By Rob Van Tol, User Experience Consultant
If they ever make a rock opera about developing new websites, consultants like me would bounce in, a la the Spice Girls, asking:
So tell me what you want, what you really really want?
And our clients would respond in Queen-esque falsetto:
I want it all…and I want it now!
Admittedly, real life is less theatrical than that. Sequins are in short supply and the stage is usually a large table in a meeting room, but you get the gist.
An important skill of the consultant at Precedent is to bring together all interested parties, to find out what they really really want, and to marry that to what they can really really get.
In complex organisations this is quite hard. Membership organisations, universities, NHS trusts, central & local government and most financial services companies are often like this. Made up of multiple communities, they often have diverging agendas and different appetites to support digital change.
So marketing might be tasked with building reputation and driving growth, IT with containing costs, operations with improving customer experience and product management with innovating. These are all reasonable goals, but don’t necessarily share the same approach or digital needs.
Reconciling them can be tricky, but it vital in order to create a coherent digital presence for your audiences. When projects go wrong it’s usually because internal stakeholders have siloed agendas.
The simplest solution is still the best: get everyone round a table and encourage them to talk. Talk about their hopes, fears, presumptions, and requirements. If you can tease these out – especially those unspoken assumptions people often don’t think are worth mentioning, then you can go a long way towards reconciling different demands, making commonsense trade-offs, getting agreement and building trust.
Still, getting everyone aligned might take more than a round-table chat with tea and biscuits (note, quality biscuits do improve meetings, fact). So you may need to consider escalating to having one-to-one talks, or even getting divergent opinions to write a position statement.
What I’d be looking for is to make sure people feel that they’ve been heard and that there needs have been accounted for. Doing digital stuff is often disruptive: new (extra) tasks, changes in culture, even changes in the business model.
Airing fears and grievances, and managing risk is ultimately how we square the circle of conflicting wants, meeting limited ability to deliver within time and budget. This is where our project managers step forward, breaking things down to the achievable, and thinking through how to mitigate risks.
It’s a shame there’s not a bit more magic to it, a bit more rock-n-roll; but its really just people sensitively and intelligently listening to each other. Perhaps that’s why the website development rock opera is yet to written. Though if you have an idea for one, or even just a concept album, we’d love to hear it!
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Last year we produced a report looking at the digital properties of 50 financial services companies in the UK. We looked at banks, asset managers, insurers, building societies and importantly the new kids on the block, the online only finance companies. We assumed ahead of conducting the research that it would be these online operators who would be most progressive and aggressive in their online efforts, and so it transpired.
The ‘newbies’ seemed to have a greater understanding of the online space, how it can all be fitted together strategically to drive awareness and ultimately, sales and conversions. In short the question posed by the title of the report, ‘Integration or isolation?’ was broadly answered by our findings in as much as the traditional retail finance firms operated in isolation with little integration between digital channels and seemingly little cohesion across internal teams and their digital objectives. By contrast the purely online providers had an integrated approach, which was clearly strategically aligned across integrated channels.
It comes as no surprise therefore that a research report by digital agency Stickyeyes, which looks at the online visibility of the top 50 consumer finance brands revealed last week that the traditional brands are losing out to their newer rivals. In search results it would appear that the only way that traditional brands can compete is through PPC, since they are being blown away in natural search results by the more savvy and strategic brands such as MoneySupermarket, which featured in the top ten for all the markets analysed. In fact price comparison sites dominated both search marketing and social media presence analyses. (more…)
By , Commercial Director
In our digital finance report Integration or Isolation? and subsequent digital finance forum we showed a range of great examples for social engagement in financial service organisations. This included the @RBS_Economics insight tweets, @SkandiaTeamGBR’s digital curation of its own content and other relevant information sources and @Zopa’s really personal customer service approach. We also looked at Fidelity’s proactive Facebook page and how some firms such as Investec are starting to maintain their LinkedIn company pages.
At the forum the biggest single issue shared with us during the roundtables was the challenge of compliance. Feedback from the event stressed how much marketers were looking to Precedent and similar digital agencies to answer their compliance challenges. Clearly we can’t alone answer what are often complex regulatory challenges. Keen to take on the challenge we proposed a roundtable event under Chatham House Rules to get marketers and compliance professionals together to explore these issues and hopefully find some positive recommendations.
By , Head of Digital Marketing
Missed the last month’s Precedent Digital Finance Forum? To our delight, the roundtable discussions quickly sparked participants swapping success stories for overcoming compliance restrictions and old fashioned thinking towards social media and blogging.
Here are just a few of the tried and tested solutions cherry picked as highlights from those roundtable talks. Have a read through and let us know your own experiences in the comments.
1. Thought-leadership and social media: the perfect match
Rather than use social media and blogs to push products, offering helpful and impartial information hasn’t just proved an effective strategy for major players like City Index or Lloyds TSB, it’s also bang on trend.
Stats from Google Insight reveal that DIY-style searches are significantly on the rise as users discover that adding ‘how to’ to a search string lets them skip the sales pitch and get straight to the content.
2. Softly-softly catches management approval
If you’re working at a less digitally forward-thinking institution, members of the forum found starting with a small and easily approved by compliance piece of digital activity gave them the stats and evidence for management to green-light larger initiatives.
The bottom line being if you’re speaking to management, talk return on investment and not blogs or Twitter. This means setting up the right tracking in advance – whether it’s Google Analytics for your website, buzz monitoring for the web as a whole, or bespoke tracking for your social media profiles – and knowing what metrics to track and how to interpret them.
Adrian Porter – Head of Strategic Research
As promised, here is the first of a short series of follow-up blogs on our second Digital Finance Forum. Please feel free to comment below, and let’s keep the conversation going using #PrecSem.
After our initial forum in September last year we anticipated that compliance issues would be high on the agenda for delegates attending the forum yesterday at the Merchant Taylors Hall in the City.
With this in mind, as those of you who attended yesterday discovered, we attempted to recruit two, or three people with experience of dealing with compliance to help us facilitate a panel debate on the subject.
The irony was of course that none of the people we approached could get the clearance from compliance to participate. Excuse this use of text speak but, – LOL!
However, we were determined to embrace the subject and tryto focus on positive approaches to common problems, rather than turn the morning into a ‘compliance-bashing exercise’.
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research and report author
Those of you who have known Precedent for any length of time will be aware of our very successful seminar series. On Friday we took a departure from our usual two speech and breakfast format to host a whole morning of finance-related presentations and workshops at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Six of our experts provided insight from our recent report into the online landscape for UK financial service firms covering every aspect of digital strategy. In the interactive breakout sessions delegates and our consultants discussed how various digital channels are being used and took time to share the challenges that they all face. It became clear that the big issue for people working in finance communications and marketing is the lack of dedicated digital teams and the ever-present shadow of compliance that often make the real-time nature of channels like Twitter and Facebook difficult to use effectively.
By , Head of Research
It is with a sense of relief, and not a little gratitude to my colleagues, that I can formally announce the launch of our latest sector report: Integration or isolation? – The digital landscape for UK financial services.
I have been producing big reports into various sector websites for over ten years and the title of this one had me reflecting on the process that we undertake to get these reports ‘to press’.
As always the research and data collection is really the easy bit. It can be done in isolation. Just put me in front of a computer, leave me alone for a few weeks with a spreadsheet and ‘the job’s a good ‘un’!
It’s the concept, design, proofing and coordination of the people who help me bring the reports together that presents the biggest challenge – the integration.
By John Campbell, Regional Director Scotland
This year a core focus for financial institutions is to develop its transactional based services for smartphone devices. Statistics show us that smartphone usage is growing month on month and 91% of UK retailers are saying that they expect sharp increase in mobile sales as m-commerce develops. (more…)