Six Serving Men Blog

Six Serving Men Blog

This Blog provides views and articles associated with Business & Digital Strategy.

Why did the accountant cross the road?

Stef Elliott - Monday, December 15, 2014

Because it’s what they did last year!

Excuse the early Christmas cracker joke but it often comes to mind when we talk to business owners about their digital marketing activity. Activity that may have been appropriate once continues because “that’s what we do!”. We call this the “ready-fire-aim” approach; defining your strategy based upon existing tactics rather than establishing what the best way to move forward is then acting on that.

Remember, strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Read our blog post from earlier in the year about what stops businesses from becoming more digitally mature to hear more about creating effective planning.

Move from “ready-fire-aim” to “ready, willing and able”

There are three main questions that you need to confirm so that you can move forward:

  1. Why to do? – What exactly do you aim to gain from your marketing efforts?
  2. What to do? – Knowledge, i.e. what are the steps needed in order to be effective in your activity?
  3. How to do? - Do you have the necessary skills to complete the activities and if not where do you get them from?

We recommend setting SMART objectives for your activity, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time bound. For example, growing website visit conversions by 10% in the next three months. The best place to start from is where you are now but don’t just look at what you do now look at what would really benefit your business!

Get pulling in the same direction

After setting targets many businesses then struggle to combine the resources available to them effectively - choosing by default to settle for adopting a “what we have” rather than a “what we need” approach.

There are various components you must consider to develop your digital maturity - do you look at the right information not just data? Do you have the right processes and technology in place? Are you compliant with the law?

We recommend using an experiential learning approach - doing, reviewing and refining to ensure you develop what you need rather than just turn the wheel.

Resolutions and prediction season

As we enter the festive season there are two certainties:

  • Offline press and social media sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn will be overrun with articles headlined as “2015 as the year of insert must have technology” or “10 new platforms you should use in 2015”.
  • If your digital marketing is not producing the business results you need to do something different. As Albert Einstein highlighted “the definition of madness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”.

Now is a good time to consider which areas could be improved upon in your marketing strategy and more importantly what changes you will implement in the coming year in order to improve things. Don’t fall into the age old trap of repeating the same mistakes over and over again!

So what next?

Making all of these changes can be challenging without focus and a phrase we often hear with regard to digital is “I did not know that I did not know that!”. This is where we can help – we specialise in supporting businesses in understanding and then implementing effective digital marketing strategies to support companies overall business goals.

What's stopping you becoming more digitally mature?

Stef Elliott - Thursday, October 30, 2014

Evidence shows that:

So what stops them from becoming more digitally mature?

Common factors that stop them are:

  1. They fail to plan
  2. The plan they have is unrealistic
  3. They don’t adjust the plan over time based upon the results they achieve

To become more effective (digitally mature!) they must actively address these issues.

Failing to plan is planning to fail

A realistic plan is essential to moving forward – but before getting into specific tactics you must:

1) Confirm your business goals: Align your digital marketing activity to directly support your overall business goals! Clarifying your business goals and making sure that you are clear on what these are enables you to understand what your digital plan should achieve.

2) Establish your measurement criteria: What are your KPIs? (Key Performance Indicators). Measurement is an essential part of the process of change. “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it“, and without measuring the impact of activity how will you know if any change you make has been beneficial?

3) Measure where you are currently: If you know how you are performing against the KPIs you have agreed upon, you have a base against which to set targets for improvement and something to compare the outcomes of your new plan against.

There are a range of metrics and measurement tools available but don’t get swamped or data blinded. Free tools, you may already have such as Google Analytics can help you determine KPI’s, your current performance and the ability to monitor your progress. For example, by measuring things such as the sales, contacts or number of visits to your site off the back of an email marketing campaign, will allow you to see whether your new plan is effective or not.

Implementing a realistic plan

To have any chance of succeeding your plan needs to be realistic. All businesses have limitations on time and resources so your plan should consist of small, achievable targets that are time bound.

For example, setting a target to increase your mailing list by 20% in three months is achievable if you have a starting base of 500 email addresses. Less so if you need to grow from 200,000 email addresses.

There are many different areas of digital which you could focus on, e.g. display adverts, affiliates, email marketing, social media, SEO and pay-per-click. Trying to do a few things well is often a better tactic than trying to do everything and doing nothing well as a consequence.

Adjusting your plan over time

We do a lot of financial modelling and digital planning and the first thing you know about any plan and predictions are that you are going to be wrong - the only question is how wrong.

Driving results from your digital activity is an ongoing process which requires you to regularly review and refine what you are doing based upon what works and what doesn't work.

You should review you digital performance in the same way you would review your sales team performance and focus upon enhancing strengths and addressing weaknesses. For example, if your website is attracting visitors but not driving enquiries you should look at improving user experience.

If you don’t structure and schedule a formal review monthly or quarterly you won’t adjust your plan or optimise the tactics you use to meet your goals. Do not become too attached to your digital plan! It should never be set in stone as the aim is to keep improving your plan based on what is working well for you at the time.

What next

Many companies find it challenging to:

  • Confirm how digital should align with their specific business requirements
  • Decipher and understand all the digital options – they don’t know what they don’t know!
  • Plan and coordinate people to focus upon the actions needed

If you are one of the many businesses grappling to realise the commercial benefits through your digital activity or struggling to become more digitally mature contact us to let us demonstrate how we can help you in a practical and cost-effective way.

Is your business as digitally mature as it could be?

Stef Elliott - Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do you feel that something is holding you back from fully capitalising on the potential offered by digital? Well you’re not alone.

Lloyds Bank have published their new annual report on the digital maturity of small to medium sized businesses in the UK and the report suggests that many businesses are struggling to reach their full digital potential.

The report acknowledges the ever increasing importance of digital for business but also the fact that the opportunity digital brings is ‘not evenly taken up’.

The report used Lloyds customer data combined with a survey of around 2000 UK SME businesses and found that:

  • Almost 1.7 million have low digital understanding and capability
  • 11% of respondents said they don’t use the internet
  • 1.9 million have medium digital maturity
  • 1.5 million have a high degree of digital maturity

Factors which the report used to categorise businesses include:

  • Level of internet use
  • Volume of internet banking transactions
  • Social media presence
  • Use of third party digital expertise
  • Digital budget allocation

What stops businesses from doing better with digital?

In a previous blog post titled ‘Why businesses fail online’ we discussed some common issues that many businesses we work with face, they include:

  • Lack of strategy
  • No evolution of capabilities
  • Disparate business tools

The Lloyds report highlights that one consistent problem within businesses was ‘attitude’. Almost a third of all SMEs and charities surveyed said that being online and was not relevant to their business. As digital marketers we know that digital opportunity can be utilised in order to help reach business goals no matter what type of business you are.

You can read and download a summary version of the Lloyds UK Digital Index report here.

Why cookies should be back on your agenda

Stef Elliott - Wednesday, September 10, 2014

If you have a website, web app or conduct email marketing and believed that the "Cookie monster" disappeared in the summer of 2012 - it may be sensible to reconsider.

This is particularly relevant with increasing consumer awareness of what cookies do and enable, high profile cases such as the recent iCloud hack, and planned activity to raise awareness ahead of potential new legislation in Europe.

Quick recap - background

Current situation

As the law (both stated and policed) has lagged behind the rapid development and expansion of new technology platforms, companies have been unable to clarify where they stand against specific standards e.g.

  1. Best practice
  2. Common practice - Industry standards
  3. Accepted practice - Consumers preferences (The ICO recently highlighted that reporting of consumer concerns regarding cookies has been declining)
  4. Required practice - Legally stated and enforced

Without any clearly defined specific requirements setting the “bar” individual companies have only been able to adopt a subjective view of where they sit and how they compare.

So what's changing?

The UK was the first country to enact the European legislation, but as the Information Commissioners Office highlighted in the 2014 Annual Report one of the reasons for the lack of clarity has been the ICO's capacity to define, educate and enforce compliance standards.

Whilst continental European countries did not enact the law as quickly there has been a series of events recently which have moved 'cookie compliance' back up the agenda.

  • In early 2014 the French equivalent of the ICO (The CNIL) gained new powers to conduct remote audits of companies.
  • During the week of September 15 to 19, 2014 the CNIL will participate at a European level in a "cookie sweep activity" in association with other European agencies. This will check the information captured and how user consent is obtained.  
  • From October 2014 the CNIL will be conducting audits and issuing enforcement notices against European companies.
  • Across Europe there have been a series of enforcement activities i.e.
  • The Netherlands Public Broadcasting (NPO) was deemed to have violated the rules on storing cookies and was issued with an enforcement notice to change within four weeks or pay a penalty of up to €125,000.
  • The Spanish Data Protection Regulator issued its first fines against two companies who were investigated and fined after failing to comply with the obligation to provide clear and comprehensive information about the cookies they used.

The Direction of travel is clearly towards greater focus on increased consumer awareness and greater displayed “cookie compliance.

So what should you do?

There has been a three year grace period following the 2011 law change that is potentially coming to an end.

  • Doing nothing is one choice!
  • Uninformed rushed choices are costly
  • Interactive choices can be risky if you have poor information

Therefore three questions to ask your business are:

1. What do you currently do today?

  • What web properties do you control and what’s the scope of your responsibility?
  • What existing cookies are set by you & third parties – if you don’t know then shouldn’t you?
  • Are the cookies set valid, i.e. do they serve a purpose you know and agree with, by a company you are aware of?
  • How do you communicate what you currently do with your visitors?

2. What do you want to do?

  • How does existing/planned activity impact upon your commercial model?

3.How do you then implement and maintain going forward?

  • Do you have robust policies, procedures and platforms in place to ensure ongoing compliance – if not what do you need?

The benefits of user experience

Stef Elliott - Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What is user experience?

You could think of a user’s first visit to your website as a first date. This encounter will set the first impressions and if it goes well there may be future dates, which could eventually turn into a meaningful business/customer relationship. So as with any first date – you want your visitor to leave with a positive first impression after being suitably wooed.

User experience is one of the most critical factors in creating that positive first impression of your website. Being aesthetically pleasing does of course have a part to play in generating great impressions of your brand however a beautiful looking website which is difficult to actually use and find your way around will still inevitably lead to a poor experience for the user. Ease of use is the most important aspect of user experience – this in combination with a good look makes for a great, lasting impression of your website and company as a whole.

What’s in it for you?

Before going to all the effort of giving your website visitor a fantastic experience you may want to know exactly what’s in it for you. Well as mentioned, a good first encounter will greatly increase the likelihood of further visits to your website and the key thing to remember here is that there are usually multiple stages in the customer action process.

Your potential future customers will almost certainly go through a consideration stage before actually taking any action such as making a purchase or contacting you for further information on your services. And increasingly your website will be the first port of call for customers in the consideration stage before progressing on to some sort of action.

Put simply – your customers are much more likely to take action that’s beneficial to your business, such as making a direct purchase or initiating a relationship by contacting you if you help them along in the consideration stage by making your website a pleasant place to visit and get any information which they may need to help them in their considerations.

Making things easy

We keep talking about making things easy for your visitors but how is that actually done? The most central factor is your website navigation, which is commonly done via menus. Your navigational menus need to be immediately noticeable and accessible to visitors whichever page of your website they happen to be on.

If you are making full use of your website then it’s likely that you will be wanting your visitors to do more than just flick through various pages on the site - you will want them to interact by doing practical things such as fill in forms, create and login to accounts or you may just want to direct them to a specific page containing special offers or company news as soon as possible.

Making things easy also has a huge part to play here – if you want somebody to do something, make it easy for them! Us human beings are always keen to avoid too much hard work. If you want someone to fill in a form make it easy to get to and as short and simple as you can whilst still getting all the information that you need. If you want someone to go to a special offers page display an attention grabbing link to it on the home page.

People are much more likely to do the things that you want them to if you place it right in front of their faces with clear instructions – this sounds incredibly simple but it's very easy to get so lost in making your website look great that user experience gets neglected. A combination of a fantastic look and great usability is the best recipe for a winning website no matter what type of business you are.

Why businesses fail online

Stef Elliott - Friday, May 30, 2014

It’s taken as a given that any serious business will have a website in 2014. But are all of these businesses successful online? Firstly we must define what online success actually is.

What is online success?

Your business doesn’t have to be an online operation, such as Amazon or EBay, to be successful online – the key is to think of your business as one cohesive entity which, just like people, has interactions both on and offline. This means that your business has one set of core business goals (making money is usually one of them), and digital assets such as a website and social media profiles are merely a set of tools available to you in order to help achieve these core business goals.

Even a business which you may not associate with the digital world, such as a solicitors’ practice, could in theory be successful online. If this solicitors’ practice used their website effectively to attract more client enquiries, which then potentially leads to generating more money, then they have used their website as a tool to achieve their business goal. So it’s really quite simple - online success is using your online assets to help achieve your core business goals.

Three causes of online failure

This may all sound fairly obvious, but wherever there is success there is also failure. So why do so many businesses fail to use their online presence in an effective way in order to help achieve their business goals? Through our experiences working with a large variety of businesses we’ve found that there are often three main causes.

  1. Lack of strategy
  2. No evolution of capabilities
  3. Disparate business tools

Lack of strategy

If you don’t know where you’re going then any road will take you nowhere. The first key thing to do is clarify what exactly these core business goals we keep talking about are for you and then identify exactly how your website can help you to achieve these goals.

No evolution of capabilities

Once you have specified what your goals are and how your website should help you to achieve them then you have a strategy. However having sufficient capabilities is also a crucial factor in your online success. Many businesses have what we call a brochure site, a website which has some information about products or services offered and contact details but is static, remaining the same over long periods of time. This is essentially a website which potential customers can visit and flick through but not interact with, rather like a brochure.

The reason for businesses having this type of site is often that the website was created by a web design agency that made the site look pretty but left the website owner with no control or functionality. These agencies will often then charge considerable fees for any changes or updating required in the future which deters the website owner from making any regular changes.

This is a fundamental flaw in any plan for online success. All businesses will have differing requirements for their website, however one thing which we can apply to all of them is that your website will never be finished. It is an interactive tool which must be kept ‘alive’ and also evolve with developments in technology. Many businesses don’t have an in-house member of the team who happens to also be a web developer with a competent knowledge of HTML coding, therefore a content management system (CMS) is vital in order for your team to maintain control over your website, consistently adding and managing content, without the need for any knowledge of coding.

Another essential aspect of online success is measurement. The only way to identify success is to measure it, by setting realistic key performance indicators (KPIs) and monitoring your online business activity against them. Analytics software such as Google Analytics (which is completely free) is fantastic for this, providing comprehensive and accurate data on how people are interacting with your website and general website performance.

Disparate business tools

The final problem which many businesses encounter on their journey to online success is a disparity between their business tools. Three forms of ‘tool’ which need to be in sync with each other are people, process and platform. For example, a task such as publishing a news story on your website requires a person who has the ability to write news stories, it requires knowledge of the process of uploading the story to the website and it requires a platform, in this case a CMS, which allows you to upload things to the website. If any one of these three tools is lacking then one of your most precious business resources – time – will be wasted, as a less efficient approach to the task will inevitably be taken.

Google Universal Analytics - should I upgrade?

Stef Elliott - Sunday, April 27, 2014

Measuring your website performance is a crucial part of making continuing improvements to your website. And the need to keep improving through change is more prevalent than ever in the constantly evolving digital age.

This is why many businesses have adopted Google Analytics as an integral part of their digital strategy, helping them to collect the most comprehensive data on their digital performance.

There are currently major changes taking place with Google Analytics and this is something that all businesses should be aware of.

In October 2012 Google announced the launch of Universal Analytics, to help users 'tailor Google Analytics to their specific needs, integrate their own datasets and ultimately get a more complete vision of the entire marketing funnel'.

Universal Analytics will eventually replace the current Google Analytics, this will happen over a 4 phase period and requires businesses currently using Google Analytics to make a decision on whether to voluntarily upgrade now or wait until the enforced change takes place.

Google have set up the Universal Upgrade Centre to provide users with guidance on the 4 phase development timeline.

The 4 phase timeline:

If you have not upgraded by the time Universal Analytics becomes the mandatory analytics tool for Google then you will continue to receive data from your current analytics for up to two years, but then all pre-Universal Analytics collection methods will be deprecated and no longer work.

What are the benefits of upgrading?

Google highlight benefits such as:

  1. User IDs for individual website visitors, allowing you to recognise users who connect with your website through multiple devices or sessions and attribute all activity to one user in your reports
  2. New and more flexible data collection methods to track any digital device e.g. websites, mobiles, tablets and other digital devices, like game consoles and information kiosks
  3. Simplified and more accessible configuration options from the admin page in your account rather than having to adjust tracking codes on your site
  4. Create custom dimensions & custom metrics to collect data specific to your business requirements and extend beyond the standard set Google provide
  5. Stay up to date with new features and updates - properties getting data from a previous version of Google Analytics tracking code will not receive any product updates or access to new features

How long does it take to upgrade?

This is the how long is a piece of string question as it depends on the property you’re upgrading.

There are two basic steps to complete the full process:

  1. Transfer your property to Universal Analytics data processing technology – this should take a couple of minutes to do and will then take Google 24 - 48 hours to complete the process
  2. Implement the new Universal Analytics tracking code – this is driven by and depends on your development environment, and your data collection and reporting needs

What do you need to be aware of / do?

This depends upon if you see this as a problem or an opportunity.
If you are:

  • Happy to do nothing then you have two year’s minimum before the data disappears
  • Keen to be using the latest technology to gain competitive advantage then you will want to start preparing now

We would recommend that you:

  • Don't ignore the changes – unless you want to “kick the can down the road” and panic later which may lead to paying premium consultancy costs (anyone mention cookies?)
  • Don't just blindly transfer to Universal Analytics without understanding the impact upon your current analytics reporting

Things to remember:

  • If you have e-commerce or event tracking set up and you don’t adjust the code on your site or any upstream tracking e.g. email or social sites, Google will not automatically adjust the code and you will lose information
  • Once you migrate to Universal Analytics you cannot switch back to the traditional Analytics   

It requires a decision! Given that interactive choices are risky and uninformed choices are costly the enforced change does provide a great opportunity to:

  1. Document how you have Analytics set up
  2. Review how you are currently using Analytics
  3. Check this corresponds with what you are wanting to achieve – i.e. is the information you're collecting driving insight and actions, or just adding more data to your reading pile?

If you need help or want to discuss how these changes will effect your business please email us via {{email_us}} or call us on {{call_us}}.

The cleansing of SEO

Stef Elliott - Thursday, March 27, 2014

SEO is a dirty word. Ok, perhaps that isn’t entirely accurate (aside from the obvious reason that SEO is an acronym, not a word). But it’s fair to say that SEO is a term which now comes with a shadowy question mark looming over it.

The search engine optimisation frenzy, which led to SEO being a buzzword bounced around the marketing team of every business in the land, has created a situation where this one solitary marketing technique is now dominating entire marketing plans.

This demand for all things SEO has even spurned the creation of SEO agencies - companies, whose sole purpose is to make your business rank higher in the Google search results page. Which does seem slightly extravagant.

If an effective marketing plan is a puzzle then SEO is just one piece of that puzzle - so why should you as a business owner pay an SEO agency for just one piece to a puzzle? When you could spend your valuable resources on putting the entire puzzle together, in the form of a comprehensive marketing plan. A plan which would certainly include SEO, but not ignore all of the other pieces to the puzzle, such as ROI measurement, data capture, email marketing and social media.

The new age of SEO

Despite not having said one positive thing about SEO thus far, the purpose of this article isn’t to drag SEO’s name through the mud. If carried out well, search engine optimisation is a useful technique for driving more people to your website, which in turn leads to the prospect of an increase in business.

However, the current SEO obsessed climate means that people are trying to reach the holy grail of a high Google search ranking through any means possible, and such desperation inevitably leads to underhand tactics. But Google, being the all-seeing all-hearing force that it is, has watched these underhand SEO techniques being deployed and taken a disliking to them.

Google’s response? To change the rules of the SEO game entirely, the name of the game is now ‘quality’. Let’s use backlinks to illustrate this, whereas before the number of backlinks to your website was likely to push your search ranking higher, it is now the quality of any backlinks which you have.

For example, one single link to your website from a reputable site, such as the BBC, will push your ranking higher than multiple links from unrecognised sites. Furthermore, the quality of your backlinks (or lack of quality) could actually be detrimental to your search ranking. If you have backlinks from a site which Google thinks is of poor quality, your site could even slip down the search rankings.

The best way to improve your website’s chances of a glory spot high up in the search rankings isn’t to try and ‘beat’ Google’s complex algorithms, but rather to keep things very simple, and focus on making your content and website of the best quality possible. Google is now recognising and prioritising quality more than ever when ranking it’s search results.

What is quality SEO?

The idea of everybody filling their website with quality content and earning their places in the search rankings accordingly is all very nice - but what exactly is quality content in Google’s eyes?

Well some of the more technical techniques include:

  • custom URLs
  • relevant page meta descriptions
  • properly formatted HTML heading tags
  • keywords within your content
  • relevant ‘alt’ image tags

However, simply producing and publishing content that is relevant, useful and engaging to your target audience will prove highly beneficial in your SEO efforts. Once your audience have discovered your site, if the content is genuinely relevant, useful and engaging to them those people are likely to interact with your content further by sharing it with their connections on social media, which presents the obvious benefit of extending your audience.

Reformed character of SEO

The future of SEO? The grand vision for the future is one where a focus on quality content will flush out the dubious techniques being used in desperate bids for SEO success. Blackhat techniques such as keyword stuffing, invisible text, aggressive link-building and doorway pages will fade further and further into insignificance as Google focuses all of its attentions on scouting out good quality content which aims to be beneficial to the people who read it. The SEO strategies will be long term ones, where sites gradually build a reputation for quality content over time rather than aiming for short term SEO success for a quick financial gain.

These developments are key to cleansing the name of SEO, so that we can all look forward to a time in the near future when the term doesn’t conjure an image in our heads of shady tricksters desperately clawing their way to the top of the search rankings.

What now for you?

For brief and concise SEO guidance from Google themselves you can download this one-page guide.

Contact Six Serving Men for tailoured support on how your business can use SEO effectively as part of an integrated marketing plan.

Digital Strategy - Ready Steady Go.....then Revisit and Refine

Stef Elliott - Friday, January 11, 2013

As part of the recent activity we have been doing for Royal Bank of Scotland I was asked the question by one of the delegates (a Banking Advisor who's portfolio includes 60-80 businesses) "What are the main metrics you should be measuring as a businesses".

MI Decisions

It came back to mind when I read 10 Google Analytics Resolutions for 2013 by Mike Loban. Like all resolutions the probability of success depends upon some key factors.

  1. Do you really have SMART Objectives - It's vital to know where you want to go and when. These need to be defined for each business  
  2. Do you have the capability to understand progress against targets - either historic performance or expectations, at a sensible level of detail. By this I mean enough not too much!
  3. Do you a structured process to review and refine performance - Turning the SWOT analysis into SO WHAT?
Sounds simple so what can you do ?

The great thing about Digital data is that you have lots of data, BUT the worst thing is that you have lots of data - As Albert Einstein highlighted "Not everything you can count, counts". 

Whilst on line products such as Google Analytics have provided greater visibility unless you actually define what you want to see, how and when, you risk falling into "Analysis Paralysis" - Reviewing unimportant or vanity metrics on an adhoc basis rather than focussing consistently on the important metrics. 

They are called Key Performance Indicators for a reason!  If you want to have a chance of achieving your Digital New Year's resolutions in 2013 for your business, answer these questions honestly: 

  • Do we have a Dashboard report?  - If No get one . If Yes Print it out on one sheet of paper
  • Can I read it? If No then you have too much info
  • Can I see quickly what’s happened and the potential impact on performance moving forward ? Does it show historic and future estimated performance
  • Is the produced on a regular (monthly) basis in a consistent format ? Compare the last three versions
  • Does it show the most important information aligned to Business Goals? 
  • Does it enable and drive business decisions to be taken ?

If you can answer yes to all the questions the next key activity is to make sure there a formal mechanism that determines and records the SO WHAT? You only really have three options or decisions to take - Do nothing / Investigate / Adjust something.

Call it a monthly board meeting, performance review, weigh in etc, the name is irrelevant. Unless you schedule the time to review and refine your activity you will be stuck in the "Do nothing camp" by default, hoping to disprove Einstein's observation that "The Definition of Madness is doing the same thing again and expecting a different result!"

Where do you start ? 
  1. Review what you have and how you use it. 
  2. If it does not do the job - change it
  3. Remember your Management Information should be judged on if it works not how it looks! 

QR Codes - Not One Size Fitz Hall

Stef Elliott - Thursday, January 19, 2012

I have been meaning to write a blog post on QR codes and how to use them since I saw this poster advert whilst waiting for the Tube in London.

QR (or Quick Response) codes are increasingly being used by marketers to link the offline world to online content. Other applications such as Blippar exist that are aimed to facilitate the use of Mobile phones and tablets.

The idea behind placing the QR code on the advert is to enable me to scan it with my mobile device and to navigate me to a suitable website landing page 

However in the rush to embrace new technology it is worthwhile recalling that "Whilst the roads Marketers are getting people to travel are changing, the people travelling them (and their needs)  are not".

In the example vital aspects do not appear to have been taken into account when setting out the activity i.e.    

  1. The location of QR Code on Poster, (Bottom Left) means part of it cannot be seen or scanned 
  2. The complexity & granularity of the QR code - From a distance of 10 yards my iphone (other mobiles are available)had no chance of picking up the complex QR code.
  3. I'm on the underground and can get no mobile connection so even if I can scan the code I have no ability to accessthe designated content.

Other examples of poorly planned activity are found in this post  eConsultancy Post - 11 Dubious uses of  QR Codes

So before falling down a similar trap if you are considering running a QR initiative 3 things you should consider

  1. Plan the customer journey - try it out and see if the roads you want people to follow are clear and well lit 
  2. Include tracking code - link it in with your destination tracking e.g. Google Analytics. Include a specific source codeor medium. 
  3. Simplify the resolution - The more data you include the more complex the image. Use a URL shortened QR link

For Example both the QR codes below lead to the same destination but highlight

1- QR does not stand for QPR code
QR Code to Fitz Hall  
2- The Use of simplifies & enables tracking 
QR Code through Bitly to Fitz Hall
Experience is the name we give to our mistakes so don't be afriad to fail but by putting in a Do, Review, Refine mechanism you get some learnings from a campaign if nothing else.  Don't forget One Size does not Fit All.