Monday, January 27, 2014

Finding User Experience Resource in Glasgow

Since moving to Glasgow I have noticed that there’s been a lack of some digital-specific skills. The most obvious so far has been around the subject of analytics & insight. However more recently there has been a new glaring resource gap opened up… User Experience.

I currently have a large client project in the Glasgow area that requires User Experience resource.  So for the last couple of weeks I've been looking for decent local freelancers who can consultant on-site over 2 to 3 months. This is an important piece of work and I really need someone who can take things from Customer Strategy all the way through to wire-framing (ideally with large eCommerce and travel experience).

However, despite one unsuccessful avenue, I've so far drawn a blank. And after speaking with several digital contacts in Glasgow, there seems to be a real unmet demand for decent and available user experience contractors and consultants in the West Coast of Scotland.

Or am I missing something?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Is your Digital Strategy actually Strategic?

Does your Digital Strategy really deliver a vision and road map that takes your organisation forward?
Or does it simply to just wallpaper over the cracks and problems?

This is a question I've been wresting with lately and one that's let me to reconsider the work I do and scope of what Ideal Interface is actually involved in.

Or to put it another way, let me share with you a few key parts of a digital strategy outline and one that companies could use as the basic of their own.

Strive to be 'digital first':
Whether this be in the way you communicate to prospects, the way you design your core services or the way you integrate with business partners, 'digital first' is both a philosophy and a key requirement.

Accept change as a constant:
Understand that there is a continual change in customer & user preferences, channel shift patterns and technology trends. 

Be inclusive and user-centred:
Providing self-service functionality via digital touch-points isn't enough. You need to do this regardless of a user's: ability, connection, device and location.

Be optimised:
Whether this be by providing relevant, timely & targeted information or by maximising revenue using sophisticated conversion optimisation techniques, nothing stands still and everything needs to be tested, modified, measured and tested again (and quickly).

Be great:
I'll leave this one up to you.....

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Improving Scottish eCommerce

As some readers of this blog will know, I've recently been asked to present on the opportunity for eCommerce across Scotland.  But what value do these events have in the context of encouraging Scottish companies to engage in eCommerce and to do it better?

Well the feedback I have had via face-to-face, email & social channels so far has been very positive. One example that really got a great response was... during my presentation I had a quick interactive session where I got everyone with a website to stand up. They then gradually sat down as I increased the level of sophistication in the use of eCommerce Analytics.

This not only showed people that they weren't alone in not fully utilising one of the most useful digital tools out there, but also demonstrated the next few steps they could take to online maturity.

However... this is just the start of things. As Scotland's only dedicated eCommerce consultancy (I did ask a year ago where all the Scottish Digital Consultants are, and nobody responded), we see a huge opportunity for companies and organisations to not just do things better (improving what they have) but to do better things (innovate, take opportunities, etc).

It is this mix that I believe should help take Scottish eCommerce forward!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why do I see 'Not Provided' in my SEO agency report?

Since October 2011 Google has increasingly been hiding the actual terms used in organic searches. This has been done by Google as they “believe that protecting these personalized search results is important”.
However, Google has only hidden these terms for organic searches and is seemingly prepared to overlook this privacy issue for its paid-for marketing service AdWords (or as search engine specialist Danny Sullivan put it more bluntly, Google Has Put A Price on Privacy )
These hidden search terms are now reported in Google Analytics under a generic “Not Provided” category and the comparative size of this catch-all segment has been steadily increasing over time. In fact, aggregated industry figures now put this figure as high as around 80% for some sites, with a major increase seen in the 3rd quarter of 2013.

Whilst there are some work-arounds to try to get some insight from this missing data, site owners have no real option but to ‘like it or lump it”, use the data they still have available for search engine optimisation and hope the figure doesn't get any higher in the future.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Basic eCommerce Terms revisited

When you work in the digital and eCommerce consulting industry, there's the tendency to assume that the person you are speaking to always has enough experience to be able to understand what your saying and act accordingly. However, this is not always the case (e.g. when the person has just been moved or promoted into a new role) and sometimes it takes time to cover the basics with a client, even though you don't always want to make it too obvious.

I therefore thought I would revisit some of the more common eCommerce terms used. Not just in case a current or potential client was reading this blog, but also to help anyone else who may be venturing in the world of online transactions, etc.

The processes and tools used to get new customers to start using / visiting any digital company touch-point (e.g. website, app, social media presence, etc.). Acquisition rates can be increased by using different marketing techniques (e.g. paid advertising or search engine optimisation).
Example KPI = Website visitors

The amount of people who complete a required online goal (e.g. a booking or a purchase) divided by the total number that visit. It is sometimes called the 'look to book' ratio and in some markets / companies it is one of the most protected (e.g. Secret) of figures.
Typical average conversion  rates by industry:

The number of customers who come back to the digital channels and book/purchase again within a given time period (sometimes set as the entire customer lifetime) .
There are no recognised benchmark figures on digital customer retention that I'm aware of and this depends considerably on industry, product, customer type, etc.

Average order value is typically the sum of revenue that has been generated divided by the number of orders taken. Again, there are no standard measures for this, as the range of products and prices vary from company to company.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Social Media Training - do you really need it?

It's almost shocking to see the number of "introduction to Social Media" courses still being touted about. A quick search on Google highlights just how seriously the suppliers of Social Media Training are right now:

And a quick look at the term "Social Media Training" in Google Trends shows that the term is predicted to grow in the number of searches over the next year, albeit less so than when it first appeared on Google's radar back at the beginning of 2009.

So given all this supply and searching for the term, just who are the intended recipients?
I'm sure I can't be the only person who must assume that anyone who wants to understand the fundamentals of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube must have got to grips with the basics of each by now?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Are you owed money by Merchant Soul ?

As some readers of this blog and the wider Scottish business network will know, we are still owed a large amount of money by Stephen Halpin of Merchant Soul in Glasgow. This sum of £26,280 has now been completely outstanding for over 6 months, with some of it owed for over a year.

Earlier this year I sent an email to Stephen Halpin that concluded our working relationship and subsequently sent a Lawyer's Letter to Merchant Soul. But both of these communications received no response.We therefore assume that Merchant Soul has no intention whatsoever of paying us for the outstanding debt it owes our company.

It does however raise the question in my mind about whether this has happened before. Could it be the case that Stephen Halpin or his companies owe money to other individuals and organisations around Scotland or further afield?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Never bet against Google in 2014

Over the last dozen years Google has grown to be one of the most dominant online players, perhaps the biggest. Its current market value is about $350bn and all signs are that it can continue ruling the online space, despite several factors, including:
  1.  More and more people using mobile devices for their daily searching and browsing activity
  2.  Increased competition from Microsoft’s search engine (which has blatantly tried to copy Google’s model and put a lot of money behind it’s promotion)
  3. A list of discontinued products that have surprised on-lookers and left some users high & dry (e.g. Google Apps: closed in early 2012 and Google Reader: a feed-based news aggregator which was dropped in July 2013)
However despite Google’s mantra of “Don’t be evil”, which tries to set it apart from the more traditional software and IT services companies... it’s sheer size and might means it can’t help but disrupt any market or segment it decides to move into. From mobile phone operating systems & devices, to the Chrome operating system and a web-based email service (that became the top provider about a year ago) Google continues an upward trajectory. The consequence of this is that it is probably the only company able to challenge Apple in some areas of consumer electronics and communications.

What this means is that betting against Google in anything it decides to do is an unwise move. So if it targets any market or products that your company is in over the next year or so… my advice is, get out.