that incorporates a new marketing world view driven by customers in a medium that is digital.

Ultimately I guess it’s the CEO’s responsibility to ensure the senior team – and particularly marketing and sales – are on the right track to support the strategic goals of the business. And these strategic goals are not just weathering the storm, but preparing for the opportunities to come.

I’m hoping it means I might get a few more calls.

PS. If you are a CEO, and you’re reading this, that last sentence was a hint 😉

You should follow me on Twitter here.

Read more on Motivating the CEO…

I’m sorry Dad, but your viral sucks

My dad doesn’t really understand what I do. He’s 64 (nearly 65) and no matter how many times explain the nuances of viral marketing, he still struggles. Or so I thought, until he shocked me by creating his very own viral ad for his company the Alarm Monitoring Company – a company that specialises in “monitored burglar alarms”.

Check out his viral efforts here – viral genius, or viral suck?

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Train Travel – An Out Of Tune Theatrical Production

It being the summer hols my family have decamped to less urban climes with the car, whilst I continue to run the gauntlet of the Kings Road on my bike.

At the weekend I took the train to Yorkshire to be reunited with them. I tried to buy my ticket at the website on Tuesday evening last; ‘ah ha’ , I thought, a nice slick website with all the prices and options clearly shown. I chose the train I wanted at a welcoming cheap price but was stopped from the purchasing it because there were no seats available.

This is a web issue that I find regularly and it’s not only frustrating, it’s downright misleading as they’re saying that it’s for sale and if that’s the case then I want to buy it. Online clothes stores do this regularly as well, showing me items of clothing that I can buy, only when I try to select any size they are all mysteriously ‘sold out’ – like the maitre’d at an empty restaurant telling the unexpected man in the bad suit that ‘no sir we have no tables free this week’.

Eventually I purchased a ticket, I went for a first class option as it was only £4 more than the standard fare (though their dynamic pricing strategy is neither here nor there as far as this tale is concerned) and looked forward to traveling in the comfort of the executive class. I am proud to say that I am a big fan of trains and I have had the great pleasure of traveling on some of the greatest train journeys around the world. When Joseph Pine says that ‘Work is Theatre and Every Business A Stage’ he really hits the nail on the head as far as the train is concerned.

When the conductor makes his rounds there always seems to be someone near me who has a problem; losing part of their ticket, just having the email confirmation or not having the correct ticket. Always, after pleading and sometimes tearful negotiation the customer is forced to buy a new ticket at the full price. On this occasion a young lady had used the website incorrectly and had purchased 2 young people’s tickets and her companion was not with her. Thus she had 2 useless tickets. The conductor listened patiently to her story and explained that he knew the website had a problem and that it had happened before. He then professionally charged her the price for a new full price ticket.

Shortly after all our white paper table covers were removed and replaced with blue ones; with a cup covering each corner. The old ones crumpled and thrown into a bag of rubbish. An attendant soon followed with a rubbish bag and filled it with copies of the Evening Standard that she had previously distributed. When I asked if there was a policy for re-cycling she said there were plans to bring in a special trolley to undertake that task.

Whilst the staff were not to blame for these events they are symptomatic of an organisation that is out of alignment with it’s values. Why isn’t there a mechanism for telling the web people that there is a problem with the logic of the site so avoiding customer angst? Why doesn’t the business build on it’s environmentally sound basis to deliver a customer experience that they could be a positive re-enforcement of their values?

If their business is a theatre, it would be like a performance of the Krankies at the Albert Hall, beautiful but bloody annoying.

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The Empire strikes back or the old order’s attempt to bring an end to the age of free

They’ve had enough. Enough of all you freeloaders stopping by their sites and not paying. Enough of you ignoring the ads they’ve served up for you. And enough of you reading and sharing their stuff elsewhere.

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Can Amazon learn to stop worrying and love the twitterbomb?

So, Amazon won’t pay commission to affiliates who use links
within Twitter to drive traffic. Is this fair? Is their policy right?

There are many different ways of looking at this problem.
Let’s take a look at Amazon’s position. They are paying commission to
affiliates who drive new customers through to their site. As part of this
process, they ask affiliates to agree to their terms & conditions of use
and these, at least from a legal perspective state that the traffic is related
to “Your Site”, referring to where the traffic comes from.

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Power to the people, United Airlines feels the power of social media

Lots of people always try to quantify the ROI of social media, how many extra sales will it get me? How much extra traffic will it get my website? Are these the right questions?

There are certainly ways to measure the effects of social media but concentrating purely on these measurements misses the point. Social media is much more than just trying to sell a few extra products. Social media is about connecting with your audience and if you don’t know what people are saying about your brand things can go horribly wrong, horribly quickly.

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Online subscriptions the beginning of the end?

Over the last couple of months the newspaper industry has seemed increasingly desperate to generate new revenue streams in particular from the internet. If you take a look at the revenue figures for newspapers it is easy to see why.

News Corp who own one of the worlds largest newspaper businesses saw Q1 operating profit drop 47% and they are not alone.

Since Murdoch initially mentioned the idea that newspapers should start charging subscriptions for their websites in May there has been a growing sense amongst the newspaper industry that a subscription model for online access to their content is the way forward.

So is subscription going to save the industry or is it yet another badly thought out attempt by an industry that doesn’t really understand what is going on around them to grab revenue where it can?

You can probably tell from my choice of words that I don’t believe this will save the industry.

Newspapers have done well up to now for two reasons, firstly the convenience of the format. Traditionally there where three primary platforms for absorbing news: TV, radio and newspapers and each of these had a very different format which where used at different times and in different ways.

Newspapers provided the ideal way to transport news. They where sized to be comfortable to read on a bus or a train, lightweight, cheap and easy to dispose of. You couldn’t take a TV to work with you; you couldn’t take a radio of a flight so the newspaper was perfect.

The second reason was the control and flow of information. In order to report news particularly news from a foreign country you had to get a reporter there, have researchers available to check facts and figures and a way to broadcast the information. This kind of operation cost a lot of money and required a large infrastructure. Newspapers where perfectly setup to take advantage of this structure and there where very few competitors.

Internet technology and in particular Social internet technology have been eroding away the need for large-scale organization and at the same time increasing the number of devices, that news is accessible on.

Think laptops, netbooks, iPhones, your computer at home, your computer at work, in fact for a good deal of people, they are never more than a few clicks away from huge stores of information. These stores of data are called websites and pretty much anybody can run one.

As soon as information is available on one website, it has the capability to be available on millions through technology such as RRS. Added to this platforms like twitter allow near instantaneous transmission of messages to potentially millions of people, meaning almost no information is unique.

The less unique information is the less valuable it is and information is newspapers currency.

Much like the music industry of the late nineties and early two thousands, instead of finding ways to use this new technology to their advantage the newspaper industry is mostly trying to either ignore the problem or threatening to sue anyone they can find, usually Google.

Now that it is becoming increasingly obvious neither of these strategies is working, they are trying to fall back to the offline model of subscription.

Why not try something new, how about add-ons to their service?

An example of where they might want to start their thinking is already here have a look at Techdirt a professional online blogging network that has come up with a range of add-ons to help their newsgathering and analysis business. I am not suggesting that mainstream newspapers follow this exact model but to me at least its seems a lot better than anything they have come up with so far.

If you want to read some more insight it is on my company website Yomego

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Sad day for Shiny Media

Today it is official that blogging empire Shiny Media has closed shop, leaving media lovers sad to see the death of this technology, fashion and lifestyle content network that attracted some of the highest traffic for a UK-centric website of more than three million unique visitors monthly.

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