Friday, December 30, 2011

Biased advice?

As I'm from a sales background I know all about associated selling [yes you youngsters, Amazon did not invent the concept with " people who bought this book also bought … "] – but in my book and seminars I emphasise the point that for this to be effective online, experienced sales staff must be involved in the choice of 'associated' products [it's all part of my website 'dream team' issue].
So when I was looking for a new pair of Levi's, I was a surprised at Debenhams' recommendations for associated sales for the jeans I was looking at.
You will note that the model showing off the jeans is wearing a pair of baseball boots – and yet the recommended shoes seem to be two pairs of 'dress' shoes and one that might be described as 'casual'. A quick scan of the other Levi's on offer revealed that the vast majority of models are wearing 'trainer'-type shoes with only one in 'dress' shoes. I should disclose that I am firmly in the no-dress-shoes-with-jeans camp, so that might influence me here.
More objectively – I have to assume the Levi's are modelled in what is considered to be the most appropriate footwear for the jeans? So why the three shoes shown here? Could it be because they are on offer and that 'show on-promotion shoes' the 'default' setting for all types of trousers at this time of the year? OK, so I could live with that for one or two recommendations – but why not include the actual shoes shown in the jeans picture? After all, if I were in a store and talking to a sales person would they try and push associated sales that are not really suitable for the primary product? They might … but only if they are no good at their job and if they don't want to see you back in the shop again.
On the plus side – well, partial plus is – that in the product description of the jeans the height of the model is given along with the size of jeans being worn, so giving buyers a better idea of the size and fit of the products. Why 'partial' plus? Not all jeans' descriptions included this information – including the 501s I was looking at.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

not that ... but this

For reasons I won't go into I was looking for an early Toyota MR2 - that is, a Mk1 [Mark One] MR2. Amongst the pages that appeared after a search was this one from Kelkoo.


You will note that it is for a different car.

So who decided that Kelkoo's on-site search should present this return - and why?  OK, so I worked in sales and I know that if a customers asked for a black shirt and if you don't stock them you might suggest a dark blue or dark brown one and maybe the customer will take a look at them. But this is not a shopping experience, it is a specific search for a specific product. Ho humm.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

listen: I said we are closed !!!

When researching a new assignment for my e-marketing module [yes students, I do put some thought into these things :) ] I was looking at some online jewellery stores - and came across this one in Kuala Lumpur [the module is also delivered in Malaysia].
OK, so I do not know why this business is closed over - and before - the Christmas period. There could be a perfectly valid reason - though it is unlikely to be 'Christmas' as Malaysia is an Islamic country. Perhaps, historically, it is the quietest business period of the year and so they take their holidays in this time - though it does make a mockery of the 24/7/365 nature of online-shopping. Anyhoo, the owners have decided to close it,  but that is not the point of this entry - it is the way they tell customers about it. Or should I say, potential customers. Or maybe I should say never-to-be-customers?  

Unless you were already a satisfied customer who had made previous purchases, would you return to this store in the New Year? Why not explain the closure, or just have a softer message rather than this one which is the equivalent of slamming the door in customers' faces?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none?

I'm back on my hobby-horse again - you know ... the one about techies developing websites. This is a website I came across as a link at the bottom of another website [if you own a website you NEVER have a 'designed by' link on your site]. Here's the navigation bar from the designer's site:
Yep - these folk are experts at all of these things. It is my experience that few - and I mean very, very, very few - can do all of these things. Of course, it might be a biggish company employing staff with this range of skills - but the content of their site suggests otherwise. In other words, the same people who handle the hard- and software issues also design websites. Which means they might be able to produce a website technically - but can they produce a website that can meet the online objectives of that organization? And do they even ask what the objectives are? And do they have the marketing skills and/or qualifications to help the org realise those objectives? In my experience, the answer is no. And so their customers get ineffectual websites - oh, they might look nice, but do they do the job they are there for? [and if you think I am the only one who feels this way, take a look at the quote from James Dyson in my review of the Stranger's Long Neck

I have removed anything that might identify the company concerned - but this is the page you get when you click on the 'web design' link.  
Notice how it makes no mention of marketing, communications or content - but instead concentrates on ASP, HTML, VB, database [there should be a hyphen in here as it is a compound adjective] driven sales, Flash animation and dynamic sites. I don't know what some of those are - so will your average business person?   And do they need to? These are technical aspects of a website that might [a big might, regular readers will know my opposition to Flash] help it meet the needs of its visitors, but the business person doesn't need to know about the behind-the-scenes IT aspects of the site.  Ho hum - it is developers like these that keep me in consultancy work.

Footnote - I cover this same issue all over the place, but the latest is on websites made easy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Google on message?

I got a leaflet in a Sunday supplement last week - well, I say 'leaflet' ... think more 'small brochure' - and yesterday I saw the same promotion featured in an ad in The Times newspaper. It is for Google's good to know campaign.

I find the whole thing very interesting - on a number of levels. I suggest you spend a few minutes on the site before considering my comments.
  • On a marketing level: telling the 'person in the street' that Google [still?] does no evil and how it [Google] helps them live their lives?
  • On a content level: I find my students struggle a little with things like IP addresses [they're marketers not techies, see what is it with me and IT?] and yet the promotion uses such terms - though yes, it is in simplistic terms.
So do I like the campaign? Well, it is in partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau [a UK non-profit organization] which means it carries some validity in its stated aim of  being primarily about privacy and safety online. 

So why do I still have an uncomfortable feeling about the search giant's new privacy portal?  And why does the term 'PR stunt' keep coming to mind? [in fairness, if it is - kudos for a good PR stunt]

Saturday, December 3, 2011

switch & bait?

The concept of bait and switch includes the practice of advertising at a low price - with the actual buying price being higher. This ad does just the opposite. Oh dear.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

just the ticket. not

At the beginning of the year I posted register - just to check availability complaining that I had to register on the Blackpool FC website just to see if there were any tickets still available for a match. Welllll ... that's not the end of the issue, because yesterday I received this email:

Now, I'm pretty sure that somewhere in the registration there was small print saying they could contact me with marketing offers [I can't remember if the was a tick-box to opt out], so this isn't illegal - but it is very bad practice to send direct marketing emails out on a 'cc' basis so that all of the recipients can see all of the emails addresses of all of the other recipients. I would be really surprised if my address - along with around 300 others isn't already doing the spam rounds as I type.
 
Oh, and by the way ... related to my original posting - take a look at the greeting on the email: 'dear BFC season ticket holder' - clearly I am not. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

demandware demanding too much

I've hi-lighted this kind of thing before - but it seems some folk just don't learn. This one is more ironic because the requested document is a piece of commissioned research - let's hope the research questionnaire was better designed than this form.

I can remember back in the 1990s how it was common practice for US-based organizations to insist on a 'zip code' on their online forms. Well, I thought we'd moved past that ... but apparently not. This form actually gives the user of choosing their country from a long list - but still insists on a State being entered [Sunderland is now in Wyoming, by the way]. All it needed in the 'States' field was a 'not in the USA' option. Or better still, have the techies override the necessity for the 'State' field to be completed if the user selected a country other than the USA.
 

Monday, November 7, 2011

an email from Emily Bronte?

One of the problems of having me as a customer is that I get the opportunity to point out your faults - and it's KLM again. My personalized copy of the latest edition of their 'ifly' online magazine looked like this:
Am I the only one in thinking that this greeting was not only a bit too personal, but from the pages of a Nineteenth Century novel?

Friday, November 4, 2011

double vision

No explanation required on this one - though be sure it is the designers' fault and not that of my computer. If my PC couldn't handle whatever software that is being used it is not my fault for owning that PC, it is the designers' for serving up a page which its target market couldn't read.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

bad connection from Sky

I had reason to contact Sky about my broadband connection. When I eventually found a contact phone number on their website, the page gave me pop-up message:

 ... but when I typed sky.com/callpricing into my browser I was redirected to this page:


... and on it I could find no trace of call pricing. I've got a feeling that the provision of call rates to 08 numbers is a legal requirement?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

fishing for a phishing link

I got an email in my inbox which - to me - was an obvious phishing attempt which purported to be from my Cahoot credit card account. So being the civic-minded kind of chap I am, I logged on to my Cahoot account to tell them about it. Now, many sites [eg eBay, PayPal] have an obvious 'report suspicious emails' link where you can forward such emails so that the company is aware of them and so take action to prevent them. Sure enough, when logging on to Cahoot [it is a Santander brand] the following was next to the log-on box:
However, when you get into the site there is no 'report phishing' link or email address. Indeed, the only email address on the site is complaints@santander [anyone else see the irony there?] - so I forwarded my phishing email to that address, asking that it be passed on to the right folk. I then got an immediate automated reply, which is standard practice, but take a look at part of that message:


Hello
Thanks for your e-mail.
 This is a receipt to let you know we've received your message, and we'll reply as soon as we can. 
...
Please note - A NUMBER OF FRAUDULENT E-MAILS ALLEGING TO BE FROM SANTANDER ARE CURRENTLY IN CIRCULATION.

Santander will never send you an e-mail asking you to click on a link, or to enter, reconfirm or change your security or card details. We will never ask you to tell us your passwords by e-mail or over the phone.
...
You can also help Santander by forwarding any Phishing email you receive to: 
phishing@santander.co.uk

We can’t respond directly to any questions via this e-mail address, but all e-mails are processed, and urgent action is taken against Phishing sites identified.   

Is it stating the obvious to ask why that email address isn't on the main website? And how many people would have set out to forward the phishing email - but given up when such a contact email wasn't on the site? The cynic in me asks if Santander really want you to send them your phishing emails - or is it just poor website content management?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

would you like some snake oil with that sir?

My regular postman [person?] knows that my monthly box of contact lenses goes through my letter box, but when it arrived on his day off the temp guy took it back to the Post Office - leaving a card saying what he had done. So I went online and selected another day for it to be delivered [very efficient use of the web]. Sadly, it didn't turn up, so I completed the relevant 'missing parcel' form online. To cut this already boring story short, the box arrived eventually - but the following is the final email from the 'Escalated Customer Resolution Team' [escalated ... do they all arrive in the office on a moving staircase?]

 Dear Mr Charlesworth

Thank you for your further contact with Royal Mail.

May I offer my sincere apologies for the concern and inconvenience that this matter has caused.  I fully appreciate how important it is for our customers to have confidence in our ability to redeliver mail when requested and it is always disappointing when a customer expresses dissatisfaction with any aspect of our service.

On receipt of your email I contacted the Manager of your local Delivery Office asking for a report into this matter. 

I have been advised that the item had been located at callers' office in Mary Street for redelivery.  This I was advised was taking place on Saturday 1 October and I’m please to learn from your further email that the item has now been received. 

In closing, I would like to give you my assurance that we at Royal Mail are not complacent about such failures in our service, and we are constantly striving to ensure that you receive the level of service you have every right to expect. I hope your future dealings with us are of a more positive nature.

I trust you will be satisfied with my response.  However if you remain unhappy you can have your case reviewed by the Postal Review Panel.  The Panel will take a new look at your complaint and will provide you with a final response on behalf of Royal Mail.  They can be contacted by emailing:


or by writing to: FREEPOST Postal Review Panel.

Regards

**** *******
Escalated Customer Resolution Team

In my book [page 103], I say that website content should never be 'self-serving' - well this moves into being sycophantic. OK, I know this is in an email, but the same applies. As I suggest in the title of this entry,  this has the ring of a snake oil salesman about it.  A simply; 'sorry, we got it wrong but it out sorted it out in the end' would have meant much more to me. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Apple: stylish in memorial

Can't say I'm a fan of Apple - but I can appreciate that its products have changed things a lot [with a lot of help from some world-class marketing]. One thing Apple has is style - and that is reflected in the apple.com home page on the day Steve Jobs died.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

no saving this subscription

Here's an online store I have spent a lot of money with over the years - but it is an example of getting your email promotion frequency wrong. I buy a pair of gloves once, maybe twice, a year - so do I need emails every week? No I don't. Which brings us to the subject of this entry to my blog: I decided to unsubscribe, but the 'unsubscribe' link is embedded in the image, and doesn't work [note in the image below, the arrow should have become a pointing finger to denote a link]. I'm pretty sure that in the UK at least, that is illegal.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

putting your foot[er] in it

I noticed that every external email sent from the University of Sunderland's email server had the following footer added:

I don't know where to start with this one. It might [big might] be OK for a brand to do this - but I would still point at the following.

First off; why the full URL ?  Soooooo 1997. It's 2011, email clients will read a link, so we should be looking at something like

See the University's new TV ads

... where 'new TV ads' is the hyperlink. On the subject of aesthetics - why the Times font? Again, sooo 1990s. That it might sit at the bottom of an email in a sans serif font makes it appear 'ugly'. And given the target recipients [see below] won't those people have their 'show images' option on - so make it an attractive mini-banner [with a clear 'alt text' so folks with their images off will still know what it is]

So OK, I can live with this marketing message if the email is going to a prospective customer [student] and possibly some stakeholders [to show them we do TV advertising]. But how many emails go to those people? Won't the majority of people being emailed already have contacted the uni [eg the email is a reply to an email from them] and so be aware of the uni, its prospectus, website and promotional material? How many people will see that link. Then click on it. And then move down the purchase funnel as a result?

Compare that small advantage over the disadvantages:

Every email has this on. That includes those going to [for example] academic colleagues or contacts in other universities. Perhaps the submission of an academic paper to a journal. A supply to place an order or request a quote. An enquiry to the Inland Revenue about an employee's tax details ... I could go on, but what about : the student - or student's parent - who has raised a serious complaint about the university and whose email includes that footer? Or perhaps the email from a lecturer or student who is being told they have failed a module or programme? Or a similar email from a member of academic or support staff offering condolences for the loss of a family member and that we will sort out their studies when they are able to rejoin us?

Finally - if the footer needs to be added automatically, select members of staff or email addresses - the recruitment department or staff, for example - and add it only to their emails. Or better still, have relevant staff add it to their own email options - with the knowledge that they can delete it from the 'wrong' emails.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

computers: can't live without them?

Just another example of computers telling you are wrong - but proving that is not you it is them at the same time. By 'computers' I mean, of course, the people who write their software programmes - computers only do what they are told.
This example is from hotel company Gran Melia. Follow the images down and you will see my rewards card with its number - which subsequently I am told does not exist. Ho hum. 



... and as a footnote: a couple of days after I posted this entry, I got an promotional email from Gran Melia. Here's the header of the email, note my membership number which - you will recall - doesn't exist. Oh, and note also that I have 6312 points, not bad for an 'account' which at least part of their IT system doesn't recognise.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Travelodge talking with forked tongue

I needed a cheap hotel for a night away from home, and was booking a room on the Travelodge website, when I got this message ...
Couple of things: first, notice how the onus would appear to be on me to sort out the error in their system? And second, CSR? I've written two 'dictionaries' on e-commerce/marketing and I do not know what a CSR is. The only CSR I have come across is 'corporate social responsibility'. Furthermore, I did not know whether my booking had been processed of not.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sainsbury's: poor service ... and an opportunity lost?

My local Sainsury's has - and still is - had significant renovation, including a big extension. Over recent weeks [months even] I have been mightily impressed with the project planning as various parts of the store were worked on and the building extended in several directions. In all that time the shop continued to trade with minimal impact on customers - full marks for the planning department and the contractors and staff involved. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the online-marketing department.

You see, to bring the project to an end with the 'old' shop becoming the 'new' shop - it has closed. No problem there; big signs around the shop last week saying it was closing - but I can't remember when it said it was re-opening. And I need some groceries. So I went to the Sainsbury's website .. and for 'my' branch got this page:
No mention of it being closed [the poor service] - and nothing about the improvements being undertaken which will [presumably] make it a better place to shop. Two points:
(i) the exercise will have cost a lot [millions?], so developing a temporary web page would have been a drop in the ocean in financial terms, but even worse ...
(ii) why is 'online' treated as insignificant in the planning of the refurbishment and re-launch of a 'new' store? I bet the local media advertising was booked months ago.

Footnote #1, a couple of days later: Last night there was a [PR] article in the local newspaper about the re-opening of the store - but still no message on the website saying that the shop is now bigger and stocks a wider range of products.

Footnote #2, beginning of the next week - and a flyer through my door, which includes this page:

... but still no mention of the new meat & fish counters or the new clothing and homeware on the web page for the branch. Ho hum. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

a website that I do not warm to

In my Internet Marketing  module I show the students a web page I have made which is full of errors and ask them to list those faults. I end the session by saying that this is just an exercise and there should be no commercial websites as bad as my example. And then I come across sites like this ...
Note also at the bottom the link to the developer's site ... 'nuff said?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

no entry without a house number and street

Another example to file under 'no big deal' - but if something is worth doing it is worth doing it right.
I was ordering a book from Oxford University Press [us lecturers get them free :-)]  and this was part of the 'checkout' process:
Note how the 'house number and street' has no asterisk, and so is not a 'must fill in field' -  and yet I was not allowed to proceed without something being in it. I appreciate that it is rare to have nothing to put in this box - but my work address is a campus with no numbers or streets. 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

as safe as the Royal Bank of Scotland?

Like a lot of people [I suspect] I sometimes register with websites and then don't visit them again for quite a while  by which tine, of course, I've forgotten the username and password I set up for the account. That happened tome today when I went to the website of one of my credit cards. I typed in what I thought was my username, but got this...
After a couple of other tries I decided that it would seem I had not registered with the account, so went to the 'register' form - where I typed in my a username - the one that had been rejected on the 'sign in' form, and yet I got this ...
So how come RBS's system one form said the username did not exist - but on another that it did?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

elephants and double glazing?

For reasons I won't go into, I was looking for a line from the film 'The Elephant Man' and came across this site. Let's ignore the fact that a website about quotes in films had no quotes from this film - take a look at the ads on the right.
Now ... AdSense is meant to serve up ads that are in sync with the content of the web page - but can you find a connection between anything on this page and windows or double glazing? And - in case you are wondering - no, I haven't been searching for, or looking at, double glazing websites in the recent past [Google tracks your web usage to deliver 'relevant' ads].

Monday, May 23, 2011

is it the un-seasonal weather?

OK, so as I type this towards the end of May [in the UK] it is raining, windy and a bit chilly outside - but it is still not winter. Which is what it would seem to be on this page of the Debenhams website which I looked at this morning.

A statutory lesson that website content management - like the seasons - is an ongoing thing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

this airline ad lands in the wrong place

I'm off to Athens [again] in the summer, so wanted to book a hotel - and as I knew the one I wanted to stay in, simply typed its name into Google - and this is the SERP, note the top ad [ie, the one that is the most expensive for the advertiser*]
So I clicked on that ad, and got this page:

Note that it is part of the 'holiday booking' page - and so I could only find the cost of the hotel if I put in flight details as well. That was no good to me as my flight was already booked on another airline, and anyway easyJet don't fly to Athens from my local airport.

So I clicked on the 'where to stay' link and got this page:

But I then had to search for the hotel I wanted. Guess what, I gave up and booked on the hotel's own website - which carried the claim 'guaranteed cheaper than any other website'. An ambitious claim and [obviously] part of  a wider strategy. Students of mine and readers of my book will recognise this issue in my Gilded Truffle Hotel case study.

* OK, I know there are other issues, but it does mean that easyJet are willing to pay to be the number one listing.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

a not-so-clear call to action

This example has a double whammy  - a direct-marketing email without a call to action, and some invisible text. In chapter three of my book I raise what I think is the basic issue of putting dark text on a light background [as I do on all my sites] to make it easy to read. Indeed, I give my students a 'bad web page' exercise with an example of light text on a light background and they usually scoff at the idea of a commercial web developer making such an error - well, take a look at this:

Furthermore, the 'hidden' text is the call to action - arguably the most important words on the email. Ho hum. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

landing page[s] that land you on a different continent

Ironically, I came across this at the end of a week when I was delivering sessions on online advertising - which, of course, includes landing pages. I was looking for a small netbook, and came across this ad - note that I was searching on Google.co.uk:
Rather bizarrely, clicking on that ad took me to an American web page. I suspect it was a glitch somewhere along the line, but still one that shouldn't happen.
 
And then only a couple of days later I received an email from Amazon, promoting their new Kindle book reader
 ...and when I opened the email I got this - note the price
... and when I clicked on the link in the email I got this page

Ho hum. It seem that even one of the best in the business get it wrong sometimes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

football registration again grrrrrrr

Unlike a previous entry on this subject [see Register - just to check availability?] this time I was off to see my team, on this occasion playing at Middlesbrough. When I've been there before I just got there a bit early and stood in the queue at the ticket office before the match - but this time I was going straight from work, so thought pre-ordering the ticket would save time. Sadly, however, although I might never [ever, ever, ever] buy another ticket from them, Middlesborough Football Club decided that my credit card details were not enough and insisted I register to create an account.
In the event, just set off a bit earlier and stood in the line to buy a ticket. And guess what, they didn't insist that I create an account. 

Footnote, my team grabbed an undeserved equaliser in the 93rd minute to draw the match 1-1.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

even for free - it's poor value

I was doing some research into integrated marketing and wanted to check the claim of offline ads against the advertiser's online offerings, and found myself on the website of whatsmycarworth.co.uk - so I decided to take up their offer of a free valuation of my car. But found myself stuck at this point:

You see, the system allowed me to select my car as being in a group made from '04 onwards, but then limited the exact year to '08 or '09 - mine was registered in 2004.

When I checked, there was another option before this page for my specific car, so in part is was my fault - but why did the system allow me to choose this option when it clearly isn't an option. As it was, I could choose the correct option because I knew the bhp of my car - I wonder how many other people would have been able to do so? [I suspect many don't even know bhp stands for 'brake horse power'].

Friday, February 18, 2011

hotel pricing small print

Over the years I have been a regular visitor to Athens - the one in Greece - and one of my favourite hotels is the Sol Melia [formerly the Hotel Georgio]. 

I am scheduled to go back this summer and I hope to stay there again - part of the reason why I signed up for their newsletter [it is actually a chain of hotels]. The newsletters are generally quite good, but in the one that came today, I noticed this in the small print:
Whilst the first four points are valid, why send out a newsletter which includes featured prices and yet says that the prices might not be valid? I can only assume that this is to cover the fact that some folk might take a while to open the email, but it does say on receipt, not when you read it. And if you are going to feature prices, why not fix those prices for a few days?  Just seems strange to me. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

credit where credit is due

I have had a PayPal account for [probably] longer than most people. I find it incredibly handy for online purchases, and tend to shop only on sites that take it [there's a marketing message in there] - in fact, I can't remember the last time I typed a credit card number onto a web page.

Anyhoo, as I have mentioned in earlier entries [see 1, 2]I have been switching my primary email address to my Gmail account [I've also had a Gmail account for longer than most - it comes of doing a lot of reading about the whole 'Internet' thing] but despite changing my address with PayPal, I still got a message at my 'old' address.

It is a bit more complicated than that as the message was about a credit to my account - it is easy to accept online payments via PayPal also - and the message was 'from' the company making the payment to me. As I had also informed that company of my change of address, it was not clear who was at fault.

So I put this onto PayPal's online form - and within 24 hours got a reply which included comprehensive instructions on how to sort the problem [by deleting the old address rather than simply letting it remain 'dormant' in my profile].

If I want to be picky; the email came from PayPal's office in Luxembourg and so the English was a bit, well ... 'second language' [eg "please be informed"] - making it border on the sycophantic rather than 'friendly'. But hey,  that really is being picky :) .

Saturday, February 5, 2011

try doing something right today

Following a theme from previous entries [see 1, 2, 3] - here is online confirmation when I decided to unsubscribe from Sainsbury's email list.
So ... how much do you thing the retailer spent on the development of their logo? And how many hours went into deciding on the text and font for the 'try something new today' tag line? So who came up with the unsubscribe message, the cleaner? No, I retract that - it is unfair on cleaners. This looks like another example of a techie's handiwork. 

It is not only so wrong in marketing terms - it is also very poor grammar.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

nice idea, poor execution

One of the elements of social media is product reviews. And an element of social media marketing is to generate reviews for any products you sell. Hence, this email from DIY outlet Homebase has been sent with the best of intentions.

Sadly, this email is the result [I assume] and an automated system - for the product I purchased was a light bulb.  Not really much I can say in a review other than: 'it lights up when connected to electricity'.  And would you look for reviews before buying a light bulb?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hoseasons lose the [caravan] plot

I've covered this subject a number of times before - but it still amazes me how often organizations pay for advertising and then mess up the landing page ... and here is another example. 

South Shields is just down the road to me [actually, it is up the coast] and I often have a drive along the sea front there.  So when my sister was asked about caravan parks in the town, she got in touch with me. I knew the name of a site right on the sea front, so I put it into Google. And there at the top of the paid ads was this one for Hoseasons [note, it is not the caravan site I was looking for - so I suppose this is an advantage of buying ads on SERPS].

 When I clicked on that ad, I was taken to this page:
 You will note that not only was the page a 'home page' rather than the page for the South Shields camp site, but the page never downloaded fully. Furthermore, upon trying to use the page's search facility, I found that the county in which South Shields sits - Tyne and Wear - was not listed. 

So, being a switched-on online marketer, I went back to the SERP and copied the URL that was listed [hoseasons.co.uk/south_shields] and put it in the navigation box. And got this page:
Double whammy on this one; obviously there is the fact that the link is to a dead page, but check out the 404 message. Nothing along the lines of 'sorry, we have lost the page you are looking for, click here to go to the home page' - but the message refers to a 'resource'. What's that then? [see also 404 for the common people].

Oh yes, and as a footnote: Hoseasons don't have a holiday campsite in South Shields. Ho hum.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

getting a relationship off on the wrong foot

I bought a rather splendid shemagh from the emilitary.co.uk website. The site was OK, the price right and the postage free. So I placed an order and the scarf arrived within a few days. So far so good. However, I did have to register on the site to place the order - and so received this email. It was friendly, it was trying to develop a relationship with me. It was promoting their SMM efforts. 

So why was it signed by '4sg Ltd, Store Owner' and not a real person?

Register - just to check availability?

I'm off to Blackpool this weekend with the chaps. The reason we're going is that my local footy team is playing there. I am not, however, a Sunderland supporter - and so unlike my season-ticket-holding chums, I have no ticket. So I thought I'd check out the Blackpool FC website to see if any tickets were available. 

Sadly, however, before I could even find out if any tickets were available I had to register with the site!

Not only that, but as soon as I had registered, I got this message:


I still don't know if there are any tickets available or if the game is a sell-out. I might have to spend the afternoon in the pub. Harrumph.

Footnote after the event: I did get a ticket at the last minute, so saw the match. There was also plenty of time spent in the pub ;-)