Tag Archives: loyalty

npowerclub72.com site review


This week npower, who secured the naming rights to the Football League from the 2010/11 season for three years, jumped on the bandwagon and launched a Football League social network – www.npowerclub72.com.

The agency behind the website clearly had some good intentions, some of which I agree with:

  1. Don’t use Facebook Connect for everything, because unless you’re a unique level of Superbrand, all the consumer data that you’ll be collecting will be owned by Facebook. I agree with this and at Endava we call this On Portal and Off Portal. Off Portal are social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. where the brand has no permanent rights to consumer data, and On Portal are brand-owned social networks where all the data belongs to the brand.
  2. Badges are good. I also agree with the philosophy that when users have used the site for long enough, reward them with badges. This idea has been around for a long time (Xbox or even Gold/Platinum credit cards and airline points cards). Badges cost nothing to distribute (they are only pixels), and instantly provide a level of loyalty to a website where users want to return to earn the next badge. On Npower’s website, users earn a badge for visiting/ claiming to visit a Football League club’s ground.
  3. Football and social networks. It’s been a long time coming – with football the most popular sport in the UK, and social networks so successful here as well, it’s natural to create a network for football fans.

So far so good.

The design is OK, nothing too fancy, and then again, it probably doesn’t need to be – neither Facebook or its twin brother Google+ are going to win any creative design awards.

Here’s what I’d have done differently if we ran the site:

  1. Badges are overused. In fact, the only thing to do on the site is earn badges. No other user generated content exists, and there’s no moderation on the site to you claiming all the badges. This defeats the loyalty aspect completely.
  2. No Facebook integration at all. The site should update Facebook (and Twitter, etc.) when users earn badges (once they sort out the badge issue).
  3. The visit-a-football-ground should be extended to upload pictures when a user visits a ground. This will provide a level of self-moderation.
  4. There’s no mobile support. In 2011, all sites should include mobile browser support and then include [iPhone and Android, etc.] app support. The mobile support should include mobile photo uploads and GPS, to provide FourSquare style ‘Check-In’ functionality to grounds.
  5. There’s little content links to the Football League. I would expect at least a league table and results ticker.

Back to my point above – a social network for football fans has been a long time coming, and I still think the opportunity exists for someone (probably a sponsor) to produce one.


The future of technology and payments according to Visa


Photo courtesy of Jack Snell on Flickr

Someone from Visa sent me a brand new whitepaper about Visa’s view of the future of technology and payments, the future being the next 3-5 years. The main purpose of the whitepaper is the first in a series of thought-provoking, thought-leadership pieces to discuss in the industry. How they plan to discuss it, is interesting in itself – I’ll deal with that at the end.

The whitepaper cleverly pulls together various emerging technologies into 7 key trends. The first 3 are technological and the last 4 are social.

Mobile and identity issues are raised as you’d expect. The future of payments is probably via a phone rather than a card. And pull mechanisms (also called invisible payments or background payments) such as regular top ups such as ‘Oyster cards‘ are going to be more common – including us wearing such devices.

Put it another way – if you travel on the underground, purchase items on Amazon, eBay and the Apple App store, you won’t need your card number at any point, because each sites remembers your card details. If I said ten years ago that you’ll pay for computer programs, books, music or even second items in the same way as you pay for your electricity — background payments without referring to your credit or debit card — anyone would have laughed.

Whilst the continuation of the transfer from cash to electronic is going to keep increasing, I still think there will be a requirement for cash. If you disagree, try and find a tradesman (plumber, builder, electrician, etc.) who deals exclusively in electronic payments and you’ll get my point.

At the other end of the spectrum, virtual currencies don’t get a mention. My view is that virtual currencies inside websites such as Facebook and especially online games will become huge. At the moment Visa Inc is dealing with these new payment companies by buying them outright.

I’m being negative, however the document does pull together huge topics such as social media, mobile, personal identities, Big Data, invisible payments and cash into a short, clear and concise conversation starter.

And this is where the document falls apart. Visa want to discuss the document by email. That’s 10 years ago, not 2011. In 2011 we expect at the very least a web forum to discuss the chapters in the document with industry peers. In 2001 a conversation was between 2-5 people. In 2011 a conversation is with hundreds or thousands. Emailing a mailbox called futurevision@visa.com doesn’t entice an open coversation. In 2011 we expect to discuss these matters with thinkers/ people with faces — not a faceless corporate mailbox.

Superbrands on BBC


Last night on BBC3 (why BBC3??) was the first part of a three part documentary on Superbrands, and why they mean so much to us. Last night’s episode was on Technology, with next week investigating Fashion.

You can watch the Superbrands: Technology version here on iPlayer.

The series is well produced with a Louis Theroux style presenter, Alex Riley, who you can’t tell if he’s mocking his interviewee or being serious.

In case you don’t watch the episode, (and even if you do, I’m not giving too much away), the crux of the episode was “Why are Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Sony such powerful brands, and Nokia not so powerful? After all, Nokia is still the largest handset manufacturer in the World, and has more handsets out there.

One of the light hearted parts of last night’s programme is that various groups of people were asked to describe these brands as if they were a personality. These groups included primary school children and older children, to people in the street. Facebook was described as “your mate in the pub who knew everything about everyone and bought you a drink as you walked in, but you weren’t sure if your wallet was safe with them.” Microsoft was the “middle aged BMW driver” – not bad for the company who produce the hippest games console.

The programme’s conclusion was about Control:

  • Apple own the entire user journey from turning on your phone to the app, to the advertising on the app.
  • Apparently Sony lose around $200 per PS3 unit because they want to use the highest quality components including a Blu-Ray player which costs almost $100 per unit. Its a small price to pay when it provides a mass market desire to buy Blu-Ray discs, of which Sony has a revenue sharing model.
  • Microsoft was interesting because of its image as an Operating System vendor (yawn, and please look at the recent Windows 7 launch video) and a generally ‘boring’ application stack. Except for Xbox that is, which interestingly has no Microsoft branding near it.

Yet Nokia only own the handset. They are a hardware manufacturer. A non-exciting consumable manufacturer.

The programme was highly entertaining however I can’t say I learned anything new from it, except the Xbox-has-no-Microsoft-branding and the scientific (via MRI scan) similarity with brand loyalty and religion.

Thinking of other superbrands with similar levels of Control, Visa is another great example. It’s a Superbrand in the Control category because as soon as you pay for an item in a supermarket with your card, or online, you have regular reinforcement of the brand. The logo on your card, to Verified-by-Visa (I’m not saying V-B-V is a good thing) if you’re shopping online. And Visa has similar levels of Control of the successful technology superbrands because they understand spending data across retailers, which virtually no one else has. Actually, Akamai has probably more data about consumer behaviour, but is a B2B brand rather than a Superbrand.

I’m looking forward to next week with Superbrands: Fashion.

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

Ten Digital Media Predictions for 2010

Here are my predictions for the coming year. In 12 months time, let’s review what actually happened!

1. Reinvestment in Digital Media.

Based on a lack of investment in 2009, I think a lot of companies will see a website revamp, or a new product version appearing in 2010. This will be especially true of companies who chose to ‘cut corners’ in 2009, for example deciding to build their own proprietary CMS. This coming year, they’ll choose to re-engineer the same site using an off-the-shelf, or even open source CMS.

2. Lack of new products due to R&D being slashed in 2009.

I’m not sure we’ll see so many new Spotifys (Spotifies?) appearing in 2010, because of a lack of investment/R&D budget last year. Maybe we’ll see new stuff appear at the end of the year though. The exceptions will be anything from Apple, with the imminent launch of their iSlate.

3. A number of live events on YouTube.

Yup, live is where the value is. And Google know this. So expect some new live events appearing on the platform in 2010.

4. More Flex applications, less Silverlight.

Flex will succeed because the creative agencies like Adobe and not Microsoft. This might change in the longer term, but for 2010, expect to see some sites migrate into very funky (I can’t use the adjective flash here!) Flex applications.

5. SecondLife to further decline.

Yup, not many people are writing about SecondLife these days. My own personal view is that in the long term, the web will be accessible through a graphical interface probably not far off SecondLife, but for the next 5-10 years, the standard browser is very much here to stay. The LindeX (the market to sell real world cash for made up cash – quite remarkable really) is in a steady decline, and the data has been moved from publicly available to a free signup. Here’s the graph as of today. Next yearm expect the graph to be totally unavailable, or in steep decline. A shame, but some technologies are just too ahead of their time.

6. The UK to start accepting blogging at the same status as the US.

In the US, bloggers have almost the same status as journalists. That’s a bit of a sweeping statement, and my apologies to journalists who have had a turbulent couple of years, and an even bleaker future for a trade that’s totally unfairly undervalued. Anyway, in the US, bloggers are often quoted by journalists and news organisations, whereas in the UK they are dismissed by the news organisations. Of course there are some exceptions such as The Guardian, but in the main, most people think that bloggers are nerds/IT geeks. This is a view which Twitter & the term ‘microblogging’ has helped to change slowly, but by 2011, I expect to see some famous UK bloggers be quoted by the press.

7. Offline browsers make a comeback.

My view of the Internet is that the same applications are constantly being re-invented. Facebook is like a modern version of Compuserve (a nice clean, walled environment); Skype is ICQ on steroids; Spotify is Real Networks (OK, just sort of!); Twitpic is like a billion free image sharing sites; today I even stumbled across a ‘directory’ of Twitter users – and directories kind of died off a few years ago! I remember installing offlines browsers on my Palm V in the mid 1990s, which effectively downloaded snapshots of a website on to my Palm, for me to read on the way home. I had a similar application on a few early mobile phones. Expect similar applications on iPhones, Kindles and iSlates to start appearing, so that users of the Tube and other areas can read articles on the move, outside of an RSS reader.

8. The FIFA World Cup sees huge use of video over mobile & broadband.

Put it another way, if it doesn’t, expect to see broadcasters and mobile operators to pull out of mobile video for the foreseeable future. Expect some amazing stats for broadband use from Sky, ESPN & FIFA. In 2005 we were discussing a 10 deal for bandwidth that went into Petabytes, and everyone thought we were mad. Expect to see that word banded around a lot during the World Cup.

9. Expect ebooks to take off.

This has the potential for a huge market. I estimate football club programmes, concert programmes, manuals, etc. all to be available in ebook formats, either free or very low cost by the end of the year. It will be a mini-reinvention of MP3s…

10. 2010… the year of Web CRM

I have no idea why it’s taken so long for a vendor to come up with a Web based CRM system. Facebook Connect, Windows Live signin & Google Orkut are the main contenders, but does a major website really want to release their list of customers to be shared with Facebook, Microsoft or Google? No. There are CRM vendors who charge a ‘per user’ model – which is useless for a free sign up model. A number of the newsletter systems are extending into this area – with Traction probably being the most attractive. But if you want a standalone web authentication and single customer view with Single Sign On (SSO), who are the sub $50k vendors? Exactly. So expect to see new players start appearing here.