Beantin

James Royal-Lawson

marketing

Stop using QR codes!

This autumn the use of QR codes in advertising in Stockholm has exploded. There are more codes visible now than ever before. Unfortunately the majority of them are poorly implemented.

If the QR code doesn’t add to the user experience, don’t use them!

In this blog post I’ve collected together a number of recent examples of QR codes in the wild here in Stockholm, Sweden.

Almost every single code took me to a standard desktop website (or campaign site). Most of them led to a page that was not designed or adjusted for handheld devices.

If a fishy bites, hold on!

QR codes are not going to be scanned by a large number of people – irrespective of the hype, most people don’t know what the hell they are, don’t know how to scan them, or don’t care about scanning them.

When you get someone who does know what they are, and does bother to scan them – you want to make sure you hold on to them! This means what happens once they’ve scanned the code needs to help them take the next step in a relevant context.

Build for the context

By and large this means always think mobile when you are using QR codes. This is the context your target audience are in when they scan. Anything other than mobile-ready content or service will make their interaction more difficult. This will reduce their happiness, reduce the chance of meeting your goals, and potentially damage your brand.

QR Codes in the wild

Nokia N9

Nokia N9 advert with QR code

The code leads to the full desktop website. No handheld or responsive version available.

FV Seleqt

FV Seleqt Sugar Snaps with QR code

Scan this product packaging and you are taken to a desktop site showcasing their products.

Krusovice

Krusovich sign at an event with QR code

Leads to a page that has been designed for mobiles. The page contains a form, but there is still room for optimised it to make completion as easy and as successful as possible from a touch-screen device.

Biltema

Biltema catalogue with QR codes

Two tiny codes, very close together. One for the Android app and one for the iPhone app. They do both scan, but you have cover up one of the codes to ensure you scan the correct one.

Scan

Scan advert with QR code

I didn’t manage to get this code to scan. It was very badly positioned (right at the bottom of the advert) meaning I had to get down on my knees to try to scan it. The code was also relatively small and contained a lot of data.

Norskfisk

Norskfisk advert with QR code

Scan the code and you end up at a recipe, on a desktop web site. No mobile version.

SEB

SEB advert with QR code

Code to apply for a loan.

Stockholm Film Festival

Stockholm Film Festival programme with QR code

This year’s film festival site is really quite good, but shame they used a code that pointed straight to the desktop site. No mobile site is available, but there is an iPhone app.

Skanska

Skanska advert with QR code

This code was featured on an advert on the Stockholm metro leads to a desktop website.

Pantamera

Pantamera adverts with QR code

One of the few better implementations included in this blog post. The codes lead to YouTube videos, which serves a mobile version of it’s site (or can even open directly in the YouTube app on many mobiles).

Flickr

You can find all of these QR codes (and more) in this set on my Flickr stream.


James Royal-Lawson is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

Facebook page marketing: How not to do it

A familiar shaped postcard appeared in the post the other week. A big Facebook “like” thumbs up. My kids thought it was excellent (as 3 and 5 year olds, they haven’t really been infected by Facebook yet). For me, it just sent my web-sense into overdrive.

ICA Maxi Nacka

The postcard was sent from ICA, the largest supermarket chain in Sweden and Scandinavia, or more specifically, from one of my local ICA stores that I visit pretty regularly.

Postcard in the shape of a Facebook like thumbs up

This mailshot will have been sent to a large number of ICA Maxi Nacka’s customers – thousands at a guess. The Facebook page had 98 fans on the day the mailshot arrived. Today it’s got twenty more. So we can safely say that this is an example of how not how to market your Facebook page.

We’ll start with the post card itself. Where is the next step? what am I supposed to do? The advert isn’t going to magically click on a like button for me. I need some help. Where’s the URL to the facebook page? OK, perhaps a QR code to scan? Nope. A search term to put me in the right direction? Well, perhaps, but you can’t be certain. Maybe the Facebook page name is Maxi ICA Nacka?

Flawed marketing concept

The whole concept of the mailshot is flawed in this situation. I’m expected to do a series of improbably things. I’m expected to look at this and be convinced that liking this particular ICA store is going to give me something sufficient in return. They do explain that on their Facebook page “You will find inspiration, recipes, events, special offers”. Maybe that’s a big enough return for my Like-love…

Hello, what’s your name?

If that has convinced me to “like”, then I have to get myself to a computer, bring up Facebook and think of something to enter into the search box in order to find their incredibly compelling page. Perhaps if I’ve found the advert that compelling I might have taken it with me to the computer to help me (or perhaps I pulled out my tablet there and then in the kitchen, taking a pause from opening the rest of the mail).

You may remember that the postcard had “Maxi ICA Nacka” in the text. This is one of the names the store calls itself. Unfortunately for them, almost all ICA stores are known as ICA [place name], and the larger Maxi stores as ICA Maxi [place name] – and more often that not you don’t need to say the place name, there’s not that many of them nearby.

If you enter ICA Maxi into Facebook, you get a whole load of results containing supermarkets from all over Sweden. You’d have to work hard and long to find the Nacka store amongst them. So, let’s add Nacka to the search phrase giving us ICA Maxi Nacka. Surely that’ll work?

Screenshot from Facebook showing two search results

As you can see. You get two results. Both of which are Facebook Places. Joe Shopper is starting to lose a bit of the overwhelming urge to “like” this ICA store. The lack of profie pictures makes them instantly less “likable” and convincing too. They clearly aren’t the right pages.

Are we there yet?

Let’s put the phrase from the postcard into Facebook’s search. Maxi ICA Nacka. As Facebook provides instant search results, you’re going to naturally pause after typing Maxi ICA (as ICA stores appear at this point). None of them are Nacka. Let’s continue typing. Nope. It’s one of those Facebook places again.

Screenshot from Facebook showing four search results

Maxi Nacka – who needs ICA!

At this point, if anyone is still hunting, they are hunting for the page out of pure frustration and stubbournness. In one last try, we go for Maxi Nacka. Yes! Bingo! Of course! Obviously as an ICA store you are going to make sure that the main brand of your company is totally missing from the page name.

So we’ve made it to the page. Probably. Apparently this business is based in Nackawic, New Brunswick. At this point, i’ve stopped crying and i’m starting to laugh.

Screenshot of ICA Maxi Nacka's Facebook page

Despite being over the 25 fan threshold for choosing a custom name for your page, the page still has the ugly 14-digit ID number in it’s URL – 167901786576697. I understand that they don’t want to use that URL in their marketing material.

Perhaps they did think about claiming a better name, but just forgot to actually claim it. They do, after all, have a (broken) link to http://www.facebook.com/Maxi-Nacka on their Info page.

Over 150 dollars a fan?

The page had 98 fans on the day when the postcard arrived. A few weeks later whilst I’m writing this blog post, they’ve gained a well earned 20. Designing, printing and distributing an advert to a large number of your customers isn’t something that’s free. Even if i’m kind and say that the campaign cost 20000kr (design, print, distribution) they are looking at a cost per fan of 1000kr (approximately 150 dollars).

Given the amateur nature of this entire effort, I’m going to stick my neck out and presume that they didn’t have any specific, measurable, goals for the campaign. Suffice to say, I imagine they expected to earn more than 20 new recruits. I’m starting to feel I should like their page out of sympathy rather than enthusiasm!

Digital marketing is easy to execute – anyone can do it. This is both it’s advantage and it’s disadvantage. Anyone can do it, but not as many can do it well.


is a freelance web manager and strategist based in Stockholm Sweden.

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Talking podcasting tips with Jon Buscall

A few days ago I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a second time by Jon Buscall of Jontus Media for his Online Communications Podcast.

Picture of Jon Buscall and audio equipment in a cafe

This time, podcasting itself was the subject. Earlier this month I took the dive, together with Per Axbom, into producing and publishing a regular podcast: UXPodcast. Jon and I discuss my experiences as a podcasting newbie and we exchange tips for those of you thinking about getting started with a podcast as part of your marketing activities.

You can read the programme notes here: How Do You Launch Your First Podcast ?

A Christmas shopping story

I may be an Internet professional, but i don’t think I’m that much of a freak when it comes to my shopping process.

About this time last year we (my siblings and I) discussed buying our mother a digital photo frame. In the end we put that thought on ice and got her something else instead. But Christmas, like a tax return, comes around every year, and so did the idea of a photo frame.

As far as I’m aware, I have had no exposure to any marketing of digital photograph frames, perhaps I’ve read or skimmed by something in T3 or Stuff magazine – but even so, no particular product has “stuck”.

Price comparison sites

My first step was to head straight straight to my favourite price comparison site (This is currently the excellent Swedish site Prisjakt) and located the product category for digital photo frames. Once there, I had a quick look through the listed products to get a feel for the price range and general specifications.

The next step was to narrow down the search results. I worked out features we (including my mum) would need for the frame. Clicked some buttons, checked some boxes and quite quickly there were just two products left (that were in stock and matched requirements).

Armed with two product names, I started hunting for detailed reviews, which didn’t take long at all. I took the time to read quite a sizeable portion of the reviews, building my own opinion, working out if the various features really would deliver what they promised.

Once I’d finished with the main detailed reviews, I took myself a little deeper and read some of the customer reviews where they pointed out (what appear to be) real experiences – with both negative and positive comments.

By this point, I’d pretty much narrowed the choice down to just one, at the same time realising that neither of them are “perfect” but that in the price range I’d decided, “perfect” was unobtainable.

Visiting a physical store

Now I’m getting very close to the end of my purchasing process, in fact in a lot of situations I would have clicked buttons and made a purchase at this point, but this time I wanted to touch and see the frame I’d decided to buy. So I visited a physical electrical store in order to confirm a few last details (namely that it can be switched to English – I’m buying it in Sweden) and that the display and build quality are acceptable.

Finally, it’s back home and straight to an online store in order to buy it for 25% cheaper that I’ve just seen it for in the physical electrical store.

Stunning change

This purchasing process has undergone a stunning change in a very short space of time. The traditional product launches and time-limited campaigns aren’t enough. From a B2C perspective; Branding, reviews, recommendations, and logistics (to make sure it works to order online) are what count. The manufacturers’ web sites? Surplus to requirements.

social-marketing campaigns will descend into visual clutter about the banal doings of increasingly random people, rather than being the next big thing in advertising.

The Economist offering their conclusion based on Paul Martino saying “social graphs degenerate to noise in all cases” with regard to social networking sites, such as Facebook.
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