Category Archives: Digital Marketing

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Digital Rail Sector Deal and the Economics of Skills Development

The launch of the Governments Rail Sector Deal (RSD) saw a number of key initiatives and a vision for the future of the industry unveiled. Delivering the benefits of new digital rail technology is at the heart of this Rail Sector Deal. The Sector Deal will enable companies to drive innovation, invest in research and development, upskill their workforce and look beyond the UK to export markets worldwide.

With a focus on enabling the UK Rail Sector to nurture, empower and retain digitally skilled workers, the RSD is at the heart of the work we do.

The impact of digital transformation in rail cannot be underestimated and it is prudent to assume that 80% of the industry will require some level of training or education over the next 20 years. This equates to around 200,000 workers requiring some form of training or education intervention. NSAR (National skills Academy Rail) has estimated that this market could be worth up to £600m, with a claw back from the Apprenticeship levy approaching £200m. So we are talking about some big numbers here.

By digital skills for rail we mean both the generic digital skill sets and the additional skills existing disciplines will need to fit, optimise and maintain new digital assets. There is already a shortage of both. The existing training market will provide some highly limited numbers of the former – without an equivalent Digital Rail Academy concept the latter will exist mainly in suppliers, who will then monopolise the market at considerable cost to efficiency and jobs. Wage inflation is already at 8.8% in signalling engineers and over 10% in the generic disciplines eg data analysts.

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So something must happen. Here’s the economics logic.

Perhaps appropriately, the economics of training are themselves being transformed by new technology.

Firstly, PAULEY’s enhanced software is increasingly being used to create online, augmented and mixed reality environments that significantly enhance the learning and assessment experience.

Secondly, and related, customers expect training to be delivered in a more flexible way, at their depots, at non-traditional times and with a blend of human and virtual trainers. For example, at NTAR a growing proportion the rolling stock training is delivered via server, laptops and virtual and augmented reality headsets at depots by software and intelligence provided by PAULEY. This has transformed the training economics by reducing the biggest single training cost for existing staff – release costs.

Future academies will be virtual: (Example based on £10M Budget) – instead of spending £7m on a building, £1m on hardware, £1m on staff training and £1m on software, it may be more balanced; £3m on a software platform (designed by industry for industry), £1m on hardware, £2m on staff training and £4m on client onsite training facilities. The overall cost of training supply will not drop or change dramatically but the number of users will be higher, the experience more immersive and the release costs will halve.

So a unit cost of £200 per head per day might become £150 0r £100 per head per day over time, but a release cost of 8 hours for 4 hours training in a centre will be halved as much of the training will come to the worker. The effect of adopting PAULEY technology is already transforming the rail training market today.

Existing industry and treasury productivity work shows that there is currently already a market failure in relevant training, leading to wage inflation and costs of poor capability (rework etc). For the first time these have been modelled at the level of unit costs, at 9% and 6% respectively. Put another way, unit costs are 15% higher, now, than they could be had the investment been made.

Training and skills development is a critical element to increasing productivity. We know this. Implementing new technology and then training staff in new, contemporary skills is a double win, not only at an industry level but also at employer level.

In line with the ethos of the RSD, PAULEY have launched HoloSkills, a new product to convert any training material into next-gen Augmented Reality using Microsoft HoloLens. This platform (and others that PAULEY will deliver with strategic partners) will help the rail industry align and ensure consistency in all areas, from drivers through to maintainers, infrastructure to rolling stock, crew and beyond…

The HoloSkills platform has been tried, tested and refined as a new industry standard at NCHSR and is now ready to revolutionize rail training! HoloSkills is the first in a new line of immersive products PAULEY will launch early next year.

Invest early in the RSD and in PAULEY technology and you’ll notice the difference. Not only economically, but also from an engagement and an immersive learning perspective by delivering improved productivity and driving digital transformation within your organisation.

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PAULEY deliver NCHSR and HS2 training technology of the future

The recent Skills, Employment and Education Strategy (SEE) document released by HS2 Ltd in October 2018 (https://www.hs2.org.uk/documents/hs2-skills-employment-and-education-strategy/) highlights the critical importance that HS2 will bring to the UK’s infrastructure portfolio, and the vital role that the scheme plays in educating and training the infrastructure and rail workforce in opening up new opportunities.

HS2 and the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR) share a common vision – to embrace future technology and to enable tomorrow’s workforce today. Their approach to training focuses on two key areas – how can we deploy tomorrow’s technology today and how do we make the training relevant and engaging?

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Here at PAULEY we as industry leaders also share this vision and have been pioneering the use of Mixed Reality Technologies across the rail industry and beyond – setting the  standard for future training.  We have been changing the face of digital training for railway apprentices and engineers for nearly 5 years and demonstrate how the future of learning in the railway industry is through immersive technologies. Immersive technologies are becoming more affordable, and represent a paradigm shift in how vital technical training can be undertaken in an innovate way that offers students and delegates the opportunity to explore technically challenging scenarios first-hand without the need for expensive and sometimes dangerous equipment. There is a further fundamental point to learning this way – adopting real time data visualisation enables more effective communication with delivery teams and front-line workers, supporting higher safety and productivity levels.

HS2 will be the new high-speed backbone of Britain’s rail network, but it’s much more than just a railway. It is a catalyst for growth: revitalising the country, creating new opportunities for jobs and skills, regenerating towns and cities, and bringing us all closer as a nation.

The employment and economic potential of the HS2 Programme, with an initial opportunity to upskill the UK’s construction workforce, followed by the creation of employment opportunities generated once the railway is operational, is huge. There is a real focus on promoting increased skills and employment via the supply chain to address the skills challenges faced not only by HS2 but also in the wider transport infrastructure sector.

Part of the solution lies in the establishment of the National College for High Speed Rail (NCHSR), which opened in Birmingham and Doncaster in September 2017. The NCHSR provides an industry-led curriculum, delivering the highly skilled workforce needed to deliver the HS2 Programme and the future skills required by the UK’s rail industry. The College acts as a flagship facility for training in the railway industry, helping to attract, educate and train the talent needed by the sector. Learning is strongly focussed on practical teaching, with internal and external workshop, virtual and augmented reality and employer-based work placements.

One of the main safety challenges faced by students is limited access to an operational railway and trackside equipment, especially as it’s dangerous for them to be alongside or on live track or engineering projects without the necessary training, or competencies. In addition, the lecturers of the NCHSR wanted a way to bring the railway into the college, so students could visually see and understand through 3D digital assets, immersive Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality experiences.

This is where PAULEY really excels and is the reason we were selected to work with NCHSR.

For the past 6 months we have been helping the NCHSR improve and augment their teaching material to fit the current generation’s media consumption habits.  Producing a range of training modules using innovative technology such as AR HoloLens headsets, and VR headsets such as the Oculus Rift, our clear aim has been to help the next generation of rail workers learn the modern practises in ways that are as immersive and interesting as possible.

The creation of 3D rail scenes and components aligned to the development of a highly intuitive and immersive Augmented Reality application has enabled students to explore various rail elements and individual components of conventional and high-speed rail. In turn this has enabled them to learn where the componentry is used in the field, what it looks like and listen to the voice-over that provides the learning element of what each component is used for.

The end result is content that is far more interesting and engaging for the end user, which is extremely important in this industry where an untrained professional could lead to security, health and financial risks. By working in this way PAULEY are able to assist HS2, NCHSR and many other clients with achieving their vision of enabling tomorrow’s workforce today.

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Through engaging students with interactive digital assets, the NCHSR and PAULEY have increased the motivation for them to learn. Previous learning assets were simple 2D black and white line drawings and emerging them in a virtual environment and allowing them to learn at their own pace only increases knowledge retention through learning by doing.

Our previous blogs have espoused the need to train new students, in new skills in a new way, that engages, excites and most of all, inspires. What PAULEY are doing with the NCHSR is putting that theory into practice. By creating a new cohort of infrastructure workers, learning in ways that are truly immersive, PAULEY are supporting HS2 and the UK infrastructure sector meet it’s challenges head on.

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The VR/AR Boom Is Here: Join the Step Change

Every forward-thinking, ambitious organisation should be aiming to ride the crest of the technological wave. Yet too many are shying away from the seemingly daunting arena of virtual and augmented realities.

The reality is that not engaging with VR/AR now—just as the field starts to boom—could be an even bigger risk to your business strategy.

Join a booming market

After a long time in the making, the VR/AR market is currently at tipping point: Deloitte Global predicts that 2016 will be VR’s first billion-dollar year. Over at Goldman Sachs, they’re estimating the VR/AR market to grow to $80 billion by 2025—the same as today’s desktop PC market.

We occasionally meet innovation and digital managers who are yet to be convinced that they’re overlooking a fantastic area of opportunity for using VR/AR for training, and client and staff engagement within their organisation. But as momentum gathers, any company that hangs back is at risk of being left behind. Given the pace of change, and the speed with which some companies are moving ahead with VR/AR, clawing back the lost ground could prove challenging.

Who’s investing in VR/AR tech, and why?

The chances are, your competitors are already investing in this field, or are at least thinking about it. In the US, more than one-third of manufacturers use VR hardware and software at the moment or plan to implement it—along with AR—in the next three years.

Manufacturers and industrial businesses tend to be ahead of the game. Uses for the technology in these environments is more immediately obvious perhaps, as both VR and AR are ideal tools for product design and prototyping. Car manufacturers in particular have been big investors in the market. 

VR and AR are now becoming increasingly accessible as a result of their rising availability and falling purchase cost.

VR offers an immersive 360-degree experience within a virtual environment, with its content traditionally being delivered via a high-end computer and tethered headset, such as the Oculus Rift. Although, we’re already seeing VR take the leap into headsets powered by modern smartphones.

The origins of AR have always utilised the in-built camera of a mobile device to overlay computer-generated images onto a real world environment, often allowing the user to interact with their surroundings. Simplistic versions of AR form the basis of popular smartphone games like Pokémon Go. More advanced versions of AR are now being delivered through smart glasses and headsets such as those from DAQRI and Microsoft HoloLens, which utilise transparent visors to visualise their output display—largely useful for industrial applications.

Future development will see the best of both VR and AR merging into a new form of immersive mixed reality, often delivered through portable headset devices, and suitable for all purposes.

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Organisations of all kinds can reap huge benefits from getting involved. At PAULEY we create immersive, interactive experiences and VR-based tools for competitive advantage and competency training. Using VR to teach your employees new skills and refresh old ones has marked a step-change in the effectiveness, engagement and memorability of training. It’s especially useful for giving trainees virtual “access” to dangerous, remote or unavailable equipment, and allowing them to learn theoretical subject matter through hands-on learning.

Marketing is another hugely accessible area of growth for VR/AR. Developing 360 videos and virtual tours can showcase your business products, environments and plans to clients around the world. Plus, the recent runaway success of mobile AR game Pokemon Go proves that a wide range of consumers are keen to engage with new technologies, if they’re made accessible to them.

Other benefits for AR and VR lie in encouraging team and project collaboration. A major area for growth is in immersive, real-time video, which will virtually place people together in the same space. Companies such as 8i are driving this movement forward with their amazing “volumetric videos” which creates 3D footage of people that viewers can see from every angle. This trend could also be why Facebook are investing in VR (they acquired Oculus in 2014, for example).

Imagine if team members from around the globe could join a videoconference and interact with hologram-like versions of each other, sharing the same view of a virtual model or infographic.

How to get started in VR/AR

So how can your business harness the power of VR and AR to achieve its business goals.

Your team may not need a specific VR/AR strategy, but might choose to include it within the existing IT strategy. The import thing is that it’s being discussed in terms of your organisation’s vision and available resources.

Your budget might allow for a VR room with state-of-the art tech, or simply a few Samsung Gear VR headsets. But both ends of the scale allow everyone in your company to experience the potential of VR.

Bear in mind that the near future is likely to see mobile technologies and the growing popularity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) dovetail with the growth in VR and AR. Integrating the two is likely to be a central focus of your strategy.

PAULEY have been helping a range of clients start to engage with VR/AR, and we’re always happy to give a demonstration of what the technology can do for you. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us today!

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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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4 Reasons Why Experiential Marketing with Virtual & Augmented Reality Boosts Sales

Experiential marketing—using virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other interactive, 3D touchscreen technologies—is a massively growing field. It places your customers into a fully immersive, branded environment, delivering an engaging and memorable physical interaction.

Consumers have always expected increasingly innovative and hi-tech ways of viewing and assessing their investments. And here’s why you should consider experiential marketing, too:

1. Let natural interaction do the selling for you

Everyone loves digital interactivity. Our brains are programmed to respond to colour, movement, sound and physical interaction. The act of physically engaging with an interface has been proven time and again to increase the memorability of the content and leave a lasting impression.

At the inaugural Space Situational Awareness Conference, there was a constant queue of delegates at our stand, all of whom were keen to take a VR trip into space using the Oculus Rift.

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Tracking technologies such as RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags are already being integrated into events and experiences, allowing developments such as intelligent signage, and personalized sound, video, lighting… the list goes on. Beacons on physical objects are unlocking interactive content in a live event or retail area by linking them to the Internet of Things.

Experiences that give rise to positive emotions and generate powerful 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.

2. Describe complexity without words

Words only go so far in describing your product’s inner workings and the components and other characteristics that set it apart from your competitors. If your business is dependent upon customers understanding and engaging with the technical or mechanical detail of what you do and what you produce, it might be time to invest in a way of accurately visualising these ‘hidden’ assets.

Computer-generated versions of upcoming projects and technologies—especially if delivered in impressive VR or AR consistently win new clients.

Why? Your customers can suddenly see your products as they function, in incredible detail. And this can now be a more inspiring, engaging and cohesive process thanks to the development of interactive digital media such as holographic projections, CGI, 3D modelling, complex photorealistic animations and interactive touchscreen technology.

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

3. Make visually uninspiring products eye-catching

Humans are visual creatures and it’s often tricky to make your company stand out at pitches, trade shows and exhibitions. Whatever it is that makes your product unique may not always be immediately obvious, and it’s all too easy to fade into the background.

But showcasing futuristic technologies is a sure-fire way to grab the attention of passers-by and engage potential customers from the get-go.

We’ve developed eye-catching 3D visualisations for Aish Technologies, which accurately show how their anti-rust cathodic protection systems extend the life of submarines, comparing their technology to that of their competitors. Aish say that these visualisations will help them deliver their key marketing messages in face-to-face situations.

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At PAULEY, we’re really excited about the future of experiential 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 a sales meeting!

4. Equip sales team to explain products accurately and consistently

State-of-the-art digital technologies – platforms such as mobile apps, Microsoft’s HoloLens, biometric recognition software, virtual reality, and the much-hyped Magic Leap augmented reality – can deliver complex experiences in ways that are reusable, repeatable and reach more customers in a cost effective way.

VR and AR experiences and demonstrations can be delivered with portable technologies. And their digital basis means that content can be easily edited and translated into different languages—useful for companies which want to use the same key sales messages globally.

The kinds of technology we’ve mentioned here have many other business applications beyond experiential marketing. Interactive content can also be used to deliver immersive training, cost-effective simulations and dynamic sales tools.

We’ve created 360-degree training demonstrations, for example, in which live video is streamed into virtual military vehicle cockpits using AR and VR technologies. This gives trainees an ultra-realistic, hands-on experience before they’re ready to engage with the real thing.

When it comes to virtual and augmented reality, the opportunities with experiential marketing are endless!

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Using Beacon Technology to Boost Customer Experience

Beacons are small, physical objects – wireless transmitters that broadcast radio signals short distances. Smartphones and mobile devices can pick up on their signals to receive content. Their use is on the rise across a range of industries.

They have been likened to indoor GPS and, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, beacons can communicate with and send small data packets to smartphones that come into a range of about 50-100 metres. They are low cost and require very little energy.

Within the marketing sector, beacon technology is also known as “proximity marketing” – alluding to its importance in creating timely physical context and location-specific relevance for customers.

The popularity of beacon technology is soaring as smartphones and mobile devices continue to proliferate. A recent study by AirSpace showed that 79% of the brands questioned are planning to implement proximity marketing over the next six months.

So 2015 could be the year that beacon technology hits the big time. And much of the commercial interest in beacon technology so far has come from the retail sector.

Retail

Apple has created its own iBeacons and set out its support for the technology by installing them in all its US stores to help customers seek assistance, alert them if their iPhone is eligible for an upgrade and push information about special deals.

Technology company Iconeme are currently developing the patent-pending VMBeacon – a beacon for use in fashion retail environments. The technology has already been trialled by House of Fraser, Oasis, Hawes & Curtis, and Jaeger. It has just been launched at Ted Baker‘s store in Westfield White City, London – a first for the brand.

How does it work? Customers will need to download the free app and allow push notifications. VMBeacons are inserted into mannequins within the store. When a customer passes a beacon, a push notification is triggered in the associated smartphone app.

These alerts can provide links to the Ted Baker website, or help the customer locate where the mannequin’s garments can be found on the shop floor. The beacons also generate detailed photos and descriptions of what the customer is looking at, and this content can become more interactive too: Shoppers can create look-books, share items with friends on social media, or be encouraged to continue using the app – and shop with the brand – by receiving exclusive offers and rewards.

Beacon technology can also be helpful for encouraging active sales and engagement outside of store opening hours. Mannequins located in window displays could interact with passers-by at all times of day and night.

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Other uses for beacons in retail include automatic acceptance of tickets, loyalty cards and payments. Norwegian startup Unacast is planning to use beacons to provide brands with the opportunity to re-target online ads to consumers based on the actual items they have been looking at in-store.

Education & learning

The potential uses for beacon technology within eLearning are huge. Visitors to museums and art galleries could benefit from using a site-specific app linked to beacons throughout the venue, which could offer a much more interactive experience than traditional signage and audio guides are able to do.

Curators and educators could collate further information for each object or artwork and save it within a beacon. Visitors could then automatically access interviews, music, further description, and video, and even respond to – and interact with – the object.

You can imagine that an app would then allow users to save their favourite pieces and share them with others – turning a potentially boring school trip into a rich, rewarding and more long-lasting experience.

Achieving personal targets would also be a great way to use beacons. They could guide you around the gym for example, delivering your exercise routine to your smartphone or updating your smartwatch as you go.

Customer services

Beacons are already being used to enhance travel and transport services for passengers, especially in locations such as major international airports. A pilot scheme by Emirates is fitting beacons into luggage tags – like a kind of wearable technology for suitcases – to track baggage and help prevent loss.

British Airways has been trialling the devices at key points along the consumer journey to improve customer experience and provide useful information like boarding times. Beacons could also be used at transport hubs to notify passengers of timetable changes, delays, special deals and gate information.

Back on the high street, a Barclays Bank branch in Sheffield is currently trialling beacon technology to help its disabled customers. An application on the customer’s iPhone will recognise the in-store beacon to notify staff that they have entered the building and will require assistance.

Our tips: Making beacon technology work for you

  • Convincing users to download your app is the hard bit. Remember that consumers will download apps, but only as long as it adds genuine value to their experience.
  • Plan how you’ll keep your content fresh. A content management system will allow you to manage all the information in real-time, in a way that’s easily update-able.
  • Once your beacon system is live, be sure to make maximum use of it to gain greater insights into your customers’ behaviour, needs and desires.

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!

Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today. Get in touch by calling 01908 522532 or email [email protected].

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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 [email protected].

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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 [email protected].

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