Thursday, January 31, 2008

proud to be different ?

Difference in service provision can be a competitive advantage. Being different in web site design not so. I was going to log into my Nationwide credit card account for the first time, and so went to the the home page.

My problem is that I was looking for a 'log in' button or text - and there was none. All I could see were 2 'sign on' links. Sign on? Isn't that what you do once - like signing on for a football team or course of study? I had already 'signed on' to their online banking service. I didn't want to get 'on' to my account, I wanted to get 'in'. Protocal online is that we either 'log in' or 'sign in' to a password controlled web site - in this case, being different has only served to confuse - nothing to be proud of.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Turn it off and back on again?

I was looking on the Microsoft Office Live Small Business site, when it was suddenly replaced by the following message:Thing is, my laptop is fairly new and runs Microsoft Vista. Harumph.

Monday, January 28, 2008

do you really want to hear from me?

Continuing from the previous posting ...

I thought I might let the webmaster know that the site wasn't working, and ...

I wanted to email the company to see if the car was available in automatic.

So I looked for email addresses. None. The only way to contact them was by completing the 'enquiries' form - you get the same form by clicking on the links for 'enquiries', 'feedback' and 'call back'.

Now for both I had a simple message or question. And yet the form required me to give my full name and address, home, work & mobile phone numbers and my email address.

There were 'opt-in / out' boxes for promotional contact - but as I would select 'no' for them all, why did they insist on all the details? If they gave an email address they would have my name and email address on my email to them - and that's all they need.

And I'm sorry, "making it easier to sort correspondence" just doesn't cut it - just monitor your email in-box.

Oh, and by the way, I didn't want to give them my details - well, actually I couldn't be bothered - so, no message about a failing web site [possible lost sales] and no enquiry about automatic gearboxes [possible lost sale].

click here to see our 404 notice

My wife liked the look of the Colt CZC1. As the TV ad told of a good reduction in price, I went to the Mitsubishi-Motors website. I found the car's 'home page':
But look what happened when I clicked on the links for more details.

Imagine going to a showroom to be told "we have no more information, nor do we have a car for you to look at". Well guess what? I did just go to a [virtual] showroom, and there was no more information and there was no car to look at.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

'you are, we car' : 'you are, we don't care' [about the new Fiat 500 on the web]

This week saw Fiat launch its award–winning '500' in the UK. The multi–media advertising campaign carried the tag line 'you are we car'. Although this raised some question marks as to its quality as a tag line, it was how Fiat used it online that interested me. As expected, Fiat's marketers had addressed the issue of putting the new Fiat 500 online by adding it to the web site.

However, the tag line has raised some comments – and if that was the intention [which it surely was], then that too should have been exploited online. Sadly, no. On the day the 500 launched in the UK, 'youarewecar' was available in all the major European domain name suffixes, plus the all important dot eu and dot com.

Whilst this left the company open to both 'cyberbashing sites' (a dissatisfied customer seting up a site saying how bad the car is on, for example) or 'ad-grabbers' (a car supermarket trying to under-cut the Fiat dealerships' prices, perhaps), perhaps the company had decided to keep everything – including its tag line content – on its main site. So I typed the tag line into Google to see how Fiat had handled the search engine optimization and advertising. And what I got was this …

Not only was there nothing in the organic listings, but there was no sponsored ad either – an ad that would have cost only pennies in PPC. Ironically, the top organic listing (which showed how easy it was to attain that position) was an auto site that was making fun of the tag line.

OK, so registering the tag line as a domain name and putting a quirky, non–sales oriented site (that matches the quirkiness of the term itself - and even the entire fiat 500 campaign, which has a 'zany' approach) on it may not have sold many cars – but it would have raised the brand profile in the precise demographic at which the car is targeted.

But wait, it gets worse.

This is what I got when I put 'fiat 500' into Google with and without the quotation marks:

Getting two different ads is bad enough [one carries the message 'official site', the other does not ] but take a good look at the domain name it shows - However, when you click on the Fiat500 link you are taken to a flash-driven page on the domain. So being curious, I tried typing into my browser, and got this:

Did nobody at Fiat look for/at this domain? The chances are they have the 'rights' on it - though I would consider it obscene to take it back from this obvious devotee of the original car [see]. But I'm sure if you offered Vanessa a new 500 she'd consider turning over the domain - or at least put a notice on the top of the home page saying 'click here for the new Fiat 500 home page'.

I didn't even bother looking on social networking sites for 'you are we car' – I figured that if the Fiat marketers had not grasped domain names, they were unlikely to have got to grips with a strategy for social media marketing.

But do you know what bugs me most about all of this? Well certainly that 'my' marketing subject has been ignored by a global car manufacturer - but more importantly for Fiat, all of the above would have cost - I would think - less than one per cent of that car's marketing budget.

Take gun(a). Take foot (b). Shoot (b) with (a).

Footnote I : I'm not the only one who questions the choice of tag line, try these : Away with words ; marketing mishaps ; you are, we confused ;

Footnote II : Just to show how easy it is to get the term listed on the Google SERP, only 12 hours after I posted this entry it is in at number 5 on Google for "you are we car".

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

landing page not found

This week's e-marketing class included a session on the importance of landing pages for ads. So while I was looking for something else, I was checking for good or bad examples - and this one is a doozie. When I clicked on the ad circled below ... ... I got
Remember, these folks have paid for this ad (yep, sorry, I cost them money when I clicked on the link). Worse still, they're in the business of providing online marketing services. Ouch.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sunderland moves to the sunshine state

Let me say upfront that MarketingSherpa provide some of the best free e-commerce stuff on the web, but they made a bit of an error with this form. As you can see, it was rejecting the submission because there was nothing in the 'state' box - and yet it acknowledges that folk from outside the USA could apply as there is a 'country' box. To make it work it had to type in three characters to represent a state - so I went for 'flo'.

excellent 404 practice

Custom-made 404 messages are rare - and that's a shame. Whether it's your fault because you've removed a page [and it's still listed on a search engine or it's a link on a seldom-used page], or the user has typed the wrong URL into their browser, the [often techie-written] default message does nothing in marketing terms. This one, from Apple, effectively helps you find what you're looking for - and the tone [hmm ... ] is informal. Nice one.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

add up or add to ?

I sometimes add comments to blogs and - like many web sites - where those blogs want to block spammers they require that you type in to a box the characters from an active token. Well this blog site was a bit different carrying the message 'please add 1 and 3'.
Now, I just typed in '13', but I did consider typing in '1 and 3'. OK, so maybe I'm a thick, but when I did so I got a message that told me I couldn't count. Yep - what they wanted was for me to type '4' into the box. And worse, it wiped my carefully constructed reply to the article. No second chance with a note explaining what they really wanted. So guess what? I printed the screen for the image above, and left the site - the advice I was offering gone forever.

Surely I'm not the only person who was confused by the instruction? Even if I was, isn't one too many? Why not make the message [something like] 'enter in the box the number that is the total of 1 plus 3'?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

oi - you can't come in here with that software

Message on the front page of a hotel web site. I wonder if the hotel itself is so welcoming?BTW, apparently I did have the Flash player necessary, and I entered the site - but only to check it for this blog. Note to Casa Del Mar marketers : sack your web site designers

you're a bit late for this offer

Part of a SERP seen on the date of this blog entry. 'Nuff said.

poor geography

Doing some research for an assignment [setting it, not answering it] I searched on Google for 'five star hotel Newcastle'. Number two on the listings was this one from Best Loved hotels.

However, Newcastle-upon-Tyne is in Tyne and Wear, not County Durham.

Furthermore - and it hits a raw nerve up in this part of the UK - Seaham Hall Hotel is in Seaham (in County Durham) which is much closer to
Sunderland than Newcastle.

Local rivalries apart, for the casual hotel-seeker, this ad give the allusion that the featured hotel is in Newcastle - when in fact it is located about 20 miles away.