By Lindsay Herbert, Head of Digital Marketing
This weekend was a heavy one. I meant to stop after just one on Saturday at the Tate Britain at the Schwitters exhibit, but before I knew it, I was binging on Lichtenstein and ‘A Bigger Splash’ at the Tate Modern, followed by blowing the last of my mind on Sunday at the jaw-dropping Russian exhibitions at the Saatchi Gallery.
To try and redeem myself this Monday morning, bleary eyed and sore, I’ve collected three thoughts that relate well to my work as Head of Digital Marketing that I hope will also be a help to others. Two of the thoughts have a strong digital connection, whilst the last is just a general thought I need to remind myself of more often.
1) Untitled. (Really?)
First, knowing what a picture is about doesn’t just help to understand it, it can give you an appreciation of its value. Cartoon-like tattoos of chains and sad, busty women on moustached men, looking not unlike aged portraits of Shoreditch hipsters in the Saatchi Gallery, took on unsettling new meaning when the captions revealed them to be the gang tattoos of lifelong Russian criminals. Or at the Lichtenstein exhibition where the captions showed just how many of the paintings were borrowed from private collections – meaning that despite their iconic status and societal value, when the exhibitions ends we’ll likely never get to lay eyes on many of these famous works again.
It made me think back to my work on the web and the time it takes to load those big carousel banners many brands are so fond of (or at least, fond of the in-fighting they often resolve internally), and it’s worth thinking of the potential value added when making the call on whether to include space in the carousel template for that precious, value-adding editable text.
2) Yours sincerely, the Tate Modern
My second thought relates to the DREAM Destinations seminar series we’re currently running (next stop, Edinburgh!) and how attractions like galleries can (and are) using technology to forge closer connections with their visitors, and bridge the time between in-person visits.
The moment I scanned my membership card at the Tate Modern, an email popped into my Hotmail account asking what I thought of the Lichtenstein exhibit. Whilst I thought the wording could have been a little less praise soliciting (‘Looking at the comments so far, it’s clear that people have enjoyed…’) I was still impressed, first by the efficiency and then by the fact they thought to ask at all.
It’s also noteworthy though that it was my second visit to the exhibition (yes, I’m really getting my money’s worth out of my membership!) and the second time receiving the same email. Should the second email have been different and recognized me as a repeat visitor? In an ideal world (where the Tate gets the unlimited marketing resource and advanced CRM it deserves), yes, but it did prompt me to wonder what other ways the Tate could have bridged the virtual and real life gap.
For example, I was disappointed when my favourite paintings weren’t available for sale as prints at each of the galleries I’d visited – could I have been asked to vote online for which additional prints should be procured for their online shop? Could QR codes have been added to the paintings so scanning saved them to a list of favourites that I could then share and refer to later (rather than have to surreptitiously snap photos of the captions for my own un-shareable records)?
One thing I will say, even though I didn’t click through on either email from the Tate, was that I was touched to see the curator’s name pop up in my inbox. It was a sign they are keeping track of my interactions with them in a meaningful way – one that should later result in fewer ‘email all’ messages down the road – but more importantly, tells me my visit is helping them shape future visits for everyone.
3) Art: The brain’s drain cleaner!
The last thing I’ll mention is how standing for hours in four different galleries this weekend, overloading my brain with creativity and introspection, is making me oddly eager to get stuck back in at work this snowy Monday morning. I don’t know how some of the most impressive things I saw (like a giant painting at Saatchi gallery that from far away looks opulent and intricately detailed, but close up is actually made from systematically torn and paint-soiled cardboard sheets) are going to factor into the projects I’m working on, but the feeling in my head right now is a bit like the one you get right before a great idea pops in.
Not a new revelation I suppose, but a good reminder as to why we should all reboot our brains and trade staring at pixels for paint strokes whenever we get the chance.
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
Recently I have been researching and writing a report looking into how attractions use digital to promote and enhance the visitor experience of their venues. The report’s central premise is that today, more than ever, digital communications and engagement plays a crucial role in not just recruiting visitors to an attraction, but also in ensuring that they have a satisfying and rewarding experience at it; one that they will want to talk about and share with their family, friends and peers.
To this end the report is framed around the DREAM model. The implication of which is that attractions need to look at their digital landscape holistically in order to complete the engagement cycle. The tricky parts of this are the stages at which the visitor actually attends and after they have left. However, in terms of word of mouth recommendation, and attracting the next tranche of visitors there is no stage more important, get this bit right and marketing efforts have the potential to be less scatter-gun and more targeted and personal.
With this in mind I was intrigued to see an article last week describing Disney’s new initiative aimed at making their visitors’ experience of their parks seamless and cash-free http://www.fastcodesign.com/1671616/a-1-billion-project-to-remake-the-disney-world-experience-using-rfid#1 The idea is that visitors have an RFID wristband, which allows them to eat, drink, buy souvenirs, and potentially interact with Disney characters hassle-free. Disney will be able to collect data on their visitors’ habits from the time they enter their parks to the time they leave. Monetisation of the experience must be front of mind for Disney, but so too must be the enhancement and improvement of the experience, identifying pain points and remedying them as best possible.
This is all fantastic of course, but other than visitors not having to get their wallet out, how does it enhance the visitor’s experience, and could it actually add to the apprehension of a family on a limited budget? There is of course an app that can be downloaded from the Disney site that helps visitors plan their day, see queue times etc, but a look at what it offers suggest that there is little attempt by Disney to include in the app tools to allow people to share their experiences as they happen, or to encourage visitors to interact with the ‘Disney community’ subsequently.
Maybe with a brand like Disney’s it is all about the experience, and ongoing user-generated marketing material and word of mouth recommendations come naturally due to the aspirational nature of their attractions. For the less well resourced there are any number of digital approaches that will help them close the circle and use their satisfied customers to generate real digital assets and goodwill contained in our report – The DREAM day out – Digitally enhancing and promoting the attraction experience. To find out more download a copy of our free report.
By , Head of Strategic Research
After our recent membership seminar, I was asked by a number of people if we have any techniques for getting senior stakeholders to take digital seriously and release budget for digital projects.
The answer is yes, and of course the easiest way to secure buy-in and get cross-organisational support is to employ an agency like us to cut through internal structures and politics in a stakeholder engagement exercise that delivers a digital roadmap for the future. However, getting to the point of commissioning work like this is often too fraught with internal obstacles. I can say though that having worked with many very complex and multi-faceted organisations, it is evident that there are similarities between them which can be used as catalysts for change.
Where to start?
A digital vision needs to be owned by the whole organisation, which means it has to have buy-in from the top. However, as we all know it is often difficult to get the idea of a cohesive and holistic digital strategy across to those who are likely to release the budget to produce it. This is to say that unless your CEO is a digital evangelist, you will have to prove the benefits of digital first in order to get the idea of a digital future on the agenda.
director at the IET, entertained and enlightened attendees at our membership seminar last week. Here Adrian Porter tells you what you missed at our first membership seminar.
Attendees at Thursday’s seminar to launch our new sector report, Membership organisations: big challenges, digital answers? were both captivated and entertained by Michelle’s account of how the Institution of Engineering and Technology is embracing the digital world.
In her role as Membership and Professional Development Director at the IET since 2006, Michelle has overseen a real life digital implementation journey that has its roots in the IET’s strategic vision and objectives for the 21st century.
Michelle started her talk by revealing a visualisation of the IET’s strategy, a remarkably concise and instantly understandable diagram that rather impressively represents the consolidation of a ’72 slide deck’!
Despite not being one of our clients, and with us not knowing exactly what Michelle was going to say in her presentation, the resonance between the approach adopted by the IET to their digital development and the recommendations contained in our report was quite deafening. Michelle showed us how consideration of the IET’s strategic priorities combined with an understanding of her members’ life stage engagement with the IET has manifested itself in an innovation roadmap which directly translates into a series of digital initiatives.
By Adrian Porter, Head of Strategic Research
I am currently researching Precedent’s next sector report which will identify and offer solutions to some of the challenges that professional and trade membership organisations currently face in the contemporary digital environment. Its working title is ‘Membership Organisations – Big Questions – Digital Answers?’ My initial fact finding has involved a lot of surfing in order to identify key themes that describe the problems that organisations are facing.
One of the major issues seems to be a membership base that is getting older, and the fact that it is more often than not these older members who are most active in the management, direction and administration of the organisation.
Professional organisations are struggling to attract younger members. Sure they have the full attention of the youngsters when they are training, or they are aiming for some letters after their names, but after this engagement levels drop off considerably, if not entirely.
There are a number of reasons for this, some of which I will feature here in the run up to the release of our report (eta February). However, I was reminded of one of the reasons on my commute home earlier this week. I was reading the Evening Standard, and my eye was taken by Sir Clive Woodward describing the RFU as ‘a laughing stock around the world’. Woodward was criticising the RFU’s structure and decision making processes, particularly with respect to the appointment of Martin Johnson as England team coach by Rob Andrew. Despite the resignation of Johnson following the world cup debacle, Andrew has taken no responsibility for England’s failure in the tournament and is likely to be in charge of appointing the next England coach too!
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 , Consultant
At our recent #UsabilityFail seminar Mark Russell and I spoke about why you should stop wasting your marketing budgets on bad usability, covering the functional and organisation barriers that inhibit organisations from providing good online customer experience.
According to a recent report by e-Marketer by 2015 an estimated $51b will be being spent on online marketing each year.
So much money is spent and so much hard work is involved in getting people to your site which is fundamentally wasted if the experiences customers have on your site are poor. You should also be concerned that bad user experiences hurt your brand.
It’s easy to look at sales figures (or whatever success means for you) to quantify how well you are doing. With pride these figures get marched (well, sent) off to the senior management team where everyone pats themselves on the back for a job well done and left with the impression everything is going to plan.
But while this tells a usability story of sorts does this really indicate anything about the usability of the site and how satisfied your customers are with their experience on it?
For many years I worked for a website that failed to address the usability flaws in one of the most popular areas of the site because it provided the “least profit”. Investment was instead piled into those areas that were on paper the “most profitable” even though they were less visited.
This lack of investment where a larger percentage of visitors were most engaged ultimately turned people away from the profitable areas of the site. Why? Does a bad experience resonate with users much more than a good one? You can be certain of it!
We as website users take good usability and experiences for granted and so we should if you want your business to succeed online. Poor usability resonates with us and makes us more likely therefore to leave, complain and never return.
By Rob van Tol, Senior Consultant
Do you spend more on marketing your website than you do on ensuring that it is a high quality, engaging experience that lets your audience do what they want to do easily? I’m guessing yes. Most organisations do. To me, that’s a bit baffling.
Say you wanted to increase the number of conversions on your site, whatever that was: more bookings, more enquiries, or more downloads, etc. You could increase your marketing spend to throw more people at your site – double the number of people who come and you can expect to double the number of conversions. Job done. But there’s a cost here beyond the pay per click cost, a reputational cost.
Double the number of people coming to your site and you double the number of people NOT converting as well. Why aren’t they converting? Maybe they just have a different agenda – say maybe they are just “window shopping” or doing some background research and not ready to convert.
Or maybe the usability of your site let you down? Does it not only waste the leads that your marketing effort has brought to the site, but actually give them a bad, off putting user experience? Worse, will they complain about it. Follow tags like #usabilityfail and #customerservicefail on Twitter and you’ll quickly get a sense of how very annoyed people can get.
By Emily Cootes and Tony Perry, Precedent Cardiff
Welcome to our quick-fire guide to creative success!
Do you watch The Apprentice? If you’re anything like us lot, you probably sit in front of your TV every week thinking: ‘I could do this so much better’. Well at Precedent’s recent annual forum, it was time to put our skills to the test and prove it!
As avid Apprentice fans and inspired by some of this series’ digital tasks, our commercial director, Mark Sherwin, challenged us to create a web app in just 24 hours: 24 long hours, 2 pitches and many beers later, we had the results.
Our chairman Paul Hoskins and board advisor Phil Jones picked the winners which ranged from an Olympic torch ‘bumping’ app, the crowd-sourcing ‘Social Eyes’ student safety app through to ‘NatNav’, a social wildlife navigator tool (keep your eyes peeled – it could be coming to a woodland near you!).
Now unlike the ‘real’ apprentices, our expert development team weren’t primed to work through the night building each of the 8 app concepts we’d prepared, so we focussed on creating full blueprints for each app; everything from user journey flows and paper prototypes, through to full designs, costing models and business cases for investment.
In this, the second of a six part column contributed by Precedent to PSMG magazine, looks at the best way of learning from you users and their needs.
You know that Friday afternoon feeling, when the To do’ list has been completed (or moved to Monday) but there are still a couple of hours left in the day? Do you get the guilty temptation to nosey on Facebook, Twitter etc? Well go right ahead – in fact make this part of your weekly routine! When your boss asks what you are doing, it’s ‘Digital Ethnography’; the art of hanging out with your customers and prospects online.
Many professional service firms obsess about the design of their site without building any real understanding of their users. Firms expend disproportionate energy on their home page, ignoring the fact that only 25% of users who arrive at their site see this, whilst the rest deep-link to content direct from search. In fact, a user may be making decisions about whether to hire you or your competitor without ever reaching your website.
So how do you better acquaint yourself with your users? Monitor the ‘buzz’; at its simplest this means visiting key forums and social communities regularly and seeing what’s being talked about. Ideally, it means structured review. Free tools such as Social Mention, Social Seek , Boardreader and Klout allow you to monitor keywords across a wide range of social networks and measure your current influence, or deploy one of the heavy hitting enterprise tools such as Sentimetrics or Radian6.