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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Personalised sales channels are essential to omni-channel success

salesprospecting‘Omni-channel’ is not just an overused new buzzword but a necessity born out of the multiple choice of sales channels available to the consumer today, whether that be website, app, phone, catalogue or store. The fact that consumers criss-cross some or all these channels in one purchase journey implies that retailers need to ensure they present a consistent and complementary experience across all these channels. As opposed to multichannel, which is a ‘many-to-many’ approach, effective omni-channel means creating ‘one-to-one’ purchase experiences, personalising the sales channels to the profile and support need of each potential customer.

Recently I read a great article posted by Daniel Newman titled ‘Will Omni Channel Marketing Revolutionize The Buyer’s Journey?‘, in which he describes a true omni-channel experience he had when buying his daughter’s football boots. Recently, needing to equip our new London office, I had to make various purchases from different vendors, criss-crossing different channels along the research and purchase journey. Not all my experiences were that positive.

Here are two examples of purchase journeys I made, engaging with three of the largest brands in their respective markets and some simple suggestions that would have improved the experience and the probability of conversion:

Mobiles and broadband purchase (vendor: major mobile phone network)
Like many of us researching a purchase, I used my mobile (and commute) to discover the best plans & phone combination. When I got to the office I switched to my laptop to complete the order. During the checkout I realised that this mobile network provider might also be able to fulfil our broadband requirements. After looking at the broadband options on the website, I initiated the online chat functionality to get sales support, only to be told that they could only help me with mobile sales and not broadband, and that I should visit a high street store or call for help with that.

Suggestion: ensure your sales support staff are multi-skilled, there are no sales silos and/or that engagements can be seamlessly transferred between the various sales support teams. And don’t offer help if you cant provide any. Customer experience is too important and customer expectations are too high to be able to afford turning away business.

Laptops purchase (vendors: two of the largest online computer brands)
Buying three laptops for 3 very different people with different requirements was never going to be simple. I must have gone through a dozen simulated purchase journeys on both manufacturers’ websites, struggling with the plethora of configurations and choices. Surprisingly, even though my shopping basket was well in excess of £4,000, not once did either of them interact with me or offer any help, even though I was clearly struggling. Neither company followed up any of my visits with a friendly email reminder that they had the right computer for me and offering to help me complete the checkout process. Nor did they recognise my return visits and clear distress with a ‘Hi, how may we help you?’ Or ‘would you like to talk to an expert?’.

Suggestion: clearly you don’t want to offer 1:1 sales support when someone is buying a mouse mat, but online retailers need to differentiate their sales support approach according to the value profile of the customer. Personalised sales support can increase conversion three- or fourfold, so when someone is in distress and has the right value profile, offering chat (lower value) or a call-back service (high value) can dramatically increase revenue. If the customer abandons their purchase journey in the last steps of the checkout process, you know there is a purchase interest. Sending a friendly email offering to help complete the purchase journey is not intrusive, but simply good customer service. Lastly, how many times does a visitor need to return for an organisation to offer sales support? Well, the answer depends on the value profile and the probability of conversion and too few companies are focusing on this, trying to get away with an ‘one size fits all’ approach.

Conclusion: personalising sales channels to the profile and needs of the individual consumer increases revenue, not only through the soft benefit of improved customer experience (which increases loyalty, etc.) but through the hard fact that engaging with a customer in need dramatically increases conversion and reduces abandonment. Equally, offering support at the wrong time will increase cost-to-serve and reduce the customer experience. So one-size fits all sales support doesn’t work. Organisations need to personalise their sales channels to each customer in order to yield the true benefits of omni-channel sales.

 

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.