jueves, 28 de febrero de 2013

Q&A with The Digitals judging panel: Anil Pillai of LBi

Posted 26 February 2013 14:19pm by Ryan Sommer with 0 comments

Entries for The Digitals, our new awards that recognise the best in digital marketing and ecommerce, are currently open

To celebrate their launch and build a better understanding of what it is all about, we've invited several of the esteemed judges for a Q&A.

Anil Pillai, CEO of LBi UK, is the fourth in the series.

What will you be looking for when judging The Digitals entries this year?

I'll be looking for standout work with a spark of innovation, where the brand or agency has thought creatively about consumer insight and the application of technology.

In keeping with our global theme, are their campaigns that stand out in your mind as best practice from other areas outside the UK?

A lot has already been said about Nike FuelBand, but I think it's an interesting piece of work because it shows how an apparel brand has managed to become a data business. FuelBand gives Nike access to an unprecedented amount of customer data, and it will be fascinating to see how they use this for future initiatives.

How do you build digital excellence within your company?

We do this in lots of ways. Firstly, and most importantly, we build excellence by striving to make LBi a place like no other, creating a culture where innovation and creativity are valued and encouraged.

Secondly, being a digital business means constantly adapting and changing, so we have made this part of our culture as an agency, and we hire people who embrace that approach.

What types of company and business sectors do you see excelling at digital marketing and ecommerce at the moment?

In today's digital economy, the currency is velocity, so brands who are able to change and innovate at speed are the one who I see excelling. Pure play digital brands like ASOS and Amazon are good examples of this, as are some of the more traditional bricks-and-mortar businesses like John Lewis.

At the other end of the scale, there are plenty of start-ups popping up who are small and agile enough to bring new products and services to market quickly, and who understand the power of storytelling and content, like this Welsh jeans brand Hiut Denim.

How should companies be defining and measuring digital excellence?

Digital excellence should of course be about the effectiveness and impact of your work, but it can also be measured by the speed at which you are able to make things happen. Sometimes, it's better to get something out there than to get it perfect. This "always in beta" approach has long been the way of working in Silicon Valley, but we're starting to see more UK businesses embracing it as a philosophy.

What do you see as being the biggest digital trends of 2013, and do you see examples of companies capitalising on these as part of their digital marketing campaigns and programmes?

One of the key trends identified by Trendwatching recently is 'newism' – the consumer hunger for new products, services and experiences on a daily, if not hourly basis. People are always looking for new apps to help them 'self-manage' everything from their diet to their diary. With the proliferation of smartphones and other mobile devices, there are more opportunities for brands to tap into this need for new products which add value to people's lives.

Another important digital development is the 'Internet of things', and what this means in terms of data. As the required technology becomes more affordable, machine-to-machine communication will mean a huge increase in the amount of data available to brands. The challenge for those brands will be to figure out smart ways to mine this data to develop fresh and relevant insights.

Finally, we've seen stats from many of our major household brand clients which demonstrate that the mobile channel has reached a tipping point recently. No longer the digital destination for a minority, we're seeing that people's first interaction with a brand is often on a mobile device, so it's essential to build experiences which reflect this.

Interflora – Where have all the flowers gone?

If you work in the search marketing sector it's been hard to miss the penalty that has been dumped on Interflora this week. Is was first noticed on Tuesday but it wasn't until SearchMetrics was updated today that the true picture of the penalty starts to take shape when you see such a dramatic fall from grace.

interflora searchmetrics

relative losers interflora

This is plain to see that it's a manual penalty, often sometimes the hardest to recover from, but we will have to see what happens over the next few days and weeks. Some of you may remember when BMW got penalised back in 2006 but it didn't take long for Google to realise that actually their "customers" needed and expected to see BMW in the results, especially when they searched for "bmw". Within the search marketing industry we have to constantly remind ourselves that the general population doesn't understand what makes sites appear at the top, nor do they care as long as they can find what they are looking for. Some people won't even realise that Interflora isn't ranking for their brand organically with the huge spread of PPC ads. (its getting harder to differentiate paid from organic these days)

interflora ppc

Interflora not ranking for their brand name is an issue for us, but for Google's customers they are likely to just click on the PPC ads. What hurts brands more is when you lose rankings for major search terms.

Interflora are still ranking number one for a whole host of keywords

interflora rankings

But what they are missing are the prime keywords that we know would be driving the most organic traffic…this is some of the rankings from last week

interflora rankings last week

and this are some from today

interflora top term rankings

This is when you can identify that manual intervention at Google is in play as specific keywords have been targeted and these are likely to have been overcooked in the link profile, with links that Google aren't happy with. I'm not going to start getting into a big link analysis here as every SEO out there will have been digging around and have their own opinion of what is right or wrong, what Google is classing as "unnatural" but there could be a whole host of issues that we are not aware of going on, so until more information is available we can but speculate. There are also pages on the site that Google would not be happy with too that can't be overlooked.

But What To Do Now?

What do you do when you get penalised like this? You're a big brand, and have invested in your web presence for years, enjoyed the masses of traffic that ranking for major terms have brought, grown with the rankings in terms of staffing … and then one morning you wake up and the traffic has gone. (well the relatively cheap organic traffic has gone, compared to the cost of PPC traffic on major keywords)

As all companies should have, that rely on Google for their revenue, you should always have a domain name tucked away in reserve that you can pull out of the bag and relaunch on. So will we be seeing a new domain popping up somewhere, maybe an uk.interflora.co.uk or interfloraflowers.co.uk, as it's been seen in quite a few sectors where a site will rebrand to a new domain.. But, on the flipside, if it's on page issues a full site analysis would certainly pick out areas that Google would not see as desirable in this era where they are clamping down on weak or spammy pages that are there purely to boost rankings.

If this isn't an option and you have burnt the domain, you have a few choices. Depending how close you are to Google, or how big your brand is, this is a starting point to get in touch with a Google rep to try to gauge how bad it's looking for the domain. The other option would be the clean up and reinclusion request but this could take a very long time especially with link penalties, as depending on what links have been built and how, it can be a very hard task and then you are left with not enough links passing equity to rank anyway so you're back at square one even if the penalty is removed. They could maybe also launch a partnership with a strong domain in a separate sector on a sub domain of their site, such as interflora.hallmark.co.uk to regain some of the lost traffic and regain brand rankings

It will be interesting to see what develops from this as the dust settles and the storm passes to the next big thing that Google throw at the SEO industry, and will Google now be looking at the flower industry as a whole or looking to see who is left ranking for the Interflora keyword to see how they themselves have achieved their rankings?

Top three retail pricing strategies to beat your competitors

Posted 25 February 2013 15:02pm by Arie Shpanya with 2 comments

Pricing items in online retail store can be a pain. It can take hours of tedious manual work, and it's always a trial and error experiment as you never know which price is just the right one for your products.

You know that you need to have some sort of pricing strategy in place for you online store and we know that you do, but is that strategy costing you?

Here is an outline of a few different points that often play a part in pricing strategies to illustrate the how they affect your business. 

Anchor Pricing

Some might say that Anchor Pricing is "the" key to developing your successful pricing strategy. We say, keep your eye on the big picture and be aware of how people shop. Anchor pricing refers to establishing a price point that your customers then use as a reference point for all future purchases.

As an example, when sales prices are listed, the original price is also always listed to give customers a reference point for how much they are saving. This establishes that reference point as an anchor price for that product, and customers see that point as the "normal" price. If you can set the anchor price "high," your sales benefit since customer see the high price as normal and your "sale" price as a great deal. Sounds like a good pricing strategy so far, right?

The problem is that anchor pricing does not necessarily factor in how people shop today. More and more customers are taking to the internet and utilizing a wide variety of tools to compare prices before purchasing - and not just on "big ticket" items. By the time a customer gets to your store, they already have a good idea of what the "real" anchor price is for the product they are looking to buy. If your anchor price does not match their expectation - they leave.

That is not to say that there is no place for anchor pricing. You still need to set an anchor price, but you need accurate pricing data for the market to allow you to establish an anchor price that customers will "agree" with. Your data source is the actual "key" to enable the development of an effective pricing strategy.

Beat them all!

With the ever-growing trend of price comparison website and applications, it may seem that the only way to entice customers is to beat everyone's prices.  After all, if everyone is comparing prices and yours are the lowest that should equal more sales, right? We can comfortably answer that question with a very positive "maybe."

Having the lowest price may bring you some additional business, but it also drags you into a downward price spiral and puts your business in a position you may not want to be. Having said that, being the cheapest can be a useful strategy to help meet some short-term needs your business may have such as boosting a slow sales cycle, or emptying out inventory.

The lower prices drive more traffic that makes up for the decreased profit margins. However, you still need to ensure that you can afford to sell at the cheapest price without taking a loss, and more importantly, you need to be aware of what that cheapest point is in the market at any given moment.

This is where accurate market data is essential. Your data needs to be up to the minute, and allow you to respond dynamically to any changes, allowing you to maintain your pricing position.

Dynamic Pricing

No, we do not mean your online store should become like the airlines, where on any given flight most of the passengers have paid different amounts.  We are referring to the ability of you to adapt to changes in pricing in the market.

As mentioned previously, by the time the customer has arrived at your product, they already have a good idea of what it should cost. Your pricing needs to reflect real time market conditions so that when these customers arrive, their expectations on cost are met. In the ever-changing world of online shopping, the "expected" price for a given product can be very dynamic and if your pricing cannot adapt, you will cut your profits on both ends.

By not adjusting your prices to reflect lower market pricing, customers will go elsewhere. By not adjusting your prices to reflect higher market pricing, you will be selling items at a lower price than necessary to maintain customer satisfaction. The key to maintain a dynamic pricing solution is good data.

You need to monitor market conditions in real time and be able to implement changes as needed, whenever and wherever you are.

Arie is the CEO of WisePricer, a real-time repricing engine for online retailers. He is a seasoned e-commerce executive with an extensive experience in multi-channel platforms.

How effective is M&S's use of QR codes?

Posted 26 February 2013 12:55pm by David Moth with 0 comments

In digital marketing terms QR codes seem to have been around for ages, yet it's still much easier to find examples of brands using the technology badly than it is to highlight instances that deliver a decent user experience. 

A few months ago I flagged up a Toyota print ad as a good example of how to use QR codes to deliver a fun and engaging mobile experience and I've since been on the look out for similar campaigns.

As with all new technologies it is quite easy to dismiss QR codes as a passing fad, particularly as user uptake has been quite slow.

However a survey published today by Nielsen shows that 18% of UK consumers regularly use a QR or barcode scanner, so there may be life in the old dog yet.

Marks & Spencer certainly seems to think so, as it has placed a large QR code in the centre of its Mother's Day window display in Brixton (you can scan the same code above), and potentially in its other stores around the country.

In a recent post about QR code best practice I stated that marketers need to make sure the code is large enough to be noticed and positioned where users 

can easily scan it.

M&S's window display certainly ticks these boxes as it is displayed prominently at the front of the store, and at a height that is comfortable to scan for your average consumer.

The only slight problem is that it's not always advisable to get your smartphone out on Brixton High Street, but then that's hardly M&S's fault.

Another important element is the call-to-action. Not everyone is aware of the technology and scanning a QR code can still be a bit of a chore, so marketers need to give people instructions and tell them what they stand to benefit.

M&S's window display has an excellent call-to-action and encourages people to scan the code with the incentive of exclusive offers and the ability to get products delivered to your door.

Some users may be confused by the unique design of the QR code as it isn't the black and white square that we're used to seeing, but in my opinion it's still recognisable and is more attractive than the usual design.

The final piece of the puzzle, and perhaps the most important, is designing an effective, mobile-optimised landing page. Toyota was a great example as it presented you with the start button for a car, which lured you in to find out more.

M&S's landing page includes links to Mother's Day product categories, as well as a banner promoting flowers and plants (you can access the landing page by scanning the QR code at the top of this post).

But while M&S passes the first test by directing users to its mobile site rather than a desktop page, the execution isn't quite perfect as the banner is almost unreadable.

If you squint you can just about read the text, but it's far too small and is pretty much useless as a CTA.

Also, I'm not a huge fan of the other links, which use white text on a pink background. I suppose the idea is to avoid using any colours that might be confused with Valentine's Day, but the meek colour scheme means that it loses any visual impact.


That said, I am a fan of M&S's mobile site and making a purchase is relatively simple, though the checkout process is quite long.

In conclusion...

Overall this is a well-executed QR code display, though there are a few problems with the landing page design.

The window display is excellent as it is prominently positioned and should catch people's attention. Furthermore, it gives instructions to those who may be unaware of QR codes and offers an attractive incentive to get your smartphone out of your pocket. 

As mentioned, the landing page is let down by the drab colour scheme and poorly designed banner that is impossible to read, but M&S still scores points for directing users to a mobile site in the first place.

While it remains to be seen whether shoppers actually scan the QR code in large numbers, this is likely to have been a relatively cheap trial for M&S to set up and it has given itself a decent chance of success by delivering a good user experience.

SEO Is Changing, So Are The Tools As MajesticSEO Takes Centre Stage

It has been a while since I have had the chance to be able to cover this subject and with continuing conversations surrounding whether SEO is dead or not, I felt that this was a great time to be able to highlight that SEO isn't dying, it is simply taking another step through the evolution ladder and in an effort to keep up with the latest changes, how tools like MajesticSEO are keeping ahead of the game.

The fact that SEO tools as a whole make the analysis and effectiveness of search engine optimisation easier than ever before has meant that the call for providers to keep pace with the seemingly increasing pace that the search engines are demanding is at its highest point yet and we are pleased to see that one of our most frequently used tools is doing just that.

MajesticSEO has to be firmly up there within the list of must have SEO tools and with a firm following the tool has become one of the most used in the industry, providing some website owners with the chance to be able to develop their own development based on carefully created metrics that seem to carry them in the direction that they intend to go, so news of what the creators have been up to is highly important for anyone that currently or is considering using to tool.

After speaking with the guys over at MajesticSEO, I am pleased to be able to shed a little light on the developments that they have been working on in recent months to ensure that their tool is providing us with the best possible insight into not only your own sites but those of your competitors, giving you a valuable insight into the working pattern that they may be following in order to give you the chance to be able to counter their advances.

Back in November 2012, MajesticSEO opened up their tool to allow users to be able to upload a list of links that you would like to process through their tool, giving you the chance to be able download backlink data from tools such as Google Webmaster Tools in order to ensure that the MajesticSEO index covers all of the links that Google are seeing pointed into your site (not often that they will be missing from the increasing size of the tools index anyway).

Created to allow two formats of dataset (.csv and .txt) the tools allows you to access this feature through the 'Bulk Backlink Checker' which I found easy to use and I'm sure that even those of you that are less familiar with the tool would be able to quickly get to grips with, a valuable tool for those times that you are wanting to carry out a look at how your backlink profile is potentially conceived by Google at any point.

Furthering their push to be able to absorb some of the links that you might have found that MajesticSEO is yet to find, this week the tool has released the chance to be able to add those links directly into their index, pushing the tool to find the links that they might not have found at any moment in time, giving you an even more powerful tool that will be sure to make this the must have tool of the industry at this given point.

Adding the unfound links into the dataset that MajesticSEO hold will be a valuable asset to any website owner and with the upload taking a matter of minutes and the fresh index being made on a daily basis, your wait for information on the links is one of the quickest possible to date.

As well as a push to increase their crawling index, MajesticSEO have also moved to offer you more insight into the analysis of the links that your site holds at any given point, with a feature added back in November which provided you with the chance to be able to see what area of the world your links are being added from, allowing you the chance to ensure that your backlink profile isn't saturated with links from unnatural looking placements.

Amid the current updates such as the Panda and Penguin updates released by Google, deeper analysis into how your backlink profile may be presented is now more important that it has ever been and the chance to be able to see a map which breaks down the location of your links will be sure to aid the vetting of your profile from a new perspective.

We already know that MajesticSEO in our eyes is a tool that every SEO should have available to them and if you feel that the accessibility of the tool is an issue (not too sure if that would apply as we have it open on a tab all the time anyway), the developers of the tool rolled out a Google Chrome extension which is free to download from the Chrome store, allowing for even faster insight into websites and pages that you are looking at.

Nestling into the Chrome facia, the extension version of the tool allows you to be able to hover over the top of the button that is added to your browser and instantly you will be presented with data that will give you a deeper look into the page you are on than you could ever carry out by looking at the page alone, a valuable asset for those of you that like me, want to be able to know what each and every page you look at has holding it in place.

Now that MajesticSEO have taken the steps to once again regain the SEO tool crown (in my own personal opinion), the outlook of the tool looks fantastic and I have to admit that the chance to be able to get my hands on email updates of links that the tool is no longer finding within their dataset (links that have been removed for one reason or another), I believe that taking a process forward in a positive manner has just been made into a much more streamlined process, allowing for a better handle to be placed on those campaigns that you are looking to improve in the best way forward.

If you want to find out more about what MajesticSEO are looking to provide in terms of developments within the tool, I would strongly suggest that you head over to their blog in order to take a look at the news that they share over there, or take it one step further and make sure that your name is on the email subscription list to be one of the first to find out how else this tool is going from strength to strength.

Why has the financial services sector been slow to adopt social?

Posted 26 February 2013 11:22am by Michael Veenswyk with 1 comment

For many organisations, social represents one of the most drastic changes in communications since the advent of email.

Savvy businesses now effectively use the power of social to interact with their customer bases, prospect for new business, deliver services and obtain customer and market insights.

Indeed, this shift in communication has led many large enterprises to employ teams of social experts, tasked with monitoring the social airwaves at all hours and in multiple languages.

Traditionally, the Financial Services (FS) sector is one of the earliest to adopt new technologies, especially those that can be deployed enterprise-wide.

The likes of contactless payments, commercial mobile payment offerings, cloud-based solutions and data analytics have been embraced and adopted ahead of the curve - however, the adoption of social has been markedly slower. 

Risk Management

One key reason for this hesitance is that compliance legislation, which has become even stricter since the 2009 recession, requires financial institutions to be incredibly cautious with their communication with the outside world.

The FSA,SEC and FINRA recently issued new guidance for FS companies using social. Promotion and advertising, supervision and monitoring, and recordkeeping have all come under the spotlight, and FINRA now requires detailed recordkeeping to prove inappropriate claims have not been made to a customer or prospect.

Social also makes it incredibly easy for individuals to share confidential, sensitive and private information, accidently or maliciously violating privacy or other laws. The fear is that without archiving tools, record of social interaction can be lost, leading to eDiscovery, legal hold and evidence spoliation to name just a few compliance problems.

Additionally, an inability to link a social identity to a corporate identity can pose significant problems from a risk management perspective.

Baby steps

A number of financial sector organisations have taken small steps into social. Many have a burgeoning social presence on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, helping them interact with customers to drive news and promote products.

In July 2012, Morgan Stanley announced plans to enable its financial advisors to communicate with customers via social channels, Twitter and LinkedIn. There was a very notable condition, however; the messages they share on these channels must be taken from a list of pre-approved content.

Other examples include, Zecco, the online stock brokerage which enables its customers to trade through Facebook; Ameriprise, the financial advisory firm, which offers an adviser search tool on LinkedIn; and both E*Trade and optionsXpress have launched social communities.

However, compared with other sectors' adoption of social, FS businesses are trailing. Compliance is a huge issue, but further factors contributing to hesitancy include the fact that social opens up the organisations to criticism, abuse and lack of resources. 

The opportunity

The proliferation of smartphones and tablets means that today's consumer is digitally savvy, sees social as an inherent skill and expects to be communicated to in such a fashion.

The fact is, a business will not be considered relevant in the current economy if it fails to communicate where stakeholders – clients, investors, business partners, media and industry peers – are listening.

People and businesses now have a much larger arena to communicate in, voicing opinions in real time and a brand must be part of this conversation.

Embracing social

Social certainly brings compliance challenges for financial institutions, but there are simple steps a business can take to overcome them. For example, it is vital to educate staff to be aware that communication through social is subject to the same compliance laws as any other medium. 

However, ultimately, the reduction in social risk boils down to the ability to capture and control the information flowing in and out of an organisation's social channels. This involves logging all social interaction within a business, monitoring incoming and outgoing messages and archiving communication for compliance review.

Further, compliance laws require the monitoring of two-way communications between financial advisors, customers and potential prospects. This sounds daunting on paper, but the good news is that FS organisations should not fear these stipulations, as we are now at the stage where technologies are available to manage these processes while monitoring all outbound information through textual analysis, interpreting whether a user has communicated inappropriately.

It can also lock information for legal hold, allowing it to be passed on to appropriate authorities or opposing legal counsel, adhering to eDiscovery standards.

Social cannot be ignored and the banks, treasuries and insurance bodies that get to grips with it, in a compliant fashion, will reap the benefits.

It gives FS businesses the opportunity to create an online presence that can be heard amongst a large mass of people and company leaders an efficient way to deliver a company message, create transparency, and engage in a two-way conversation.

Communication has evolved and businesses that fail to embrace this new world order will get left behind as consumers' social expectations continue to escalate. It's quite simple – FS businesses must adapt to integrate social, or face being left behind as competitors seize the opportunity.

Image credit: mikebaird via Flickr

Michael Veenswyk is CEO at Integritie and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. 

12 Standing Ovation-Worthy ‘Five Word TED Talks’ on Twitter

TED comes back this week to inspire, delight and make people clap at Power Point slides.

Twitter celebrated the return of inspiration seekers' favorite conference with a 2013 version of the hashtag "Five Word TED Talks." Why bother listening to an entire TED talk when you can get the basic gist in a couple seconds? Answer: Don't bother.

Peruse 12 of our favorite #FiveWordTEDTalks below.













Mashable composite. Image courtesy of Flickr, Steve Jurvetson

Republic & what to do with social assets during administration

This is a follow up piece from Head of Strategy Matthew Jackson's previous post - Comet & what to do with digital assets during administration.

Since the high-street fashion brand Republic's HQ is neighbouring to our own, I thought I would take the time to revisit the digital asset issue, but this time focusing on social media.

After reading Econsultancy's post on Friday (5th Feb) in which a disappointed stance was realised in reference to how the issue had been dealt with in terms of e-commerce, I was all ready to jump on the brand and give an equally scathing report in terms of social, but this was not to be the case.

In Econsultancy author Mike Essex's original post, he quite rightly claims that:

"Every day that passes by they (Republic) are losing money and brand equity, as well as wasting one of their strongest assets. For a business in need of recovery, the best thing they could do right now may be to switch the website back on."

It turns out that Republic had not just done that, they seem to have changed their whole online presence into a massively sales driven environment.

The website

Yesterday (Feb 18 2013), www.republic.co.uk looked like this:

Republic Site

In lieu of the original 'site unavailable' message followed by a rundown of the administration, there was a fairly decent makeshift clearance site.

The page featured a rudimentary sign-up sheet with data-capture for those who were interested in keeping up-to-date with the latest bargains and a 'Nearest Store' page that, while lacking in any aesthetic brilliance, carried out its requirements with Google Maps appearing in light boxes pinpointing all of the stores around the UK. The original comments from the administrators were also still available on a third page.

One of the more interesting facets to the improvised site was the use of blatant social media icons at the bottom of the page and even the encouraged use of the hashtag #republicsale.

In contrast to the case study carried out on the administration of Comet, who simply shut their whole site down with no second thought to digital assets, it would seem that Republic, or at least those who were in charge of the administration process, was doing a pretty good job of safeguarding not only their rankings but their social presence too.

But digging a little deeper, the same old mistakes have been made with the Republic site. For example, this time last week the site was ranking eighth for search terms such as 'dresses', second for 'men's clothing', first for 'clothes sale' and 'clothes shops' and fourth for 'women's clothes'. All of these rankings have now vanished from the SERPs and it seems all they are really left with is rankings on their brand name.

To stop all of this, all they had to do is make all the deeper pages, such as those mentioning women's clothes, for example, into 503 error pages which indicate to search engines crawling the page that the site is temporarily down. Instead, all of these pages were given a 404 which meant any trust for the pages is now lost.

Although the site is still up, we have noticed some strange happenings today, where all that was showing for hours at a time was this:

Error message

This spells an even more melancholy outlook for the site, as this four page splash site holds the only hope for holding on to the rankings they have left, including for their brand name.

Things seem a little different over on the social side of things, however:


Republic Facebook

Republic's Facebook page seems to be business as usual. Their last interaction from the posting of this piece was at 9AM GMT, so we know they someone is still captaining the social ship somewhere. The page has been branded with the same clearance sale image as the site was brandishing yesterday and continues to produce content, mostly related to their sale:

Republic Facebook Content

More than that, there seems to be some real effort put into cross platform marketing, a strategy usually carried out by brands on their way up, not their way out.

Republic Cross Platform


Republic Twitter

Followers of the Republic Twitter page are still enjoying the same 15 – 20 a day tweet rate they were pre-administration and judging by the tone and subject, it would seem Twitter is the best place to visit if you have any problems with missing deliveries, using gift cards in store and where to find the best bargains.

So what can we learn?

Whoever is in charge of the online situation, whether it be the administrators or HQ staff, they seem to be taking more consideration when it comes to digital assets on the whole, which may be a slight indication that the business world in general is holding the value of the digital sphere in much higher regard, especially in terms of social media.

This does not mean, however, that everything that can be done to save the countless man hours and budget poured into a digital marketing strategy, in terms of SEO for example, is being done. It seems there is a lot of work to be done to convince everyone of the worth of digital assets.

In the same vein, not every brand will be taking their social profiles as seriously as Republic and, to be fair, not all of them should. The reason, I would assume, for such an effort in the on-going social strategy in this instance is based on where Republic felt the most value was placed pre-administration.

It would seem that for Republic, it can achieve higher standards and frequency of customer communication through their social channels than it could with a fully-fledged website and the apparent value it places on its social channels, in the eyes of a social media strategist, is encouraging.

BY Georgia Halston AT 3:02pm ON Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Georgia is a Social Media Strategist here at Branded3. She studied Media Culture and Society at university and is actively involved in the arts and cultural side of Leeds as a city. Follow @georgiahalston on Twitter

Using emotional intelligence to optimise conversion rates

Posted 26 February 2013 11:00am by Ellie Edwards-Scott with 2 comments

Each search query typed into Google delivers page upon page of worthy results, firing users off to several million more websites on a daily basis for all their needs, from research to idle browsing and shopping.

Even in niche markets it is becoming increasingly difficult for online retailers to retain and interest their target users on their website itself in a market where competition is intense.

The practice of making your web page a compelling place to be and crucially, give customers what they want in a matter of seconds, is known as conversion optimisation: making the most out of the people who come to your site and turning them into customers.

So what are the tried and tested ways of standing out from the crowd? What do you need to pay attention to when building and designing a website? Here are my top five considerations for creating a compelling – and successful website – to bring home the leads.

1. Think emotional

Many people think they act consciously when they go shopping. However, studies have revealed that 95 percent of all purchasing decisions – online as well as offline – are based on emotional impulses.

This applies especially to female customers: women spend more time browsing and rarely have a specific target when going shopping. They are emotional, visual, and have high expectations.

Therefore, the golden rule of advertising psychology is: information and emotions need to be transmitted in a way that is both, clear and concise.

2. Make it easy to fall into a sale

The Apple store is a lesson in usability and the art of inviting the customers to an almost-complete sale by the time they get to the checkout. By retaining the customer's details and auto-filling their address, credit card details, giving easy gift options for those people who want to make present-buying simple and quick.

This is why advertisers should become acquainted with the essentials of usability and optimising user experience. Just as in brick and mortar stores, in e-commerce, the customers' needs should be the top priority.

This applies for customer service, but also for the usability of the website so making things easier for customers to find what they're looking for, or optimising product feeds to respond to the nature of the customer. Being able to predict what a person may want to buy in future, or in addition to their current purchases, had been a goldmine for businesses such as Amazon.

Tools that have been proven to work are:

  • Likes, reviews, and outfit suggestions from other members give shopping a social component.
  • Discount information and a customer-friendly user experience give the user the feeling of buying something tailor made to their style and taste.
  • Transparent purchasing conditions create trust and promote a feeling of security. 

3. Know thy customer

Getting to intimately know the type of person that you want to attract is a less obvious first move for marketers than you might think.

Putting the time and effort into customer research to understanding the personas that visit and respond positively to your site – and working to 'replicate' those sales -  to understand site visitor intent against satisfaction.

However at times a formulaic approach works across many different models. For example, fashion websites and often voucher deal sites use the same tools to reach out to their customer and instigate a feeling of need, or a feeling of urgency.

Showing a countdown often lowers the availability of an offer for a user, triggering an unpleasant feeling of loss which customers then want to avert by making an impulse purchase.

Lastly, showing reviews given by other customers give the impression that their peers were satisfied with the product.

4. Improve, improve, improve

Developing a continuous programme of improvement using conversion optimization lets you find out which design version works best. Without knowing it, website visitors are often shown different design versions and the reactions to them are measured.

This is known as multivariate testing. With a little bit of background knowledge in psychology you can create interesting new website versions. These versions compete against each other in a split traffic test, and in the best-case scenario it will quickly show you what goes down well with the visitors.

Develop the business case and invest – successful cases show that CRO requires dedicated staff or a specialist agency. 

5. The form factor

Taking notice of how the eye takes in the visual aspects of your website is key to the success of a brand, the customer return rate, and in some cases, the abandonment rate of baskets.

In order to achieve the desired outcome from a user visit – a lead or a sale –the customer needs to first of all notice the offer. Since we mostly process information through visual images, "activating" or inviting a customer to take notice can be best achieved with pictures.

Various kinds of stimuli work well in this situation:

  • Physical stimulus: rich, widespread colors.
  • Cognitive stimulus: thought-provoking and controversial images.
  • Emotional stimulus: displays of human emotions such as freedom, love, and happiness.

If you want to confront the user with stimuli on your website, we recommend getting acquainted with advertising psychology. To impart a few pointers, we have come up with four cornerstones of emotive imagery:

  • Pictures of people are noticed faster than pictures of objects.
  • Colour images work better than black and white ones.
  • Round shapes are more pleasing to the eye than angular ones.
  • …and lastly, warm colors create a more comfortable atmosphere than cold ones.

However, these generalizations are not always directly transferrable to the world of online, and they do need to be tested and prove their effectiveness with each target group.

Ellie Edwards-Scott is Managing Director at QUISMA and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. 

miércoles, 27 de febrero de 2013

9 Apps Built by Self-Taught Coders

You can access plenty of service online when learning to code: Codecademy, Skillshare, Treehouse, Code School, Learn Code The Hard Way, Udemy, General Assembly, Udacity and the list goes on. Some charge per class or by monthly membership, while others are free or accept donations.

But still, learning anything outside traditional education requires personal initiative. For many people, it will involve setting aside time outside of a regular day job in which you do something other than programming. But as our world is more and more influenced by what we're able to accomplish with code, being a maker of such programs gives a person an advantage in nearly any industry.

Here are a few apps made by people who had just learned to code. Some have gone on to do greater things, while others might stick around and build their basic prototype into a full-fledged product. At least one is generating enough revenue to make a living on apps he built.

Have you tried to learn to code? What would you want to build? Tell us in the comments.

1. SimpleTax

SimpleTax is a program to help people in Canada file their taxes. Right now, you can sign up with your email address to be notified when the program is live — but while you're waiting, try out the tax calculator, which is already functional. This app is being built by Jonathan Suter, who learned to code with Codecademy.

2. Sworkit

Sworkit is a mobile app that gives users circuit training workouts they can do anywhere. Some example workouts target core, upper body or stretching, and the app also includes cardio workouts and yoga.

Army veteran Ryan Hanna built Sworkit in 2012 as a project to help him learn programming. He used Codecademy lessons to teach himself to code.

3. Open Office Hours

This app lets anyone post office hours along with where they'll be, whether it is a physical location or on Skype. It's also a great place to browse interesting people you might want to meet — and if they are available, you can easily set up that meeting.

Nate Westheimer, executive director at New York Tech Meetup, built the app after learning to code. He explains in a blog post how frustrating it is to work at startups as the product person without being able to build prototypes yourself.

4. BrideBook

This app helps soon-to-be brides keep track of the important things while planning a wedding. Once signed up, you can put in your fiancé's name, the wedding date and other details, including the budget, a guest list, tasks alongside timeframes and businesses, such as the caterer or floral arrangement shop you plan to use.

BrideBook was built by Manuel da Costa, who learned to code through One Month Rails on Skillshare, Michael Hartl's tutorial and Codeschool. Right now the app is tailored for use in the UK, but even without logging your "real" location — features such as the wedding countdown and task lists are still useful. Da Costa is getting user feedback and testing the business model now, and will consider expanding internationally in the future.

5. Reminder Apps

After learning to code through Treehouse, Jordan Garn built three iOS apps, all paid, and now earns $2,000 each month from sales.

One app helps users create an exercise or diet plan, with reminders. Another is focused on good habits, and allows you to track progress (after all, it takes 30 days to build a habit). The last is more general — for any kind of reminders.

6. Major Finder

This app isn't quite finished, but we can already tell it could become quite useful. For anyone who took months, or years, to finally pick a major: What if there was a place to browse and ask people, at schools from all over, what studying for their major was like?

Major Finder was built by a One Month Rails Skillshare student.

7. BusNear.me

This app will ask permission to check your location, and assuming you're in New York, it can indicate which buses are nearby. It's simple, designed for a mobile browser and laid out very simply.

BusNear Me was built by Jonathan Werbell, who took a class at Skillshare and works at Bloomberg Philanthropies.

8. Instacurate

Instacurate uses a hashtag or Twitter user to generate a Pinterest-style layout of links — curated, if you will. When you're looking for the latest news on a trending topic, it might be a fun way to browse.

The app was built by David Bauer, who completed Codecademy's CodeYear. After initially signing up, he took a six-month break before returning to the coding lessons. With his project, he says that the community at Github was helpful with the trickier portions of the app.

9. Worst Best Hairy Chest

Remember the old grade school fable: "First the worst / Second the best / Third the one with the hairy chest"? Well, one Skillshare student, Joshua Beckerman, built an app that passes judgement on who or what is good, bad or plain weird. Right now the site shows a few examples but doesn't seem to be accepting new ones.

Mashable composite. Images via iStockphoto, leluconcepts

No Symbian at MWC this year - but how are the 2013 competition doing?

You see, as someone with access to every new device from the last 3 years, I still find my main SIM card back in a Symbian device more often than not. Partly because the OS is such a known quantity, filexible yet power-efficient, partly because of Nokia's hardware and gadgetry. So how do I see the 2013 competition in the light of classics like my 808 PureView, running Belle FP2?


It's completely fair to say that even the Nokia 808 gets blown away for sheer speed by the latest Android flagships. Whether it's web browsing or HD games or even watching something on YouTube, the raw speed of the likes of the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z and others is nothing short of very impressive. That this speed comes with a downside of a decrease in battery life is expected, though mitigated by larger batteries coming as standard now.

Verdict: Symbian loss

Battery life

I'm still amazed by how well Symbian performs in terms of battery efficiency. Yes, you can still hammer a Symbian phone's battery by non-stop gaming or running a 3G data connection all the time in a weak 3G area, but for most people, most of the time, it's comparatively easy to get two days of normal use from one charge if you know what you're doing - I keep data in 2G mode for routine email/social use and then flick on 3G if I need to do any mobile browsing or heavy duty streaming.

808 rear and battery

In contrast, the Android phones I've used recently tend to be on their last legs after 24 hours and a charge is needed every night. Admittedly, there are similar battery-saving tricks that can be employed to go further, plus there's a definite use case factor creeping in here, in that on a large-screened, fast Android smartphone, there's more of a temptation to play HD games, watch HD videos, browse the web for longer, and so forth, so I'm not really 'comparing apples with apples. But overall, the typical charging life of a Symbian user does tend to be slightly different, and in a good way.

Verdict: no winner

User interface

I don't hold to the assertion that Symbian is old and outdated - this could indeed be argued in the days of S60 5th Edition (the awkward transition to 'touch') and Symbian^3 (eliminating all the 'scroll and select' quirks and introducing a more direct tapping paradigm) and Anna (2011 refresh, including portrait QWERTY input). However, the update to Belle (with Refresh and FP1/FP2) brought a much more modern use of the bottom-of-screen area, with context sensitive icons and functions, with consistent visual effects, flexible home screens and more. 

The combination of homescreens (widgets, shortcuts, toggles) and a scrolling application menu is very comparable to that on Android and arguably superior to the iPhone's limited overall app launching/access UI. That some specific applications (Web, Social, Store) are still a bit slow and clunky is more down to 'speed' (see above).

In a perfect world, some manufacturer would have crafted a perfect user interface by now. Making the likes of Symbian, iOS, Android and so on look rather second rate. Meego Harmattan was as close as I've seen to perfection and even that I'd only rate as 80%. Ditto the new Blackberry 10. Maybe, with user preferences so varied, there is no such thing as a perfect user interface? In which case the playing field is quite level and I'd put Symbian in its Belle form up in the same bracket as the competition with no hesitation.

Verdict: no winner

808 homescreen

Photography and video capture

Nokia has had a lead in imaging for years, happily meaning that its Symbian flagships inherited the best that Nokia's R&D labs could create. Nokia's designers also had the courage to think about camera functionality first (larger sensors, Xenon flash) and worry about device thickness afterwards - something no 2013 manufacturer has been brave enough to contemplate. 

So we're left with the position that the top two smartphones in the world, rated by camera ability, are the 2010 Nokia N8 and 2012 Nokia 808, both running Symbian Belle. Which has got to be galling for the competition - I cannot believe that after all this time we haven't seen a real camera-specialist Android smartphone. The Motorola XT720 was the last, three years ago - and that was deeply flawed. And no, the Samsung Galaxy Camera doesn't count as it's not really a phone.

[The Nokia 808 also wins out for video capture, with its stereo Rich Recording, its in-video lossless zoom, and so on]

Verdict: Symbian win

Music and multimedia

This was another area which Nokia had a big lead in, again spearheaded by its Symbian phones. Devices from the N95 onwards had the best audio quality chips and best supplied headphones, while Symbian's video playback facility and codec support has only got better through the years. The physical limits of the hardware, with nHD resolution, have held things back in recent years though. Meaning that we're left with the very top Android handsets winning out, having both very good audio output and true HD screens with which to display video content.

Verdict: Symbian loss


It still pains me to think of Nokia's use of an on-device app store, Download!, way back in 2005, three years before Apple popularised the concept. Despite calls from me for them to do more with the idea, Nokia put almost zero effort into the idea, relying on it to push just a few trial apps and items from selected publishers, with the result that Apple completely and utterly stole its thunder.

Fast forward to 2013 and applications now routinely come out for iOS and Android first, with other platforms a distant third option for developers. With the help of my own knowledge of the Symbian apps and Symbian games world, I can make do (fairly handsomely) with the application set available for Symbian, covering office, social, multimedia, leisure, and so on, but I do accept that many household app names just aren't represented on Symbian, and probably never will be.

Verdict: Symbian loss

Build and reliability

Having mentioned Nokia heavily above, it's fair to include build and reliability as a factor in the choice of smartphone. Nokia has produced its share of 'plastic fantastic' stinkers, it's true (the N81, 6630 and even N97 all come to mind), but there have also been some massive reliability 'hits', with devices like the indestructible E71, E51, E90 and N8 leading the charge. It's still a truism that if you drop a Nokia then you pick it up and dust it off, perhaps ruing another small scratch or dent, while if you drop an iPhone or similar then you're more likely to be seeking out a repair centre immediately.

There have been some ruggedised Android phones made in the last few years, mind you, each of which I've liked, but each has also come with some usability compromises. I'd argue that Nokia simply makes its devices better. And my Symbian-powered N8 has the battle scars to back this up.

Verdict: Symbian win

N8 dents

Spot the dents in the metal back of my N8. Roughly one 'ding' for every drop onto concrete/tarmac. What's that, you're asking at the back? No, this has never needed repairing. Everything still works as well as on the day I got it. It's called build quality(!)


Add it all up and a loss by only 3-2 seems rather at odds with the industry's abandonment of Symbian in terms of interest and development. What do you think? Do you agree with my assessments and can you think of other areas in which Symbian as a mobile OS beats the 2013 competition?

PS. Observant readers will note that I haven't mentioned Windows Phone above - with Nokia (and its specialisms and hardware prowess) now making Windows Phone devices, there's clearly some crossover from the world of Symbian under Nokia. I'll make this the subject of a future comparison piece. Watch this space.

Five examples of B2B companies achieving success in social marketing

Posted 26 February 2013 10:09am by David Moth with 1 comment

While it's fairly common for consumer brands to shout about their successes in social media marketing, finding convincing B2B case studies is a far more difficult task.

According to a recent survey, a majority of UK businesses (64%) are using social media as a marketing tool, with the most popular reasons being for brand awareness (83%), encouraging social sharing (56%) and gaining trust and followers (55%).

And social has certainly proved to be an important marketing and sales channel for Econsultancy, even though we do occasionally have difficulties working out the exact ROI.

However it still accounts for only a fraction of the traffic and leads for US B2B websites according to data from Optify. Overall, social accounts for 1.9% of traffic compared to 41% for organic search.

Even so, to try and shed some light on the benefits of social marketing, I've found five examples of B2B companies that have achieved success using social media.

B2B marketing is also one of the categories in #TheDigitals, our new awards that recognise the best in digital marketing and ecommerce. Award entries must be submitted online before the deadline March 13, 2013.

Award categories cover both industry and platform specific areas. There are special categories for best new technology, rising star (free to enter) and the overall Grand Prix winner. Further information on categories and entry requirements is available at thedigitalsawards.com.

But without further ado, here are the five B2B social marketing examples...


As part of the launch of its Creative Cloud and Creative Suite 6 (CS6) products, Adobe came up with a 'manifesto' that it called Create Now.

It was to serve as the central theme of its branding and marketing efforts, and would tie together its offline and online efforts.

To promote the launch event in April last year Adobe held a scavenger hunt around San Francisco. Participants had to pick up puzzle pieces from underneath balloons located around the city and return them to Adobe HQ.

Location tips and product information were shared on Foursquare, Twitter and Instragam, with the overall winner collecting $10,000 and a lifetime membership to the Creative Cloud.

Adobe also held a scavenger hunt online, where users had to find clues scattered across its websites and on social networks. Both scavenger hunts attracted more than 600 participants on launch day.


Additionally, Adobe held a '30 Days of Giveaways' promotion on Facebook that attracted more than 14,000 new fans and 32m impressions.

Overall, the product launches:

  • Received 83,000 social conversations within the first five days, with 97% positive-neutral sentiment.
  • Incited more than 3,800 #CreateNow Twitter conversations that generated more than 30m impressions.
  • All of this drove 3m+ visits from social media to Adobe.com during the launch, with visitors touched by social accounting for 13% of Creative Cloud subscriptions and as much as 4% for other established Creative Suite products.


As the popularity of online video continues to grow, as does YouTube potential as a channel for effective social marketing.

Network provider Cisco might not be an obvious candidate for attracting a massive following on YouTube, but its channel has more than 33,000 subscribers and almost 5m video views.

Part of its success is attributable to the sheer amount of content it uploads, with several videos coming online each day.

There is a wide range of content, including Q&As, products demos and presentations from events. This means that it is a useful resource for customers, as well as a sales tool, which in turns helps to attract more viewers.

Cisco also uses other social channels, such as its blog and Facebook, to promote its thought leadership articles. The aim is to engage and educate corporate audiences across a range of issues, driving buzz and SEO visibility in the process.

American Express

A few years ago American Express launched Open Forum, a site that aims to give advice to small business owners.

The site is frequently updated with new content, including blog posts and videos, but the jewel in the crown is probably the 'Idea Hub'. The hub is a forum that allows members to network and share ideas with each other and industry experts.

Open Forum achieved massive growth when it first launched, increasing unique visitors from 160,000 in December 2008 to almost 1m in December 2009. 

It now attracts more than 1m unique visitors per month and has more than 18,000 members. Interestingly, social media is currently the most popular topic on the site.

Open Forum is also supported through other social media channels, with its Facebook page attracting more than 300,000 fans.


Supply chain management company Kinaxis launched an online social video campaign with the lofty aim of doubling leads and web traffic numbers.

To achieve this it created a series called Suitemates – a comedy following two businessmen that get sent to jail following a shady corporate merger.

Featuring two recognisable actors in Kevin Pollack and Ray Wise, it's safe to say that Kinaxis probably had a fairly sizeable budget backing its campaign.

Suitemates had a dedicated mini-site that featured all the episodes and a competition to win an iPad. Unusually the site appears to be completely free of any links to Kinaxis. While it's a good idea to avoid being too salesy when running a social campaign, eschewing any references to the brand is probably a step too far.

To help support the campaign Kinaxis also launched a rather cringeworthy series called The Late Night Supply Chain Show and the 21st Century Supply Chain blog.

By using humour to lure customers in and by avoiding any obvious sales messages, Kinaxis achieved the results it was looking for – web traffic increased by 2.7x and there was a 3.2x increase in leads.


Though Tipp-Ex possibly blurs the lines between being a B2B and B2C company, this is a great example of using social media to gain massive brand exposure.

TippEx used a branded YouTube channel to create an interactive campaign where viewers could re-write the story onscreen.

In the video called 'Hunter shoots a bear' the hunter in question has second thoughts and asks users to come up with a different verb to replace 'shoots'. The video then shows a new ending depending on what the viewer types into the box.

TippEx achieved great success with the campaign – within 100 days the video had been viewed more than 35m times with an average brand exposure of five minutes. The clip has also been shared more than 380,000 times on Facebook and Twitter.

The brand also achieved a sales uplift of 30% in Europe, though it's unlikely that this is entirely attributable to a single social campaign. Overall this is another example of how humour can be used to gain exposure for an online ad campaign.