Feb 18, 2010

Digital amnesia or just don't care?

So imagine you're in a store and the shop assistant comes up to you and greets you then asks you what you're looking for.  You give them your name and tell them what you're after and hand over a few other bits of info too, like where you live and what you like.

The assistant looks you in the eye and listens to everything you say.  They make a note of everything and tell you that they're sure they can help you find that perfect product.  They tell you that they might not have anything right now but they'll send you a letter or catalogue the second they do.

You've had a conversation.  They've listened and taken notes.  You're happy they've taken the time.

Then you go home and get a letter from them a week or so later with their latest offers.

As you read, you realise that they must have made a mistake.  The letter you got must be someone else's, because not only does it list products that you're not interested in, it also features services and events in completely different geographical locations!

Surely this is a mistake right?  The shop assistant took all your details, they wrote them all down and even asked you to confirm it before they saved it.  They stored the information in a secure location and assured you that nobody else could touch it.

So why did they send you something that has no relevance to you at all?  Why did they bother to waste your time?

Why did they pretend to care?  Why did they lie? :(

You wouldn't put up with it in a bricks & mortar store, so why put up with it online?

Email marketers do this all the time - it's like a virus spreading throughout anyone that runs an e-commerce website.  Get as much info as you can - then ignore it... but get it anyway cause that's what we're supposed to do.

So here's a simple list of rules for anyone that wants to capture customer data.  4 very simple ideas that will get you thinking about how you treat customer information.

Data capture golden rules
  1. If you don't plan to use it, don't ask for it.
  2. All fields should be mandatory.  If it's not, don't ask for it.
  3. Validate client-side - in the fields as you go
  4. Verify server-side - by using confirmation pages and emails
Basically, don't pretend you care when you don't.  Nobody likes a liar.

Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos augmented-reality maps

A fantastic video from the guys at Microsoft discussing how their mapping application is going to one-up Google courtesy of TED.com.

It's interesting how both groups just do a copy & improve of each others' work yet seem to take complete credit for it.

Check out the impressive presentation from the dude with the equally impressive name.

Feb 17, 2010

email newsletter basics

It's a bit general but this guide by Smashing Magazine on email newsletter design is pretty comprehensive.  I particularly like the section to do with data collection.  It's definitely one area that most marketers fall over on.

Being Smashing, the main crux of it is very design focussed.  It's a good read regardless.


Feb 16, 2010


From one of the founders of The Pirate Bay, comes a new concept in paying for content.  Flattr is a social micropayments system that lets you pay for content as you consume it.

The idea is pretty simple.  You decide how much you're willing to fork out for content each month.  Then you just click on the icon in the content, for instance at the end of this blog post ;) and at the end of the month, your contribution is split evenly around all those that you've clicked on.

It raises some interesting questions around honesty and whether people will pay at all - when you can still get it for free.  But it will be an interesting social experiment nonetheless...


Sometimes people don't quite appreciate a surprise as much as you might think.

I think this was the case with Google when they decided to Buzz us gmail users recently.

Seems the community decided that getting auto subscribed with no user input, plus making it difficult to change settings and figure out what is public or not, was a bit too, um, surprising?

So Google has decided to backtrack and fix a couple of settings to be more obvious. Perhaps something they should have done in the first place?!

Wondering how much of this negative feedback was via Buzz itself?...

Feb 14, 2010

crying wolf in your inbox

Here's a great article on three things you can do to try to establish a sense of urgency in your email subject lines.

There is nothing more annoying than receiving an offer one day then an even better offer a few days later (when they clearly haven't achieved their sales target).  

Go on, cry wolf.  Good luck!

Feb 11, 2010


Google Buzz - Google's answer to twitter?

All this Wave, Gmail, Buzz stuff coming out of the same place is really starting to get confusing.

Am I alone in thinking that they seem to just be pushing out stuff without really much though to how it all fits together and, more importantly, how people are going to use it?

Feb 8, 2010

iPad mayhem

Now that the initial burst of media crazyness (26 posts in 48 hours from Engadget alone) surrounding the new Apple iPad has abated slightly, I thought I'd take a bit more of a look at what exactly this little bundle of electronics is and why I'm told I will be a better human by owning one.

When it comes to Apple, I'll sadly admit that I'm a slave to their marketing machine.  Even though I wont ever own a Mac of any type, I'll gladly buy whatever else Uncle Steve tells me I need.

But this thing, even though it's shiny and has the requisite logo I need, just doesn't do it for me.  But Stevo tells me it's magical and revolutionary so lets see if he's right.

According to Dictionary.com, magical is 'of or pertaining to magic' and magic is defined in a few different ways.  My favourite though is this:

the art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; legerdemain; conjuring:

When we look at the definition of  'revolutionary', we get:

radically new or innovative; outside or beyond established procedure, principles, etc.:

I love it!  Deceptive devices and illusions indeed!  And where exactly is the innovation here?  Where is anything being developed or produced or invented that is outside of 'established procedure or principles' when all this is is just a big iPod Touch?

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing I would have considered 'magical' about this device is it's marketing campaign, were it not for the fact that they accidentally put an 'r' in front of  'evolutionary'.

As for me, I'm happy with my iPad Nano - my iPhone :)