Mobile Search

We’re doing some pretty interesting work on mobile search at the moment. Hopefully we’ll be able to share more in the near future, but we’re loving this area. Why are we so interested? Well according to Google 43% of the UK population will have a smartphone by the end of this year. Microsoft found that providing mobile formatted or mobile specific content can increase conversions by 75%.

We’re also seeing mobile traffic increase across all clients. 20m people access the mobile web every month in the UK.  This really is the year of the mobile and there’s a real shift happening in terms of consumer and business behaviour.

Fascinating stuff



Oxford English Dictionary New Inclusions

The OED has released it’s list of 2000 new entries. We thought we’d have a quick look at how these words are performing in terms of Google searcher demand and guess what – social media, as you would guess has come

in top of the leader board.

geo-engineering Google insights

Geo-engineering makes an appearance in 2008 and is very driven by press events.

staycation google insights oxford english dictionaryStaycation starts getting traction slightly earlier with people making the best of not having funds for those two weeks in the sun.

Carbon storage has a steady increase over the last half decade, although Google’s prediction is that demand will fall.

microblogging oxford english dictionary inclusion and google insightsMicroblogging doesn’t get any interest until 2007 and then whoohooo up  it shoots most likely as a reflection of the success of Twitter and follow me flavours such as Yammer.

social media oxford english dictionary google insightAnd then comes Social Media.  Some interest at the beginning of 2004 and then almost exponential growth when we hit the beginning of last year;  a reflection of when social media became “mainstream” .

And yet with all the noise created  on social media about social media, how often do you come across someone doing it naturally and really well? How often do you see the normal everyday integrations as opposed to the shout it from the treetops “groundswell” examples?

Has so much noise ever been created by so many (gurus) with so little tangible results. Not saying that social media isn’t  changing the way that companies and individuals communicate but we’re still in a period of chassis – lot’s of proclamations of big changes but at the coal face any of us working in it are still struggling to get senior executives to embrace it, even if they “get it” in theory.

It doesn’t help that on agency side there are a whole lot of egos (sorry blame it on being weary from a really badly executed staged connection thing going on between “socialmediaistas” in one of our twitter streams) who are proclaiming SM as the new way of the world… but ignoring the substance.

Hurrumph – perhaps time for that staycation.

Foursquare, all words and no actions!

I truly felt Foursquare Mayorship had finally arrived in the UK today and with style! I had a crown, a cake, and magazine to read (wired naturally) and a coffee!!  Now I don’t expect to get this treatment in the other three places I am Mayor of, namely because one is a child’s play park, AND not to mention this Mayorship is actually of my own work and I’m the only one checking in, BUT the appreciation of my custom is humbly received!

A year after Foursquare launched, we are still only talking about it, and everyone seems to be saying the same thing- we are all just talking about it. Now I’m a big advocate of words, I love words but you can’t beat good old fashion action any day of the week. We all know the Foursquare chat but where’s the Foursquare action?

Searching SM sites this morning, I find so many people talking about Foursquare, there’s tons of Twitter hashtags and mentions and yet still we in Europe have no real take up. Why is everyone still just talking about it?

While Social Media is still widely unused by the masses, we know it works, it’s revolutionised marketing, advertising and PR with things moving more digital and online. Are people just fed up about another SM avenue they are being instructed to walk down? Are they still playing catch up? Are we ahead of our time?

Being someone who loves Social Media and is happy to be in the percentage of people who check their twitter/facebook and pings off emails while the morning coffee is percolating ( yeah I’m old school on coffee) I feel a little frustrated it’s not gone maninstream yet.

I feel a bit like Tom Hanks in the film Big, excitedly presenting his designed toy to the management team at the end of the movie. He’s designed this great toy with children in mind and the bad guy puts his hand up and says “I don’t get it”, stopping Tom Hanks in his tracks completely. He tries to explain it but the bad guy remains persistent, “I just don’t get it” he shrugs, a little wickedly.

This little excerpt of a great 80’s movie lends itself well to the Foursquare theory for me.

What is not to get? Foursquare is not an expense, its a little time, a little correct direction by a good SM company and you’re off. Are businesses and retailers just being spoil sports?  Ruining our Social Media fun? Getting us back for the SM invasion? Are they rebelling against Social Media and its apparent takeover of the world?  Is there a secret anti Foursquare club with secret handshakes?? Or are they just lazy and don’t want to put in the effort?

Why can’t businesses and retailers be thankful? Embrace the great things social media is designing for their businesses and just say ‘This is awesome, thanks!’  However, this girl loves a challenge, and this time next year….

C’mon venues – Wake up and hand out the free coffees!

Yes! Another day, another Mayorship in the bag for me! But honestly, who cares?

It’s a sad but true fact, those of us using Foursquare are diligently checking into venues attaining Mayorships, unlocking ‘Local’, ‘Bender’ and ‘Super’ badges, for nothing! Currently no venue is fully utilising it. With a reputed 1 million check-ins a day and growing, I can’t help but wonder why businesses are missing the opportunities to attract and reward customers that are practically being served up on a plate for them (see what I did there?)!  Are we, the user, ahead of our time?

Or is it as simple as, they just don’t get it? Just like they don’t get those funny things called Twitter and Facebook. It’s just something those crazy kids are doing.  The genius of Foursquare is that the Venue owner has little to do apart from creating a reward, the users, simply by checking in, control the game and the Venue gets all this beautiful free SM publicity. I’m using cafe’s as an example but Foursquare is not limited to cafe’s, I believe if your business has customers, there’s an opportunity there.

In the US, where it’s taken off (surprise surprise), venues have special offers for their Foursquare customers. It may be a discount on the specials or a free coffee. The customer checking in most becomes the Mayor of the venue.  Mayors are due special rewards and so have a slight kudos, people want to become Mayors. People are visiting venues to become its Mayor. Essentially it’s a loyalty scheme disguised as a game – Genius!

Despite its current reign in the ranks of Social Media it took years for Facebook to become mainstream, and then along comes Twitter and people are still sceptical about that. So, my concern is this, I am currently Mayor of FOUR different venues in Edinburgh, when are venues going to realise that Foursquare is here, and hand me my free coffee??

Karlie MacGregor (@KarlieMacG)

When you want to hide from Google

Really interesting article over at econsultancy about the retraining of online consumers to use means other than search to find deals.

In these recessionary times, now more than ever people love a bargain. I’ve lost count of the homes and offices I’ve gone into in the last year who’s bathrooms are stocked with those telltale brands that are only found in the low price foreign chain supermarkets. We’re all well past the no thought of price consumerism (are we?) of the early naughties and now the middle classes are just as comfortable in Lidl as those making do on benefits.

But discounting is a no go back cycle. If you’re offering stock at slashed prices with minimum profit margin you don’t want your cash rich clientele to know.  Loose out on the disposable income they would otherwise quite happily have spent. – not such a great positioning strategy.

So online coupon and crowd sourcing sites need to stay off the general search radar in order to win those heavily discounted deals from brands.  Hiding product pricing from Google as part of their business model means that they have to find other ways to get the attention and the conversions from deal savvy audience.

Enter email – how many times has it been written off only to rise again as a champion. Women are subscribing to email to find deals. Brand loyalty/reward meets targeted low wastage marketing. But don’t stop at email, think Facebook, Twitter and even geo location couponing.

It’s all to play for and how refreshing to look at business models where search visibility isn’t a major part of their tactical marketing!

Terrorism and Tech

Interesting post by one of our clients, Mark Gibson at Memex sparked by iPad launch. Consumer tech puts a lot of power in the hands of the average Joe Schmo. Timely post when we consider the Times Square bomber suspect arrested due to You Tube and Craigs List.

Have a read of Mark’s Blog.

Interesting – if a little scary – times.

The race for local

Facebook have announced a location based dimension to go live next month. With the supping up of Foursquare and apps like Tripit telling LinkedIn users who is going to where, local is at the center of online and mobile development.

Search has been embracing local for a few years now. The success of Google’s local business offering heralded a move towards location being more than a mention in your footer. Adwords location based distribution, natural search local results in SERPs based on IP and the rest.

Social media is increasingly broadening out the offering towards location – a real dimension. It’s an interesting blurring of lines (more blurring) between the onscreen and the offscreen.

Add augmented reality into the mix and the future is Minority Report.

Five Christmas Email Marketing Tips

Christmas is a great opportunity to boost your email marketing results. Here are our top tips for making the most of it:

1.Timing is everything:
If you’re in a business to business sector, this may be a slow period for you – use your emails to give you a seasonal boost, or to help you line up extra business for 2008. Bear in mind that during the build up to Christmas, workers take more half days off, therefore send your email in the morning. But be considerate about the quantity of mailings during the Christmas period as they might irritate some of your recipients.

2. Get creative
Christmas is a great opportunity to get a bit more creative with your email designs and content. Create a seasonal theme to add more substance to engage the attention of the recipients.

3. Focus:
Christmas is a very busy time of year. Make your campaign easy to remember by focusing on one offer over an extended period rather than on multiple offers over shorter periods. One generous promotion will be remembered better amongst the multitude of competing offers sitting next to it in the inbox.

4. A good time to re-establish relationships
Christmas is an ideal time to try and re-establish relationships – why not target them with an extra special seasonal offer?

5. Clear for landing:
Keep in mind the ultimate goal of your campaign – new business. There’s no point if your Christmas email campaign was successful at bringing customers to your site but failed to convert any of that traffic to sales. Make sure your call-to-action is clear and direct your emails to the correct landing pages.

Your own personal IP dystopia

With the IPv4 internet addresses running out and the move to IPv6 over the next few years, will this have an effect on our own personal information and freedom?While the move to IPv6 will allow IP starved countries have more addresses, and will support an increase in net security as well as allowing for greater interface interaction, it could also open a Dystopia which would have Orwell salivating at the typewriter.

Forget the furore about ID cards…what if every kid born was given his or her own IP address. Swap a name tag in the labour room with an RFID chip and voila.  It’s perfectly possible with IPv6. “The very large IPv6 address space supports 2128 (about 3.4×1038) addresses, or approximately 5×1028 (roughly 295) addresses for each of the roughly 6.5 billion (6.5×109) people alive today.[1]52 addresses for every observable star in the known universe[2] – more than seventy nine billion billion billion times as many addresses as IPv4 (232) supports”. Wikipedia

The benefits of being able to interact automatically with all sorts of interfaces could be tremendous. Environmentally we could all have our own trackable carbon footprint perhaps set our electricity use to match with lights coming on and off when we enter rooms, alloting a number of car journeys per week etc. Or perhaps gadgets will be configured to our own preferences – kind of like cloud computing but with the individual becoming the hub and being able to interconnect remotley. Micropayments could be charged to your IP wallet so no need for money or cards, if we find a more secure system than the London Oysercard trails.

Your health could be linked to your IP – exercise regime, bloods, dietary requirements and advice linked to your weeky shop, which would automatically add in a few more leafy greens to the delivered box after a week of partying.

The potential is huge… but for for someone who has an aversion to even signing up for a Tesco card (much to the annoyance of my better half!), the tech utopia outlined certainly has its Dystopian side.

Imagine every car having it’s own IP address. With GPS it’s now trackable constantly. Great for stopping thieves, the insurance companies are no doubt looking into it as I type… but worrying for personal freedom. Our activities are already trackable through our bank cards and mobile phonenetworks… but just think how much more effiecient this collation of data would be if it’s liked to your own personal IP, not to mention Vanillia Sky like ads being triggered as you walked in the canned goods aisle or drove past a billboard.


Email marketing – Look to your existing customers to help you weather the credit crunch.

In times of less cash, it’s all about about sustaining revenue.  With customers being more discerning with their disposable income, you need to work a lot harder to keep existing clients spending or from shopping around at the competition.

Email is a great channel for making sure that you are communicating as effectively as possible with your existing customer base. There’s no harm in having a review of your basics to make sure that you are keeping your customer’s attention and are their no brainer choice when it comes to purchase.

1 Plan your campaign
What is your objective from the email campaign? Decide what it is before you start your campaign and create your email with your goals in mind.

2  Get permission
To ensure compliance with Data Protection legislation make sure your email marketing is permission-based which means you need the customer’s consent to contact them. To build up your contacts database, collect email addresses from your customers at every opportunity!

3  Call to action
Include a call to action in every email you send. For example you could invite customers to download discount vouchers, purchase a discounted product online, or agree to attend an event.

4  Be personal
Try and speak directly to the individual customer, the more personal you are, the more successful your campaign is likely to be. Follow up the campaign with a ‘thank you’ or a special offer.

5  Be relevant
The first question the recipient will ask is ‘What’s in it for me?’If you don’t sent them information which can save them time, money or give them information then they are unlikely to take action.

6  Unsubscribe Link
The recipient must have the ability to request that they no longer want to receive emails. Their details should be removed from your database immediately.

7  The Subject line
This is very important and influences whether the recipient bothers to open the email. Think very carefully about the title, keep it short, to the point. Do not use capital letters and exclamation marks and never use words like Free!

8  Provide plain text as well as a HTML version
Have two options as some recipients will have their images turned off. Also when sending HTML versions, make sure the design works in the different email client interfaces (test test and test again!) and there are no mistakes. Keep the content short, be consistent with your layout, and design elements – it reflects the professionalism and brand of your company.

9  Deliverability
The main obstacle with email marketing is the email actually ending up in the recipients in box. ISPs delete billions of emails each day. Research an Email Service Provider with good deliverability rates. (blatant self promotion – we have a very rigorous email marketing set up which has great deliverability across Europe and the US ).

10 Statistics
Review the statistics after  each campaign. How many emails were delivered and opened, and which links customers clicked on within the email.  Each subsequent campaign can be fine tuned with new information collected. The power of email marketing is being able to segment your database based on consumer behaviour.