digital marketing…and more

Better Basics – twitter

Twitter, facebook, digg it and delicious to name but a few Web 2.0 concepts. but have we really got the basics right. Could these social media sites be the real epiphany of the web, but for different reasons!

Web 2.0 is certainly seen as an opportunity for retailers to make more from the social media land grab. But, in reality, it is becoming a thicket from which only the strongest will survive.

I wanted to share a particularly annoying experience I had with an online retailer and show how the situation could have been rectified quite quickly and painlessly for the retailer. The consequences of it could (and I am not vindictive enough to do it) have had negative consequences for the brand. The danger of Web 2.0, is that it is beoming easier for consumers to exploit social media to the detriment of a supplier.

So, my “bad” experience started with the purchase of an electrical device from a well known high street store. Firstly, they hood winked me in to saying the product was in stock – it wasnt, taking my money, then sending me an email telling me it was out of stock and i would have to wait. What could they have done to lessen the sharp intake of breath?

1) Be upfront with the customer – tell them its not here, tell them when it will be and let the customer either shop around or wait

2) Don’t tell me I will have to wait with no end date – in this case i knew these particular devices were like hens teeth, so i would have been prepared to wait, but again tell me the facts

3) When I phoned (yes phoned – because I couldn’t cancel on line) I was treated with a tone of “well these are hard to get hold of”. The correct way would have been, apologise, give me a voucher for a further purchase and keep me engaged.

So, to summarise, CTR stands for Channel, Tell and Recover:

1) Channel continuity – if a person buys online, they want to continue transacting online.

2) Tell the customer there is a problem – make it really clear, yes it may drive down your conversion, but that is better than cancellation and bad WOM marketing that destroys your brand even further

3) Recover the customer from the bad experience by acting like you care – Oakley sun glasses have done this fantastically well by sending me 2 pairs of glasses when my first pair broke as a way of saying sorry!! Now that’s customer service.

The problem for retailers is that the social media sites we are all talking about right now, can undo so much of the good work you put in as digital marketers. One bad experience can take a brand down very quickly as more people with similar experiences join in the conversation. Landrover, Virgin media and British Gas, to name but a few have become victims of a negative social media experience.

I guess the real beauty of Web 2.0 is that it is the start of a true meritocracy, those companies that listen and react will survive, those that don’t heed the views of their customers will fail.

I am going to continue in the vein of Better Basics next week, with a look at shopping cart design and how we can convert more people through that “last click”.

Chris Carter

Notes to editors;

Chris Carter is an industry expert in e-marketing and available for consultancy, radio and TV interviews on the power of the web. Chris has worked as a senior ecommerce professional in Barclays, Royal Mail and Investec.

Chris can be contacted on 07801 418298 and on


Are we all integrated yet?

If you havent seen it yet, there are a great set of spoof Youtube style movies about us marketing types. The one I like is hereand it pretty much spills the beans on the integration (or rather lack of it) in most marketing departments.

Customers by their nature don’t do what you want them to do, and if by some crazy stroke of luck, they do what you think they are going to do, it wont be for long. So, this means that we have to get to these clients as soon as possible and as much as possible WITH the same possible message.

For instance, i see a lot of companies producing a great poster campaign. Online however there is nothing about the poster campaign, or if there is, it is relegated to 5 links down. If people are looking to be nudged or reminded about what they saw on the Tube/Hammersmith/Railway, let them know about it, let them send it to their friends, but let them see what it is you were talking about.

A TV advert usually has one of three effects in the online space, nothing (hopefully not), large volumes of traffic at the time of the advert and a trail of traffic afterwards or (this is the best one), large volumes of traffic, lots of noise after the advert and an increase in traffic. The latter is hard to do, but being controversial helps. The Cadbury advert, the sony ‘Balls’ Advert to name but a few have succeeded where others have failed.

Last but one, our friend the print medium. Our offline colleagues produce fabulous campaigns that look great for one day. The challenge we should be putting to them is how to make those adverts stay with the consumer. One method is to provide coupons, that someone tears and puts in their purse/wallet, another is to put something on line that they will want to watch.

And lastly, dont be afraid to use mobile. Obviously not the “pay £5 to download a ringtune” one, but perhaps something like text xxxxx for a free ringtune or text xxxxx for a free drink at your local.

So, in conclusion, work with your offline colleagues and not only will your campaigns be more integrated, they will give you much better bang for your bucks and above all else be more compelling for your consumers.

and here are some examples, good and mediocre: – sponsoring great movies on ITV, no mention of whats on tonight – if there was it would reinforce their on and offline presence – no copy of the tv advert on their home page – the tv advert taking pride of place – great stuff

Viral marketing is a great tactic if you want to achieve a low cost per acquisition, but it is hard to get one that is successful.

My overriding tip on Viral is to keep it simple and ensure you account for its success. Use forums to spread the word and email addresses of current customers – advocacy marketing (see my blog on advocacy marketing) and above all make it either fun or SAVE people money.

A lot of costly mistakes have been made in viral marketing so when you are putting it it together think through how much this will cost if it is a huge success.

For example, say you start a viral campaign for broadband for a Euro a month if you refer 3 friends and they all sign up for the campaign. The maths have to be done to take in to account the best case scenario of take up. You also need to consider that all the terms and conditions specify exactly what you are giving away. A large high street bank had a great viral campaign (they didnt plan it), to give away £50 for a new current account. What they didnt specify was that they wanted people to open the account, hold it open for 12 months AND pay their salary in to it for 12 months. A post was made on and within days, said bank had lost a significant amount of money. So, in summary:
1) Make it simple that you can track its effectiveness
2) Come up with an idea that makes people feel like they are getting a rather exclusive (if not slightly illegitimate offer)
3) Use forums – but try not to make it too obvious
2) Do the maths and cost the campaign as you would any other
3) Go to a digital agency and get them to do the leg work (i have some recommendations – but please email me for those… )

I hope that helps on the viral stuff


Chris Carter

Well not exactly, but she has said that if I continue to fiddle with my new Nokia E71 in an attempt to get my email to work on the move, she will.

So, you may be thinking what on earth has this got to do with digital marketing, well pretty simple really. ‘Pretty simple’ being the key phrase here.

Keeping things simple is one of the key tenets of digital marketing. Simple is effective. Simple is easy. Simple converts.

It is all too easy for us to get wrapped up in web 2.0, blogs, facebook etc, but simplicity is hard. Customer journeys seem to get ever more convoluted with more complex products and marketers asking more inane questions of their customers.

This whole thing got me thinking about recent experiences I had and what we can do to make things simple. This was largely prompted by me setting fire to my 2 year old NorthFace jacket…luckily I wasn’t in it at the time! So, here are my top 5 tips on how to make things simple!

1) When you search for something on Google like a specific jacket. Most sites simply take you to the web site and then you have to do another search. I know its not hard to create landing pages for search results in natural or paid, but so few sites do this. For a good example on how this can work, search for Nuptse jacket on Goolge and then click on the Cotswold leisure site

2) When you have added something to your cart, take people back to where they were looking, please don’t put them back to the start of their search. Imagine this happened in a supermarket, you pick up a tin of beans and ‘poof’ you go back to the entrance of the supermarket…not a good customer experience

3) Don’t clutter the sites with flashing offers, but DO tell people of special offers that are relevant. For example if a visitor has come in searching for tea towels, don’t show them bin liners in the special offers, show them tea towels – this is harder to do but will pay back huge dividends!

4) When a visitor arrives on the site welcome them with open arms, give them lots of way of searching for items. The amount of sites I review with no way of searching for the goods/services in the way I want to. More is more in this case, advanced search should be a good thing. Use customer reviews to tell you what and how people search for things

5) Cross sell – show people what other people have bought – YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN. its simple, powerful and effective, people like to think they are not alone.

So, the key to more is simplicity, get frequent reviews of your site from third parties and don’t fall in to the trap of using the same usability agencies, because they get stuck in the same trap as you.

Notes to editors;

Chris Carter is an industry expert in e-marketing and available for consultancy, radio and TV interviews on the power of the web. Chris has worked as a senior ecommerce professional in Barclays, Royal Mail and Investec.

Chris can be contacted on 07801418298 and on

PANIC! Is the first word that springs to mind if you believe the press and all the doom and gloom, house prices falling by £100k in an hour, £80 gazillion of handouts for desparate bankers and free office space for those poor hedge fund managers. What is the world coming to?
Well, back in the real world, we all need to eat, albeit in a slightly more frugal way, clothe ourselves, again conservatively and actually have some fun, obviously not too much though.

But, what does this actually mean though for those of us in the digital space.

Well, its simple, we have to attract interest over and above all other mediums (Print, tv and radio) and set ourselves aside from the competition. Then we have to make sure those punters that have come to our site don’t disappear at the site of a checkout. So we have to make sure the proposition is fit for purpose, priced correctly and does what it says on the tin when it is delivered.

Now here is the rub, what most of us do at this point is fire and forget.

A  customer who has just bought from you has just entrusted you with their time, personal details and money. If (and it’s a big if) they are happy with the purchase, why not ask them to tell someone about it. For many reasons advocacy seems to be a bit of a dirty word, perhaps it’s the British stiff upper lip or bad technology or just lack of appreciation of how powerful getting existing customers to recommend you can be.

So, lets cover off the first thing, the stiff upper lip. At these times (i.e. recession) the one thing people want is something for nothing, and there is nothing more powerful than Marks and Spencers vouchers. Don’t ask me why, they somehow have more appeal than straight forward cash and are more convenient to send to clients as a thank you. So, if you are looking to reward customers for recommending your goods or services, use some sort of voucher scheme – they are also cheaper than the cash alternatives!

On to the second reason NOT to reward advocacy, technology. There simply is no reason why this has to be a barrier, unless you are still using DOS and a 3 page site showing the head of IT smiling on the front page! A simple advocacy schem can be a simple as sending an email after the purchase and saying pls forward this on to as many people as you want and for every purchase that uses the click through and buys something, you (Mr Customer) will get rewarded. Although open to abuse, as long as you factor the cost of acquisition in to your marketing plan, let people abuse it, a £10 CPA is a lot cheaper than a £50 one from an affiliate. Second method is to make this more complex and some sort of refer a friend within their account page can be used. So the customer journey would go something like this. Customer purchases the goods, you send them an email with a link to their account, on the home page of their account, there are 5 email boxes which allows them to fill in their friends email address. You then send an email with a unique code, if they click and buy you reward the original referrer.Simple.

The third element is really the hardest to quantify, UNTIL you have tried it. As ever the beauty of the web is try before you buy, suggest to senior management that this is a good idea, trial it and see the benefits.

There is of course the less direct approach and that is to do with customer reviews, but that will have to wait until next week.

Notes to editors;
Chris Carter is an industry expert in e-marketing and available for consultancy, radio and TV interviews on the power of the web. Chris has worked as a senior ecommerce professional in Barclays, Royal Mail and Investec.