Category Archives: Forgot Mobile

Campaigns that forgot to include mobile.

Saks Fifth Avenue Forgot That We Read Email On Our Phones

image: Mobile Email

I get a lot of email. We all do.  And as if the sheer volume wasn’t enough to make you scream along came smartphones. So now not only is there a lot of email but you can access it from (just about) anywhere and are often expected to. You can’t get away from it. But being the adaptive sort of creature we humans are we find new ways to use the tools we have. Many of us – having realized that the smartphone isn’t a great device for crafting thoughtful emails –  are using our smartphones to quickly scan our inboxes weeding out the unwanted, meaningless and irrelevant emails and leaving just the ones that we need/want, many of which we will read later when time allows.  In fact many people perform this exercise before they even get out of bed.

I was doing this, too, – scanning my inbox using my new Moto X – when I came across an email from Saks 5th Avenue. I had recently subscribed to their email newsletter, though I have no idea why. The subject line was intriguing enough,

“Welcome to Saks.com. Your special offer inside…”

Cool. Let me quickly peek at what that offer is. Maybe this email is a keeper. And maybe – my hopes climbing a bit here – I’ll even find an anniversary gift for my wife! I tap the email to open it and viola:

Saks email no pics top

Wha?? This is a mess! I try to scan it and my eyes only manage to find “enter code WL2013AR7V83 at checkout”. The rest of the email appears to be images that don’t show. Plus the fonts are so small I can barely read the words. The message to me: Saks cares more about designing a fancy email than one that I can actually read. I’m going to unsubscribe now.

FAIL.

In the interest of research, however, decide to look at the entire email and begin a long scroll through illegible mouse-print:

image: Saks' Full email

 

Wow.

Let’s turn on the pictures and see what we get:

image: Saks email with pics

 

The poor lady looks like the victim of a magic trick involving large metal blades.

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What could have saved this campaign?

Saks is no stranger to mobile. They have a smartphone app, a mobile web site and a text-messaging program. If you’re on your phone, they want to be with you. Unless you’re reading one of their emails, which clearly are not designed for consumption on a mobile phone. It’s a common oversight but the impacts could be significant. Fortunately the fix is not complicated and may actually free up some resources in the Saks marketing department. They need to optimize their emails for mobile. Here’s how:

1) Build or use an email template that detects the device and renders the email appropriately. This is done using Media Queries. The concept is known as responsive email design.

2) Reduce reliance on images to deliver the message. Most Android email clients have images turned off by default to control data usage. Your message should come through even without images.  Switch to rich text for the bulk of the email with perhaps a single image at the top with generous use of the <alt> attribute to display text when the image isn’t shown.

3) Leave lots of room to tap.  The average finger is around 45 pixels wide. Jay Shwedelson at Worldata says up to 1/3 of your email clicks could be accidental if you’re not leaving 15 pixels of padding around your links.

 

Target’s In-Store App Promotion Fail

For the longest time Target (the department store chain) has avoided mention in this blog. In fact, I’ve used some of their mobile efforts in presentations to show the way to win (vs. fail) in mobile. Both Target and their mobile partner Deloitte Digital have done fantastic work on their mobile app and mobile site. So I was surprised to find myself standing in a Target store looking at this sign.

image: target in store mobile fail

It’s a simple sign with a clear message but how do I get the app? Are they relying on me to go the app store on my phone (Google Play, in this case), do a search for “target” and download it that way? I guess they are because they’ve provided no more convenient alternative.

FAIL

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What could have saved this experience/campaign?

Well, it isn’t the most egregious fail. I guess the solution is pretty obvious but I’ll spell it out.

1) Give a Call-To-Action
This is what surprises me most about the Target sign. Sure, someone who is really motivated will figure it out. But when you are engaging people in-person tell them what to do. Give them a call-to-action. And in a purely mobile environment such as retail a call-to-action should be short and sweet. Don’t force people to think about how to do something, tell them. And make the process as short and quick as possible. There are some ways they could have made things easier for me:

  • A short URL – something like, “target.com/app”. This is easy to enter and easy to remember.
  • A code for me to send via text-message – something like “Text TARGET to 28594″. This has the added benefit of providing Target with an opportunity to get me to opt-in to receive their text-alerts.
  •  Maybe a QR code – They’re not dead (as some will claim) and are the fastest way for someone to get your app. Though plenty of people still don’t know what a QR code is or what to do with them, signs like this can be a good place to use them. However, I probably wouldn’t have put one on this sign as it was 8 or so feet off the ground; the code would have to be really big to be scan-able.

2) Put some smarts behind the URl/QR code.
To keep the sign clean and the call-to-action clear you need a QR code or URL that points to multiple app stores.  With a little device detection and redirection a single url can be used by any phone/device with a good resulting experience.

Interestingly, that same day I saw this sign at Home Depot. When you text to the code you get a url the directs your phone to the correct app store. Well done.

Home-Depot-in-store-mobile-promo

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GoWallet Forgets That It’s A Mobile App

I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day, loyalty card in-hand, when I saw an image of a mobile phone on a nearby display. On it was printed, “Access Your Gift Cards – anytime, anywhere” (I’m really tired of companies who have anything at all to do with mobile using ‘anytime, anywhere’. In this case, there’s a picture of a mobile phone. I get it.) Then there was a picture of a phone with a few logos on the screen such as Best Buy and Safeway (the store in which I was standing). At first I thought it was suggesting I could load my Safeway card onto the phone, probably because I was actually holding my card.

image: MobileMarketingFail.com GoWallet Display

I was going to try it (or at least get the app – I didn’t have any gift cards at the time) and impulsively reached for my phone to scan the QR code. But in a brief moment of disbelief that quickly turned into disappointment I found no code to scan.  There was a URL for gowallet.com but it was my turn in line and I had to pay for my things.  I had enough time to scan a code and that was it.

FAIL

After checking out I looked for an empty check-out isle and found the same sign. I opened the browser on my phone and tapped in gowallet.com. After several seconds and a bit of forced patience (is it that hard to make a mobile site that loads fast?) I was offered the following on my screen:

image: mobilemarketingfail.com GoWallet site

 

Eh? This can’t be happening. This is a full web site! What am I supposed to do with this? Arrrgh..

FAIL

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What could have saved this experience/campaign?

This multi-level fail needs a lot of work to make it a good mobile experience. It’s surprising that a service that has mobile at its heart is so un-friendly to the mobile user. Let’s start at the top.

1) Call-to-Action – Even with the questions about the long-term viability of QR codes this would have been the place to have one.  For those who know what to do with a QR code it is simply the fastest way to create a connection with the mobile user.  Just putting the URL is not enough. Opening a browser and tapping in URL - even a relatively simple one - is not as fast as scanning a 2D barcode.

2) Mobile Web – The GoWallet web site, whether someone tapped or scanned to get there,  MUST be made mobile-friendly. If for some reason the site can’t be made friendly at least create a landing page that briefly describes the service and allows the mobile user to easily show some initial interest (no-one will complete registration from their phone) by entering their email address or linking to a download of the mobile app.

3) Promote the App – Using basic device detection it is relatively simple to re-direct mobile phones to the mobile app in the appropriate app store. Then, tell them more about the app and the overall service once they are there and only one tap away from a download. Don’t make mobile users read a detailed web site and then hunt around for the link to get the app. Take them to the app, get them to download and walk them through the process.

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Feeding America: Who Should Care?

Shopping malls are a popular place this time of year. And it is widely recognized that teenagers often hang out at shopping malls. Add this to the fact that teenagers are far and away the most prolific text-messagers and you have an environment ripe for a mobile marketing effort that uses text-messaging/SMS.

Which is why I wasn’t too surprised when I first read the words on a display ad in a local shopping mall that said:

“HNGR
TXTS,
2.”

Clearly, this was a play on the shorthand used when sending a text message. Right? Actually, it’s not that clear. Intrigued, I really studied the ad (I’m guessing more than a teenager would, or anyone else for that matter). I was looking for the payoff, the something to do, the call-to-action.:

image: Feeding America Full Mall Ad

One thing is clear, this is an ad for an organization looking to feed the hungry.

What’s not clear is what the ad means and more importantly, what can I do about it as I walk through the mall? Let’s look a little closer, perhaps there’s something in the details that clears things up.:

image: Feeding America mall ad closeup

Whaa? I get that there are hungry people. You’ve got my attention with the text-message-like copy.  But now you want me to remember to visit feedingamerica.org to ‘do my part’?  Is there nothing I can do right now? In fact, feedingamerica.org isn’t even designed to be read by a mobile device, sigh.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

Feeding America has placed themselves in a bit of a tough spot here. They clearly recognize who is likely to be in shopping malls and seeing their ad; they have copy that is short and easy to grasp for a frequent texter. Lost, however, is the connection between who they are talking to and what they want them to do. First, a teen is likely not paying a nanosecond’s notice to the ad regardless of its familiar vernacular. Even if they did engage with the ad is there even the remotest possibility that they’d  write down the URL in order to ‘do their part’? Nope. These are teenagers. This ad is targeting the wrong people.

It is the parents in the  crowd that the folks at Feeding America really want to talk to. Grab them with a more standard line rather than one that looks like a crypic text-message (sorry, no suggestions here. I’m not a copy writer). Then, give them an easy way to do something right there, whether it’s sending an SMS or scanning a bar code. Once engaged, pull them along into a conversation about the cause and even solicit a mobile donation.

Central Security Distributors Not So Secure – FAIL

Any smartphone owner who’s downloaded a handful of apps will acknowledge the advertising that is present on most free apps. They are very much like banner ads on regular (i.e. non-mobile) web sites. And my guess is that they get about the same amount of intentional clicks, if not fewer. My personal theory is that mobile ads receive clicks (taps on a touch screen) because:
1) they are tapped accidentally,
2) new smartphone owners are tapping on things just to see how they work
These clicks are not from people truly interested in the product or service being promoted. Again, only a personal theory.

So, like many smartphone owners I’ve downloaded a free alarm clock app, which has ads. And true to my theory, I accidentally tapped this ad from CSD (Central Security Distributors) who apparently sells security systems from Paradox:

image: Paradox Security Mobile Ad

Here’s what I got. Keep in mind this is an offer for security products.

image: Paradox Security Mobile Ad Fail

Whoa! Wait a minute. A security warning on a site that sells security products? Yikes.

Fail #1.

If you look behind the certificate you’ll see the other, more common problem: a non-mobile web site. Even if I did continue in spite of the warning I’d be in for a terrible experience at a full web site that has shrunk itself to the size of my phone screen. No way.

Fail #2.

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What could have saved this campaign?

The problems with this campaign stem from, I believe, a single point of failure. This is an Adwords campaign. You can tell by the Google+ “+1″ stuff off to the left of the ad and the arrow that points to the right indicating that you will be going somewhere, which is Google’s way of letting you know you’ll be ‘taken somewhere.’

Here’s what happened: whoever set up the Adwords campaign for CSD didn’t realize that Adwords will automatically put your ad on mobile phones unless you specify otherwise (generally a bad move on Google’s part). Here’s what that looks like in the Adwords system:

image: Adwords Devices Options

The default is “All available devices” and is unfortunately recommended by Google. The marketer at CSD just accepted the default not realizing that any clicks from a mobile device would be 100% wasted due to the issues described above.

Aside from the issue of why the ad was on a mobile device is why the site has an invalid security certificate associated with the content on the site. This is just bad web programming and particularly egregious for a firm selling security products.

Oddly, a similar thing happened with American Express.

Create Jobs For USA Not Recruiting with Mobile

Jobs are important. In fact they’ll likely be the leading topic during this year’s political debates and we’ll be sick of all the talk. Fortunately, Create Jobs For USA (www.createjobsforusa.org), part of the Opportunity Finance Network, is actually doing something more than just talk.

They are advertising on billboards. And asking those of us with jobs to donate a mere $5 to the cause.image: Create Jobs Billboard

As I drove by this billboard I was reminded of the Red Cross efforts to raise money in $5 and $10 increments following the disasters in Haiti and Japan. I wondered if this was a similar thing. Prepared to pull out my mobile phone at the next traffic light I looked for the instructions. But there weren’t any! Only a small, though memorable, URL. There was no call-to-action.

I stopped to take the picture but I didn’t even bother to pull up the web site on my phone. I’ve tried that before and smaller organizations, particularly non-profits, just aren’t there yet with mobile and I’d end up at a full blown site designed for a desktop computer.

From where I was there was nothing I could do for them except try to remember the URL for later.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

Create Jobs For USA just plain forgot mobile. It never occurred to them.

Without going into the appropriateness of a mobile call-to-action on a billboard (not usually a good idea because people are driving) they could have at least tried. Here’s what they might have done:

1) Allow readers to donate via their mobile phone. If they don’t qualify for the Haiti-style approach where the $5 gets added to the mobile phone bill – there are restrictions for this – they could use text messaging to start the process then link donors off to Paypal via their mobile phone to make payment. (Atomic Mobile offers a service like this) The billboard would include something like, “Text JOBS to 12345.”  They could even leverage their partnership with Starbucks so that Starbucks would match all mobile donations.

2) Create a mobile site and link it to their desktop site. This mobile site would be laser-focused on telling the story and generating donations. Anyone driving by (as a passenger, of course) could then just use their phone to go to the site and donate. They should still do this, it isn’t too late.

5th Avenue Theater’s Mobile Site Fail

This is a guest post from Kim Sklar, a student in the University of Washington’s Masters in Communication in Digial Media (MCDM) program. Here original post can be found here. She recently attempted to use the mobile site of Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater.

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 disclaimer: I only say these things as helpful suggestions and observations because I love the 5th Avenue Theatre…Broadway gods please don’t smite me or take away my season tickets discounts for the criticisms I am about to make. Love, Seat 4D).

Big fan of musical theatre here (did I mention that yet?)…not a big fan of the 5th Avenue’s total lack of mobile savoir faire. Here is a comparison of their regular web site and the mobile web site.

5th Ave's regular web site vs. mobile site

As far as I can tell, the only differences are:

    • the layout
    • there are now three navigation boxes to choose from, instead of six
    • any of the buttons I might have clicked on before (buying tickets for an upcoming show, renewing subscriptions, subscriber benefits) are now gone. Only donate, summer program discounts and info for one show remain…only one of those I’d need from my mobile phone.

Maybe they used a auto-mobile convertor? The real mobil-emma (mobile+dilemma, wait for it, it’s gonna catch on) is that neither set of navigation areas actually direct me to where, as a subscriber, I need to go.  The site takes nearly a minute for all the pictures to load, and the menu button (which is most likely the button that you’ll need to use) is about 3 pixels wide and shoved in the upper left corner of the screen where you can’t actually tap it very easily. I know that season ticket holders are not the only business, however, I do feel like they are the one that would be the main mobile users.

Le sigh. This is a organization that could really benefit for a mobile site redesign.

As a subscriber who often accesses the 5th Avenue’s site at least one a month, I would love to see the mobile platform focus on:

  • Directions, contact info and
  • Parking information (the 5th offeres free parking to season ticket holders, but I can never find out which garages are participating)
  • Show information (dates, start time, cast, description, etc. I’m not looking for HD picture slideshows on my phone).
  • Subscriber perks (restaurant discounts, special events, renewal information)

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What could have saved this campaign?

Well, Kim is right. The 5th Avenue Theater needs a separate mobile site. Their full site contains too many rich graphics for mobile and the content of the full site is not organized around the needs of the mobile theater goer. The theater needs to understand who their mobile customers are and define the experience they want to provide.

It appears their site is attempting a form of ‘responsive design’ or ‘graceful degradation’ – techniques used to alter the way a web site displays based on the device/browser that is accessing the site. Typically, however, these approaches use the same web content (images, copy, etc.) and just use style sheets to change the way the content is displayed by hiding certain things and changing their location on the screen. From purely a display standpoint this can work but it is nearly impossible to use these techniques to affect the  changes in IA (information architecture), content quality and UI (user interface) required for a good mobile user experience.

The 5th Avenue Theater needs a separate mobile web site.

Microsoft Launches a Mobile Advertising FAIL

I have a lot of apps on my Samsung/Google Nexus S. A couple are paid but the remainder are all free. Free due to advertising. These apps contain advertising slots that the developer hopes to sell to advertisers in order to generate a positive return. Alarm Clock Extreme Free is a perfect example. The bottom 1/6th of their app is dedicated to ads. Like one from Microsoft:

Microsoft Mobile Ad

I saw the ad above and thought, ‘ok, I’ve heard some decent stuff about Microsoft’s  Mango, let’s check it out.’  Tapping the ad I was asked first if I wanted to ‘View Ad,’ which was a little confusing because I’d just tapped the silly thing – of course I wanted to see the ad. Not sure if this is a function of the ad or a creation of the minds in Redmond, WA. but it seems like an unnecessary second step.

I tap ‘View Ad’ and, as expected, I’m whisked off to the land of my Windows Mobile 7 dreams.

Or not.

image: MSFT Site Cert

Now, I know that this  warning has its purpose and with only nacent experience clicking on mobile banner ads I try clicking ‘Cancel’. Bad idea. The same warning just kept coming up repeatedly, like a pop-up from a spam site that doesn’t want you to go away, and I never actually got to the site. I should have bailed at this point but it was starting to get interesting. Backing out, I found myself back in the Alarm Clock app looking at the same banner ad. Tapping it again and seeing the same warning I try ‘Continue’ and, thankfully it looks like I’m moving past the error message.

And onto a full website for Microsoft Store. Yikes.

image: MSFT Site

Yeah. This isn’t going to happen. Where are the goods on Windows Phone 7 “Mango”?? I’m at a storefront homepage, or so it seems (it’s very small).

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

It’s hard to tell what happened with this campaign. Here are my theories:

  1. (This is bad.) The marketer who set up the ad campaign didn’t realize that it might be seen from a mobile device. Given the gravity that success for Windows Phone carries for the Redmond giant this may be inexcusable.
  2. (This is worse.) The marketer actually knew that the ad would be seen from a mobile device, thought it was an awesome idea and did nothing. This marketer should be fired.

This could be a classic case of applying what we know about web advertising to the mobile environment but it appears that even the web portion has escaped the brains at Microsoft or, more likely, their agency.

  1. There is no payoff. Warning message aside, there is nothing that treats us to Windows Phone 7 and all its glory. We are simply shuttled to a home page. Of all channels, mobile needs to show value.
  2. Security certificates. These are incredibly important for eCommerce sites. They secure transaction and payment information from casual hackers. But this home page doesn’t need to be secure at this point. Nothing has happened. There should NOT be certificate validation at the entry point to a site where I may just want to browse products in relative anonymity.
  3. This landing site was not built for access from a mobile device. The remedy is obvious. Do NOT advertise on mobile devices if you’re not ready to give the user an experience designed for mobile.

TIME Magazine Frames a FAIL

A recent post by ChinWonder had me trying yet another QR code. The code didn’t work for her so I thought it may be a FAIL worth talking about.  Well, the QR code worked for me but here’s what I found instead.

The Time Frames project is a web-based effort to organize history into some broad categories, or frames, through which you can explore related content from the TIME

image:Time Mag pop-up ad

Pop-Up Ad

archives.  Not a bad idea, I guess.  That is, until you try it on your mobile phone. It’s true, the site does load, though verrry slowly and not before a pop-up ad that is also too big for

the screen. Who knows how much of my mobile data plan is being chewed up by an image-rich site that is designed for broadband Internet users?

Panning across and up and down the site is a neat trick enabled by the touch screen on my phone the technique makes it hard to understand how, exactly, the page is organized. I tried zooming out to fit the whole site on the screen but then the text was impossible to read so I had to zoom back in and continue panning. As I do this, however, I notice a blank space with the notice, “We’re sorry. HTML5 players are currently not enabled for this account.” Huh? Who’s account?image:Time Mag Bad HTML Player What is an HTML5 player anyway? Something is broken there. There are also several flash elements on the page that are trying to load (and never will on iPhones) with intermittent success. Disregarding these I selected an article on Pope John Paul II from 1984 and the slow page-loading process started again. Sigh.

This time I scroll all the way to the bottom of the page just to see exactly how big this page is (I don’t have much patience for long articles).  It isn’t terribly long but there is a page counter that says I’m on page one of eight. Forget it. But wait! At the bottom of the page is a little box with an image of a mobile phone that says, “Read TIME Mobile on Your Phone.” Yay! A mobile version! Click. Wait. Wait some more. I’m taken to another non-mobile web page with the header ‘TIMEMobile’ and five tabs, one each for Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Mobile Site. Not being a big app fan I select the Mobile Site. The page loads – quicker this time, which is promising – and now the new sub headline says,

image: Time Mobile

TIMEMobile

“mobile.time.com The easy way to access Time.com from your smartphone.” Ok.. I was really just expecting to go right to the mobile site but it appears the editors at TIME want me to click one more time. Fine. I try clicking the big, red ‘mobile.time.com’ and…nothing. It’s not a link. I can’t click anywhere on the page to actually get to the mobile site! They have a mobile site and I can’t even get to it without typing it into my phone’s browser.

I’m done. FAIL.

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What might have saved this campaign?
Between spotty QR scanning success and the lack of access to the mobile site this campaign is in pretty tough shape.  At the very heart of TIME magazine’s problem here is that they are not recognizing mobile devices that access their site and providing a device-appropriate experience. Layered on top of that are efforts like Time Frames that don’t create a mobile version yet encourage access via mobile device. Perhaps the Time Frames team should read this.
Time needs a more strategic approach to mobile and really re-think their web experience with mobile at the center rather than mobile as an add-on. All project teams need to be in sync on this. In addition, they need to test the user experience from a variety of devices and ask themselves if broken video players and flash elements are acceptable and in keeping with their brand; I suspect it isn’t.

REI Fail #2 – Make It Stop

Someone please call REI. Whoever is running their mobile marketing is asleep.image: REI SKI Magazine ad

We’re coming up on ski season and skiers and boarders alike will be keeping a close eye on snow conditions.  REI is presumably here to help. In the new issue of SKI Magazine REI placed a full-page ad dedicated largely to their equipment servicing offer but for those with iPhone and Android-based phones they have a bonus: a free snow report app!

Using a nice, short URL, REI.com/apps, they successfully avoided the inherent challenges with QR codes (i.e., some people don’t know what they are and don’t have a reader installed on their phone). This tidy little URL can easily be typed into a phone browser, which is what I did. Soon the now-familiar REI image: REI Ad Copymobile site began loading. After a few seconds the site was loaded and – no app anywhere. I wasn’t even on a page that was supposed to have apps. I was just staring at the front door of their mobile site.

Fail.

Looking around, I didn’t even see where the apps might be. Under ‘SHOP’? Under ‘Find Out’? Checking….. nope. I don’t see it anywhere. On an off-chance I thought I’d try the URL from my computer and there – on the fixed Internet – is a page offering an iPhone app. Yay! But what about Android? Oop. In pretty orange letters the page says, “Android Version Coming Soon!” I could have swore the ad said for iPhone and Android. Wait! It did. Fail again. Sigh.

Credit: @daniel_phelps

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What might have saved this campaign?
At some risk of stating the obvious REI could have simply created a page on their mobile site where the app(s) could be downloaded. When their web servers detected that a mobile device was accessing REI.com/apps the user could be taken directly to that page. As far as promoting an app for Android when none exists? This bad idea could be mitigated by offering to alert me via SMS when the app is ready. Then send me the link to the download page.