In this post I get more than a little ranty about my pet internet peeves and Darren decides to throw in his tuppenceworth too. However, on a positive note, I do share some useful resources and content. I wonder finally is it time to resurrect Feedback Friday?
A tweet I saw from Michele Neylon in Blacknight and another from Ann Donnelly of O’Mahony Donnelly eBusiness reminded me of one of my personal online pet peeves. They were both complaining about sites that did not work if you left out the “www” e.g. iia.ie versus www.iia.ie. It’s a little thing I know but I did title this post as being about my pet online peeves!
Will I go on? Okay a little venting! Another one that drives me a little more bonkers than I am already is Out of Office emails that begin with Re: + my subject line. This means that I have to check them just in case you have replied to my email. Not a problem when it’s an individual one to one email but when you send to a list of over 6000 as we do with the Digital Digest it can become a bit of a chore. I know, I know that not everyone has control over how this works on their email but are you sure you can’t fix it on your email?
On the subject of email, I am asking you now to check your signature and make absolutely sure that you include a contact phone number at the very least after you sign off on every email, even then ones that only say “Grand fine with me.”
Whatever about not including your phone number on every sign-off a registered company in Ireland is required by law to include certain details on their website (See Information Leaflet No.7 on the CRO website). It is best practice to include as much detail in your contact page as possible. We also use Meebo (see on the right) to allow people to contact us live. With the recent news that Google will be including negative/ positive reviews in their search algorithms wouldn’t you prefer that people contact you one to one with their complaint rather than write an online review that is negative about your customer service rather than focussing on your exemplary product? (Thanks Christophe Bernigaud for the link!)
On a slightly more serious note I abhor websites that rip off content. Obviously we’ve all discovered through Google Alerts that some blog somewhere has wholesale copied and pasted our blog content as part of some weird link farming activity (SEO specialists – help me out on this one!) but it’s clear that this is fairly automated and it won’t take long for the host of the free blogging platform to shut them down. What bugs me is when legitimate businesses copy and paste content from other sites, maybe write a prefacing paragraph and sometimes include a link back to the original post. A couple of blogs I have seen recently have done this and I am racking my brain trying to work out if they think this is okay. Yes by all means quote salient points from the content you have read online but please reference and link to it properly. This one particular blog I had ocassion to visit had really good content and I was thinking, “This guy is wasted here: his content is gold!” It was only after day 5 of 5 of top-quality content that a link back to the original article that I realised it was a word for word match. There’s a name for this and it’s copyright infringement and even if the law can’t help you, by Nelly, the internet will. Another give away on a different blog was the fact that the blogging software garbled the pasted text, displaying the HTML code for special characters (eg á). Nobody types that stuff by accident… I presumed the worst and thought, “Poor show, chaps!”
On a more positive note I read a great blog post recently entitled “Things You Should Do Immediately After Launching a Website” which will have food for thought and some actionable items for nearly everyone who is responsible for a website. (Hat Tip to DeepSpin for that one!)
When my colleague Darren, our events & training manager, realised I was writing this post he sent me an email with his pet peeves for your enlightenment. We’re easily ticked off, aren’t we?
Websites that automatically play music or videos. It’s not helpful – I know how to click play! It’s more likely to make me close your page rather than sit and listen to your new song/advertising spiel/video introduction…
Flashy, sparkly, slow-loading homepages. Chances are, I’m just looking for your email address. Don’t make me wait two minutes to see your actual content. Close page, move on.
Websites that don’t actually tell me what the company does. Is it so hard to include a short paragraph telling me what you do? Where’s your About Page?
Pop-up ads. Do I really need to elaborate on this one?
Not knowing the difference between you’re and your.
Typos in generel. Peopel, we live in de age of Splelchek, use it.
Sites that are incompatible with my Mac. This makes me sad and it makes your website useless to me.
I’m done (for now)
Regular readers of this blog will remember a feature I ran on a Friday for a good while called Feedback Friday. It was intended to help companies get some ideas about areas in their sites (their own or clients’) that needed improvement. Well Darren reckons it’s time we resurrected this feature. So if you are a member of the IIA and you would like some constructive feedback about your website or an element of your site or a client’s site please email details to me and we’ll kick off again.
Jenni Timony of Exponentially.ie attended “8 Ways to Sell More Stuff”, our recent conference for online retailers. This is her review of the event. We always welcome reviews of our events from attendees so please contact me if you would like to write a post about an event you attended. So over to Jenni!
Apart from the sales pitch from An Post, it was a relevant , insightful and engaging line up. [Ed: An Post were launching their new service www.iloveshopping.ie]
My key takeaways from Curiouswines.ie
- Interesting to note that they had NO marketing budget. All of their efforts are focussed on Social Media and email marketing.
- Mike talked about acquisition versus retention using the acronym AIDA. It’s about creating Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action. Patience clearly required !
- Mike talked about discounting and how he would not do half price. Customers will think the product was either too expensive in the first place or you are selling at a loss. 5% no good either. Recommends a meaningful time limited discount of 15% plus.
- Love this one: Curiouswines sends a little welcome/ thank you token (such as a branded corkscrew) to new customers. In the post – not on Facebook or a blog. “ Just between you and me”. Personalise it.
- Regarding Marketing efforts. “Layer it, integrate it, repeat it.”
- Mike mentioned a white paper called “ The Darwinian Gale”, which I’m reading. It’s about recession relevant customer trends to drive loyalty and retention.
- Harvest the power of crowds and networks. Something like, “This deal is 25% off provided 150 people sign up. Any less and the deal is off.”
- Mike distilled it succinctly when he said that acquisition and retention is the real acid test.
Later came the chilled and charming Andrew Draper from Manpacks. I must confess that I had a particular interest in this as I’m launching a site called Frankley.com in January also targeting the North American market. It is a similiar concept but aimed at women, men and kids!
- Manpacks was launched quickly and the model is based on iterating from real world data.
- Makes a change to the site every day to increase conversion.
- Modeled heavily on Basecamp. But its PaaS instead of SaaS. ( Product as a service versus Software as a Service.)
- Things went mad when they got featured on Springwise.com, Inc magazine and more.
- 2000 tweets about Manpacks over nine months. Nice !
- The site gets great traffic but has a low conversion rate.
- They claim to have no outreach for PR. Hmmmm…
- Manpacks push the service, not the product. They keep a small range of stock as ‘men don’t like choice’.
- Half of their customers love to modify their order, the other half don’t.
- Big focus on user experience. “Don’t make me think”. They are making the site as clean, simple and intuitive and constantly tweak to achieve this.
- Also on UX (user experience) – they ask themselves “Is it usable? Is it useful? Is it credible? Is it desirable?”
And my favourite…
- “ The most important thing we did was LAUNCH. Be awesome and good things will happen.”
State of the Net Issue 15 is now available to download from the Resources Section of IIA.ie. This publication, produced in association with IIA Member Company Amas, and indeed all those from 2009 provide invaluable business intelligence for decision makers in Irish business today. The Winter 2009 issue covers:
- An overview of the results of the Amas/ Marketing Institute of Ireland 2009 Irish Online Marketing Sentiment Survey,
- Top 10 iPhone Apps for Ireland (I have 2 of them and I’m embarrassed to admit that one of them is Sonic the Hedgehog!)
- Broadband growth figures for all platforms and mobile specifically from ComReg
- An overview of research from the EU commission on cross border product abvailability
- Year end details on top news searches from Google
- Usage of price comparison sites by product/ service from Amárach Research for the National Consumer Agency
- A cost/ benefit analysis of Social Media usage by Irish SMEs.
If your company has produced research that you feel might be suitable for publication in the next or other upcoming issues of State of the Net, please feel free to get in touch with me, Roseanne, to discuss.
A big thanks to Laura Kelly from IIA Member Company AXA who submitted the following review of our recent event “Driving Self-Service Online”. A special thanks for her patience as I grappled with the recent blog issues while her concise review languished in my inbox. Her review shows that this event did not stop at examining online customer service. Of course this is exactly how any customer service should be: multi-faceted. I also attended an event similar to this by IIA Member Company iQContent at their Bootcamp last summer and agree with all her points. (But I would, of course, so it’s nice to get an unbiased opinion!)
Colin Bentley of iQContent proved to be a worthy guide on the journey through the topic, warning us all from the outset that it’s not as easy as we like to think!
Starting with the link between self service and customer experience, Colin gave us some great examples of online customer experiences that worked, and more importantly and often remembered those that don’t (all companies shall remain nameless here!)
Key Steps in the Online Self Service Journey
- Convince your CEO that online self service is right for you,
- Really listen to what your customers have to say, and understand the areas in which they seek help
- Be clever about the medium you use to answer your customers questions. Examples include forums, avatars (e.g. Anna for Ikea) and Twitter
- Understand more about the type of tasks you want to provide online, and how appropriate it is for the user and you. Tasks can range from useful, to usable, to lovable where companies really go the extra mile.
Finally Colin finished up a very informative half day by discussing the promotion of online self service, including educating staff and customers, as well as less subtle strategies such as financial incentives for transacting online.
A very informative and well presented seminar – my thanks to Colin Bentley from IQ Content and Irene from IIA.
– Laura Kelly, AXA.ie
(And the appropriateness of a CAR insurer writing a review of DRIVING Self-Service Online has just dawned on me. Ever the quick one on the uptake, Roseanne!)
Many of the delegates at IIA Congress 2009 shared their impressions, notes and photos of the Congress and now I’d like to share them with you! Please leave a comment if I have missed your review, photos or other media about the event and I would be delighted to add it.
Krishna De shares some really evocative photos of both the Congress and the Net Visionary Awards – have a gander you may see yourself there! Speaking of which you might like to check out the “official” IIA shots on Pix.ie
Keith Shirley gives a very measured review of the two days and his feedback is appreciated. He was involved in our breakout sessions as a members of the Social Media Working Group and he also stepped up as a Social Media mentor on Day 2 so big thanks to him!
Gita of Agile Technologies includes reviews of the 3 breakout sessions she attended and are well worth a look.
Fred from Channelship managed to interview two of the plenary speakers from the Congress and I’m including the vids below for you. You can hear the complete speeches from Colm Lyon, Realex Payments, Trey Harvin, dotMobi, Ronan Harris, Google and Colm Long, Facebook as MP3s on the IIA site.
A little tardy posting this (and more about the reasons for that later!) but very appropriately I am posting a review by Derek McGarry, a board member of the Institute of Designers in Ireland and a lecturer in the National College of Art and Design who attended the recent IIA event on Blogging, microblogging and podcasting. Appropriate because Krishna De, who presented that event, is presenting today at our event in Limerick “Word of Mouse Marketing: Building Brand and Attracting More Profits To Your Business”. (Also appropriate because the IDI are holding their coveted Design Awards tomorrow night.)
On Thursday 18th September I attended my first workshop on blogging, microblogging and podcasting run by Krishna De for the Irish Internet Association. It was my intention to fast track my way into an information world that I knew very little about but was eager to explore.
Krishna De was an excellent speaker who illustrated her expertise on the subject of blogs, microblogs and podcasts in an informal manner that helped everyone relax and enjoy the half day workshop. Having the class participate from the word go is always a smart way to ensure that you get everyone involved. More than that, it also ensures that there was little chance of going home unhappy that the class was meaningless because you can help direct the content. Our audience consisted of a good mix of complete novices, intermediates, and professionals. Everyone approached the workshop with a clear objective to use blogs, microblogs and podcasts as an essential part of their lives. Most had a good grasp of how it might help them build their business or that of the company in which they worked.
Krishna De provided lots of real examples or case studies that showed how others were using this technology to share information within a variety of social and business networks. Although I would not like to be tested on the full extent of my workshop comprehension, the great outcome for me was to leave the workshop with a conceptual toolbox and a new confidence to give it a go. I quickly purchased the software and equipment I needed to start a series of design podcasts. Within days I had recorded the first part of my new podcast series. With some more work I will soon be ready to launch myself as an official podcaster. From this first endeavour, I plan to gradually develop my skills through practice using tips and advice provided in the class. My first efforts may well prove real amateur hour but I don’t mind because I know that this time next year I’ll be much better.
While the workshop was just what I wanted, I was initially put off by the high cost of the training. In my opinion, I think the classes could be less expensive through clever marketing and sponsorship. The Irish Internet Association (IIA) should be able to attract such help through their impressive corporate connections. Certainly, if the workshops became more affordable I would definitely recommend them to all my students, colleagues and friends.
Finally, Krishna De orchestrated a really great workshop. Well done IIA!
Derek Mc Garry
Deputy to Head of Design Faculty
National College of Art and Design, Dublin
A big thank you to Derek for taking the time to write this review. A quick note in relation to Derek’s comment about cost is that the cost of IIA events or membership hasn’t been increased for three years. If that isn’t inflation busting, I don’t know what is! Krishna also writes on her blog about assessing the value of training. Another of our members Clickstream (who recently revamped their own website) also attended this event and wrote about it on their Blog.