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5 Ways To Drive Learning Innovation

We’re delighted with the news that PAULEY has been shortlisted for not just one, but two leading industry awards. In celebration, we’ve created a list of the five top ways to bring innovation into your organisation’s learning, training and development.

We’ve been nominated as a result of the advanced eLearning and virtual reality tools we’ve created for the state-of-the-art, multi-million pound National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR).

As a joint entry, PAULEY and NTAR are up for an award in “Training and Development” at the UK Rail Industry Awards 2016 and for “Innovation in Learning” at the Learning and Performance Institute’s 2016 Learning Awards.

Both awards ceremonies will be held in February, when the winners will be announced. Our fingers are crossed!

We’re incredibly proud of these successes, no matter what the final outcome. It’s fantastic to see the first UK rail trainees starting to use—and be inspired by—the immersive learning experiences we’ve created for them.

So, how can you start innovating with your in-house training and development?

NTAR_066Here are five ways to get started…

1. Experiment and spread your bets

Innovation isn’t cheap and the nature of it is that you find out what works and what doesn’t as you go along. Not everything is going to be a success just because you throw money at it. However, finding something that does work could save a huge amount on training costs and give you a rapid return on investment.

Start by investing in several smaller innovation projects, in the hope that one or two of them will prove their staying power. Depending on the size of your organisation, you could choose to work on these in parallel, or develop one at a time, learning from one to build on the next iteration.

2. Look at your learning culture

Companies at the cutting edge, such as Google, famously allow their employees time for pursuing personal projects. They argue that this time is essential for fostering innovation.

While you may not have the resources to give your staff a day every week to daydream, there are ways of gathering their ideas and encouraging creativity. Be sure to gather feedback from your employees on their learning and development and make sure it’s listened to. Or try running group debates or brainstorms to gather new ideas.

3. Find the key staff to achieve the vision

Every project needs spokespeople. Seek out the employees who seem to have an affinity to new technology and innovation and ask them what they think, give them ownership. Hopefully, their enthusiasm will be contagious and will spread upwards and downwards through your organisation to drive support for greater investment in innovative learning.NTAR_057

4. Find accessible technology partners

We’re always willing to offer free consultations and hands-on demos to organisations who know they want to innovate their learning but aren’t sure how. Choosing an innovation partner who is willing to create a bespoke solution for your organisation is vital.

5. Start small, aim high

We’ve worked with companies who have started simply: for example, by converting their paper-based CPD courses into electronic content. Often, those companies then see the results and want to go the extra step, and then maybe the next one, often all the way up to creating virtual reality classrooms by way of steady, incremental increases in innovation.

Those steps along the way are vital for smaller and medium-sized organisations in particular: you see what works best for your people and can gather funding one stage at a time until you have a range of transformative learning experiences that works for all.

If you’d like to explore how our cutting edge solutions could transform the way people learn in your organisation, please get in touch today!

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All change: Virtual becomes a reality for training in the UK rail industry

The use of virtual reality simulation in commercial training is gathering momentum. This week, Rail Minister Claire Perry opened the new £7million National Training Academy for Rail (NTAR) in Northampton and I was delighted to show Claire and other industry officials attending the launch just how much training has evolved in UK rail industry today.

PAULEY has developed the state-of-the-art virtual reality immersive training suite which sits at the hub of NTAR. We’ve used a combination of 3D modelling, virtual reality headsets and touch screen technology to deliver a real-life ‘hands on’ learning experience that will inspire and educate the next generation of engineers and apprentices and upskill people within the industry as well as those entering from other sectors.

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This is the first time that virtual reality headsets have been used for commercial training in the rail industry. It was great to see NTAR General Manager Simon Rennie’s vision coming to fruition and so many people trying out the fruits of our labour at the facility. In her opening speech, Claire highlighted the importance of joint industry and government initiatives like this in supporting economic growth, solving the burgeoning skills crisis in the rail industry and creating a world-class centre of excellence.

During the past six months we’ve transformed over 4,000 pages of training courses into 25 interactive learning modules, giving students the opportunity to get to grips with all of the critical components and warning systems found inside today’s high-tech train cabs. By simply wearing a VR headset, trainees are able to familiarise themselves with the workings of a train, right down to the nuts and bolts, in a safe and effective learning environment that just wouldn’t be possible down on the railway tracks or through traditional paper-based and classroom training techniques.

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For years e-learning and other methods of digital training have aspired to create an experience that closely replicates the classroom environment. At NTAR, we’re bringing training alive by using virtual reality to create a highly immersive, engaging and hands-on-learning experience that is far superior to classroom training.

Industry analyst Juniper forecasts that by 2020 some 30 million virtual reality headsets will be sold globally for consumer and business use, with hardware retail revenues set to exceed £3bn.  This initiative demonstrates the potential of virtual reality to engage today’s tech-savvy learners and to develop critical technical skills that are urgently needed across a host of different industry sectors. We are very fortunate to be part of this new wave of learning and it’s great to see so much innovation and industry collaboration taking place right here in the UK rail industry.

If you’d like to explore how virtual reality could transform the way people learn in your organisation and try out our courses first hand then do please get in touch.

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Improve Your Website From a Gamification Perspective

A step-by-step guide

Launching a new website can be a challenging and stressful time… we should know! A few weeks ago we relaunched the PAULEY website after a major design upgrade. We’d taken advantage of the latest web technologies to create a more interesting and engaging user experience.

The website looked great, but how did we know it was working? Was it doing the job we needed it to do?

Your website is one of your most important marketing assets. But it can be tricky to figure out whether it’s working as hard as it should be.

As part of the upgrade process we utilised HubSpot’s Website Grader—a free website verification tool, which analyses key metrics to address the performance, mobile responsiveness, SEO and security of your site to make sure it’s reaching your target audience. You could also try Google’s PageSpeed tools, although they’re not quite as user-friendly.

After analysing your website, the tool will return a score out of 100, providing useful information and insights about its overall performance to improve your website. Within a few days, we’d figured out how to bump up our score from 64% to the elusive 100%. And it’s something you can do, too.

Website Grader’s great example of gamified marketing makes the process enjoyable and addictive. Can you score 100%?

Let us take you through a step-by-step guide to how you can maximise your online presence.

1. Improving your site’s performance

This functional assessment of how your site can be improved has the most steps. There are seven key metrics you’ll need to work on:

Page size

This analyses the size of your website’s homepage. In order to achieve a positive score, you must ensure your homepage is less than 3MB in size. We did this by:

  • Removing any redundant code
  • Compressing images\ videos to reduce their file size
  • Avoiding too many custom font files
  • Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network) for such files as jQuery
  • Utilising CSS image sprite technology

Page requests

This looks at the number of HTTP requests your website page is making. In order to score a positive mark and improve your website, you must reduce this number to below 30. We achieved this by:

  • Removing any redundant CSS \ JavaScript files
  • Combining CSS code into 1 single file
  • Combining JavaScript code into 1 or 2 files
  • Utilising CSS image sprite technology

Page speed

This looks at the amount of time it takes to fully render your website (the faster, the better). In order to achieve a positive score, the time taken must be less than 3 seconds. We managed to speed up our website’s load time by:

  • Removing any redundant code
  • Removing any redundant CSS \ JavaScript files
  • Utilising Browser Caching
  • Optimising and compressing all images \ videos to help lower their file size
  • Using services such as FontAwesome to replace some images with their equivalent font icon
  • Compressing any CSS \ JavaScript files

Browser caching

This checks to see if caching has been enabled. By doing this, it enables past visitors of your website to view any previous viewed page again without downloading the images, videos and scripts a second time, or if their Internet connection becomes limited or unavailable. To enable caching, speak to your website hosting company regarding enabling Apache’s mod_expires.c and adjusting the .htaccess file.

Page redirects

This checks that you’re not using any page redirects—a technique used when directing a user from one URL to another. In order to achieve a positive score you must ensure that no page redirects are active, as this will inevitably slow down your page loading time. Therefore any active page redirects should be removed or disabled as soon as possible.

Compression

This checks to see if your CSS and JavaScript files have been compressed. By compressing CSS and JavaScript files you will help reduce their overall file size and thus achieve a faster load time and a reduction in bandwidth consumption. If you’re not comfortable with compressing files yourself, then you’ll find an array of useful online tools, such as JavaScript Compression and CSS Compression.

Render blocking

Render blocking can have a detrimental effect on your website’s loading time, and it’s often the result of CSS and JavaScript code keeping your website from loading quickly. Improve your website by:

  • Combining your CSS \ JavaScript into the least number files possible
  • Putting complex JavaScript files at the bottom of your site
  • Avoiding the use of @import to call CSS files
  • Correctly labelling your CSS files (ie: media=”print”)

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 14.23.402. Making your site mobile-friendly

It’s now vital that all websites have a mobile-optimised version, because not doing so could result in your ranking being penalised by search engines such as Google.

But you might need a professional to help you: This process can often demand a high level of time and financial investment, depending on your website’s size and complexity.

Creating a responsive design creates a fluid experience, and allows your website to adapt its layout for a multitude of different device sizes, such as desktops, tablets and smartphones. Responsive sites also avoid the need for a separate tablet and mobile optimised version.

Website grader also looks at the ‘view ports’ metric, which checks for any valid view ports code. This is the method in which the size of your website is controlled by the size of the device you’re viewing it on, such as a desktop, tablet or smartphone. Additionally it allows for better control when showing or hiding particular elements from certain device screen sizes.

3. Getting SEO to work for you

Search Engine Optimisation is a poorly understood area, but Website Grader breaks it down into four metrics to make it more approachable:

Page titles

Page titles are vitally important coding tags which are used to display the current page name in your web browser, and used by search engines when rendering search results. Page titles should always be unique, under 70 characters long, and should directly describe the page being viewed.

META description

Hidden within the code, META descriptions explain the content of the page being viewed, and help search engines and other external services to gain a better understanding of what they’re looking at. META descriptions should be no more than 155 characters long, and with a small amount of coding experience, META descriptions can easily be added into a page to improve your website.

Headings

This checks that your website is correctly utilising heading tags (H1, H2), which are used to describe the sections of your website’s page. If your score is showing in the red, then it’s necessary to check you’re using heading tags in the correct manner.

Sitemap

An XML sitemap can help search engines index and understand your website better. Therefore, if your score is showing in the red, try introducing an XML sitemap. Ideally a Sitemap should be generated manually for better control, but there are several external services that can attempt to automatically generate the sitemap for you.

4. Securing your site

This one’s easy, but simple solutions don’t come for free!

A Security Certificate, also known as a SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer) helps to protect your website from security attacks by encrypting communications between the user and website server. It also creates trust with your website users by demonstrating you’re a verified website and a trusted source.

Typically, security certificates can be obtained directly from your website hosting company, and generally cost less than $100 to purchase and install.

Conclusions

We challenge you to get 100% for your organisation’s website!

We love Website Grader’s clear visuals and gamified marketing—exactly the kind of approach we use in our eLearning and Digital Sales programs to encourage trainees and pull in buyers.

And if you still need help with how to improve your website, then we’d be happy to assist. Good luck!

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Experiential Marketing: Exploiting Next Generation Tech

Experiential marketing places individuals, or groups of people, into an immersive, branded environment. This massively growing field is defined as an experience with some kind of physical interaction that goes far beyond passively watching a screen or a presentation.

What’s the point of experiential marketing?

It’s vital to grasp the fact that, despite the tech-focussed natures of Millennials, physical experiences are still more powerful than any other approach for new generations of customers. In fact, 78% are more inclined to become part of a brand if they have some kind of “face-to-interface” interaction. So get it right and you’re onto a winner.

Experiences that give rise to positive emotions and generate memorable mental imagery in potential customers are incredibly valuable to any brand. Designed well, with a little creative spark, such interactions create a closer bond between the brand and the consumer by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience.

On the surface, the engagement numbers might not convince you. But experiential marketing is all about quality over quantity. Carefully target the right people at the right time with a high quality interactive experience, and they’ll come back again and again, over a long period of time. This customer lifetime value (CLV) is a highly prized metric.

The not-too-distant future

Remember the personalised, holographic adverts featured in Minority Report? This type of highly personalised experience is likely to become an important part of marketing.

Cameras and facial recognition systems can already be used to determine the gender, ethnicity and emotional reaction of audiences to content on an interactive screen. Imagine if that content could be customized to each person in the audience!

Tracking technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags could soon be fully integrated into events and experiences, allowing developments such as intelligent signage, and personalized sound, video, lighting… the list goes on. Beacons on physical objects could unlock interactive content in a live event or retail space.

Next generation tech NOW

Treating a handful of potential customers to a sky dive might help your company sell its energy drinks with an unforgettable experience, but it’ll cost the earth. So, marketing executives are teaming up with digital agencies such as ours to pioneer the future.

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Emerging digital technologies – platforms such as mobile apps, Microsoft Kinect, biometric recognition software, virtual reality, and the much-hyped Magic Leap augmented reality – can mimic this kind of experience in a way that’s portable, repeatable and reaches more customers in a cost effective way in all aspects of life, including trade shows, pop-up shops, and meetings around the world.

The tools are all out there – it’s just a case of putting them to use imaginatively. By combining the real world with the digital world, we’re creating a new era of experiential marketing in which the customer can “touch” or “interact” with your product.

Here at PAULEY, we’ve been using drones, Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets, and interactive content not solely for marketing, but also to deliver immersive training and sales tools.

Brands can extend the reach of their experiential marketing by encouraging customers to create their own content, making something that is tangible and shareable beyond the lifetime of the event. And social media can be integrated into marketing events to make the experience stretch further.

We’re always keen to work with companies with grand plans for using next generation digital technologies. Get in touch to discuss your ideas and we’ll make them a reality!

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Interactive Touch Screen Technology: Sell More in Store

Looking for more public engagement, an enhanced sales pipeline, and interactive content for multi-channel use in a retail environment? It’s time to get ahead of the game with interactive touch screen technology.

The growing appeal of online shopping means that retailers are pushing for new ways for get shoppers into bricks-and-mortar shops. We need new, entertaining reasons for going to stores, and more exciting product launches. The future of shopping could involve digital sales assistants, RFID-activated messages and supercharged touch screens.

Capitalising on Christmas

Mall and shopping centre operators are creating increasingly interactive experiences in order to draw customers into stores over the Christmas period.

This festive season, mall operator Macerich has launched a virtual Santa HQ in ten locations. Children can stand on a platform that determines how good they’ve been, displaying their names on “naughty” or “nice” boards. Visitors can also see their faces superimposed on cartoon dancing elves, and tablet-based augmented reality reveals rooms full of presents. Texting technology means there’s no waiting in line to meet Santa himself.

Taubman malls are also hoping to net families with virtual experiences created by Dreamworks and Disney.

At Target, creating wish lists is easy with a game-like app that reviews the toy catalogue and shares those dream items on social media. Hold an iPad over the catalogue, and the pages appear in 3D, showing more information about the products.

Interactivity coming to a store near you…

shrek1Coca-Cola recently launched highly interactive vending machines in Asia and Australia. Combining the Internet of Things (IoT) with digital signage, screens share content with customers at the point of sale, encouraging them to share their experience on social media by offering games, discounts and more.

It’s working: Beverage sales on a new digital cooler were found to be 12 percent higher than standard coolers.

UGG Australia has some incredibly high-tech outlets, with queues out of the door. The first, technology-driven concept store in Washington D.C. is a test bed for retail interactivity. Using RFID technology to trigger content on huge touchscreens around the shop floor, customers can interact with the products more than ever before.

Try on a pair of boots, and you can personalize the design of your choice, such as adding Swarovski crystal embellishments. Meanwhile, the screens will show offers, options, styling tips, relevant marketing campaigns and complementary products.

A new store “employee” at a San Jose department store knows immediately the real-time stock levels and location of all the shop’s wares. Impressive, eh? The person-sized, robotic OSHbot has a 3D-sensing camera, which can scan an item such as a screw, identify it, and guide the customer to where they can find similar products. Its built-in technologies include voice recognition, autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance.

Other robots in development for retail include a personal robotic shopping assistant and a security guard.

BodyScanner4Elsewhere, 3D scanners are popping up. We developed such a concept here at PAULEY several years ago. As the technology continues to improve, companies such as Size Stream offer full body scanners. Each scanner has 14 sensors that take 450 body measurements in just six seconds. This kind of technology has been used to help fit medical garments, but could now start to seriously branch out into custom tailoring.

App-ealing to savvy shoppers

More and more retailers are launching their own apps, which can be used to shop on line and increase engagement in store. Macy’s recently launched Image Search – a function that allows users to take a snap of something they like and sends them similar items from the store’s inventory.

The new app from Starbucks facilitates mobile payment and keeps tracks of purchases to make it easy to track and redeem reward points. Simply click to pay and a barcode appears, which the cashier scans.

Shoppers at Tysons Corner Center in Virginia, USA, who have the center’s app now see a welcome message pop up when they enter the store. Acting like a virtual shop assistant, the app immediately answers questions via text message and asks if the customer wants their purchases delivered to their home.

Interested in increasing interactivity & engagement?

At PAULEY, our bespoke digital solutions create exciting, immersive experiences that will leave a lasting impression on your customers.

We’ll work with you to make your brand more memorable, help you visualize and demonstrate complex products, and create streamlined, shareable content for all platforms.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today! Get in touch by calling 01908 522532 or email info@pauley.co.uk.

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Work Smarter, Not Harder: Boost Digital Sales & Engagement With Interactive Content

Investing in interactive digital content will help sales teams struggling to close deals by delivering clear, cohesive messages and effectively demonstrating even the most visually inaccessible products.

The thought of investing in bespoke digital sales software can be scary. But what if it promised a rapid 100% return on marketing investment and long-term boost to sales?

The benefits of equipping your sales team with interactive content for field sales, exhibitions, and presentations are numerous, and, designed well, can grow with your business.

Cisco, for example, have used gaming strategies to enhance its virtual global sales meeting and call centres to reduce call time by 15% and improve sales by 10%.

People love interactivity. Our brains are programmed to respond to colour, movement, sound and physical interaction. Interactive digital sales content can deliver this, resulting in deeper engagement every time.

Providing your potential customers with exciting and inspiring mobile apps, dynamic websites, touch screen displays tailored to your business will lead to:

  • An uplift in sales & an enhanced sales pipeline
  • A happier, more confident sales team
  • A lasting impression and greater memorability for your brand

The outcomes for products that are hard to visualize or demonstrate to potential customers – either because they take no physical form, can’t be seen in action, are technically complex, or can’t be brought into meetings – are especially impressive.

You only have to look at the Audi R8 V10 Plus advert to see that insight into the interior of a product can be hugely powerful in demonstrating its value, its appeal and its worth.

Creating unique media such as eBrochures, 3D animations, product simulations and 360° tours of such products will result in more sales, thanks to sales staff being able to show rather than tell what you sell. This type of interactive digital sales content will:

  • Enable your team to close deals anywhere, anytime
  • Equip sales team to explain products accurately and consistently
  • Render visually uninspiring products eye-catching
  • Make complex processes understandable and memorable
  • Demonstrate how your product fits the precise needs of potential customers

Uptake in interactive digital sales applications is growing fast. Gartner predict that more than 70% of the world’s largest 2,000 companies are expected to have deployed at least one “gamified” application by the end of 2014. It’s time to get on board.

Need further convincing? Take a look at our testimonials to hear from happy clients in their own words.

Stay ahead of the competition and request a free consultation with us today! Get in touch for advice and a no obligation chat about digital sales by calling 01908 522532 or emailing info@pauley.co.uk.

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What Can Digital Culture Bring to CSR?

Companies are becoming more and more accountable when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). As the 2014 World Cup kicks off, for example, FIFA and the Brazilian organising committee are keen to shout about the efforts they’ve made to make this the most sustainable tournament yet.

Informal CSR guidelines mean that companies should manage their business dealings and processes to produce an overall positive impact on the world. A socially responsible business cares about the direct and indirect impacts that they have on both local and international communities.

The ongoing expansion of Digital Corporate Social Responsibility (DCSR) is going to place increased demand on companies to be responsible in this area. It’s a movement that’s gathering pace, and our modern, digital culture is not only helping businesses fulfil their obligations to society, but push their contributions even further than before. The ability to reach out and connect so easily to people all around the world is raising the bar for DCSR.

Greener technology

Engaging with digital means using energy and hi-tech electronics, so businesses should think about how this will impact their carbon footprint. The good news is that electronic products are constantly minimising their energy consumption.

Two of Brazil’s World Cup stadia are entirely solar-powered. The 500kW solar panels on the roof of the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, for example, will power the info towers and stadium lighting. The panels at Arena Pernambuco will supply 30% of the stadium’s needs on match days and delivering power to the local electricity grid the rest of the time.

At PAULEY for example, we produce programs that offer alternatives to using paper and printers. We also strive to select environmentally efficient hardware, powered by renewable solutions.

Connecting people

Governments worldwide are investing in the huge potential of digital communications technology to connect people, transcending boundaries and bringing communities together to benefit one another.

Charity and digital technology, for example, are now intrinsically linked. Many fundraisers now collect sponsorship through websites such as JustGiving. Digital and web-connected technologies unite people from around the world – perhaps through video, Skype or social media – to spread the word about charitable causes and mobilise positive change.

Companies practising DCSR are also better able to inform their customers and the wider global community about the positive changes they are making, through online campaigns, social media and smart content marketing.

Giving people a voice

Digital technology is giving more and more people a voice in society, whether through blogs, podcasts, social networks and citizen journalism. Anyone with a smartphone or computer can now publish content of their own.

The World Cup organising committee have created  a Green Passport app for smartphones, designed for travellers visiting the matches. Its aim is to give visitors ideas about how they can be respectful both for the environment and the economic and social development of Brazilian communities.

Better access to services

Digital and online access to resources, such as e-training, can allow companies to provide better, more globally widespread access to education, knowledge and opportunities.

The rollout of fast broadband provides solutions to a number of local, regional and global challenges, such as access to education in remote villages. With satellite broadband solutions and advances in e-learning, village children can benefit from home schooling using interactive, multimedia lessons. Such e-learning can even be powered by solar power and other renewable energies, as shown by organisation such as the Maendeleo Foundation.

Things to bear in mind

Companies need to remember that all this openness and connection and increased visibility makes them just that – much more visible. Irresponsible behaviour is easily spotted and many big businesses have made social media faux pas. Change has to be heartfelt, and everything your company says or does online will be noted and viewed in the context of whether they are being socially responsible. Don’t let silly mistakes affect your reputation.

The digital media output of businesses should always consider diversity, aiming for a portfolio that reflects and benefits multicultural and diverse (local and global) society. Hand-in-hand with this goes content integrity: you should know and make clear the provenance and reliability of everything you post online so that you avoid misleading your audience.

Lastly, everything you put ‘out there’ about your business has the power to influence your clients and a wider audience. Think carefully about what it is you want to give back to society, and then go for it – the benefits will be priceless.

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5 Tips for Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Why do you need a digital marketing strategy? In short, there’s everything to play for. A seamlessly blended narrative using creativity, technology and digital media makes brands more distinctive, more sellable, more sharable and ultimately, more valuable.

If you’ve been playing the digital marketing game without a clear approach, here are our five tips to help you focus your efforts right now.

1. Bow down to the brand

When it comes to the jungle of digital marketing, brand is king. Absolutely everything you do online should align with your business’s brand and vision. Your digital assets should be a never-ending dialogue — always available, always evolving — which supports the rest of your business. Whether online or offline, your marketing approach should tell the same story.

A digital marketing strategy should work towards achieving strategic objectives, supporting rather than draining resources. And so try to avoid measuring digital success using superficial metrics such as page views. It’s the quality of your digital interactions which is vital.

2. Prioritize quality over quantity

Making your digital assets sparkle isn’t just about the surface sheen. What’s on the inside is vital, but many still think the entire aim is to get more online visitors ‘through the front door’. A 2012 eConsultancy report stated that companies spend 100 times more money on gaining website visitors than on converting them to customers. But what then?

Killer digital marketing definitely drives visitors to your site, but it should keep them there too: engaged, keen and ready to buy. Excellent digital marketing is about optimizing what you’ve got; about prioritizing quality over quantity and creating outstanding content. And while SEO remains important, the dynamics of online search are changing. Forget the days of densely populating your site with keywords — the shift is towards ‘content marketing’: Both search engines and consumers are desperately seeking brands which create unique, compelling content.

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3. Identify quick wins

A thorough digital marketing strategy could cover a huge amount of content; everything from to YouTube channels and smart websites to e-brochures and sales touch-screens. Correctly identifying where best to start is one of the most important things you can do. Focus on the outcomes you’re aiming for. It may be stating the obvious, but initially focus on areas which will have the most impact on improving conversion. This may be improving key landing pages on your website, upgrading contact forms, or simply ensuring all your site’s titles and link text are active and optimized.

The Financial Times, for example, was quick to pick up on the fact that a lot of its customers wanted optimized smartphone accessibility. Now, 25% of their page views and 15% of all new digital subscriptions come from mobiles. As a result of focussing resources on developing mobile technology, it was the first newspaper to announce that its digital subscribers outnumbered print subscribers.

4. Personalize, personalize, personalize

What are the digital fingerprints of your key visitors like? You should know. Predictive, rules-based personalization is increasingly putting visitors into categories defined by their online behaviour, therefore showing them the most relevant content.

Social networking is driving forward the ability of businesses to understand their customers and clients, offering a platform for direct conversations. Increasingly, social networks are a place in which you can find and encourage vocal support, get data on your visitors by asking questions, target specific groups and sectors, and truly validate that your customers and other supporters are exactly who you think they are.

Intelligent use of social networks can kickstart an invaluable dialogue which resonates with your customers, captures them, and keeps them engaged with your brand.

5. Don’t neglect email marketing

A recent report from marketing data company Custora stated that since 2009, online retailers have managed to quadruple the volume of customers acquired through email to 7% — a figure that shouldn’t be ignored. Smart email marketing can automatically add subscribers based on their preferences, and can analyse website conversion using in-house analytics. It might be that you need expert help to integrate it well with other channels, make the most of dynamic content, increase click-through rates, and find new subscribers.

We can help!

We have the expertise, insight and creativity to analyze your existing digital portfolio and website, and drive forward a new vision which encompasses your strategic goals and objectives.

We can assist with:

  • Website functionality and design
  • Social media campaigns
  • Email marketing
  • Link building
  • Quality content
  • Digital ads & online PR
  • SEO
  • Analytics
  • Customer relationship management (CRM)

Whatever stage you’re at, we’d love to hear from you. Get in touch on +44 (0)1908 522 532 or by emailing info@pauley.co.uk.

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New Technology: A Challenge And A Solution For Retailers

Development in consumer technology has created new challenges for retailers but also appears to offer potential solutions.

Today’s consumer is aided and abetted by technology. In a digital age where consumers are choosing to shop online rather than in store, retail managers are being forced to make the in-store experience more engaging and attractive. There is a growing demand amongst consumers for the ability to be able to interact with digital technology and have a seamless experience across all available channels (omni-channel retailing), which is resulting in many stores now investing in the trial of innovative touch screen and immersive technology to find ways to fulfil the needs of their consumers.

Ironically though, it was innovative new technology that encouraged consumers to move away from the store and retailers are now looking to employ constantly evolving new technology to bring them back!

More than a decade ago e-commerce abstracted some aspects of shopping from the store into a digital context, offering additional benefits to both the retailer and the consumer. The abstraction, however, left key parts of the shopping experience behind which retailers are now refocussing on – the store’s multi-sensory and naturally social context, shopping as an event and destination, and the promise, though not always met, of personal assistance. To its advantage, e-commerce added easier access to reams of information, created new social realms and commercial spaces with new participants, and made shopping ever easier and more convenient. Retailers have continued to augment and improve their customers’ online experience with better content, search, personalisation, security, lists, reviews, checkout, and the like. Most recently, they’ve been adding barcode and QR code search, Web sites optimised for mobility, and mobile apps.

Mobile technology and the ability to shop online at anytime from anywhere is changing the face of the retail store. Over the past few years, the world has witnessed the unprecedented growth of smartphones, changing the way consumers shop and browse. Reports from eDigitalResearch and IMRG have been tracking the growth of the mobile market in the UK. Smartphone ownership now stands at 60% of the overall UK population, having continued to grow at a solid pace over the past 12 months. With the introduction of new, more innovative devices, as well as emerging technologies, such as 4G, ownership looks set to increase in 2013 and signals just how important a channel mobile is becoming to retailers and brands. The report clearly shows the steady growth in the number of smartphone owners who are using their devices to shop and browse. In the latest results from April 2013, over half (54%) of smartphone owners claim to have used their device to browse for products, whilst just under 40% have gone on to make a purchase.

With more convenient digital ways for a consumer to shop, retailers are struggling to keep the consumer engaged in their stores. Immersion seems to be the key to success, with the implementation of technology in store including reality-augmenting magic mirrors, interactive displays, and shelf-edge video to name a few.

The ideas and the innovations of interactive digital signage, online shopping and mobile browsing are here to stay and are being used every day. Retailers can now vastly improve their customer in store experience by providing technology and solutions which help customers to share the online experience they had at home and to revisit the phone browsing experience they had on a train and, by joining up the dots in the digital map, create an engaging multi-channel experience for customers shopping in their store. Combined with a multi-sensory experience that cannot be achieved on mobile devices and a sense of community, the retail store will remain an essential part of our shopping experience. Retailers are just having to work harder to come up with and invest in innovative ways to remind customers why its still important to visit stores and what the benefits are.

There are a vast array of interactive options available to retail outlets, from self-service touch screen kiosks, interactive screens that enable the consumer to explore and order items from product ranges, to augmented reality engines that can help to engage shoppers in unique ways.

Tesco, for example, are trialing the use of augmented reality in their children’s clothing ranges in store. The technology allows children to stand in front of a screen and choose different garments in various sizes or colours etc. to try on. Without needing to go and find and touch the clothing items, they can get an idea of what they would look like in them. Tesco are also using touch screen kiosks in store that customers can use to look up what stock exists in the warehouse and order / pay for an item that is not currently in store.

John Lewis department stores have a pop-up style shop in Exeter which is about a third of the size of a normal John Lewis store. Due to the reduction in floor space, the retailer has had to become more ingenious in the way they use technology in-store. Instead of displaying multiple plates on offer, the Exeter store has a ‘plate wall’ with one of each dish and a kiosk alongside where consumers can order the number they want and have them delivered home. Julian Burnett, head of IT architecture at John Lewis, in a recent edition of ‘Integrated Retailer’ said “Everything that we do is about creating an interactive, engaging and energising experience for our customers”.

Example of augmented reality use in a retail store

Example of augmented reality use in a retail store (Credit: http://www.consumerinstinct.com)

With substantial upfront investment required, retailers are yet to prove that this new technology is having a positive impact on their bottom line, even though visitors appear to love it. There is hope, however, that increased brand engagement techniques and an improved experiences in store (created by new technology) will encourage consumers to continue to visit and buy their products over a competitors.

Not all digital technology has to be interactive. Large format projection screens can also be used to liven up open spaces in retail complexes and provoke the senses to create a more immersive experience as soon as the consumer walks in. Video advertising and product ranges can projected onto screens across what would otherwise be empty windows/dead space to liven up the environment. Moving graphics will catch the eye of consumers and help to enhance their experience right from the first moment they walk into the centre or store. Digital advertising in store can also be used to drive customers to redeem a discount code on their mobile for example, creating a multi-channel experience under one roof. A combination of immersive and engaging technology ensures the correct brand messages are successfully communicated.

Application of Rear Projection Screens in Shopping Centre

Application of Rear Projection Screens in Shopping Centre

Rear projection screen applied to empty shop frontage

Rear projection screen applied to empty shop frontage

So the physical retail store can still offer an experience to consumers that cannot currently be had through mobile commerce. Virtual reality stores can get close to the real thing, but there is still a way to go before digital technology can claim to completely replace the retail store. Until all of our senses can be successfully stimulated through digital technology – sight, sound, smell and touch, the physical store will still add to a consumers experience. And although numbers of in-store shoppers have been dropping, with the development of new technology and highly visual and interactive experiences, consumers will become privy to the benefits of the in-store experience.

Another consideration for the rise in e-commerce and mobile commerce is the impact on logistics and our environment. Because consumers cannot ‘try before they buy’ when they purchase online, we’ve seen a rise in postal returns, the effects of which are unrealised by so many. Increases in fuel consumption for increased deliveries and increased paper usage (even though the order was digital), are having a negative impact on our environment. Trying goods in store can alleviate this to a degree.

Ultimately success for any retail brand is measured on sales. New technology is also aiding retailers in creating what is now widely known as an omni-channel consumer experience, giving them the digital tools to be able to fully understand a consumers journey and activity across multiple channels and to offer a ‘preferred’ and ‘personalised’ experience for each and every individual consumer.  Every digital device, whether it be a touch screen kiosk in store or a mobile phone, can be linked to remote networks to pass behavioural and purchase history information on a consumer to a central database that can then be mined to learn about each consumer and provide them with a unique offer. This is a retailers ultimate goal as it will ensure that a consumer remains loyal to their brand based on a consistently excellent experience of the brand both online, through mobile and in store. With so many consumer digital touch points to monitor and optimise, this is a real challenge.

Perhaps we will be looking towards a future where a global sizing standard is implemented and where scanning technology can tell you exactly what size to order? This would certainly reduce the amount of unnecessary returns, but could also potentially offer a wider range of goods to consumers based on the insight gained from ‘body size’ statistics. For example, a new ‘wider’ foot range may be introduced when its realised that a larger percentage of consumers actually require this. 3D printing technology may also offer a future where goods tailored to an individual can be created quickly and cost-effectively based on a body scan. This could completely change the concept of the retail store.

Combined with the technology now available to create an amazing visual experience in store, the future of retail, although extremely challenging, is exciting and is one industry in which the major benefits of any new technology could be exploited to their maximum for the benefit of both the consumer and the retailer.

If you require help in creating your in-store immersive experience or wish to brainstorm ideas, contact PAULEY on 01908 522532 or info@pauley.co.uk

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