Twitter and Facebook - the new way to communicate with large corporations

, posted: 24-Jul-2010 13:03

Being an active Geekzone member, I come across many instances of people being unhappy with the service or product they have received.

Many of these stories end up being resolved either through a Tweet to the company concerned or a message on Facebook.  It's quite funny how many "complaints" are Tweeted or posted on Facebook pages. The sad truth is, calling large corporations no longer works - customer service reps all too often follow their book of rules rather than using their initiatives.  This is why I believe having a Twitter or Facebook account is beneficial.  

To large corporations, social networking is a wonderful way of advertising for next to nothing.  It can also backfire if their standards are not up to scratch.  Perhaps Twitter and Facebook may become the way to lodge issues in the future?  At least you are guaranteed to get a response!  



E-mail Marketing Tool - Mail Chimp

, posted: 11-Jul-2010 11:05

Following from my previous post on developing my first website, BargainLover.co.nz, it's time to look at e-mail marketing tools.

From my research, there are plenty of them out there.  Some of them are free to an extent, totally free or pay as you go.  I looked into two options, Constant Contact and Mail Chimp.  I didn't really have much time to really look deeply into both options and had to rely on feedback from some of the end-users.  I chose Mail Chimp in the end.  It has an intuitive interface, uses layman terms and best of all, includes an easy to manage mailing list for my requirements.  And to top it off, this service is provided totally free, if you limit yourself to no more than 2000 mail-outs (e-mails) a month.

My website has a database of its own.  Visitors can sign-up and also register to receive monthly newsletters and weekly Top Bargains.  Mail Chimp has a subscribe function of its own too which you can custom design.  So basically, there are two ways of being a subscriber - through the website or via Mail Chimp's form.  The question I asked myself was, how do I integrate the two lists together, without having to do this manually?

Thankfully, it only took me 30 minutes to realise how easy it was to combine the two mailing lists.  Mail Chimp allows you to either upload a CSV file or copy and paste from Excel.  As long as you have set cell titles across the top of your Excel spreadsheet - First Name, Surname, E-mail, Newsletter (Yes/No) etc - Mail Chimp is clever enough to import your list without creating duplicates.  This was the perfect solution!  The rest of the interface is plain simple.  Go through the Campaign wizard, fill-in the gaps, design your own e-mail template and off you go!  

The reporting side is second to none.  The number of e-mails opened, who opened, who subscribed, who clicked, who clicked on what, last open date, etc.  All the reports you would ever need and want to track the success of the mail-out.  For iPhone users, there is even a Mail Chimp app.

There are 3 things to take away from my initial experience in e-mail marketing:
  • Make doubly sure your website database and the marketing tool can be combined and managed easily
  • Reporting is the key to knowing what content works
  • It doesn't have to be difficult!



















The Importance of Your Office/Working Environment

, posted: 4-Jul-2010 23:32

We've all seen the photos of the environment Google employees work in.  It's comfortable, spacious, fun and relaxing.  It's quite obvious why Google does this - to foster creativity and encourage employees to feel like they are at home on the couch.  Don't the best ideas come when you are at home, either on the couch, or in the shower?  It makes total sense.

Why is it that workplaces - the majority of them - still persist in maintaining this draconian office layout, where employees are stuck in stuffy little cubicles and there's constant distraction from all corners of the "great-walls-that-seem-too-tall-to-climb"?

I believe if workplaces started to realise the standard office layout should be thrown out for something more unconventional, perhaps it could lead higher productivity, less stress, and lower staff turnover?

Following from my previous blog, I needed to "get out" to consider my marketing options for my website, BargainLover.co.nz.  So this afternoon, sitting in the cocktail lounge in a city hotel with my laptop made me a firm believer in needing to be comfortable and relaxed to think outside of the square.  And no, no alcohol was consumed!:)

Time to reinvent office spaces employers!  And the most surprising part is... it doesn't have to cost a leg.



My Experience Developing BargainLover.co.nz

, posted: 29-Jun-2010 12:56

What a journey it has been developing my first proper website bargainlover.co.nz.  Back in early April, I remember the days of researching online for an easy-to-use web design application.  From there, I realised I didn't have the expertise to develop a website myself, so I began looking into outsourcing.

I contacted web developers in the US, Australia and in New Zealand.  In the US, they seemed to care only about efficiency.  Sure, being efficient is great but not at the cost of flexibility.  They had a pre-written up proposal whereby they would show me two drafts of the design, and that's it.  If I wanted to change bits and pieces later on, they would charge me a leg.  Seriously, you cannot expect not to change a thing in regards to design and layout as the website and different functionalities start to develop.

So off I went to an Australian company, investigating what they could offer.  Again, perhaps it was just my luck, they couldn't offer much better.  So back to the drawing board.  At this point, I decided to go back to good ol' trusty Geekzone for some answers and advice.  As always, managed to get some really good information and eventually sign-up with 3Bit

My advice for anyone looking to develop a website for your business would be:

1) Outsource it if you don't have the web development skills - gives you more time to think about design and functionality.  More time to focus on your business than the technical bits and pieces.

2) Shop around.  Plenty of web developers out there.  Ensure your web developer doesn't talk from the script and can give you honest advice.

3) Design and functionality requirements - it's all very easy to know what colours and functions you want to see - the more important aspect to consider is usability.  Is it streamlined?  Is the website intuitive to use?

4) Think with different hats on - your business is likely to attract different visitor demographics and various needs.  How does your website accommodate for them?

These are the important ones I can currently think of, I am sure there are plenty more great advice you as the reader can offer too - afterall, I am just a newbie in this game.

It's been a long journey from start to finish but in the end, it's important to get it right, rather than to "just have a website up".

Next headache: marketing! 



Why the iPhone 4 Lacks Innovation

, posted: 24-Jun-2010 16:51

Well, we all know what the iPhone 4 is about.  There's video calling, multi-tasking, faster processor and more RAM.  There's also the better 5mp camera with flash, 720p video recording and the new higher resolution screen.  Being an iPhone 3GS owner - and an iPhone user for the first time - it's disappointing to see the lack of innovations.  Apple is famous for being innovative, yet, with this launch, it highlights one thing - not innovation, but arrogance.  There, I've said it.

You have got to be kidding me Steve Jobs; "Facetime" (aka video calling) is revolutionary?  Multi-tasking is now possible?  I cannot remember the rest, but it clearly tells me this: Apple knows their customers are "locked-in" by their services (iTunes, Apps, etc) and so they believe it's Ok to pretend not to realise or acknowledge what other mobile phone manufactures have achieved over the past few years.  Video calling is very much 2005, Steve.

Disappointingly, I have decided to look elsewhere for my next mobile phone.  It appears I will be looking at my good friend Nokia.  Given up on them after the Nokia N97 - the phone that had so much potential but failed thanks to poor hardware and quality.  Why Nokia?  I would admit, they haven't been that much better.  They had a large market-share on the smartphones market for years and lacked innovation to move to the next level until the iPhone took away many of their customer base.  Now Nokia appears to have "woken up" with the announcement of the Nokia N8.

The Nokia N8 to me, looks to be a revolutionary step.  They appear to have finally learnt their lesson - users want a faster, cleaner and more user-friendly interface; website flash support; and better camera with flash... they get it all with the N8.

This is what I call innovation.  Nokia could've easily put in another 8MP camera, same old web browser, continued with the slow, outdated Symbian OS etc.  However, they didn't.

Apple used to "wow" me with their product announcements.  In my opinion, they've failed this time.  I am happy to swap the user-friendliness of the iPhone and iOS for the freedom (as in, non-restrictiveness) of Symbian ^3 and N8's 2010 functionalities.  Welcome to 2010 Nokia. 



WWW of Browsers

, posted: 12-Jun-2010 12:47

At present I am busy testing my website that is due to launch in a couple of weeks.  It just occurred to me. Why are there so many different browsers just to surf the web?  Surely, one particular browser can incorporate all of the technology and functionality of Firefox, Safari, IE and Chrome?

In my "real" day-to-day grind I call work, I am responsible for training as well as ensuring web applications are in good working order. In user testing, I am required to test something not once, but multiple times.  First IE7, IE8, then Firefox, then Safari, and finally Chrome.  With the huge fuss over the iPad, now everything should be compatible with that too according to the boss.

I wonder how long it will take the world to realise, working collaboratively is not only more efficient but also less daunting for web developers.  It comes down the dollars and choices I suppose.  I can see some browsers dying off (IE please!  But doubt it) and some joining forces in the future. 

Oh wait, and there are plenty of mobile browsers too!

What do you guys think will happen in the future with web browsers?  Will more crop up, or they will finally decide to collaborate?

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Shopping Experience in Australia with Harvey Norman

, posted: 2-Jun-2010 14:51

Well, what a journey it has been over the past two weeks trying to acquire my dream notebook PC, the Sony Vaio Z series.

A couple of weeks ago here in Australia, Harvey Norman advertised a sale - "16% of all laptops".  I am always cautious before getting too excited about sales like this.  Often there would be numerous terms and conditions, exclusions and what nots.  Well, after looking through their website, there were no particular T&Cs to be concerned about - in fact, there were none!

Perfect, I thought.  Off I go to Harvey Norman in the city.  To my surprise, they suddenly took off all of their high-end Sony Vaios from the display.  Every week I have seen the Vaios sitting there, but not this particular weekend.

I checked their in-store T&Cs and again, nothing there.  No mention that the discount only applied to in-stock laptops or that it excluded any particular brands.  Excellent!  Today's finally the day!

I asked a salesman: "Do you have the Z series in-stock?"  
A less than enthusiastic response given: "No, no stock for three weeks".  
"Can I order one?" 
"Yes but the discount won't apply"
"Why not?  The ad doesn't say it had to be"
"Sorry, only applies to in-stock items".

I received the same kind of response from two other stores, all of which did not have any high-end Sony Vaios on display (but usually was displayed).

Unhappy, I thought it wasn't worth my time complaining or following-up.  Then as I thought about it more and more and after reading up on some others around the country being able to order one in and still get the discount, I realised the Harvey Norman stores I visited were, quite frankly, misleading customers and deliberately removing the Vaios from their displays.

I found - via the Harvey Norman website - their complaints e-mail address.  Didn't think I would receive a response let alone receive a response within a couple of hours on a Sunday night!  Their social media manager responded to say he would follow-up.  He didn't answer any of my questions, such as, "why were Vaios taken off display just on that weekend?" or "why couldn't I order one in and still be entitled to a discount?"  However, it was plainly obvious.

To Harvey Norman's credit, the social media manager followed-up and managed to get the franchisee of the city store to e-mail me.  The Franchisee offered to order one in with the discount.  What I was surprised to read was the fact that apparently they did have some stock on that weekend and the Vaios were displayed.  Hmmm... anyway...

So to Harvey Norman's credit, they came through for me - despite making a loss of a few hundred dollars on this Sony Vaio Z.  It's a shame that the advertising can be a little misleading (possible "bait advertising") and their staff a little misinformed.

Anyway, well done Harvey Norman for responding to feedback.



The Beginning of the Start of Commencement

, posted: 26-May-2010 21:29

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my humble blog.  Being a Kiwi now living in Australia (temporarily), I do miss the lifestyle of home. Nevertheless, gaining plenty of valuable work experience here and enjoying the time "on the other side" of the ditch.

I will endeavour to post about all aspects of life here, and provide commentary on my love of the iPhone, Windows 7 (that's right, despite the iPhone!), Sony Vaios and technology in general.

Until next time!

PS - wanted a creative title so excuse my type innovation   Laughing



heavenlywild's profile

Robbie 
New Zealand


A kiwi currently on an OE in Australia, working full-time.  

I love technology and everything about it, although I am not a whiz in programming.  

Developed my first online venture called BargainLover.co.nz - for all the latest bargains, deals & freebies in NZ!

Welcome to my blog!