Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hoseasons lose the [caravan] plot

I've covered this subject a number of times before - but it still amazes me how often organizations pay for advertising and then mess up the landing page ... and here is another example. 

South Shields is just down the road to me [actually, it is up the coast] and I often have a drive along the sea front there.  So when my sister was asked about caravan parks in the town, she got in touch with me. I knew the name of a site right on the sea front, so I put it into Google. And there at the top of the paid ads was this one for Hoseasons [note, it is not the caravan site I was looking for - so I suppose this is an advantage of buying ads on SERPS].

 When I clicked on that ad, I was taken to this page:
 You will note that not only was the page a 'home page' rather than the page for the South Shields camp site, but the page never downloaded fully. Furthermore, upon trying to use the page's search facility, I found that the county in which South Shields sits - Tyne and Wear - was not listed. 

So, being a switched-on online marketer, I went back to the SERP and copied the URL that was listed [] and put it in the navigation box. And got this page:
Double whammy on this one; obviously there is the fact that the link is to a dead page, but check out the 404 message. Nothing along the lines of 'sorry, we have lost the page you are looking for, click here to go to the home page' - but the message refers to a 'resource'. What's that then? [see also 404 for the common people].

Oh yes, and as a footnote: Hoseasons don't have a holiday campsite in South Shields. Ho hum.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

getting a relationship off on the wrong foot

I bought a rather splendid shemagh from the website. The site was OK, the price right and the postage free. So I placed an order and the scarf arrived within a few days. So far so good. However, I did have to register on the site to place the order - and so received this email. It was friendly, it was trying to develop a relationship with me. It was promoting their SMM efforts. 

So why was it signed by '4sg Ltd, Store Owner' and not a real person?

Register - just to check availability?

I'm off to Blackpool this weekend with the chaps. The reason we're going is that my local footy team is playing there. I am not, however, a Sunderland supporter - and so unlike my season-ticket-holding chums, I have no ticket. So I thought I'd check out the Blackpool FC website to see if any tickets were available. 

Sadly, however, before I could even find out if any tickets were available I had to register with the site!

Not only that, but as soon as I had registered, I got this message:

I still don't know if there are any tickets available or if the game is a sell-out. I might have to spend the afternoon in the pub. Harrumph.

Footnote after the event: I did get a ticket at the last minute, so saw the match. There was also plenty of time spent in the pub ;-)

good campervans, bad arithmatic

I was just passing the time thinking of what I would spend the money on when I win the Premium Bond million pound draw when I visited the website of Danbury Campervans. Their products have a very good reputation. Sadly, not so their website.   Amongst the problems were some issues with their arithmetic:
Yes, in this case the 'special offer' is that it is £500 more expensive! And in the second example I think I would rather pay the weekly rate.

'404' for the common people?

I was having problems finding a page on the website [yes ... I am over 50] and came across this '404' message.
I wonder what this techie-speak means in the language of the ordinary person? And what is a 'resource'? [OK, so I know, but I'm supposed to be an expert - not an ordinary person].

unsubscribing - with a hidden message

As I have commented in recent entries, I have been switching my email address for a lot of my incoming mailings. In some instances I simply cancelled my subscriptions - this one from contactforlenses being an example.

The 'thank you' element is OK [though it could be better], it is that last bit that is confusing. Does it make any sense to you? Furthermore, if you were a bit wary, the web page which carried it was on the domain Now, I know that will be the email provider for contactforlenses - but for the uninitiated it only adds to the uncertainty.

going nowhere from Newcastle airport

I've complained a few times about travel companies sending me emails promoting flights from airports miles from where I live [bad practice KLM], and I've also hi-lighted the fact when they get it right [KLM:listening?], but in this example I thought had got it right - only to fall at the first hurdle. This is the email I received. Note the 'from Newcastle' reference [it's my local airport]

So I clicked on the link for 'Las Vegas', and got this page:

Which took me to this page where, you will note, there are no details of flights from Newcastle. Ho Hum. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

so Egg, do you want me as a customer or not?

I have a number of credit cards and it is my habit to swap around which one I use. Somewhere along the line, however, my Egg Card got ignored, so I was not too surprised to hear from Egg about its use. I was surprised, however, at the tone of the letter. It said:
Your Egg Card will not be renewed

At Egg we review your credit card account in the period prior to your existing card's expiry date and our records show you haven't used your account for more than 18 months.

Here at Egg it is our policy to close accounts when this happens.
Although there is an 'if you would like to discuss this ... ' paragraph it is down at the bottom of the page, it looks rather like an afterthought.

Note how I have no option in this - I am give a [rather rude] definitive statement [you are history].

Where is the question: 'we are sorry to lose you', 'is there a reason for you not using your card?', 'did we do something wrong?' or 'is there any way we can improve our service?' 

Nope, I am an ex-customer. Maybe I deserve to be? So why is this included in my online practice blog? Well, although they had me as a customer but cut me loose - they are still sending me promotional emails like the two below. So, you folk at Egg, either make your minds up - or get your various departments synchronized.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

saying goodbye should be easy[jet]

For reasons that I won't go into, I am switching most of my email traffic to a different account. In the main, this is: [a] all of the e-marketing-related newsletters/blogs etc to which I am subscribed, and [b] all of the promotional emails/newsletters I have agreed to receive. 

I am pleased to report that most offer an easy-to-access 'change email address' facility - but then you might expect that from e-marketing newsletters [practice what you preach, and all that]. For others, you have to unsubscribe and the subscribe your new email address - not too bad if it is only a case of entering your email address in a box and clicking 'enter'. 

Others made in even better 'marketing' job by using the 'goodbye' page for either research [see a good goodbye]   or simply showing a nice message along the lines of 'sorry to see you go'. 

However, there were others where, it seems, little thought was given to the procedure. Remember, at this point the customer has chosen to break the relationship with the organization, and so any obstacle will - in their eyes - become an annoying mountain that will only increase their assumption that ending the relationship was a good idea. Weigh this against the pleasant 'sorry ...' message that might make you think, 'oh, I'll stay with them'. Anyhoo - EasyJet take this a stage further. When you click on the 'unsubscribe' button at the bottom of their promotional email [there has to be one by law] you are taken to their registration/log-in page. If you can remember your password [I couldn't, I couldn't even remember registering, I have never flown with EasyJet and I guess I had to register to check flight prices?], you then have to go into your 'account' page, find 'contact preferences' and then unsubscribe from the promotional emails.

Why not ask why I am unsubscribing, and perhaps offer a more refined messaging regime - perhaps only offers for flights from a particular airport to specific destinations? Just as a though.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

shotgun emails don't hit the target

When I'm teaching segmentation and target marketing I often use the analogy of shooting: a rifle picks out a single, identified target and a shotgun fires off a thousand pellets in the hope that it hits something useful. I apply the same concept to email marketing. If you send thousands of emails one might hit the target -but like the innocent victims who might get caught in the shotgun blast, most people simply get fed up with a constant barrage of irrelevant emails arriving in their inbox. The net result being damage to the brand. My example of this comes from kitchenware retailer, ProCook. 

Back in November I saw a dish drainer in one of their retail outlets, but not in the colour I wanted - so I went online and order one in a suitable colour. That's it. A one-off purchase. I hadn't even heard of the company before this. And I doubt I am in their target demographic. Certainly the product arrived promptly - but the emails soon followed. This culminated i[n the run-up to Christmas Day] when I received a promotional email from them every day from the 11th to the 24th of December. That I was deleting them without even opening any should have triggered alarms at ProCook - I just was not interested in their promotions. Or for that matter, their products. Sure, I could have hit the 'unsubscribe' button - and to be honest I let them keep coming just to see if they would take the hint and stop them without me saying.

Equally bad for volume - though I am, perhaps, in their target demographic - is Orvis. Previously in this blog I have praised their service and quality of product [see good after-sales service], but since they delivered the jacket I ordered, they have also delivered a promotional email every two or three days. Again, I deleted most without opening them - that should have been flagged on their system.  

Oh sure, I know the run-up to Christmas is peak sales time and in a poor economy companies have to go for every last penny with the potential for gifts as well as personal purchases - but hey, both of these examples are closer to blunderbuss than shotgun - and there has been collateral damage to the ProCook and Orvis brands.

Monday, January 3, 2011

updates are not optional

Even broadcasters of long standing like the BBC can, it seems, be guilty of poor content management. 
In this case their iPlayer offering for the popular 'Pick of the Pops' programme states that it is presented by Dale Winton. This despite the accompanying picture being of Tony Blackburn - who took over the show two months previously.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

a personal detail too far?

OK, so it's not too 'personal', it's the name of my employer - but why does KLM want it on my registration for their 'Flying Blue' programme? OK, I will accept that most of my flights with them over the years have been on business, but it is me that is the member, not my employer. And ask, by all means, but don't make it mandatory. Oh, yes - and what if I'm self employed? Or retired? 

captchas you can't read ...

... include this one from ebay:
Can you tell me what the first and/or second characters are?
In case you weren't sure, here's a definition of 'captcha':

CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart)   A security device that requires human input rather and so prevents any kind of automated access to protected areas of a network. The most common online application is that of active tokens.   

Note that this is from my book, Key Concepts in e-Commerce.