Tag Archives: email

How I would Yahoo!


So, apparently Yahoo! is up for sale, and even better, Google are willing to help fund it’s resurgence. This sounds so familiar – in 1997, Apple were having serious problems and Microsoft, their once main competitor, invested $150 million in the company, and now Apple is worth more than Microsoft!

Back to Yahoo!, it’s amazing how many people are so dismissive of Yahoo!’s (that’s a lot of punctuation) value.

Here are the high level stats:

Yahoo has over 500 million unique visitors each month, around the World, in over 30 languages.

In the UK alone, adults spend over 3 hours a month just on Yahoo! Mail.

To build that audience of 500 million would cost a HUGE amount of money (and time), so in my opinion there’s never been a better time to Yahoo! Stock is set at a very reasonable price, and Google are willing to invest a significant amount of money.

Here’s what I would do if I took over Yahoo! tomorrow:


  • An Internet content portal above all else. In terms of competition, Google provide mail to compete with Yahoo! Mail however there is no one with similar a traffic size which provides the level of content as Yahoo!
  • Generate a cost/revenue model for services such as Yahoo! Mail and Flickr to see if it’s worth selling these on or keeping them and reinvesting.
  • Create a cloud development service model to compete with the likes of Amazon and Microsoft – turning a cost centre into a profit centre


 Work out where my users are coming from – is it mainly from PC manufacturer-set-browser-homepages which haven’t been updated for 5 years? In fact, I’d probably do most of my initial work on the analysis of who uses the individual Yahoo! services to ascertain the users’ value, or even try to derive an ARPU (Average Revenue Per User).


Yahoo! strikes me as a company which is struggling to innovate. How many new services of note have their launched recently? I would look at why this has happened – have they all left to go to competitors? Internet companies need to have innovation at the centre of their philosophy, vision and corporate structure in order to keep users returning. I would reignite this passion for innovation immediately.

And finally, I think I’d rebrand Yahoo! to drop the exclamation mark! (Pun intended).


The future of consumerisation


One of the major shifts in the last five years has been the “consumerisation” of technology. Consumerisation is a swanky word for technology moving outside of the office/professional life into personal lives, and then moving back into the office in a different guise.

The shift started with broadband Internet. Once staff had broadband installed at home, they checked their email from home. They stopped taking laptops home with them and used their home computer.

Smartphones have accelerated the amount of consumerisation. You definitely know some people who have been provided a mobile phone from their employer, and the same individuals also have a smartphone on a personal contract. They will then use their personal phone to check their work email because they prefer their personal device.

This grey area of using personally-paid-for devices is a real issue for IT departments at the moment because of lack of standardisation (having to support iPhones, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia, etc.) and security risks.

Consumerisation isn’t limited to hardware either. I use Outlook 2010 at work, and mainly Google Mail for personal email. New features on Google Mail are appearing regularly. One of my favourites is if you type “I have attached the document” inside a GMail email and press send before attaching a file, Google gives you an alert to ask if you want to attach a document. Brilliant. I wish Microsoft had built the same functionality to prevent me forgetting to attach a file in Outlook.

In fact Google understands consumerisation on a new level. GMail and Google Docs started their lives as consumer tools and then became available as white labeled enterprise tools (a matter of opinion) for businesses. And there’s recently been a lot of commentary about Google refusing to let businesses on to their new social networks – they want end users on there first.

Technology is continuing to become more consumer-focussed, which means we’ll use more of our personally-paid-for technology in our working lives. As my post earlier this week demonstrated, once we start checking our work calendar on our bathroom sink as soon as we wake up, the grey line will been very broad indeed.


Tour de France on ITV Player

A huge congratulations to Mark Cavendish on winning the Tour de France’s green jersey. That’s the colour worn by the leader in the Tour’s points competition, which is the race’s most consistent high-finisher.

I watched more coverage of the Tour de France this year than ever before. It might be because I’ve been cycling more (myself) this year, but it’s probably got more to do with ITV’s superb coverage on TV and online.

The online coverage had a quick user registration process – literally just the email address. The benefit of the registration was twofold:

  1. Users could watch the coverage(!)
  2. Users received an email when coverage started the next day

The second advantage was very refreshing – literally receiving an email when “the Tour” started each day, and then I received notification when the entire Tour highlights was on TV and the Internet.

Websites that require registration for no apparent reason other than untargeted ‘spam’ email could learn a lot from ITV. The only piece of feedback to ITV for their online coverage is to increase the quality by increasing the video bitrate. I don’t mind the adverts because I understand they are paying for the content in the first place.


The best starters guide to online marketing

If you’re looking for a “How to” guide to online or digital marketing, I recommend the following graphic (care of Unbounce). I’ve sent this to many people by email and Twitter as the best starting point for any online marketing campaign. It doesn’t necessarily need a large advertising budget behind it – it just needs some time. 

There’s so much information in the graphic that I’ve tried printing it on several A3 sheets but it didn’t look particularly great. My brother-in-law (thanks to PhotoPaperDirect) has managed to print it as a 6 foot long print on a screen printer however there resolution isn’t good enough to remain clear (it’s OK, but not brilliant).

The Noob Guide to Online Marketing - Infographic
Unbounce – The DIY Landing Page Platform

Internet World


I spent today at Internet World. In the morning I met a number of vendors who we currently work with (such as Sitecore and Telligent) and ex-colleagues from my IMG days (such as Ismail at Webcredible). In the afternoon I went to a number of presentations from Blue State Digital, Attensity, Hilton and Dixons.

The presentations were far more information than previous years. All the presenters seemed more willing than previous years to impart key information – such as uptime statistics, very specific keyword analysis on social media listening (which included some negative publicity on a key client) and so on. This isn’t a complaint whatsoever – its a welcome observation.

Key points from the presentations:

Blue State Digital

  • BSD (owned by WPP, and they work with one of our clients) ran Obama’s digital campaign (13m subscribers, raised $600m donations from 3.2m donors, generated 1 million User Generated Photos of which many were used in campaign videos). 
  • A lot of thought about “seizing key moments” e.g. when Sarah Palin attacked Obama in speeches they sent plain emails responding immediately to her comments. BH: Sounds great – but how do you stop crying wolf for everything that might happen to a brand?
  • Every piece of content needs to drive a next step action (for example share, submit, click for the next step, comment) and as a proof of practising what they preached, I noticed that even the PowerPoint had questions not bullets
  • BSD recommend to their client not to mass newsletters. Instead, personalise them and target them
  • The key takeaway was on a ladder of participation, was to create one and measure it for clients. E.g. What’s the total number of consumers a brand reaches? What is the web traffic? How many email sends are there? How many emails are opened? How many Facebook fans on their page? How many people contribute in the on portal community?, and so on.


  • Key take away was their methodology: Listen, Analyse, Relate, Act
  • Conversations happen over multiple channels, not just social media and not just web. For instance they have a travel client and they “listen” to Travelocity and Hotels.com. To put this into context, most social media listening tools focus on Twitter, Facebook and some blog networks.


  • Surinder Phuller was excellent. Social media is about being open and transparent, and she got this more than most of the other social media speakers and other social experts that I’ve met in the last few months.
  • Her presentation was about using video content on social networks to improve sales
  • Their themes/ “targetted methodology” (you had to see it to understand) was to brand content, destinations, and specific hotels
  • It is an opportunity to sell ancillary services such as the spa or restaurant which historically has been very difficult within some hotel locations.
  • They sent Flip video cameras to all the hotels and asked local hotel staff to shoot them and upload them – not professional production teams
  • At first they sent the Flip cameras out and got poor quality videos back, e.g. “Here’s my ballroom, isn’t it lovely?”
  • She then worked on content plans with the hotels, training local staff with 12 month content plans with the above themes, such as asking staff at the Hilton Park Lane on their opinion of the Royal wedding
  • After the content plan the content improved to information about the local area and personal thoughts from staff members
  • The general aim was to get the hotel staff and their personalities into the videos, so you know that when you’re going to stay at a particular Hilton, you know the individual staff before you get there


  • Excellent presentation from Chris Howell, their IT Director
  • The presentation was all about customer experience – measuring it; acting on it; not hiding from the facts when the site has poor performance
  • Chris learned at Tesco what it means to be customer focussed, and his presentation was all about taking that to other companies
  • Chris raised an excellent point which is that the quote “Jack of all trades, master at none” is actually only half the quote. The full quote is “Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one“. Definitely the topic of a future blog post!

If you have some time on Wednesday, it’s worth popping down to Earls Court Two and hopefully the presentations will be as insightful as Tuesday’s. Please let me know what you thought of the exhibition via the comments below or on Twitter (@bradbox).

This week’s email newsletters trend


This week I’ve received two email newsletters which have both directed me to a broken website when I’ve click on any link in the newsletter.

Email newsletters provide an intermediate website so that when a user clicks on a link, the email sending company can tell who clicked on which links, and provide the stats back to the brand that’s running a promotion. That’s all messed up if the email company’s website is down though, which seemed to be the trend this week.

The first company was an industry newspaper, so I wrote to the editor who replied within seconds to say she’d look into it. What’s the point of having journalists hit a deadline for the email newsletter, if no one can read/ get to the article?

The second company was a promotion from a vendor. They probably paid a reasonable amount of money for the email list and sending the newsletter, only for it to result in no click throughs.

At Endava we use ExactTarget for the majority of our clients’ emails (some clients choose their corporate or legacy vendors) and we’ve not seen this problem from them.

Handling the post holiday Inbox

Today is my first day back in the office after a fortnight on holiday in Israel. Over the next few days I’ll write some blog entries regarding some Digital Media stuff that’s going on over there.

In the meantime, I had the dreaded return-from-holiday-and-see-the-massive-Inbox nightmare that awaits everyone these days. There are a number of strategies to handle the hundreds of emails, but my personal favourite was from a brave lawyer at a previous employer.

On the morning after the Xmas break and his summer holiday, he would simply delete all the emails in his inbox. His theory was that people would see his ‘Out of office’ automatic response during these breaks, and would contact him again on his return.

A brilliant idea that I have passed on to several people.

Did I do it? Nope, I’m just not that brave!

Insurance loyalty


My motorbike insurance policy is due at the end of July, so my current insurer sent a reminder in the post. It seemed quite a lot more than last year (30% increase, with no accidents or endorsements in the last 12 months), so like most other people (my first assumption today) I decided to go to a price comparison website* to have a look at how it compares to other companies.

The first thing that annoyed me from the comparison website was that my current insurer was offering a policy at pretty much the same rate as last year. That’s pretty much 30% less than they were offering me directly by post!

The second thing was that there were several other companies offering even better deals (hey, I’m getting older, the bike is slowly devaluing, and last year has been pretty innocent in the eyes of the insurers, so the policy should be cheaper).

So whilst car insurance companies are spending millions of marketing pounds annually, and launching with loyalty programmes to attempt to keep customers, all they really need to do is the following:

  1. Contact customers by email (it’s cheaper, and easier to analyse), with a simple message like “Hey, you’ve been with us for the last year. You haven’t made a claim, or told us about endorsements. If your details are still the same, we can offer you a policy at a slightly reduced cost than last year – no hassle or looking around – just reconfirm your credit card details and that’s it. In 20 seconds we’ll be sending you your new cover note.” I reckon most customers would renew on the spot.
  2. Stop trying to rip existing customers off. What is the point of offering a 30% increase on the policy, where customers can go online and see the same insurance company offering a 30% discount via a comparison site?

The interesting point would be to find out from insurance companies how many people do automatically renew without shopping around, and happily pay that 30% extra in the second year…


* I’m not affiliated to MCN in any way

Back from holiday and thanks to Sky

Apologies for no posts over the last couple of weeks – I took a much-overdue holiday over the Easter break.

Once I arrived back to the office, I had the almost standard 500 emails-whilst-on-holiday. Why is Outlook so rubbish at collating emails properly by conversation? I hoped that Google Wave would make Microsoft wake up and try to improve Outlook for the first time in 10 years, and judging by the marketing fluff on the Outlook 2010 page, it might become a reality.

Back to home life, and at Maison Howard we have BT Vision rather than Sky TV. So when the Barcelona v Arsenal game was only shown on Sky TV, we watched the game via the legal live stream.

How much do you think it costs to watch a pay per view game on the Internet? Bear in mind that the game was the quarter final of the Champions League, and I’m not a Sky subscriber, I thought that £3 was excellent value.

We have a laptop permanently hooked up to the TV, and watched the game in reasonable quality. I would have been willing to pay an extra couple of quid for a higher quality version. BT Vision doesn’t cost any monthly fee, the Vision box is excellent (pretty much identical to Sky Plus) and we watch a few pay per view movies each month, plus a couple of pay per view streams from Sky over the Internet, and our TV bill comes to less than £15 a month.

Of course, nothing could change the result of the match and so I won’t be paying for any more Champions League this season.