That’s right, we’re now a Purple WiFi Authorised Reseller! You may be wondering just exactly what Purple WiFi is and why we have chosen to work with Purple WiFi. Before we go into that, let’s just look into the near future to see where the world is heading.
At some point in the near future, all business will start with some form of digital interaction. Whether this is business to business or business to consumer, or what is starting to be referred to as person to person. With smart technologies creeping into our daily lives from Google Glass, the Oculus Rift and a 3D printed mini me, we are seeing traditional online and offline areas blending into one. No longer is ‘digital’ a marketing channel that is completely separate to core business. For many businesses, ‘digital’ is becoming core business as brands start to interact with customers at every step along the way, from visiting physical stores to purchasing products on the website to connecting with customers on social media. Everything is digital.
For this reason, we predict that in the very near future, brands are simply going to have to join the dots for customers between all touch points, regardless of whether this is online or in the real world. That is why we have become a Purple WiFi Authorised Reseller, because the software is capable of joining these dots together which we believe are becoming increasingly important. Joining the online and offline worlds together in a way that has traditionally been extremely difficult for brands to do is now possible.
What is Purple WiFi?
Purple WiFi is extremely advanced and cutting edge technology that is designed to turn the current free WiFi in your premises into a marketing tool to directly increase revenue. To keep this really simple, Purple WiFi is a piece of software that is installed on your router (the ‘thing’ that connects your customers to the internet).
It is this software that gives your free WiFi the boost that is needed to which customers are in your premises, how many times they have visited before and how long they have stayed. In addition, you can see full customer demographic data including name, age, gender, email address and hometown. All of this amazing data allows you to understand who your customers are better than ever and communicate with them to increase the frequency of their visits. Get in touch with us to see a full list of the amazing demographic data you can capture with the tool or to request a demo.
Essentially, if a customer visits your venue once per month and we can turn this into them visiting once every two weeks through targeted email marketing, then this has doubled your revenue per head for that specific customer. It isn’t always about getting ‘new’ customers through the door, if you can achieve the same revenue growth from your current customers then this is also a good opportunity.
Why we have chosen to work with Purple WiFi?
Quite simply, Purple WiFi are the leading players in the market providing this software who are working extensively with global hardware manufacturers including Cisco, Linksys, NetGear, TP-Link, Cisco Meraki, Deliberant, HP, Mikrotik, Open-Mesh, Ruckus, Xirrus, Airtight Networks, Buffalo, Trendnet and Ubiquiti.
The Purple WiFi software works on the leading hardware solutions for your wireless network, meaning that you can be confident that you can start to benefit from this software sooner rather than later.
Turning Purple WiFi into our WiFi Marketing and Analytics Service
Purple WiFi on its own is great, but as with anything, if you don’t use the tool to its full advantage then you won’t get the most out of it. After speaking with a lot of businesses ranging from bars and restaurants to bowling alleys and shopping centres, one of the common themes coming from discussions is around the time it will take to manage the platform.
This is why we have created a service around Purple WiFi which we call ‘WiFi Marketing and Analytics’. It is this service that is designed for us to do look after the marketing part so you can focus on doing your job within the business. Instead of having to learn how to use another tool to maximise its potential, we will do that for you and use our expertise and knowledge of running multiple campaigns to get the best results for your business.
Whether you are simply looking to offer your own branded free WiFi solution for your customers, or whether you are looking to utilise this for a data capture tool, or even if you are looking for the full works to utilise all of the above and turn your free WiFi into a marketing tool to increase revenue. Whatever you are looking for, our WiFi Marketing and Analytics service can be tailored to your specific needs and we can talk you through how this works in practice within your own organisation.
Find out more about our WiFi Marketing and Analytics service over on our services page which talks you through how this works in more detail along with giving some ideal examples of how this new technology can be used to the full advantage. Purple WiFionly sell the software through authorised distributors like ourselves, so get in touch to find out how this can work for your business.
Another conference we attended last week was the BIG 2014 Conference organised by Creative Lancashire. The conference was designed to showcase inspiring examples of business innovation and growth along with future scope and the impact of new ideas and possibilities in business.
Living in a digital world, businesses need to respond quickly to take advantage of expanding and emerging markets. At the heart of this is creativity and innovation, looking at new technologies and an ever increasing list of expectations from customers.
Opening the day was Wayne Hemmingway talking about how creativity is the way to make change happen. Not relying on simply accomplishing a task, but instead looking at more creative ways of completing work both in the digital world and the built environment.
The first session of the day was from Matt Hunter, Chief Design Officer at the Design Council. Matt was talking about how your customers have absolutely no interest in your horrible legacy back end systems. His message was to stop making excuses for why change can’t happen faster and start to implement the changes needed to stay ahead in the rapidly changing world we now live in.
Transacting with your bank should be as easy as buying a banana. It currently isn’t. Customers are looking for a seamless interaction with your business. To the point where customers, whether end users or other businesses, are more interested in access rather than ownership. This is for resources, data, tools and software. We only have to look at the huge change with Adobe Creative Cloud how this has moved from an enormously expensive system traditionally, to a very affordable monthly subscription to the full suite of products.
Some of the future predictions Matt made included;
New technology around the Internet of Things
Increase in the making of things
Making money while you sleep
International growth and innovation
Engaging with users
Interesting predictions made and certainly a lot of which I agree with where things are heading.
Next up we had Chris Sanderson from The Future Laboratory who was talking about how a new generation of technology will save us and why mega systems like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, eBay etc. are game changers.
Chris started off by stating that technology doesn’t change society, society changes itself with the use of technology. With the rise in tech hubs, technology schemes, fabrication labs and meet up places such as MadLab in Manchester it is clear we are heading for a big shift in the world.
Mobile devices are often the first thing you touch in the morning when you wake up and the last thing you touch at night before you go to sleep. People have mobile devices almost surgically attached to them with people often being rather worried when their phone leaves their sight.
With the rise of technology, we have lost the traditional B2B and B2C. Chris believes we are turning into a “Trader Age” whereby everyone is both a buyer and a seller which is powered by digital platforms. Quite rightly, Chris asked the question “Is your business fit for purpose in the 21st century?” This is one that all businesses should be asking their self as relying on old technologies, systems and processes is quite simply not going to cut it with modern consumers.
Chris stressed about the importance of not just delivering products and services to your customers, but to deliver experiences. Add value to your customers’ life beyond the traditional product and service approach. An interesting point made next was around the idea of a cashless future as point of sale alternatives hit the market including Square, iZettle and Google Wallet.
Most retailers have no idea about who is walking through their doors. In the future customers will be easily identifiable, will be able to simply pick up goods and walk out of the shop without going to the traditional ‘till’ setup. Instead, the shop will know exactly who the customer is and be able to take payments automatically as products are tagged up correctly.
One technology leading the way with hands free payments is PayPal’s new Beacon technology;
Other technologies including PingIt and Zapp for mobile banking are changing the way customers pay for goods and services in a retail setting. There will be no need for people to carry around pieces of plastic in their wallet to pay for goods and services in the future as traditional credit and debit cards will cease to exist.
One point made was around the term Big Data. This term is a little confusing to most people and often isn’t actually that meaningful. Instead, in the future we will start to see Big Friendly Data which is all around sharing customer big data with the customer, instead of keeping this data internally within the business. As an example, British Airways Executive Club is designed to put you in control as a customer which shares all of your flight history in your account with information about you. All of which is putting more power and control in the hands of the customer to access the information they need at a time that is convenient for them.
Following on from this, with beacon technology springing up there are now beacons such as the one be Estimote which is a contextually aware beacon designed to send data to your mobile phone based on where you are. The video below explains the concept further;
This is really interesting technology, since when you re-visit the store in the future, they will automatically know who you are. Reading through their current privacy statement, they state that they aren’t joining the dots between the product and their customer database, yet, although they may do this in the future. Imagine having that personal experience when you visit a store in the future.
Following a similar trend with new technology is around the August Smart Lock which is designed to turn the front door in your house into a smarter tool that you can control. The video below explains how the concept works;
This all being said, a quote from Dave Caplin, Microsoft’s Chief Envisioning Officer sums things up well stating that “Analytics, the way we bring data together, is still a little out of reach for many organisations”. This is true for simply online data such as Google Analytics and other systems, let along bridging this gap between online and offline data.
On the theme of virtual reality, Topshop recently set up a virtual reality cat walk so anyone from the general public could experience front row seats for London Fashion Week 2014. Really interesting way that the virtual and digital worlds are blending, in this example going from physical to digital to physical for people. Imagine this being broadcast around the world for everyone to see;
Another interesting point Chris made was about how we are going to start to see ubiquitous wearable technology in the near future as more people start to catch on with the technology. Including Google Glass, Muse the brain sensing headband and technologies mentioned earlier for cashless currencies.
Muse brain sensing headband
As we start to see further enhancements with improved biometric scanners and devices, we will start to see these break out into the general populous which will allow brands to truly experiment with customer experiences. Including items such as the Sony digital store front in San Francisco with the endless aisle;
Sony Digital Store Front Endless Aisle
Following on from this, Chris talked about the 3rd industrial revolution with the rise in 3D printing and rapid manufacturing. With the likes of Acustom Apparel using 3D body scanners to scan 200,000 points on your body to fit clothes exactly to your body shape;
Acustom Apparel 3D Body Scanning
What this relates to is personalised manufacturing along the whole supply chain through the use of digital technologies and enhanced brand experiences. Take the idea for the endless chair design revolution which allows products to be manufactured automatically to order with 3D printing technology;
To summarise the areas Chris was talking about;
Prepare for smartphone supremacy, with a mobile first approach to everything
Create a cashless future with global office transactions through a mobile wallet
Use your location to interact with digital technologies, become contextually aware and create contextually aware systems
Join the Internet of Things, embrace online interactions within physical brick and mortar stores
Start scanning with 3D body scanners
Become biometric as technologies progress
Enable ubiquitous wearables as they become mainstream
A final interesting point made by Wayne Hemmingway following Chris’s talk was that technology should be reducing the gap between those that have and those that have not. This isn’t the case. Technology is making the gap larger. As a society, this needs to be looked at.
In addition, people no longer have to be looking to commute 2-3 hours per day to travel into work. Instead, we are starting to see the rise of community hubs, tech hubs, office hubs whereby people can work from various locations with ease.
A point was also made around the traditional thought process that everything online is free. This time is over. Digital materials are ever increasingly being turned into paid products and customers are starting to realise this and are more willing to pay for digital goods and information online.
Within the two breakout sessions, multiple people were speaking about a range of topics, so I’ll look to cover all of these together. The first breakout session talked about New Technologies and included Professor Rachel Cooper OBE from LICA, Dr Ania Servant from the National Graphene Institute, Asa Calow from MadLab in Manchester, Dr Paul Coulton from Imagination Lancaster and Chris Sanderson from The Future Laboratory.
Ania kicked off the session talking about how the potential for graphene is truly ground breaking. Imagine being able to have super-superfast broadband that is cable of downloading a terabyte of data within seconds along with being able to re-charge your mobile phone in only 5 seconds with powerful superconductors.
Asa then talked through how we are starting to see a professional side of the traditional maker industry. We are starting to see hobbyists turning into product companies. With fabrication labs increasingly popping up, we are going to start to see more of this in the near future.
Paul then talked about how the Internet of Things is still in the GeoCities stage of the internet. One tip was that we shouldn’t just be plugging the internet into everything, instead thinking along the lines of what digital things can we turn into physical items.
The second breakout session talked about Our Relationship with Users and included Wayne Hemmingway MBE from Hemmingway Design, Darren Evans from The Engine Room, Richard Scholey from The Chase, Kayleigh Davis from the Lego Group and Katie Gallagher from Manchester Digital.
As part of the discussions the key message was always to focus on the users. The example for which I always personally use when talking to businesses particularly in manufacturing is to focus on the customers and not the machine, as was reiterated during the session.
Often manufacturing companies have invested heavily in a specific machine which can cost near to £1 million for the single machine, and rightfully so they are proud of this investment. Although customers couldn’t care less what machine you have, nor what brand it is. All customers are interested in is WIIFM – What’s In It For Me. Talk about the benefits in terms your customers can clearly understand.
As an interesting example, the Magimix transparent toaster was shown, which clearly has thought about the user. Every single person reading this blog post will have at some point burnt a piece of toast as toasters aren’t smart enough to realise that when you have the setting on ‘Number 3’ when the toaster has just been on, then it really only needs to be on ‘Number 2’, which ultimately results in lots of pieces of burnt toast. The Magimix toaster resolves these issues;
Magimix Transparent Toaster
Next up we had Kayleigh from the Lego Group who talked about the design process of lo-fidelity prototyping which means that products can be tested quickly and feedback can be given. Lego’s best tip is to always get feedback from users at the beta stage of the product so you don’t invest to heavily only to find out that something isn’t quite right.
Interesting insight into Lego’s prototyping stages including Lo Fidelity prototyping, High Fidelity prototyping and Beta Launches;
Lego’s Lo-Fi Prototyping
Lego’s Hi-Fidelity Prototyping
Lego’s Beta Launches
The conversation then turned to the question for businesses about “What is your digital strategy?” Often most business don’t have a solid digital strategy in place. Instead, the focus is on websites, mobile applications, social media. This is not a strategy, these are parts of the strategy. What do you really want to achieve for your customers and users? Understand this and you will see how all the different parts link up and can work seamlessly together. This will also allow you to focus clearly on what is required and not on areas that aren’t in line with your digital strategy.
In a digital world, there really is no excuse to not know what your customers are saying about you online. With so many monitoring tools available, businesses need to be getting engaged in the conversations that are happening. An interesting point made was that some businesses will need to fundamentally change how they do business and re-look at their business model. With the question being, how are you going to put the user at the center of everything you do? It is time to critically assess your business for a digital age.
One example given by Wayne was with a recent project to design new staff uniforms for all of Transport for London’s 22,000 staff. Part of this process was to engage with every single person to get feedback throughout the process, and most importantly to get buy in throughout the process at a time when there has been many issues with salaries and strikes.
This wasn’t a design by committee approach, but instead about giving the staff a voice on the new uniforms through the use of technology. Utilising a staff intranet, this led to over 16,000 people commenting on the work which is practically unheard of for large scale projects like this.
Following on from this a point was made about not trying to argue a point one way or another. Instead looking at a point and proving this point with data and evidence, both quantitative and qualitative. The amount of data available online means that you no longer have to rely on ‘gut feelings’ to make business decisions.
The next session was from Daniel Charny from From Now On who talked about the business of making. He has been seeing a renewed interest in making with lots of commercial value.
Stating that this is often more about knowledge sharing and sharing best practice between peers within group spaces designed to facilitate this sharing. One example Daniel talked about was with the Maker Library Network which is designed to link together the ideal of a library, gallery and a maker space all in the same venue;
Maker Library Network
This co-working space means that the skills and people are around to help with projects. An interesting idea talked about was the “Gift Economy” which isn’t about you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, but instead is more of I’ll scratch your back and you scratch someone elses.
In the final talk of the day we heard from Phil Jones the Managing Director of Brother UK. Phil was talking mainly to the audience of creative businesses in the room for the last session which covered some interesting topics.
Stating that creative businesses need to be more sustainable. This often comes down to not revving harder, but instead changing gear in the business. Often businesses don’t simply need to be doing more of what they are doing, but change what they are doing and focusing on more profitable areas in the business.
Overall, a very energetic talk with some really exciting points made for all creative businesses and corporate businesses looking to work with creative industries. Often both groups speak different languages, so bridging the gap through effective communication is key.
Overall the day covered an awful lot of great and exciting content, so a huge thanks to Creative Lancashire for organising the event. I’m sure a lot of the information, topics and example above have got your brain working to see how this could be implemented within your own businesses.
If you would like to talk through more about the topics discussed above then get in touch to find out how digital can transform your business.
Last week we attended the Future Cities symposium at Manchester School of Architecture which was talking about how the future smart cities are going to look and what is being done about this right now. Fascinating event and great to see how local councils are already starting to think through how technology is going to transform the world we live in. Over the next 5-10 years, I predict that the world we live in will be unrecognisable. The amount of development into smart cities, superfast internet and the internet of things is going to significantly change how the general public interact with the physical world around them.
The speakers at the event ranged from architects, directors of technology strategy boards and futurists. Below we will talk through the key topics that were brought up throughout the day and what this means for businesses and councils in the future.
The first speaker of the day was Rory Hyde, the curator of Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism at the V&A in London along with the author of the book Future Practice.
Rory opened the talks by saying that architects suffer from a “crisis of relevance” which he said wasn’t just about creating buildings but instead about being relevant for the space where the building lives and for the users of the building. He talked about 4 retreats from solid relevance including;
1) Avant-garde: Which is to try new and experimental ideas within architecture
2) Commerce: Currently developers often set the agenda, not the architects which often leads to extravagant developments that you can see throughout Dubai
3) Icons: Where architects often seek to chase new and exciting shapes of buildings to truly stand out from the crowd. Take for example the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, The Gherkin in London and Sydney Opera House
4) Urban interventions: Looking at personal utopias with clearly fenced off areas from the outside world
Looking into the future, Rory talked through ideas around schools and the availability of rooms and facilities. Imagine an ‘Airbnb for schools’, whereby everyone could get automatically updated with what is happening, information sent directly to their smartphones. If you haven’t heard of Airbnb yet, then it is the hotel booking website that is seriously disrupting the travel industry. The online service allows people to rent out their homes or spare bedrooms through the service. Launching only 6 years ago in 2008, they already have over 550,000 listings in 192 countries and will soon have more availability than the Hilton Worldwide and InterContinental Hotels Group globally. Imagine a system that knew when meeting rooms in a city were free and available for people, that knew when the buses were due so you could be directed to the most relevant place for you.
An interesting point Rory made was around the idea of community architecture such as wind turbines. Often these are installed by large corporations which provide no benefit to the local communities. Which is often one of the reasons why there is so much negativity towards new installations. Instead, imagine a situations whereby local communities directly benefitted from new installations which provided revenue to support local services. This would significantly change the perception of these technologies and would benefit local communities far more.
Following on from this, talk was around a future city that blended with nature. The example given was from Studio Gang’s Bubbly Creek which would allow nature and city to merge together into a natural symbiotic system;
While this is an interesting concept, personally I’m not too sure this would work to the extent described in the plans. What is interesting though how future cities are significantly changing as traditional industries are often dwindling in size and scale. Less space is taken up as production increases which is leading to a hollowing out of the traditional urban core.
The next speaker of the day was Tom Cheesewright talking about how the future smart city will blend seamlessly with digital technologies. Tom is an Applied Futurist at Book of the Future.
Tom started his talk off by asking the question that if the current technology is affordable and accessible, along with data being cheap then why are smart cities and home automation such a challenge to crack? It comes down to user experience, he stated that “user experience is the last hurdle to for truly smarter cities”.
Smart cities today are essentially technology applied to the build environment to reduce the expenditure and increase efficiencies. This isn’t difficult, it just requires a significantly different approach to thinking about how the systems within the city are used and accessed by the users.
To prove the point, Tom has started to turn his house into a Smart Home with the use of cheap technologies such as the Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Basic implementation initially with automatically turning the lights on and off when entering or leaving a room. The point being that this technology is available now. The future smart city is possible now, when this technology is used throughout.
Arduino and Raspberry Pi
Taking this to a whole new level, the Santander Smart City in Spain. The project in Santander is a world first city-scale experimental research system for future smart cities. The project is designed to stimulate the development of future applications for users within the city. As part of the project, over 20,000 sensors were fitted across the city to monitor data across a wide range of points.
To give you an idea of the scale of this setup, here are a few statistics;
Around 3000 IEEE 802.15.4 devices
200 GPRS modules
2000 joint RFID tag / QR code labels deployed on streetlights, bus-stops, busses and taxis
Environmental monitoring with around 2000 Internet of Things devices installed to monitor temperature, noise, lighting and car presence
Outdoor parking area management with almost 400 parking sensors used to identify empty and full car parking spaces throughout the city
Sensors installed in over 150 public vehicles including busses, taxis and police cars
Traffic intensity monitoring with around 60 devices located at the main entrances of the city which are designed to monitor traffic volumes, road occupancy, vehicle speed and queue length
Guidance to free parking spaces which link up the live data from the 400 parking sensors with 10 street panels showing exactly which parking lots have spaces
Parks and gardens irrigation with around 50 devices being deployed in city green zones to monitor moisture temperature, humidity, pluviometer (aka. a rain gauge) and anemometer (aka. a wind speed monitoring device)
And much, much more, read the full details over on their website
Santander Spain Smart City
I’m sure you will agree that this is seriously cool. Exciting times ahead with future cities on the horizon. This isn’t a simple and quick fix for cities and towns to implement, although this is going to happen in the near future. The reason why this is the direction we are heading in comes down to resource planning, reducing costs and waste while improving efficiencies. Some of the statistics that Tom mentioned through his talk included how sensors placed in bins reduced the fuel bills for the council by 25% by simply only emptying the bins that needed emptying along with how the parking sensors and signs saved approximately 8 minutes for how long it took people to find a car parking space in the city.
Smart cities of the future will be context aware systems that optimise the build environment for its inhabitants. No longer will people have to go elsewhere to find out information about where they already are. This is interesting as we should start to be prepared for a post screen environment which allows people to interact with the city without being tied to a specific device with a screen.
Smart Cities Data and Processes
Whenever anyone talks about smart cities and home automation, we always have to mention Nest, Google’s recent acquisition. This is really important though as Nest claim that their US customers save on average 20% on their energy bills. This isn’t just about cool tech, well ok, it is partially, but it is also about how this new technology can have a significant improvement on current technologies to save money for people and businesses.
The smart cities go beyond a reactive system. Imagine local councils knowing the actual noise and traffic levels produced from a factory near to a housing estate. Understanding this system allows the council to start to plan the towns and cities intelligently by using this environment and social feedback from the smart city technologies.
Tom went on to talk about the idea of connected councils where public services are reoriented around the citizen by connecting disparate data system to present a consistent and context aware experience for users. This is what Tom labels as “citizen centric design” which is all about the user opposed to a service centric design.
The main driving force for councils is to increase efficiencies, increase capabilities, increase satisfaction and increase engagement from the citizens. Smart cities work towards all of these goals. One example given, albeit a rather 1984 approach, was for adult care services. For example, if there are two call outs for environmental services at a property, there is a likelihood that adult care services should visit to see if there is any help needed.
Currently these conversations will be happening already in the council although more of a manual process whereby person A will walk over to person B in another department and mention it over making a coffee in the morning. The ability with smarter systems means that people don’t have to be used for the process, the system is used for the process. Meaning that people can be used for productive and value added work such as actually talking to the end users in this example.
Citizen centric design is designed to integrate data platforms and publish public APIs, allow for smarter strategic procurement which looks at the system as a whole, not just a specific job or department which will always lead to disparate systems being created. Using a hybrid agile development process for digital engagement skills and processes. Most importantly user testing, not simply pushing new technologies onto citizens
Current service centric design approach
Citizen centric design
Next up we heard from Dan Hill, the Executive Director of Futures and Best Practice at the Technology Strategy Boards Future Cities Catapult. Dan started his talk by stating that we need to understand that a city isn’t a static environment where changes can be made periodically, instead the city is a real time system that we need to tap into.
Really interesting how leading cities are grasping the idea of smart cities and capitalising on this opportunity. While this is still under development, this is certainly an interesting way smart cities are taking shape.
One interesting point that Dan expanded on was that we don’t make cities in order to build infrastructure. Often cities are designed with an infrastructure led approach. Instead, he argued, that we build cities for culture, commerce, community, conviviality and the city itself.
When designing on an infrastructure led approach, the design lifetime of an infrastructure is often planned out to be 100 years such as for a metro system, which in reality is often much less when change of government comes into play. With digital you are lucky if a website stands the test of time of 100 weeks before it is out of date. This means that digital systems have to be able to adapt at a much faster rate than ever before.
Dan went on to talk about the value and cost of inefficient systems that smart cities could improve upon. Quoting Cedric Price with “Technology is the answer, but what is the question?” The question was raised that if we have made it clear to citizens the value of a smart city to them. I would argue that we haven’t which is why privacy concerns are often at the forefront of people’s minds.
Really interesting concept looking at future cities and future technologies and how this will significantly change the world we live in and aid citizens with their daily life.
An interesting term was around “Urban Prototyping” which is all around creating products and services for the 21st century city and urban space. Looking at what citizens need within a modern city and looking at creating products and services specifically for these people.
Another project talked about was Sensing London which follows a similar theme around creating a smarter data driven city. The project is designed with three points in mind;
Collecting data for insight
Mashing data for innovation
Trailing innovations in real city environments
With something much closer to home, it will be interesting to watch how this project progresses over the next few years. Another piece of technology mentioned was DisplayAnts which is designed to create interactive public displays with public information available.
Dan then went on to talk about how software and hardware is blending with the use of smart software to unlock vacant resources in the city. With one recent example being the Uber taxi app that has been spreading around the world. Interestingly too is that this new technology isn’t always welcomed with open arms with Uber getting a lot of criticism in both London and Spain from angry taxi drivers, bringing the locations to a standstill. If you aren’t familiar with Uber, it is the taxi booking app that connects you as a customer with a taxi with the click of a button and is really disrupting the traditional idea of booking a taxi. This type of disruptive technology is going to continue to increase over the coming years in a range of industries.
Another interesting piece of information was about research from MIT which stated that we could have 80% fewer vehicles on our roads if we were using smart cars. This is an enormous saving and one that I’m sure any commuter would appreciate. Then going beyond smart cities, Bridj was mentioned which is not just looking at real time data, but predictive data based on historic information and demands. Essentially allowing more resources to be deployed in an area that is likely to need more resources soon.
Beyond this, we have the likes of KickStarter for more product based ideas. Well we also have BrickStarter which takes the same concept but looks at projects for cities and the urban environment. Interesting idea for allowing citizens to essentially pitch ideas in their local communities.
All this being said, we still have a long way to come, with planning notices still being tied to lampposts. This is still seen as the best way to engage with the public about work that is happening in an area. Quite frankly, this is a joke. 99% of people simply walk past this and take no notice at all. This is not a good way to be engaging with citizens within a local area.
Planning Notice on Lamppost
The smart city is coming. This also requires a new approach within governments and local councils to fully understand how this change is going to impact the world we live in. Education is also going to be key to ensure the citizens fully understand what the smart city is, why it is so valuable and most importantly teaching people about a new way of interacting with official bodies.
One final thought to leave you with, imagine in the near future with a publically accessible CityAPI, maybe powered by things such as Fi-Ware. Whereby you can easily plug your business into this system to send and receive data that is essential for you and your customers. We already have cool WiFi Marketing & Analytics technology available for businesses, so this is an even more exciting time ahead in a digitally enabled world.
Spending your marketing budget is easy. Spending it on items that are delivering a return is a fine art. With tools as powerful as Google Analytics at our fingertips, surely every business is measuring the results from their marketing activities? Well, in our experience, even large and well established companies find it difficult to track marketing activities accurately.
What this means is that marketing budgets are often not spent as effectively as they could be. This would be fine if all businesses had an unlimited marketing budget, but this isn’t the case. Marketing budgets are always limited, which means that businesses need to be investing in marketing channels that are performing well for their business.
Throughout this blog post we will talk through the different ways you can track your marketing activities effectively which will mean you can make smarter data driven business decisions. Tracking marketing activities accurately means you can invest further in activities that are working well for your business and stop spending money on activities that aren’t generating a return.
All of the items we are going to talk about within this blog post are possible to track with ease through Google Analytics.
Set up Goals
What is the main goal you want website visitors to do? It is to purchase a product, enquire about the services or solutions you provide, or do you want them to download a guide from your website? Within Google Analytics you can set up a maximum of 20 goals within Google Analytics, which means that you can track an awful lot of data;
Set up Goals within Google Analytics
To track your marketing activities accurately this is absolutely essential to set up useful goals for your website. This can vary hugely between different websites based on what you are trying to achieve. Although have a think about both macro and micro goals on your website. What are the key things you want your website visitors to do?
Request a call back
Follow you on social media channels
Purchase a product
Download a resource or guide
Find a local branch or store
Click and collect
Once you fully understand what you would like your website visitors to do, then you can start to track your marketing activities accurately. Quite simply, if you are paying for website visitors that aren’t working towards your key goals then maybe it is worth spending the marketing budget in areas that are working towards those goals instead.
Within Google Analytics, setting up goals couldn’t be easier with the many templates that are already available for you to customise for your individual website;
Goal Templates within Google Analytics
Use Goal Funnels
When you are setting up your goals above then you will be asked if you would like to use Goal Funnels. These are the specific steps that customers must go through before completing a goal. For example, if you are selling products online, then you will have multiple steps in the checkout process.
It is essential to set up the correct tracking for your purchasing funnel so you can understand how customers are behaving when they are completing this process. Below you can see an example for how this can be set up;
Goal Funnel Options within Google Analytics
Once you have configured this correctly you can easily visualise this information within Google Analytics. This will show you exactly how your website visitors are behaving and most importantly, where they are dropping out of the purchasing funnel. This is invaluable data that can provide insights into where improvements can be made to increase the number of people who complete their purchases.
Funnel Visualisation in Google Analytics
This data shows you the number of people who move on to the next step in the purchasing funnel and it will also show you the number of people who leave the purchasing funnel. More importantly, it will tell you where they went. Did they go to another page on the website for further information, or did they leave the website completely? This information can really help to understand your customer behaviours and look for ways of improving the user experience.
If you are selling any products or services through your website, then setting up ecommerce tracking within Google Analytics is absolutely essential. The data that this provides means that you can easily see which products and services are the most popular, and most importantly, which traffic sources are leading to customers purchasing.
Understanding which traffic sources are working best for your business means that you can then readjust your marketing budgets towards the most profitable areas. Only through correct tracking is this possible. Below you can see some of the useful data that you will start to receive once you implement ecommerce tracking on your website and in Google Analytics;
Ecommerce Tracking within Google Analytics
Just as with goal tracking, the important point here is that once you fully understand which traffic sources and marketing activities are working towards increasing sales through your website, then you can start doing more of this. All of which is essential to fully understand how your marketing activities are performing.
Implementing ecommerce tracking is a little more involved than setting up goal tracking. Firstly you have to enable ecommerce tracking within Google Analytics then also implement additional tracking codes on your checkout completion page;
Ecommerce Setup within Google Analytics
To learn more about how ecommerce tracking can be set up, it is recommended that your website developer reads through the following guidelines from Google. To summarise the requirements, there needs to be additional information on the checkout complete page that contains all of the following information so that Google Analytics can pick this up and fire the data into the reporting platform;
Ecommerce Settings for Checkout Complete Page for Google Analytics
One area that most businesses don’t realise is available is advanced call tracking tools which are designed to bridge the gap between your website analytics data and customers who call your office number. The reason why this is so important for a lot of businesses is because website visitors will often call the number on the website instead of completing a contact form.
What this means is that if you don’t have a call tracking solution in place, then you will be under reporting on the results. For example, if you ran a large pay per click advertising campaign and you started to receive a lot more phone enquiries, then this would be a challenge to monitor using only traditional website analytics. If this was the case, you would go back to monitor the performance of your recent campaign within Google Analytics and see that you received a lot of traffic to your website but very few people enquired using the contact form. You would likely mark this campaign as a poorly performing one and one that would guide your future investments in marketing activities down a different path. Where in fact, what has actually happened is that the campaign was a roaring success and generated a large amount of revenue, although it was all completed over the phone opposed to through the website.
Advanced call tracking solutions like this aren’t right for every business. Although if your business does do a lot of sales over the phone, then this really is something that you should be looking at. Purely to track all of your marketing activities accurately so you can calculate a true return on your marketing spend.
Traditionally most businesses look at the results achieved from a marketing campaign on the basis of a ‘Last Click Attribution Model’, which simply means that the last traffic source that the website visitor used to arrive at your website is attributed to the success of that goal completion. For example, if a user visited your website first from organic search, then revisited a few days later through a link they found on another website, then revisited a few days after that via a pay per click advert on Google and made a purchase, this would mean that the pay per click advert is deemed to have been the traffic source that drove the sale.
Although what if this isn’t quite a true picture? What if the other two touch points were critical points within the purchasing journey and if they didn’t see these items, then they would have been less likely to purchase when they clicked on a pay per click advert?
Understanding the full customer purchasing journey is possible through the use of Assisted Conversions within Google Analytics. This powerful tool means that you can get a full and true picture of how your customers behave prior to purchasing your products and services.
For example, if you saw that people who read one of your travel guides or blog posts, then also read a review on a review website, were then more likely to purchase when they saw a pay per click advert, then you would be much more willing to invest in those other areas as you can attribute a value to these customers.
Let’s say those customers converted 20% higher than those who just arrived on a pay per click advert. This allows you to fully understand the key touch points that are contributing towards the customer enquiry or purchase. Knowing this means that
For example, take a look at the following information;
Assisted Conversion Summary Data within Google Analytics
It is clear to see that the Assisted Conversion Value is actually a significant amount, meaning that if you weren’t active in other areas then you would likely not have received this revenue or amount of enquiries. Most importantly you can then break this down into the various traffic sources so you can understand how they are contributing towards sales through your website.
Assisted Conversion Data within Google Analytics
Overall, there are a variety of ways you can use the features within Google Analytics to calculate a true return on your marketing spend. If you aren’t tracking your marketing activities, then quite simply you are spending aimlessly and are likely to be spending money without generating a return.
The key message to take away is that it is essential to be tracking all of your marketing activities to be able to make smarter data driven business decisions. Focus on marketing activities that are generating a return for your business and drop the areas that aren’t contributing.
Once you fully understand how your marketing activities are contributing towards increased enquiries and increased sales for your business this will transform the way you invest in marketing activities. All of this data allows you to calculate a true return on all of your marketing activities.
Social media is an extremely powerful medium that allows you to connect with your audience even easier than ever. While this is true, most businesses are still unsure about how to use social media effectively and how to track social media activities. It is easy to spend a lot of time on social media without knowing what your business is getting back from the time invested.
Here we will talk you through a few tools that we use, and one that we have built, which are all designed to help you manage your social media work effectively. No longer will you have to use guess work to measure performance, instead you can use these selection of tools to track all social media activities effectively.
Ok, so you’ve just created some awesome content on your website or blog and now you want to share this with the world on your various social media channels. Firstly, it is important to tag all of your links up that you are sharing so that you can easily see how many people have clicked on these links from the various social media channels.
Social Media Tracking Tool
To tag up your URLs that you are sharing you can use the Google URL Builder if you have custom and individual requirements, or alternatively you can use our new Social Media Tracking Tool. This tool is designed to speed up the process for updating social media channels and tracking the number of clicks received from the different channels.
By default, links that aren’t tagged will not be tracked accurately within your web analytics tool such as Google Analytics. The reason behind this is due to the ‘referrer’ information not always being passed from the source through to your website when a user clicks on the link from various sources including native applications, i.e. a Twitter App on your followers’ smartphones. When this happens, it will appear that traffic to your website from social media channels is ‘Direct’ traffic, which isn’t the case.
Our new tool will tag all of your links up automatically, saving you time manually updating each link with the correct campaign tracking tags. Have a go and see how easy the tool is to use.
Another tool that you will find useful for tracking your social media activities is Bit.ly which is an additional link tracking tool that sits between users clicking on a link that you have shared on social media and when they arrive on your website. This is a great tool to use as this means you can track the number of clicks the links you are sharing on social media, regardless if these links are to your website or another website. Below shows the daily clicks for our social media activities over the last month;
As can be seen above, this is great data to understand what your fans and followers are most interested in reading about. Knowing this information will allow you to tailor your social media updates to content that is most interesting for your audience.
Now you have your list of links that you want to share on social media, you can easily schedule these updates to save you having to spend all day on social media. Simply schedule posts to be sent out automatically throughout the week and save yourself hours of time, allowing you to continue running your businesses.
As you can see above, here are a few of the scheduled posts we have. With this tool you can easily set custom schedules for each of the social media accounts that you connect to Buffer. The simplicity of this tool is brilliant and really does all you to save an enormous amount of time managing your social media activities.
Now you have all of your content scheduled to your social media channels, you need an easy way of managing engagement from your fans and followers. While you can simply hand out your login details to several members of staff to manage social media for you, this will inevitably lead to challenges. For example if a member of staff leaves your business, you will have to change the passwords. In addition, you may have an external party like ourselves managing your social media channels and you would prefer we didn’t have your passwords.
Tools such as HootSuite get around these issues by being able to manage social media channels without logging in/out of each social media account through the day. This really helps to reduce the management time along with increase the response time when responding to fans and followers on social media.
As you may already know, we are an official HootSuite Solutions Partner so we are confident in the tool and its abilities. Being able to manage multiple social media channels from a single dashboard is ideal and there is also the flexibility to allow members of staff to do this from their own HootSuite account too. Meaning that you can easily manage a team of people working on the social media activities. Below shows you how simple the tool is to use;
Now you have all of your social media activities working well, tracking is the essential part of this. Tracking is available within all of the tools mentioned above so it is always recommended to monitor each of the individual tools. Social media can be a great way to drive additional traffic to your website and as mentioned earlier, our new Social Media Tracking Tool allows you to easily track this data within tools such as Google Analytics.
Below shows a graph from our Google Analytics account for the traffic our website has received over the past few months as a direct result of talking about our blog posts we have promoted;
This traffic is broken down in Google Analytics based on the way that you tagged your campaigns. Thankfully with our new Social Media Tracking Tool, you don’t have to worry about this as the tool will automatically tag all of your campaigns quickly and easily for you.
Once you start to use this approach with your social media activities you will be able to quickly see which channels are driving the most traffic to your website. Most importantly, this traffic data will now be accurate since if campaign tracking tags aren’t used, then this is likely to be under-reporting on the results the social media activities are generating.
Overall, social media management doesn’t have to be an extremely time consuming task. Instead, using the right tools for the job can save a huge amount of time and allow you to focus on other areas within your business. To summarise the tools and steps below;
1) Social Media Tracking Tool: Use to automatically tag all your links up correctly when posting updates to your various social media channels
2) Bit.ly: Use to see how many people are clicking on the links you are sharing, whether these links are to your website or to an external website
3) Buffer: Use to easily schedule social media updates throughout the week without having to continually post throughout the day
4) HootSuite: User to easily manage engagement from your fans and followers by joining the conversation when the time is right
5) Google Analytics: Use to accurately track which social media platforms are driving the most traffic to your website. Ensure campaign tracking tags have been set up using our Social Media Tracking Tool so you aren’t under-reporting on results achieved
Hopefully this has given you a good selection of tools and explained clearly how these various tools can be used to manage your social media activities effectively. Save yourself a huge amount of time using the above tools.
These tools are our preference when managing social media channels, if you have any other tools that you like to use, then leave a comment, we’d love to hear from you.
With the recent announcement from Bit.ly stating that their Pro version is now the normal version, this means that it is now possible to get your own custom short URL. But how though?
Step 1 – Register a nice short domain name
A good place to do this is 101Domain.com as you can get a nice view of all top level domains available, with the added bonus that they are very reasonably priced too. For mine I chose “mic.cx”. When looking on 101Domain.com you will notice they offer some great advice on the restrictions certain domains have, such as where the hosting or name servers have to be based so keep an eye on this when purchasing an odd top level domain.
Step 2 – Set up the DNS A record
When you log in to your registrar (the person you bought the domain from) there will be some settings somewhere that allow you to change the DNS records (not to be confused with the Name Servers). Here is an example of what this will look like
When you see this, change the IP address which is currently in there (may be worth making a note of this in case you mess up the first time like I did!) to the IP address “184.108.40.206” which is for Bit.ly. Other URL shortening services that offer this will have a different IP to enter, so check on their FAQ’s.
The “@” above, strangely, has no relation to email. It is referring to your domain in its purest form with no sub-domain. So for example that would mean mine is “http://mic.cx”
The “www” is referring to the URL “http://www.mic.cx” – but since Bit.ly doesn’t use this, then there is no real need to put this in – although I have done anyway for good luck.
Be aware that once you have updated the DNS settings this can take around 24-48 hrs to propagate the internet so be patient!
Step 3 – Add Custom Short Domain to Bit.ly
The next step is to go to Bit.ly (i’m assuming you already have an account at this point – if not sign up!) and click on the “settings” link from the drop down where your username is. Then add in your new URL into the box provided and go to the next step.