QR Code Zombies

QR Code Zombies

QR Codes are making a comeback. There, I said it. Yes, there will be some laughs. Yes, there will be many doubters. But I stand by my convictions. And with good reason.

Back in 2013 the conversation about whether QR Codes were dead had reached its climax. The resounding answer was ‘Yes’; in the US only about 21% of people had ever scanned a QR Code; in the UK they were being placed on underground station advertising (where there was no internet connection – pretty important for QR Code marketing); and so on. The result: people turned their backs on the once popular QR Code.

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Great use case of QR Codes!
This sentiment continues today. In fact, it has become an easy bandwagon to jump on. However, the world has changed since 2013. For one, there is wifi in most underground stations. But more importantly, marketers are finally seeing ‘digital’ as part of marketing rather than an alternative. The re-introduction of direct and dimensional mail into marketing campaigns is making a strong comeback as marketers realise mail and offline media are necessary supplements to the cluttered inbox or busy social channels.

The QR code enables a simple link to be made between print and online. Crossing this divide is essential for a comprehensive, seamless and multichannel user experience.

Nowhere is this seamless, multichannel experience more important than in B2B account-based marketing, where surrounding a variety of stakeholders within an organisation with relevant and meaningful content, across multiple channels, is essential to inspire and influence their buying decisions.

There are of course alternatives, such as iBeacons, NFC and others, but none of these work for print or are as simple and practical to implement as the QR code, which takes a few seconds to generate (free – best site here) and is scanned in even less time. Granted you need a QR code scanner (although these come standard on most recent iPhones and Android mobiles).

So next time you plan your next multichannel campaign, which will hopefully include some direct/dimensional mail and/or print media activity, consider the QR code. It had a bad run and deserves a second chance.

In the meantime, if you want to book BNJ for a free B2B Marketing Best Practice Review, why not scan the barcode below and pick your slot.

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Ecommerce best practice

It is not often that I am genuinely impressed with an ecommerce website and the online purchase experience. Most of the time you are left thinking “wouldn’t it be great if the site had this…” or “why haven’t they made that easier…“. However, this week I was left impressed (see first point below). It made me reflect on my best ecommerce experiences and the features and functionalities that made it so great. Below I have started a list of examples of buying experiences, functionality, UX and look and feel. Feel free to ping me other examples and I will add them to the list.

Best overall experience: Naked Wines (www.nakedwines.com)NakedWine

Most of the mainstream wine sites look and feel dated and have terrible UX. Not Naked Wines. Apart from a simple, easy on the eye look and feel, it is the user-journey that impressed me. Rather than presenting you with the traditional ecom site layout, Naked Wines chooses to break the usability rules and ask you some questions first. The fact is the questions immediately and effectively transmit their ethos and concept. After completing the questionnaire, assuming you have answered them ‘correctly’, they present you with a gift for being an ‘Angel’ – a £82 discount on a pre-prepared selection of wines. I was sold hook, line and sinker. After completing the seamless checkout process, I was surprised to find my account with a £20 credit, which they offered as a gift for placing my first order. Second order pretty much guaranteed. Nice touch!

  • Fresh look and feel
  • Compelling, yet not forceful commercial approach
  • Great user-experience
  • Interesting content
  • Personalisation throughout
  • Differentiated approach to online wine sales

Best checkout feature: Amazon (www.amazon.co.uk – as if you didn’t know!)

AmazonIt probably makes many of you cringe to see such a giant in this list but the reality is Amazon has the best checkout feature, bar none: 1-click. This feature makes it just too easy to buy on Amazon, whether on site, on mobile or by app. Need something? Quick search on Amazon and 1-click (literally) and the product is on its way to you. I wish they had some stiff competition. Could you imagine what they would come up with if they did…

  • 1-Click checkout
  • Prime – loyalty service for which you have to pay (happily!)
  • Recommended items
  • User and purchase friendly app

Best shopping list feature: Tesco (www.tesco.com/groceries)Tesco

I have a pet hate: buying groceries online. I can never remember what I want, the brands that I prefer and invariably forget the most important items. Not any more. Tesco’s integration of their Clubcard in the online shopping experience means I can now see what I have previously bought in-store from my Clubcard history. Such an obvious feature but missing for a long time. I also think their ‘multi-search’ functionality is brilliant. Easy to use, it allows you to search for your entire shopping list in one go.

  • Clubcard offline shopping history
  • Multisearch
  • Clean design
  • Recipe ‘add ingredients to shopping cart’ functionality

Best look and feel: Made.com (www.made.com) Madecom

This was a close run between Made.com and Fab.com, and I suppose it is down to taste. I like Made.com because I favour the clean design. It really is (apart from apple.com)one of the few ecommerce sites which is not cluttered with products and promotions. Each individual product takes centre stage, with impressive photography. There is plenty of content to allow you to make an informed choice, but somehow it is still totally minimalist. Really like the functionality that allows visitors to ask questions about a product and the staff recommendations.

  • Clean, non-cluttered design
  • Beautiful photography
  • Plenty of well organised and prioritised product info
  • Easy checkout process with guest option

Best shopping app: Mr Porter (iPhone app)

MrPorterI don’t buy there often, but it is a great experience. The app is easy to use. The home screen is intuitive and offers a minimal choice of options, however, you are only ever one click away from your product list page, which has the most comprehensive filters you will ever find on a fashion app. Plenty of product images and Editor notes for almost every item make it the best shopping app experience for me.

  • Intuitive & easy to use
  • Great content & product imagery
  • Comprehensive product filtering

Best comparison app: Google Shopper (Android and iPhone)Google

Although you can’t buy directly on Google Shopper, I wanted to include it as it has saved me a fortune over the last few months. Before I buy anything, especially at airports where you are confronted with very enticing discounts (mainly on products you don’t need!) I quickly go on Google Shopper to compare prices. Within seconds you can see whether you are getting a good deal, or whether you can get it cheaper elsewhere. The great thing about this app is that it not only compares prices from online shops and the likes of eBay, but it also compares the prices from high street shops in your local area. It also allows you to save your searched item to a ‘shopping list’ meaning that you can refer back to see which impulse buy you managed to avoid….Great money saver!

  • Easy to use and extremely quick
  • Compares online and offline prices
  • Add to shopping list feature
  • Ability to view & buy without leaving app

I hope you like the list and, as mentioned above, if you want to share your favourite ecommerce site or feature(s), use the comment box below and I will add them to the list.

2012 – What a year…!!!

As the last day of 2012 is only hours away, it seems appropriate to briefly reflect on the past year, which has been anything but boring.

It has been a year of exciting and diverse projects for me, ranging from Thames Water‘s online drought campaign to one of the most impactful social networking and collaboration proof of concepts for one of the world’s favourite airlines.

I have had the pleasure of working on external digital marketing projects and internal comms strategies for the likes of Experian, Deutsche Bank, Old Mutual Group, Camelot and Betfair amongst many others and would like to thank all the clients for entrusting their digital strategies in our hands.

Together with my team I hosted two hugely successful events and would like to thank the guest speakers, in particular Paul Hewitt from Deutsche Bank and Nick Crawford then from Bupa, as well as the guys from Yammer and Jive for their time and involvement. A special mention also needs to go to my colleagues Neil Clayton and Mark Smith for their support and effort in helping me make it happen.

In terms of trends, 2012 was certainly an exciting year for digital internal comms. Social networking and collaboration continued to be the main talking point, heightened by the purchase by Microsoft of Yammer. Whether this did the industry any favours will remain to be seen but it had a reflective effect on a sector that was probably getting a little bit carried away with itself, which was a good thing.

Another important talking point was mobile & mobility and whether native apps or web apps were the future (see overview here). This conversation will no doubt dominate in 2013 and in my opinion web apps will steal some market share from native apps, particularly in marketing and communications. Whichever is the ultimate winner or whether they share top spot, mobility will be key. Doing everything everywhere, on fully integrated devices, working in the clouds is in my opinion the trend for 2013 and it offers many exciting opportunities.

On a personal level, I will start 2013 with a completely new challenge which will see me back in the B2C arena, working with big data and intelligence, enabling organisations to engage and interact more effectively with their customers. It is a very exciting opportunity and I truthfully can’t wait for the start to the new year!

I wish everyone the very best for 2013 and thank you for reading my digital ramblings. I look forward to continuing in the New Year.

The workplace is becoming an ‘i’-mocracy

Recently I posted a question on LinkedIn asking people: what they thought the workplace would look like in 5 to 10 years time. My reason was extremely selfish, as it is a question that I have to ask myself quite a lot in my line of work, and thought I would make my life easier by getting other people to answer it for me. For 2 days I waited and waited. Nothing!

Then slowly but surely people started to respond and a week or so later there are 20 comments from people all over the world giving their personal vision of the future of their workplaces. And as I don’t want to be selfish any longer, I want to share some main points raised, and my conclusion with you.

Mobility & flexibility

Almost all the comments to some degree or other touched on mobility being a major influencing factor in the future. Organisations need to embrace mobility and provide their staff with the tools not only to access data but to interact with it wherever they may be (and across multiple devices!).

Collaboration

I was fully expecting this, as it is the single most talked about topic in my conversations with clients. How can we become more collaborative? How can we crowd-source more effectively? Ideation and gamifaction are of course always darting in and out of this conversation, but the reality is that organisations need to stop pretending they are collaborating and really provide substantial tools (and culture!) that enable effective and meaningful collaboration.

Fluid workspace

I loved this expression, as it immediately conjures up visions of what that would look like. The conversation around this went well beyond hot-desking or open spaced offices. As Joyce put it: imagine a big open space with clusters around projects and the ability to join in the various clusters that are relevant to you. Picture leaders walking around this big space and almost indistinguishable for the other participants.

A bit too far out? No!… That is what social intranets or ESN are all about! The technology is real and it is here accessible to all.

Bringing order to chaos

Another point made was around environments that have less noise, and are less chaotic. I interpret this to mean that information is easy to find. Relevant conversations and content are easily identifiable. Relevant people stand out from the crowd.  The mad rush to find content is over. The confusion about who reports to who and who is involved in what are things from the past. Bliss.

BYOD (Bring your own device)

Not longer than ten years ago, we used to go to work because that is where we had access to (fast) internet connections,  the latest computer and some of us were given mobile phones we didn’t need to pay for. Those were perks. Fast forward to today, and the reality is totally inverse. Our personal mobile phone is the latest smartphone on an ‘all you can eat’ data and call package. It is sync’ed with our iPad (or tablet), giving us access to all our songs, photos and other content in a totally seamless way. We have a stylish thin laptop or a top of the range, faster than lighting PC. At work? We are lucky if we get a Dell Latitude laptop and a poxy 3G iPhone.

What does that mean? It means that there is a massive disconnect between our expectations of user-experience and tools that we are expected to work with. Companies will have to focus on improving the user-experience and move away from “they should be happy they are getting a phone” to providing the employees with tools that at least match what they have in their personal lives. Or they will have to accept “bring our own”, and iron out any security issues that may imply.

© Hollywood Pictures

Conclusion:

Reading the above and the response on the Linkedin page, one thing becomes clear to me: we are shaping our own workplace. The balance of power is shifting and employers are having to play catch up to our demands.We share our private lives (FB, Twitter, etc.) – so businesses have to provide platforms that allow us to share (collaborate) our working lives.

We have cool toys – businesses will have to provide us with cool toys or accept that we will bring our own to work.

We value our time – businesses are going to have to provide more flexibility and the ability to work any time anywhere, or we will look for other places to work.

The workplace is no longer feudal (dedicated top down), nor is it a democracy (lets all work it out together).

The workplace is an i-mocracy – I decide!

Thank you the all the participants of the LinkedIn discussion: Stephen RussellSumit RoyLinda BjorkBala SubraStephen RussellPiyush MangalIvan IsaacsMatthew AikenMikko MalmivaaraRandy HerbertsonCatherine Zang, MBAJoyce Wilson-Sanford

Intranet trends for 2012

It is generally accepted that Intranets will play an even more important role this coming year, as companies begin to understand the ways they can use it to address their business pains, and help create efficiencies, as well improve employee engagement (and thereby satisfaction). Here are a few trends that I think will be important in 2012.

1. Importance of people

This might seem a little obvious but it is probably the most fundamental trend for 2012 and one that underpins all the suggestions I mention below. Intranets will need to focus more on the users. They will need to talk to them in their language and on their turf. This will be brought about by a shift from the traditional departmentalised approach to organisations (i.e. internal comms, HR, finance, etc.) to working together to focus on the needs and best interests of the user.

2. Higher expectations

As a new generation of employees is being on-boarded, organisations are going to have to accommodate their expectations as well. These new members of the team don’t know a world without apps or social media sites. Sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have had a profound impact on the expectations of ‘look & feel’, simplicity of navigation, and functionality. Users expect an increased level of engagement and immediate and dynamic communication. This will need to be reflected in your Intranet layout and functionality.

3. Mobile

Most businesses understand the importance of making their Intranet more accessible, whether that is on mobile phones (through mobile sites or apps) or mobile device friendly (including tablets and iPads). The target should not be transporting the whole Intranet onto other devices but to instead to deliver the right content and functionality to an ever-increasing workforce, such as collaborative tools, people finders and segmented news.

4. Social collaboration

I believe that businesses should focus on creating fully integrated social workspaces throughout their organisations. Facilitating knowledge sharing and collaboration will lead to better informed and more engaged employees. To achieve this will require companies to combine the best platforms and technologies, i.e. social collaboration platforms like Jive merging with content management platforms like SharePoint, integrating profiles with LinkedIn, etc.

5. Findability

As user-generated content is being added to the already growing levels of corporate content and documentation, surfacing relevant information becomes more challenging. In 2012, faceted and semantic search functionality will become essential to sift through the noise. Search-driven menus and navigation will become more prominent and Intranet managers will need to spend more time looking at statistics and search logs to ensure the site is making the ‘right’ content available to the user.

6. Content

Although this was one of the trends I highlighted in 2011, I see this continuing in 2012. This will be the year of ‘content culling’ and ‘content segmentation’. As the ‘noise’ levels increase, people will have even less time (and patience) to wade through irrelevant content. Ensure that your content is streamlined, up-to-date and customise-able. Ensure that the content is also relevant to new methods of delivery like mobile devices and don’t forget self-help content and e-learning.

To conclude:

I believe 2012 will see a shift from ‘Intranet’ to ‘digital workspace’ – a space that focuses on the users and the tasks they need to perform rather than on technology. Different platforms will need to work seamlessly together to make collaboration easier and these needs to be accessible whenever and wherever the user finds themselves.

 

Interesting event:  The Intranet and beyond… – 29th February @ Hospital Club

This event, organised by View Plc (where I work), will look at case studies from large multinationals who have implemented SharePoint and enterprise social collaboration software (Jive and Yammer) to communicate with there internal audience. It will focus on the highs and lows, the challenges and the achievements. There will be expert’s speakers, real client case studies and a lovely continental breakfast to accompany it all!

To register your interest please send an email to – nclayton@viewplc.com