Category Archives: Mobile

Future Comms: Around the World in 80 Apps

Future Index Extra

APP WALL - Version 2

We took a quick tour of some of the World’s university apps. We drew them from a number of sources including ‘Best of’ blogs, referrals and a long time spent browsing the i-tunes UK App Store. Just to be clear – we didn’t look at everything and we didn’t apply any strict research techniques. We simply browsed, and played. We mapped everything we found and we pulled out some key themes. And by doing so we got enough to paint a landscape and highlight a few great examples to inspire us all.

Let’s get the negatives out of the way quickly. As much as 50% of our experience was disappointing. Most of that hugely so. We’ve summed them up in quick lowlights:

Nice Home Screen But…. So many apps looked good at the start but the promise quickly faded into poor content, often seemingly randomly chosen. At least 20% of…

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Filed under Digital, Education Marketing, Great Marketing, Mobile, Youth Marketing

Have a break from your Wi-Fi life

Kit Kat have scored an ace with this campaign where they created wifi-free zones in Amsterdam for people to ‘take a break’ from their digital lives.

Apart from the great on-street presence, and PR-worthiness of it, they have made Kit Kat relevant in the digital age by providing busy people with a chance to get away from it all, relax and have a break.

Their ‘take a break’ strapline is now even more relevant to our lives…

kit kat

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June 10, 2013 · 4:17 pm

Why content marketing is perfect for the travel industry

Since the days of the first dot.com boom the travel industry has been at the forefront of social and digital media. Despite this there are still travel companies out there who believe that online booking won’t work for them, or organisations who have failed to enter the social marketing space.

There are some persuasive arguments as to why the tourism & travel industry should embrace social media and content marketing as strategies to promote their services, raise brand awareness and generate bookings and a positive reputation. The key to success is finding the right strategy and implementation for your organization.

Let me see it through your eyes

Customer expectation of travel websites has evolved from the transactional to experiential. As well as being able to research a holiday or journey the user now expects to be able to imagine themselves there. Travel companies can achieve this through the use of visual media eg photography and video, and encouraging user reviews, which allow potential bookers to see what past visitors have experienced. Bookers use both official and unofficial channels to research and plan their trip as together they provide a more complete picture of the destination under consideration.

Every traveller is now a reporter – sharing their own visual content to give the ‘warts and all’ view of each location. At very least the booker expects to be able to scroll through a gallery of images and maybe even a 360 photo of each location – a single photo will no longer satisfy our appetite for visual media. Content always has and always will be king.

If you’re seeking evidence of this thirst for visual information – look to the rapid rise of Pinterest and Instagram, as well as Facebook’s latest redesign – which makes visual content even more important in their page layout.

global connectionsGoing social

A natural progression for travel marketing has been the social sharing of information. Status updates, holiday photos and even video make their way onto Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare and are shared across the world. Much of this sharing takes place via mobile devices. Harnessing this power enables travel brands to multiply their marketing budgets and enable information to spread faster than a well planned and executed marcomms campaign could ever do. This is word of mouth referral advertising for the digital age.

SEO should be your number one priority

A website optimized for natural search is every marketing manager’s number one action. However it is now thought in geek circles that Google Search’s latest algorythms are promoting content posted and shared on social networks even higher. The reach of your social network and the sharing you do to those networks will have a substantive, possibly massive, effect on your search traffic.

What can travel brands do to leverage social media?

Here are some essential steps for travel and leisure brands wanting to bring their digital strategy up to date:

1. Create official platforms for sharing. You need to have an authentic presence on all the relevant social networks. If you don’t set it up, a user might, and then you risk your brand being misrepresented by a (hopefully) well-meaning customer. Which social platforms you select will depend naturally on your target markets and marketing objectives. The most important networks for the travel and leisure industry are Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Pinterest, Youtube and Flikr, and blogging (eg WordPress or Blogger). The strategy for each will depend on your business and customer profile.

Connected2. Connect your social networks by cross linking so that your Twitter feed promotes your Facebook page and so on. Pinterest allows you to verify your web address so that it appears in your profile header. These administrative tasks are well worth the time as it demonstrates to Google’s robots that your social profiles are connected and that you are one and the same organisation.

3. Link your organisation’s official website to your social channels. Invite website visitors to connect with you and follow your updates. Even better, incorporate a feed of ‘latest tweets’ or ‘updates’ directly into your company website. Make sure your website is optimised for mobile or better still create a mobile version.

4. Create original content. Anyone can share existing content out there, but brands are in the ideal position of having access to the product or service themselves. Create stunning new photography, create a chalet host’s blog, present survey results as an infographic. Interesting, useful, engaging and most of all entertaining content is shared.

5. Ask users to share it. Word of mouth recommendations will happen regardless, but are vastly accelerated if we ask happy customers to share and recommend the service to their friends. When posting content ask your followers to share or comment – both of which will spread the word virally to their circles.

6. Create events – real or virtual online events and ask followers to join in. If you’re attending trade shows add those as events, or set up a live chat event for your followers.

7. Create unique content that is only available via each network. Competitions work well but have to involve the community and provide a worthwhile reward. Don’t fall foul of competition rules – check out my earlier post for info. Give your followers something special – a preview of a new video, or a discount code off their booking. If you reward their loyalty they will become brand ambassadors and do the hard work for you.

8. Don’t shout, listen to your customers instead. It is more important to engage with and converse with your social media followers than it is to keep pushing out messages to them. They may sometimes complain about your services, but that is fine. A sanitised social media channel will come across as entirely artificial. Listen to their comments, respond and take action in the real world. Learn when to respond to complaints posted on TripAdvisor and know when to leave alone.

9. Make it easy to research and book online. Customer expectations are that this should be possible, and the idea of waiting for a phone line to re-open could lose you valuable business. Ensure that the user journey for each process is as quick and simple as possible – remove redundant steps and only ask for data when it is needed.

Of course social media is only part of the digital marketing landscape, and any social media strategy has to be in synergy with your overarching marketing strategy. Customers will care about every interaction with your brand – from social media, to company website, to phone operative and everyone they meet along their journey. If any of these customer touchpoints are not up to scratch then it lets the whole customer experience down. So take the time to take a renewed look at your customer journey and the content you are sharing and consider where you can make a difference. This relatively small investment of time and budget will pay dividends in terms of future bookings.

Roisin Kirby is an experienced Marketing Consultant based in Nottingham (UK), with experience spanning a range of service industries, particularly the education and travel sectors.

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Filed under Blogging, Digital, Marketing, Mobile, Social media, Strategy, Travel and Tourism

Legal fail: what every marketing person needs to know

It’s easy to break the law with marketing activity, without realising it.  I’ve coached several junior marketing staffers on the legal aspects of their great new idea in the past, and whist these conversations invariably leave me looking like the party pooper, it is essential that every marketing person should know and keep up to date with the legal framework within which they operate.

There are various Acts and Codes of Practice that are too extensive to write about in one post, but here is a summary of five common areas where marketing activity can come unstuck. By the way, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the statement that nothing in this blog post constitutes authoritative legal opinion! If you require legal advice please consult a lawyer.

Can you back up your marketing messages?

The claims you make in your messaging need to be authentic and substantiated. Claiming to the ‘the UK’s top’ or ‘most popular’ or ‘leading’ without any basis will leave you open to complaints via the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Any customer or competitor business can make a formal complaint against you to the ASA free of charge. Since (2011) the ASA has also had claims made on websites within its remit.

Guaranteed

Before you claim that an item or service is ‘free’ or make use of the word ‘guaranteed’ you need to pay attention to the legal definitions of these terms when in use within marketing and publicity.

Therefore if you make a claim or statement, regardless of which media it is on, make sure it is accurate and that you can back it up should you be challenged.  If you don’t, you would be forced to change your marketing messages (which could be costly) and the ASA’s judgment will be published thereby generating negative publicity which will undermine your brand’s standing.

Image rights and permissions

Any images (photos, illustrations etc.) you use in your marketing materials and website need to be lawfully used.  The owner of the image needs to provide their permission for its use or license it to you.  The terms ‘rights managed’ or ‘licensed’ mean that payment is required to use the image. ‘Royalty free’ means that the image is free to use and reproduce. Always check the licensing terms and conditions as a credit to the owner may be required in exchange for the right to use the image free of charge.

When image rights are not properly observed the consequences can be very expensive, as was the case at one organisation I worked at, who had not paid due attention to the rights of the photos they used in their direct marketing.  Likewise a friend who set up her own business was contacted by Getty over illegal use of images from their database, discovered by one of their automatic web crawlers. Save yourself the worry and expense by getting this area straight from the outset.

Specifically, any photography or video footage you take or use which includes recognisable faces need to be used with the permission of the subjects, even if they are in the background.  It’s best to have permission in writing (not just verbally) and recording it with the images.  Crowd shots or photos of events can be covered by prominently displayed signage or text on a printed item that all attendees will have received (e.g. ticket). Always provide an option for people to opt out of they don’t want to have their image used in publicity.

Storing of personal details

The recording, storing and use of personal details are governed by the Data Protection Act (1998).

If you are collecting data for marketing purposes then the provider of details (e.g. your prospect) needs to be notified at the point of collection how you intend to use their data. This is normally managed through a data protection statement and consent boxes on the data collection form. Naturally your database needs to be able to record those opt outs/ins so that you do not mail or phone anyone who has not given their consent.

Data protection statements are now so commonplace that it is startling that organisations are still getting this wrong. Think about all your data collection activities regardless of channel – online, paper forms, telephone – are you letting people know how you will use their data and giving them the chance to opt out? If not, your prospects have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about your business practices.

If mailing, emailing or phoning prospects that have not willingly provided you with their details (i.e. using a bought in list or cold calling) then you need to check that they are not registered with the Mailing Preference Service or the email/phone equivalent. If you make a sales call to someone registered with the Telephone Preference Service (or the equivalent for other media) you can be reported to the Information Commissioners Office and receive a fine.

Use of Cookies on your website

The European ePrivacy Directive regarding Cookies (an extension of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) finally came into force in the UK last May (2012).  This means that every website owner who places cookies on a user’s machine must make it clear to the user. The guidance level on this issue changed over time, moving from a strict opt in towards ‘providing clear information about the cookies in use and implied consent’.  Cookies are used for a variety of purposes on websites, from tracking visitor numbers to storing information about baskets/purchasing behaviour. At minimum every site should state clearly the cookies that are in use with the site.  The ICO is yet to pull anyone up on this issue, yet it remains an issue in the spotlight that you cannot afford to overlook.

Competition terms and conditions

Competitions, prize draws and raffles are great ways of engaging prospective and current customers, but need to be properly planned and executed. All of these need written terms and conditions published and available to anyone before they enter the competition.  Each type of competition has slightly different legal requirements and you need to be clear about which you are promoting. Always have your legal advisor check over the T&C before they are used.

The risk of not publishing your T&C is that any competition entrant could query your processes and tie your organisation up in a lengthy and costly legal claim.

Competitions publicised via social media sites have the added complication of the platform’s own requirements. For instance Facebook does not permit the use of competitions unless undertaken through one if its licensed apps (See Tina Gammon’s excellent article for more details). Claiming that you weren’t aware, or that ‘everyone is doing it’ is no defense in law.

Keep up with best pracice and compliance

It pays for every organisation to keep up to date with the legal requirements of marketing as the consequences can be very costly in terms of time or budget.  If you are not sure about your practices check with someone who does – start with your marketing expert and then your legal team.  Ignorance is no defense in the eyes of the law.

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Filed under Advertising, Digital, Marketing, Mobile, Sales, Social media

Mobile Apps – don’t get caught out!

Smartphone mobile apps

Everyone seems to want a mobile app for their business or campaign, but do you actually need one?

Yes, an app can make you appear cutting edge to your customers and colleagues, but like any marketing activity you really need to think about your objectives and target market before you decide on an app.

One is never enough

Apps and the language that goes with them can easily confuse traditional marketeers into thinking that a complex and costly app is the only solution to their comms challenge. Before you know it, you’ve got technology agencies queuing up to offer you a solution based on different builds for iPhone, Android and Windows phones. The different operating systems mean that you can’t reach all customers with one solution so you either cut out a slice of your target market or spend a whole lot more on multiple versions.

If you listen to the tech experts you’ll need a whole suite of mobile web pages and apps to cater for different devices and operating systems. (see Forbes)

That is fine if you are the BBC or The Guardian (who recently reported that nearly 35% of their traffic was via mobile devices – largely because of the range of mobile friendly channels they had developed). But this is simply not realistic for the average business for whom online and mobile form an important but smaller part of their channel strategy.

The development costs aside, who is going to maintain the design and content of each of these? Yes, they are another route to market, but they are also another channel to be maintained and enhanced. What might seem like a one-of investment turns into a monster that needs to be continually fed.

The majority of apps have a very short life span, many are downloaded but rarely or never used and then deleted.  Additionally, users are reluctant to download apps with a large file size due to the amount of phone memory and data allowance used. Think about the apps that you use regularly – they are typically either useful or entertaining.

So you want to get mobile, but do you really need an app?

A true mobile app allows content or functionality to be stored on the mobile handset to be accessed without necessarily connecting to the internet. But many ‘apps’ are actually web pages designed to look like an app, which can be listed in the Apple Store and Marketplace. These are much easier and cheaper to develop and maintain.

Alternatively you could make your current site more mobile friendly and thereby allow your customers access to all your content via their mobile device. Responsive design allows each viewer to receive an optimised web page based on their screen size, so that your site can look great across different devices at minimum cost.

I’m sure the tech specialists will find many faults with this approach, but for the majority of businesses the low-tech low-budget approach makes infinitely more sense.

So, do you need an app? The answer may be yes, but the right choice in this respect is down to the type of business you have and what you are trying to achieve with your marketing.  So think twice before you jump to ‘an app is the answer’!

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Filed under Digital, Marketing, Mobile