ASUS EEE PC – small (and cheap) is beautiful

If you look at my previous post about mobile computing, you’ll see I mentioned this small, shiny object last year, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve got my hands on a couple of them for work.

The EEE is classed as a UMPC ( Ultra Mobile Portable Computer), and features a 7″ screen, as well as wifi, a web cam and most of the key tools a normal laptop has. The key difference is the small, 4Gb flash hard-drive. However, this is plenty of storage for a machine that is designed for mobile usage.

The machine itself is a bit cramped for everyday use, but for short spells at the airport or on a train, its fantastic. In fact, the small size makes it ideal to use where room is at a premium.

 We’ve installed XP on the machines, removing the existing Linux o/s it comes with, and it runs fine. We’ve also added a 3G modem (via Vodaphone) for each one, meaning a truly portable machine.

 Out on the road they make a great replacement for a standard laptop, being much lighter and smaller, and they make a great addition to the mobile office.

Effective eMarketing Campaigns – Part Two

It’s taken a while but here we go…

Channel segmentation and separating responses

To track the success of each referring channel where visitors have come from it has to be explicitly identified. This is done by creating a set of parameters that are passed via the web address. The parameters uniquely identify the source of the visit.

For offline sources there is an additional stage to the process as users manually have to enter a web address.

Online

Online links can be clicked on and are normally hidden in a banner or beneath text so the unique parameters can be hidden within the link.

Offline

Offline visitors need to manually enter a web address in order to access the appropriate web page. This needs to be different for each referral type. For this reason, any URL published should be:

  • Short
  • Simple to type
  • Easy to remember
  • Obvious

My experience has shown that using esoteric or non-standard formats leads to a reduction in visits. A common standard for published addresses is Mainsite/subname. This is well understood by consumers as it is used by popular sites such as the BBC, Dell, The Guardian and Amazon. Examples include:

  • www.bbc.co.uk/health
  • www.dell.co.uk/offers

This format helps tp reinforce the company name and allows the re-use of a standard set of URLs so that, if someone visits from an old advert, they still get up to date information.

To track each offline referral channel separately a separate URL must be used for each one. E.g.:

  • Ad 1 – www.contentsecure/offer1
  • Ad 2 – www.contentsecure /offer2
  • Direct-mail – www.contentsecure /offers
  • Door drop – www.contentsecure/special

Each address then redirects automatically to the appropriate web pages, passing the invisible parameters that are picked up by the analytics tool, in the same way as online visitors.

Measurement

A standard set of metrics is required to:

  • Measure the most cost-effective and successful referral channels
  • Identify which media placements are most effective
  • Success of the creative
  • Which channels work best for each customer segment

What to measure

The exact set of statistics produced for a campaign will depend on a number of factors. These include:

  • Method(s) of delivery
  • Number of channels
  • Segmentation of customer
  • Campaign purpose/targets

For each channel, the core metrics include:

Email/newsletters

  • Number of emails sent
  • Number of emails opened
  • Time between opening and delivery
  • Click-throughs – which links did they click on?
  • Unsubscribes
  • Bounce-backs (hard/soft) – is the email deliverable (permanent/temporary)?

Web *

  • Number of visitors – split by channel
  • Visits by new and existing visitors
  • Visit from – including offline media
  • Goal conversions e.g.:
    • • Number of calls
    • • Whitepapers downloaded
    • • Trial an online demo

* For web stats, there are a number of additional statistics than can be collected (e.g. browser version) that are not relevant to campaign management. These will be used to ensure the site continues to meet the standards required by visitors.

Costs

One of the key metrics to measure is the actual cost per visitor. The exact formula for this depends on the channel they have visited from but the key metrics include:

  • Ad impressions
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Cost per click
  • Leads generated
  • Cost per lead
  • Conversion rate
  • Number of sales
  • Cost per sale
  • Campaign reporting

A standard template is used to report on the statistics. The aim of the report should be to present a meaningful summary, as well as detailed statistics to meet the requirements of all readers. This should include:

  • An executive summary
  • Results Vs benchmarks/expections
  • Ongoing trends over the year, split by month/campaign
  • Campaign-specific results and reviews
  • Key graphs
  • In-depth stats
  • Focus on core channels (e.g. email)

Effective eMarketing Campaigns – Intro

90% of digital marketing is process. Its very easy to use technology to create an effective set of procedures and meaningful MI. The advantage to this is that the mechanical, production-line part of campaing mangement looks after itself, leaving you free to focus on the creative (and fun) parts.

The number of people I’ve seen that reinvent the wheel each time they need to send out an email or put up a special offer is amazing.  If you get the groundwork right, the rest is easy. Over the next wee while I’ll be adding a few posts to help you get to grips with online campaign management.

You can break this down into the following basic steps:

  1. A standard campaign delivery process
  2. (If required) a logical way to segment your customers
  3. A way of separating the responses for each channel/campaign segment
  4. A standard set of metrics that can be used to build up a history of our campaigns
  5. A tool that will allow us to store and interpret the data
  6. A standard method of reporting campaign results

The right tools for the job

Additionally, make sure you’ve got the right software to allow you to gather stats. Most content management systems will have some kind of MI tool, but in the main these tend to be more useful for more mechanical MI (e.g. paths, pages, downloads) and only support basic segmentation, if any.

Google Analytics is a great tool for campaign management, its free and it manages multi-channel campaigns easily. I’ll cover using it in another post. If you’re using email, you’ll also need a way to get MI out of your email system.

The final part of the jigsaw is some way of pulling together all the data into a report. My preference is to use a spreadsheet (e.g. Excel or Open Office Calc) or  to do the hard parts (e.g. adding stuff up, measure trends) and create some graphs and tables. The last part is a word processor for some sort of short meaningful summary and that’s all you need to get up and running.

Why the mobile internet has been slow to take-off but is the killer app

I’m a big fan of smart phones and mobile computing in general. In the not too distant future I can see a time when people no longer trudge around with laptops, but use smaller, less powerful machines specifically designed for wireless use.

 A number of machines do this or have been announced (e.g. the Nokia 770, 800, Asus’ Eee PC and the Palm Foleo) and there’s sure to be more – with alot of the development coming-off the back of the $100 laptop charity.

 There have been a number of good apps out there for ages (Avant Go for nes, Opera for mobile phones) and with faster connections, you’re no longer waiting for ages to view a web page.

Blackberries have made great inroads into the corporate market and people are now buying them as private users – but they are pretty poor at the web thing so are predominently e-mail based.

Connections are also up to speed now, with 3G networks available and compatible phones easy and cheap to come by. So why isn’t usage much greater? There are a number of reasons, but I’ll highlight what I think are the key issues.

  1. Launch of 3G focussed on the wrong aspects – when 3G launched (especially the “3” network), they focussed on video calling, and, like other products before, no one was really interested. It doesn’t work particularly well and really adds little, apart from cost, to a mobile phone call.
  2. Data charges – historically its been really expensive. People on contracts now have fairly cheap deals so that particular barrier has been removed but pay as you go customers still get a raw deal. For example, Orange charge you £1 per day to use mobile browsing etc., regardless of how much data you transfer.If they offered data packages, like the do for bundled text messages, surely they would see a rise in the number of users.
  3. Devices – current phones aren’t very good for surfing or email. If you look at alot of smart phones and blackberries, their primary function is to provide a QWERTY keyboard in as small a space as possible, with a slightly larger screen, but this isn’t suitable for everyone. Hopefully the iPhone and its clones will help with this.
  4. Web sites and services – in the financial services arena, no one I know of has seriously looked at using protable devices as a serious business tool. This is something I’d like to look at sooner, rather that later.I think there’s great potential to offer a cut-down online services app that works on blackberries and smartphones. we’re not talking the ability to process new schemes, but certainly a few key functions like policy valuations and personal details would be very handy, and mean you didn’t have to lug a laptop around all the time, and hope there was a phone line or wifi access when you arrive.

All we need to do is get Origo to develop a mobile Unipass certificate and we’re sorted.

HTML 5 vs XHTML 2

The debate on HTML 5 vs XHTML 2 is sure to rage on. Both have their plus and negative points and powerful support within the industry.  To me, the main thing is that we don’t end up with a “VHS vs Betamax” situation. Depending on which hat I’m wearing, I can see both sides of the argument but, overall I think I can stake my allegence with HTML 5.

 Although it has a few negative points (e.g. not killing the <font> tag), overall, its something that has been explicitly created to do a job and, potentially of more importance, has a strong compatability with older browsers, whilst allowing newer browsers to render the new features too.

In an ideal world, the 2 paths would be combined for the best of both worlds. For example using the Navigation List feature of XHTML 2 instead of the more clunky Nav tag from HTML 5.

If anyone is interested, they could also use my trademark <grid> tag, with its <gr>, <gh> and <gd> elements. If this was combined with the HTML 5 sectioning elements, we’d really be onto a winner!