Minority Report personalised advertising becomes a reality

Personalised signage advertising becomes a reality Intel Corporation (not to be confused with the Tyrrell Corporation, but you would be forgiven – this was science fiction writer Phillip K Dick’s idea) have unveiled digital signage technology that recognising shoppers age and gender and automatically tailors advertising to the individual.

When you really think about, it’s not too far removed from the personalised advertising we have been experiencing for a while now.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to be taken a back upon realising Gmail was tracking the content of mails in order to give me targeted messages. A friend told me recently about how minutes after he’d updated his Facebook status to single, dating site promos started to appear on his profile page.

Zuckerburg – you could at least wait a couple of weeks!

All outdoor advertising needed was some way of ‘logging us in’ so we can be recognised and hit with targeted ads when out and about. Ok, the segmentation will not be all that sophisticated right now, but watch this space……

Any bets on how long before it recognises that unsightly zit on your chin and serve you up a Clearasil advert? A slouch of the shoulders and drag of the feet results in an embarassing prompt to see your doctor about Prozac? Scruffy clothes result in a pay day loans offer where you can enjoy a 30000% interest rate.

OK I’m being cynical, there are certainly benefits to consumers – more choice, better targeting and less irrelevant noise in the bombardment of distration marketing we are hit with on a daily basis to name a few.

Intel’s forecast phenomenal growth for digital signage of up to $4.3 billion by 2016. Watch the video below for some of the applications being worked on:

Social media marketing strategy – get some direction

Social media marketing strategy – get some direction

Most companies are now looking to take advantage of the ever growing number of social platforms in their marketing mix. But the problem with many social media marketing strategies is – a lack of basic strategy. Let’s face it,  throwing together a Facebook page and encouraging friends and colleagues to like it or become a fan is not  exactly a focussed use of the social media channel.

There is an age old rule in communications to not say something because you want to be heard, but to say it because you have something to say.  But social media isn’t about communicating about how great your brand is, and how your offering is exactly what we all need, it’s about getting other people to say this for you.

More and more pSocial Mediaeople are taking their behaviors online, and businesses have to follow.  The effectiveness of your evangelical supporter in spreading the word is (almost) immeasurable in marketing. Social media  platforms give the early adopters and evangelists the communication tools and audience to spread the word like wild fire, providing a potent catalyst to a dynamic we already know exists.

Get off the band wagon and on the boat

A social  undertaking has to have a set of aims on which to gauge your campaign’s success. Without a clear plan and strategy of using social channels to under pin and support your overarching business objectives, your company is in danger of jumping on to the social media bandwagon and missing the all important boat.

Some examples of those aims could be to:

– Drive more traffic
– Uplift sales values
– Increase conversion ratio
– Reduce strain on customer services
– React quickly to negative PR
– Drive recruitment

The following video, Social Media ROI: Socialnomics, gives some inspiring examples of successes through social media marketing, and most importantly, the ROI figures to back them up:

So social marketing isn’t simply about us broadcasting our message via these channels, but how we can employ them to make relevant connections. Just as off line sales is more about listening (for a requirement, for a problem) than talking, social media gives us the window to look through and see what people are saying , as well as the tools to make positive connections and have some influence over what is said.

The video above  was found on Shannon Paul’s very official blog – a must read for anyone interested in no-nonsense approach to social media marketing. You may also want to check out Johann Ronnestam’s  Social Media Marketing Simplified questionnaire too for more insights and to see if you are adapting to this channel shift.

Increase conversion rates with narrative, madlib forms

Nobody likes filling in forms. In fact I would go as far to say I despise any kind of form filling, online or off.  Most of us have a natural aversion to giving away our personal information or contact details, especially if we don’t want to be contacted and we just want to learn more on our own terms.

But the law of the internet holds firm. If you want to receive something, you have to give something back. Just as  Google have to give you their free organic search results in return for your occasional click on a paid listing, you have to  give up your details if you want that report, free trial or access to that members area.

Filling in the blanks…

Online marketers are always looking for ways to increase conversion rates of data capture forms. Opt in data and qualified leads are gold in any online  campaign, so how do you woo your audience into giving up their details? What if your data capture form was more engaging, even entertaining?

Narrative forms, also known as madlibs style forms, are an inventive take on the classic form format, and it looks like Ron Kuti has proved you can increase your data capture rates with this idea, check out the example below from Vast.com:

Narrative forms - increase your conversion rates

(Image from Luke Wroblewski)

Through split testing, the only way to truly find out which of your options are going to work best, Vast noted an increase in conversion rate between 25 and 40% by using narrative forms.  Some additional tweaks have been employed, such as one field for  phone number as opposed to three, but this change shows a major improvement in enticing engagement.

This technique hasn’t worked for everyone, Patrick from Kalzemeus found a deterioration in conversion rate with his take on a  madlib form, but his example could have been improved. But this  goes to show you should always test out goofy ideas like this on your own target audience.

If you want to conduct some A/B testing yourself with madlib forms, grab this code from ELC technologies.

Flash slider Cu3er – Free 3D image carousel

Flash slider Cu3er – Free 3D image carousel

A flash slider can add an enticing element of engagement to a homepage. Whether you are looking for a random image generator, banner rotator or featured content gallery – Cu3er is a free download that offers something unique.

Download Cu3er for free

Image carousels are nothing new, which is why yours should capture attention with something your user hasn’t seen before. Cu3er adds a touch of the unexpected with it’s  3D transitions between slides and this free download is pretty easy to implement, and edit via XML. You will need to know a HTML few basics, and be able to edit your images to size.

You can add featured content and navigation text, add styles, control shading and colour – there’s even a helpful customization guide to get you started, and a more detailed manual for advanced users.  If you have a WordPress blog and want to feature Cu3er, read on.

Flash sliders are not always the best way to engage  your target audience  and do raise accessibility issues, so don’t expect to show case your new slider to your iPhone audience just yet, but Cu3er is worth considering for an image switcher or banner rotator if you are looking for something fresh.

Cu3er is now available as a WordPress plug in

If you run a WordPress blog, there is a Cu3er plug in available, I’ve tested it and it works great, but read on for some tips on implementing it.

Cu3er Elements for WordPress Tips

  • Cu3er Elements takes the first image and excerpt of the post and adds it to the carousel. So make sure your image is added to your post at a large enough size to to fill your carousel, then scale it down within the content editor.
  • I’ve seen a  few complaints about Cu3er Elements in that you can’t specify the post you want to feature, it just takes the last X number of posts. BUT you can set the Cu3er elements to only show posts from a specific category.
  • Create a new category called “headlines” (or whatever you like!) , set Cu3er to only show the posts under it and apply this category to only the posts you want in the gallery. Hey presto – you have control over the posts you want to feature.

Cu3er Elements – Free 3D image slider for WordPress.

If you have any problems adding Cu3er Elements to your WordPress site, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help… 🙂

Edit pictures online for free – Splashup and Pixlr

There are a few open source options out there allowing you to edit pictures for free featuring some Photoshop goodness. Gimp and Krita both offer solid alternatives to Adobe’s flagship image editing software, but they involve a lengthly download and install if all you need  to so is quickly edit an image on the fly.

I recently stumbled upon a couple of great online photo editing sites – Splashup and Pixlr . Both of these  systems allow the PS features we love like layers, drop shadows and gradients. Splashup allows both online image editing and a download  of a lite version of the software and cleverly allows you to start editing images from Flickr, Facebook, Picassa etc.

You should find Splashup particularly user friendly, with the additional social platform integration and downloadable lite version, it has  has the edge.