Monday, December 30, 2013

Forest failing

To celebrate my team winning its two matches over the Christmas period - I did what a lot of supporters do ... and went to buy something from the [online] club shop.
Having selected my purchase [see below - I was there on that day :) ]
I went to the checkout - but when I went to register on the site [why?] I found that as I had bought something before my details were on record ...
... but I could not remember my 'client reference number', so I followed the instructions and arrived on a page where I was asked for my email address so that it could be sent to me. But when I did so, I was told that there was no customer record for that email address.

So - not for the first time when trying to make a purchase on a site I've been to before - part of its system told me I did exist, but another part of that system told me I did not. Ho hum.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

digital amnesia

... and still it goes on. TV advertising campaign: direct marketing email campaign: all to get me - and others - to spend money in the Homebase sale.
So it works ... I decide that leaf blower I have put off buying for years could be what I use to clear this year's leaves from my garden. And there is a Homebase about a mile away. And I'm up early on Boxing Day - so check their website to see what time the store opens, and get this ...
Yep, no mention of any Bank Holiday openings. Ho hum.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

adidas marketers touch down between the e-marketing posts

I came across this excellent Tweet which celebrated the All Blacks rugby team winning all 14 of its matches in a calendar year.
Clicking on the link took you to ...
If there are any of my ex- students who cannot tell you why so many 'w's can be used then they weren't concentrating in week/chapter 2.
PS, you could always check out why in my domain names book. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

doh ! doh ! doh !

It's not that unusual for a direct marketing email to fail to render [show] in the receiver's inbox. Well this one's a doozy. Below is just a fiftieth [yes, 1/50th] of the code which appeared when I opened this email:

But it gets worse. This was from a digital marketing company promoting their new website. As I said; triple doh!

There was a follow-up email half an hour later, but it said:

"Note: A previous version of this email contained an image that did not render correctly in some email clients. We are re-sending to those affected and we apologize for any confusion."

In my opinion, a less formal approach would have been better. Why not admit to the error rather than - seemingly - blaming the technology of the receiver.  

Oh, by the way, I'll refrain from naming the company - they should be squirming enough as it is.

Monday, November 4, 2013

is this why International Business Machines became IBM?

... so they could get their email address on contact forms?
I was filling in a form to get a free IBM report - but sadly there was a limit in the amount of characters I could enter for my email address ...

Yep, two characters short. Schoolchild error.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

long-lost relation[ship]

I got this email, ironically it's about relationship marketing. Shame I haven't owned a Ford for over 35 years.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

guess the price ...

I don't really need to say anything about this web page do I?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

every organizations should have one ...

... so congratulations to Bath University. Reasonable wage too - and it doesn't ask for any 'techie' qualification, this is for a writer not a website developer.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

no place for no space

I was buying something on the IKEA website for the first time - but was confused when it wouldn't recognise my postcode
After a few attempts I used my experience from about 15 years ago when form developers expected the customer to know what those developers were thinking when they designed forms - and I put a space between the first and second parts of the postcode.
Now, I now postcodes should be split - but how many people know that ... or are even bothered?  
My point is that the postcode field in the form can be easily set up to accept postcodes as one 'word' or split. Just plain bad practice from whoever designed the form.

Footnote: when I got confimation of the order the delivery was for 9 days later. I'm not in a hurry for the product - but that's just not good enough.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

right ... but wrong

This one has left me without a comment to make.
I was trying to pay a bill to Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council. I tried four times and each time ended up with this message.
Yep - apparently the card details are correct but there is a problem with the card details? Try another card? This is my only debit card - they charge extra for using a credit card.
I'll wait until they send me a rude letter about the bill not being paid. 
Update: when I tried the same card a week later, and inputted the same data - it worked. This suggests the problem was with the online system, not me or my card.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

getting your act together...

On the Andrew Marr show this morning was a singer I had never heard of - and as I liked his sound I looked him up on Google. Dan Owen's stage name is 'Blues Boy Dan' - and a search brought up website, Facebook page and Twitter presence. The latter seems to be Dan's communication of choice, with plenty of entries. Similarly, Facebook has consistent updates. The website however - and it is top of the SERP - showed signs of neglect. I had thought that I would like to see him live, so I went to the 'gigs' page and got this.
Yep, no gigs after December 2012. Given that he was on the BBC to plug his new single, I thought this odd. So I went back to the social media sites, and sure enough there was a link to 'live' page. Well, let's ignore the fact that the link  went to a dead page as I clicked on the 'live' link which took me to a page called 'gig'. But hold on, I thought, this is different to the previous gigs page [shown above].
I then realised that I was now on www.bluesboydanowen and the previous site was Hmmm, I thought - 'fansite'? But no, both seemed to be 'official'. You cannot look up ownership details of domains [it's a Data Protection Act thing] - but the .com is owned by Contact Privacy Inc of Toronto, Canada - a company that registers sites for folk who wish to protect their privacy.
All in all then, no great mystery or problem with the domains and sites. I would suspect the was an early effort from Dan's management - or even him - as it is on a self-build hosting site. I also suspect that as he has become more well known Dan has taken on a manager or agent who has organized the new .com site.
So here's my issue. Dan is obviously a great talent. His management may know their way around the music business - but they don't know much about SEO as the redundant is top of the SERP and the .com nowhere. Is it  that big a deal? Probably not, the guy's going to be a success anyway - but I just like to see things done right. In this case, it is just as easy as getting it wrong.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Shell: driving visitors in circles

I've been a member of Shell Drivers Club for a long time [I'd guess at around 25 years] and my card - that has to be swiped when you purchase petrol - stopped working properly. So I rang them up and was advised to pick up a new card in a petrol station and register it online - from there the new card's number could be transferred to my account.
So I collected a card, and went to this web page which seemed to offer the link I needed. And when I clicked on the link went to - what seemed to be - the right page.

However [and let's ignore the fact the the 'here' link was not identified as a link until you scroll over it] and I was taken to - regular readers will be ahead of me here -  this page

Yep ... back where I started. Of course I tried it a few times, but the same result. So I've sent them an email, I'll let you know the response.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

celebrity cook's website leaves a bitter taste

OK, so tell me I don't keep up with TV events [I don't] but on the BBC's breakfast show there was a celebrity chef called Gizzi Erskine who I had never seen before. Now, I don't mind admitting I was taken by how attractive she is and so I did what is now the norm – I Googled her [hey, I'm a man :-)]. Top of the SERP was – so I switched from admirer to website analyst, and I wasn't as impressed with the website as I was with the person.

 The first thing I noticed was that the textual content switched to and from the first and third person ['I like …' / 'Gizzi is …'] – I prefer the more personal first person, but choose one and stick with it.

Then I saw the 'on TV' section, expecting to be able to see her appearance on the BBC that I had seen a couple of hours earlier? But no, the two links took me to the ITV's This Morning home page. The other 'on TV' took me to a page on which said: 'No Posts. Not Found. Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn't here.' Hmmm.

On then to Gizzi's blog – but the last entry was November last year. A quick look at the blog's archive suggests that it was started with the best of intentions, but then became little more than a series of recipes – which I would guess are in Gizzi's book or elsewhere on the website. Perhaps a prime example of what I always say about blogs being time consuming.

So I then checked the 'page info' for the latest page update – and found that it was '28 March 2013 09:45:53' – which was the time I arrived on the site. Coincidence, or some software running on the site which caused it to record an 'update' every time someone arrived at the site? [Google likes websites that are frequently updated].

I am also concerned at the '© Random House Group Ltd' at the bottom of the page. I will assume Gizzi will have signed a similar contract with her book publishers to the ones I sign with mine. Those state that the contents of the book[s] are copyright to me. I would expect similar with the associated website.

So there you go – I could use this website as case study in 'what could have been', Gizzi has all the attributes to have a 'must visit' web presence, but she hasn't. I wonder whose fault that is?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Honda's digital marketing's not in gear

I was in Amsterdam last weekend and came across a small motorbike I had never seen before - so I looked up the Zoomer on Google. Top of the SERP was a Honda ad for said motorbike
So I clicked on the ad and got this - the page on for the NSC50R scooter.
So I tried the on-site search for "zoomer" and got this.
Strange that Honda would 'buy' the search result for "honda zoomer" when they don't seem to sell it in the UK [which is probably why I have never seen one before]. No, not strange. A rather stupid waste of time and money.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

no advanced publicity

I can only assume this is Tesco's corporate strategy, but if it is then it might fail an exam on a marketing communications module.
You see - they have been building a new mega-store near where I work, so I have watched it rise from a demolition site to [what seems to me] to be nearly-ready-to-open store. And yet when I put "tesco sunderland" into Google I got this:
Yep ... no mention of the new shop. I'm sure their PR and advertising department will go into overdrive in the week or so before it does open - at a significant cost. How much would it have cost to have developed a web page for the new store telling how magnificent it will be and when it will be open. Better still, for not too much more money, a 'count-down' web page with a timeline of photos showing the building going up? Given the cost of building, stocking and marketing a brand new store, is this another case of the web being the poor relation in marketing terms?
Ho hum.

Update, June 14th - I'm led to believe that the store opening was delayed ... but there is now a banner outside the building which says - I think, I drive past it in traffic - 'opening June ... '

And yet still nothing online. So , I assume, I am supposed to either drive past again [slowly] or risk an accident by reading the  banner fully. Tesco certainly don't want me using any one of my internet-connected devices to find out when I can start spending money with them.

Ho hum. Again.

Update June 27th - I've just been shopping in the newly-opened massive Tesco store in Sunderland ... and very impressive it is.

It still doesn't exist on though

Ho hum. Again. Again


Saturday, March 9, 2013

delivering on delivery

I had ordered a water pump for my old car from a company who would only deliver to the home address of the credit card holder * - so I was waiting at home for it to arrive when I got this text ..
The full message advised me that I could text to have the parcel delivered to a neighbour or other options. 'Ian' arrived at 11.35.
* I can understand this security measure but it must cost some businesses sales - there are ways around it. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

numbers that don't add up on ebay

I wanted to ask a question about a product offered for sale on ebay, so I went through the process of sending a message - no problem, I've done it many times before. Presumably to prevent fraud or dodgy practice ebay require you to enter a CAPTCHA. Again, no problem - or so I thought. 
I have written before about  CAPTCHAs that are impossible to read - well there's a twist to this story. I typed in the first version, but it was rejected. So, I thought, I must have mis-read the number so I was careful with the next one - but it was rejected too. And so was the third. So I started saving images of my submissions - all were rejected, do you think they were all incorrect?
So I thought I'd click on the 'hear the verification code' option ... and got totally different numbers to those show. So I replayed it - and sure enough when I clicked on send with the numbers show below, it worked. Go figure.
Update, March 7: today I tried to send a message to a different seller. Same problem with the numbers, but this time the the third attempt worked. Hurrah. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

can you hear me on the radio?

Another example of a lack of joined up thinking I'm afraid. It is an age thing, but I am a big fan of Smooth Radio's 'Smooth 70s' station. Yep, it's just music from the the best decade for music. So anyway, I was listening to Smooth 70s on my PC and on came an add for downloading the iPhone app for Smooth 70s. So I fired up the iPhone, went to the app store and put "smooth 70s" into the search facility, and got only three results ...
... neither of which are for Smooth Radio's 'Smooth 70s' app.
I did a number of other searchers based on 'smooth', '70s' and 'radio' and still couldn't find the app that I had heard advertised. Ho hum - at least they won't have paid for their own advert [though there would be an opportunity cost. Business students; if you don't know what opportunity cost is, you should do ... look it up now].

Friday, February 15, 2013

hardly a seemless connection from BT

OK ... I will start by making it clear that I have only praise for my home's BT Infinity connection to the Internet. However ...
I got an email which started:

And ended with:

And when I clicked on that link, and was taken to a page that started:

... and ended with:

So here's the thing. BT know whether or not I have Infinity. They know how long I have had the contract - so they know if I am eligible or not. They know where I live and so they know how fast my upgrade could be.
So why was I taken to a generic landing page that is [obviously] used for other promotions?
Why not send me an email that says 'we can improve your Internet access' with a link to a web page which tells me exactly what I will gain and how much it will cost?
The answer to all this is that when I followed the links I found out that my download speeds cannot be improved. My upload capacity can be improved - but BT will know I upload so very little I am nowhere close to my existing limits.
All in all, they have wasted their time and mine - and achieved no more than provide an entry for this blog. Ho hum.

Friday, February 1, 2013

quid quoddam pondus rudera

Go back 10 years and I used to warn against a practice common amongst techie website developers whereby they would design the site and because they had no textual content to work with they would fill the space with Latin text. The idea is that before the site goes 'live' the Latin text is replaced by the 'proper' content. I didn't even include this in my 2009 book because I thought no one lets a website go live without being proof read properly. Big mistake ...
Note that I have removed the name of this university to save embarrassment. Oh, one thing I do say in the book is that the textual content should be written first and the website designed around it.
BTW Google will translate 'quid quoddam pondus rudera' for you.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

excellent virtual sales person

In my book and classes I talk about how an ecommerce website should act as a sales person for the customer [it's also why I say sales staff should be included in the web development team] - and here is an excellent example from Amazon - see how the page points out to customers that there is a newer model available. At a higher price of course :) - it's called 'up-selling'.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

on the twelfth day of Christmas ...

Well, today [January the 5th] is the day by which Christmas decorations should be taken down - but I think this ad on the eon website [] has over-stayed its welcome.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

lost jobs?

I often complete online surveys [it helps keep me in touch with the subject I teach] - and in one I was - not unusually - asked my occupation from this list.
So where would you put 'lecturer'? Or 'teacher'? Note to students who take one of my dissertation modules: if you can't come up with a comprehensive list, put a 'other' box at the bottom - preferably with a space for the respondent to type in their job.