The epic conclusion to a two-part saga covering my notes from a genuinely functional and fun day of presentations and network ops. Part one is available here.
Social media is a recognition that the internet isn’t solely inhabited by computers – it’s inhabited by people.
Presentation: The Future of Work, Today – Stuart McLean
Always know your audience.
Mr McLean then did a really cool thing involving no technology whatsoever – he asked something of his audience. Questions. They weren’t all that provoking, but they gave him some information about us, and made us feel involved. A really useful presentation technique, I think.
Real estate agents hate Google Maps – it allows prospective buyers to find out whether or not their ‘dream home’ is a two-minute walk to the local shops.
Google Earth, boasting in excess of 1 billion downloads, is the most downloaded software in the world.
Some established technology trends are:
- Shift to cloud computing
- Increasing takeup of mobile devices
- Use of social media
The past 30 years of business IT has generally featured*
- Physical offices
- Standard work day
- Corporate devices
The parameters of business today tend to involve a bit more*
- Any device (using a personal phone or tablet, say)
- Any-time working hours (work goes around the clock)
- Any team (the intention is to remove barriers to working with international departments, customers, suppliers, or anyone)
- Any place
*Yes, I realise this may be a false binary, but I’m (and Google staff were) talking in terms of generalities.
Picking up on any team/ any place: Google chat (as well as Skype and numerous other providers) offer the option to host meetings via video. Isn’t that dandy?
So many businesses would be blown away by this connectivity. It might allow information to much easier traverse the labyrinthine departments situated in multi-site organisations.
There was a plug for Chromebox, a Google product which is apparently a desktop computer. It was given as an example of an opportunity to save time and money.
Getting out there with Adverts and Search – Sally Williams
This presentation wasn’t about online dating. Rather, it concerned the means by which one might attract one’s target audience. On reflection, not really all that different!
- Enables strong degree of control over message that goes to audience
- Knowing which web page serves as landing page (the ‘front doorstep’ page, if you like) allows one to tailor the user experience
A provider such as iProspect
- Apparently they work for adverts on organic searches only. At least, that was the impression I was given.
The basics of paid search. With Google, obviously:
- Select key words (broad key terms)
- Set bids and budget
- Target effectively
- The example given was the physical radius around a given retail store
- Writing advert text
Suggestion: mobile-phone-friendly is an invaluable way to go with site design.
Benefits of mobile-specific web pages
- 80% of online search engine queries by 2015 will be for video content
The Awesome World of Analytics – Chris Eden
The speaker seemed a charismatic individual. In case that didn’t exactly incite enthusiasm, and as a professional courtesy, Mr Eden gave a brief guide to why he was talking to us today, from the privileged position as presenter. His credentials are substantial.
Since the origins of the Commodore 64, or even before that point, up to the year 2003, 5 exabytes of information had been created.
In the present time, that much data is created every two days.
Check out The Internet of Things. T’is a concept of some sort – I cannot quite fathom it yet!
A few resources:
One. The Wikipedia entry.
In the past, creating websites (and user experiences) was rather faith-based – not based upon data, but based on opinions. With the introduction of Google Analytics, this is no longer the case.
Having information from Google Analytics (or similar products, for that matter) enables one to fail fast, and make new generations of products. [Google Analytics is a non-sinister tracking device that allows the administrator of a certain web page to find out information about users of that web page - from where they came to that site, and which pages that they visited.]
If you can’t measure, you cannot improve.
A few points of action-able information
- Bounce rate: visitors who visit one’s site and leave soon without taking any further action. As a general rule, having a high bounce rate means that one has bad (aka boring and/or non-informative) content, or content that has mislead the visitor to the site
- Platforms: allow one to consider, what technology do we design online assets for? Are they Safari-compatible?
- Understand geographical differences in performance. One can extract information about users to the city level. Low visits from certain areas may mean low resonance for those areas
- Site Search Reports: understand what users are really looking for
- Visitor Flow, Top Entry pages: find the doors that are most profitable. Most businesses tend to assume their homepage is the landing site. Often it isn’t. (Hence, work needs to be put into sites other than the homepage.)
- Look at full value of advertising spend. AdWords integration gives a full view, not just a media view, of what one’s web ranking results are. For instance, while one might have the goal of making it to the top 2 search results for one’s category of product/service. It could be discovered that it’s actually more strategic to be in the top 3 search results, and save the money for other avenues
- Ability to watch today’s marketing activity unfold. Today
- Save time by using alerts. (Sent through e-mail)
- Monitor performance by channel
- Check performance of your conversion (e.g. whether or not a landing onto your site was funnelled into a sale, or a mailing list signature)
Give the whole team some credit, e.g. with multi-channel funnels, you can find out the team players in that winning basket pass, and can credit them/allocate resources accordingly.
An example given was: Social – Display – PPC
How to set up a GA account.
Should one wish to gain qualifications in GA, and more importantly, to learn about it, an option would be to try the Conversion University.
Some research on what users wish to find from mobile websites. From Google themselves.
A few useful graphics pertaining to the same topic.
Compuware presented a summary of the results.
Another summary of the data.
Google have a mobile/search/optimising business arm.
The Value of Testing – Alex Speziali
The regular visitor to a web page takes 5-8 seconds to decide whether or not a website is interesting/useful/entertaining. There’s precious little time to waste!
Site testing is about making one’s web page the most amenable to visitors. At least, that’s what one would hope is the end goal of site testing.
Conversion is a valuable action. Following are a few examples:
- Views of a particular page or video
Site testing is not about board-room politics; data can override opinion to guide site design.
Google Analytics is a great tool to be picked out of your site testing toolkit. It allows you to run Content Experiments.
The campaign team behind Now-President Obama (I’m writing this in 2013) tried a certain trick with their campaign website. I was mildly astounded when I found it out. It’s a useful introduction to what site testing is and can be. Although I would hope that much, much more can be done with site testing, or that it can be used for infinitely more meaningful things than raising campaign funds.
In essence, they designed multiple versions of their website and had a sample A of their online visitors view webpage Version 1 and sample B of online visitors view webpage Version 2.
One rather impressive-looking blog details the effects here.
Another blog, seemingly an inside account of the site testing shenanigans, can be found here. Engrossing stuff, if you’ve got an interest in the back-of-house operations involved in optimising a website for users.
Things one can do to increase a web page’s desirability to visitors (let’s call it persuasion)
- Images, USPs (Unique Selling Points), page copy (headlines and buttons), social proof (no idea what that is, sorry)
Things one can do to decrease effort required of visitors (let’s call this efficiency)
- Layout, navigation, call to action, speed
User testing. Useful, they convinced me.
Start small, start now
- Takes 20 minutes to set up
- 1 week to collect data
Which test won? Case studies are available here.
Don’t make me think.
That serves as a motto – make everything super-duper friendly for visitors; they should have no trouble navigating to the content they wish to find.
It’s the difference between:
|Go to payment options|
Guess which one secured an 88% increase in follow-on actions?
(It was ‘submit’.)
10 Lessons from Steve Krug’s book.
At this point the presentations were put on the backburner, while the catering emerged from the kitchens.
I enjoyed some noodles courtesy of Google. #yum
Getting your message out with Social – Suzie O’Carroll
What might ‘getting one’s message out and connecting’ mean? In a context of there being 4 billion daily video views (presumably on YouTube)? I’m not sure. Sorry, I didn’t get to write that part down. What followed were ways to spread a message.
Building your YouTube
Exhibit one: marketing mayhem. Or rather, a small enterprise that attracted interest, courtesy of a well-told YouTube story.
There is also an interview, in case one is particularly inclined, to find out about what later happened to Orabrush.
How-to videos are big. What this means, the speaker asserted, is that they rank higher in views than music videos.
Example: the much-loved VeryPinkKnits.com YouTube channel.
How about this for an interactive online experience?
It is important for a website or YouTube page to give people a reason to come back. That means: have regular content. (Presumably, the content will be worthwhile in some way: interesting/useful/emotive.)
Lean platforms for lean startups –Andrew Jessup
It’s fairly normal to ask oneself, and others, when starting a risky venture, “so, will this work?” It is apparently the case that ‘a sizeable majority will fail’.
The assumptions one may have when working on what seems like a novel idea are:
- I’m the only one working on this
- I have a good idea
It may be a great idea to challenge both of those assumptions – by doing research and by seeking others’ brutally honest feedback.
The author also offers some hyper-useful principles for a lean startup.
Some other principles
Start small, start fast – the advantages of a startup are that it can focus on markets that others do not (whether because they are not economically viable or otherwise). (With a startup, presumably, one doesn’t have the trouble of reorienting a vast array of resources and staff.) To this end, it helps to have a target (whether a goal or a target market) that is well-defined.
Learn like a scientist – use A/B testing (this refers to the abovementioned Google Analytics Content Experiments) to get quantitative data about what works and what doesn’t. With your testing, you can learn from mistakes! Don’t waste that chance.
Minimise friction to ship – make it hyper easy for visitors, customers and others to love your work.
How to monetise digital content –Richard Warburton
One suggestion is to use AdSense (another Google product, of course!) for one’s content.
Steps in building a monetisation strategy?
- Know your audience and advertisers
- What kind of people constitute your core audience?
- What is your Unique Selling Point (the acronym, of course, is USP)? That is, what do you offer above and beyond that of your competitors?
- How will you delight your users?
- Content is king. Produce great content, and users will flock to you like sheep at a shepherds’ party.
- Unfortunately I missed this point. Sorry.
- Capture the multi-screen customer (have a ‘plan of attack’ that works on an array of devices: from BlackBerry/Nokia/Android/iPhone to iPad to desktop computer – hey, why not Google Glass while you’re at it.)
- Plan for today … and tomorrow.
That covers all my useful notes from the day. Many thanks to Google for hosting the event – I’m certain that many of my fellow attendees gained a lot from the proceedings, and hope you gain something from these here.
Note: the presentations were held months ago. My notes were and are summaries. Hence, it is more than likely that the presenters may not have said what I quoted them as saying.