Tag Archive for failure

Amazon.com working issues?

A quick check of Amazon Web Services service health dashboard show that currently all services are operating normally, but checking Amazon.com from this service shows that is appears to be down currently.  The strange point is that i’ve tested both Amazon.com and www.Amazon.com and had no issues from here so it is likely a geographic as Amazon.co.uk appears to be down, as does the Italian Amazon and the German Amazon.

It’s not clear if it is related to Wikileaks but apparently the DDoS attacks have been called off by Anonymous so it might be something else causing the issue and it seems centered on USA/EU traffic.

Update: It was confirmed by Amazon in a statement to Reuters that it was a hardware failure in their European data that caused the outage and not related to Wikileaks.

How I missed the Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is one of the biggest events in the Australian sporting calendar and well I was quite excited to watch it I made sure that I had the start time correct as Brisbane is not part of daylight savings so there is always a mixup and confusion each year as to when the race actually starts.  I saw that the new official Melbourne Cup website had a large and very prominent flash countdown application sponsored by luxury watchmaker Longines as the official sponsor showing at the top of their website.

Longines ClockBut that is where all things went downhill as I later discovered this Flash application was actually counting down based on the visitors PC clock not on when the actual race was due to start but it was far too late I had missed the race that stops the nation, thanks to Longines.  You can see that the 1:46 was actually generated by changing the clock on my PC, but it seems that the clock has also now vanished after a number of public tweets and updates about the issue.

Who is to blame?

The poor decision by either the Victorian Racing committee in the use of a untested application or was it Citrus agency that should be responsible for the website, the failure led to many internationally visitors and visitors from outside NSW & VIC being advised of the wrong time for the race to start and that doesn’t even include the failure to stream updates live via the website. For such a high profile event it’s really just not good enough, if you can’t get the basics right like a countdown clock, don’t use it!

What does it mean for Longines?

What the bigger issue is that the brand Longines is one that I will always associate with when I think about the time I missed watching the Melbourne Cup, so I won’t be linking Longines to a quality time piece but to a reason why I managed to miss the event.  So the web developers laziness to test the Flash application before rolling it out on a live website during a national event has damaged the image of Longines as a watch brand that I would trust and it’s likely the case for a number of other visitors.

If you are trusting a company to do the development of applications ensure they take more than 30 seconds to actually test they function correctly and put your brand reputation in the mud as Victoria racing has managed to do with Longines.

Shipito website issues

This post should have needed to be written I was looking at US providers for mail forwarding/package delivery and one of the providers I looked at was Shipito but I did notice that one of the product links didn’t actually work, so being a good net citizen I used the contact form to send them the following message.

On Fri, Oct 1, 2010 at 12:32 AM, David Iwanow <…………….> wrote:
New website inquiry
Name: David Iwanow
Message subject: broken links
Hi,
I’m just looking at your products and noticed the link needs to be updated on
http://www.shipito.com/asissted-purchase to http://www.shipito.com/shopping-assistance

After reading my initial message realise my message wasn’t completely clear I did feel that I provided enough information and the request would be passed onto their webmaster/webdevelopers to look at.  This is a typical response and I think if you find something wrong with a page/website you should tell the company about it as part of good karma and improving the future experience for yourself and other visitors.
Don’t argue or correct customer
So I was more than a little annoyed when I received the response from their customer service team saying well that I was wrong and that link did not exist, I wouldn’t really call it much customer service when they are also too lazy to use my name when I took the time to include it on the inquiry form. The Shipito support response is shown below:

Hello,
We do not have the link
http://www.shipito.com/asissted-purchase on our website and if you select the assisted purchase it will take you to the correct page. I am not sure what link would take you to the page http://www.shipito.com/asissted-purchase as this is not a page on our site.
Regards,
…………

So I thought I would help them out finding the broken links with the following 3 links… it’s really not that hard…

  1. W3 Validator
  2. SEOmoz Crawl Test
  3. Link Tiger

So next time you are working in customer service and get an email with an error or problem on your website, take the time to thank the person for reporting it and pass it onto your web developers, don’t advise them they are wrong and it’s not their job to explain what is wrong and place doubt in the accuracy of their issue they discovered.

Related Images:

Fox.com fails SEO

Ok so when I started this post I did not initially see it to be a massive failure but more of a minor issue but still saw it as a significant problem that such an oversight could be happening on the night of Fox’s most anticipated shows “Glee” is returning to TV. So as most people do I went to Google.com to do a search for Fox looking to find out if there was anyway I could watch “Glee” online but I did find it strange the such a large site would have index.html showing at their primary homepage. The more I dug into Fox.com the more issues I saw around a lack of understanding about SEO and well there is a lot of room for improvement as for consistency across just Fox.com not including the hundreds of other websites News Corp operates.

Google Fox Results

Fox 404

The Google search results show Fox.com/index.htm but when I clicked to visit the link it produces a 404 error page, this a both a major issue for Fox and a provides a very bad user experience for other fans using Google to get to Fox.com. I would expect a fair amount of traffic would flag a warning sign somewhere that a huge number of visitors were now viewing 404 error pages when coming from Google.  The only upside is they have a nice simple 404 page that has a direct link back to Fox.com which works. There is Omniture tracking code on the Fox 404 error page so its fairly easy for their web analysts or web developers to notice the large spike in views of this page and that the source is a Google search referral, this would indicate failure by someone.

Fox is So Sorry 404

It’s not consistent

It seems that the use of index.html is not consistent across the site as you can see the 2nd result shown in the search results was the link to watch Fox full episodes on demand.  It is indexed in Google as http://www.fox.com/fod/index.htm but unlike the homepage it doesn’t resolve to a 404 error, this would indicate a failure by someone not a site wide policy change or update. If you are going to run a website it’s always best practice to make a decision if you are going to use index.htm and stick with it.  It causes problems for link builders, internal staff and other web developers within the Fox group who try to work out quickly which is the best URL to link to.

Meta refreshes signal failure in seo

They are a very old technique and one that according to people on Google’s spam team are typically wary of its uses as its been commonly misused in the past and is not a very search engine friendly technique.  But Fox is using Meta Refresh to redirect users from http://www.fox.com/home.htm to http://www.fox.com/index.php which does not make sense to send them to a file instead of the root domain. Fox.com is not a small mum & pop business it should be able to get the basics around SEO right and not cut corners with a poor man’s redirect “meta refresh”.
Multiple links going to multiple Fox homepage URLs
Fox.com needs to consolidate its variations of the homepages as you can see below a number of the variations actually carry a decent amount of link juice that is likely going to waste. Once again if you are going to swap between index.php, home.htm and index.htm it will result in lost link juice and confuse everyone.
Majestic SEO Fox Links
Best practice is consolidation of homepages
It is good practice to look using 301 redirects to consolidate any of the following variation of homepage that you have used or has inbound links to a your domain, it is possible that Fox.com will have links to almost all these variations of their homepage URLs.
http://www.fox.com/default.html
http://www.fox.com/default.htm
http://www.fox.com/index.html
http://www.fox.com/index.htm
http://www.fox.com/index.asp
http://www.fox.com/index.apsx

Note: you need to test this to ensure that you don’t create an endless redirection circle as has happened in my past projects

Fox.com doesn’t use canonical URLs

This is part of the issue around why these variations of the home page are being indexed and shown in the search result, it is another good practice to where possible use canonical URLs to signal to search engines where the primary or original source of content and not counted as duplicate content should be found by using the tag Rel=”canonical”

An example for this article would be <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://lostpr.es/2010/09/22/fox-com-fails-seo-2455236″ />

Who is linking to Fox.com/index.htm?

Looking at the backlink profile of that particular page using SEOmoz Linkscape it seems that only part of the issue is within Fox’s control.  The issue of index.htm showing in the search result is more an external link issue with only 8.5% of the backlinks are internal or coming from other Fox.com subdomains.  So even if Fox.com fixes their internal linking policies it seems its only part of the problem the easiest solution is to look at consolidation of those inbound links via 301 redirects.

Who is linking to Index.htm

Fox.com is using 302s

While it seems part of the issue is the non-use of 301s, the continuing use of meta-refreshes it also seems that for subdomains Fox.com has chosen to use the less than useful 302 redirects.

So how can Fox.com fix it?

Ok so here is how if you were Fox.com you could fix the issue since they are running the server on Apache/2.2.8 (Unix) PHP/5.2.5 with Suhosin-Patch they will likely have 2 easy options to organise the 301 redirects.

  1. .htaccess file
  2. Use cPanel

So what is a .htaccess files and how can you use them? Apache has a free tutorial on .htaccess files and how to use them to create permanent redirections

So what is cPanel and how can it help your website with Apache & PHP Customisation? Once again there are a number of web hosting companies that have already enabled cPanel so it is ready to go but you can find out more about it here.

So what is a 301 and how can it help your website? A 301 is a request to advise that the old content now has a new home, SEOBook.com has a nice breakdown around 301 Redirects.

Please fix Fox.com

So there you have it even the biggest corporations sometimes forget to do the basics when it comes to seo we won’t even get started on indexing issues or how they could have used Google Webmaster Tools to identify the problem in any more detail.  Most of the points and tips are something any good web developer or seo agency should have addresses long ago, so that is why this is being classed as a failure in SEO it should not have happened.

SMH publishes garbage article on seo

Snake Oil SEOIt’s clear sometimes that personal blogs and open forums are not always the best source of information about SEO from a best practice “white hat” perspective, but you can usually rely on main stream media to not screw up and publish garbage like I read today that encourages spam as a SEO technique.  There are lots of blogs,communities and forums that specialise in SEO covering practical/training, guides, tips and from a pure research perspective such as: SEOmoz, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, SEOBook, SEO Dojo, Webmaster World.  A majority of these sites work hard to educate their members about not spamming or following the advice contained in the SMH article I read today.

Before I upset every journalist who writes for The Sydney Morning Herald or any of their other papers such as The Age, this is a story that shouldn’t have gone to print and there is another related articles by the same writer that do nothing but cloud businesses view on SEO and increase businesses view that the whole industry is made up of Snake Oil salespeople. From my many past conversations with business about what is SEO and how it can help their business get more traffic from Google there often confusion around what you should and shouldn’t be doing as part of getting more organic traffic from Bing & Google.  Garbage articles like this break down all that good knowledge and understanding with cheap parlour tricks and spam.

Search engine voodoo: little-known SEO tricks” should not have been published as one it’s based on a technical paper published back in February 16th 2010 and its fairly clear that the SMH journalist didn’t take time to even read it as many of the points he later suggests are not advised by Nicholas Carroll.  The two so-called experts he quotes in the piece don’t appear to be anyone known in the industry and if I have the website right one expert is more of a snake oil salesman that is out of his depth in being quoted for this article as knowing what was is seo.

Comment spam is back in

The biggest failure around this article is the around the encouragement of comment spam, where readers are encouraged to use your keyword phrase as your name using blog finder software to pick which sites to attack with your spammy comments.  This is one of the many parts to the article that is not in the spirit with the original article by Nicholas Carroll that this article is apparently based around. So there you go its official from 2 experts no-one has ever heard of and a journalist how you can get ranked #1 in Google that no-one else has ever tried and failed to use successfully.  Now go search for a general blog topic and comment spam away and you will notice a huge increase in your search rank in no time, no need for link building campaigns or creating content just comment spam what’s already out there! It’s article like this that encourage the constant bombardment of your blogs with crappy comments and irrelevant statements just to get that link, no comment on how well it works in the short-term but its not something business should be using if they value their reputation.

Fact check please

I would expect that publications like The Sydney Morning Herald would at least take some time to vet or fact check what garbage some of their journalists are pushing out into the market place under the Fairfax brand.  It wouldn’t take more than an email phone call to the Fairfax owned Advantate to fact check the article or even provide some guidance around what is SEO for the journalist.  Publications like SMH’s My Small Business carry a lot of weight for business wanting to stay ahead of their competitors, so seeing low quality articles like “How to rocket your search engine ranking to the top of Google” make me understand why Australian businesses struggle with SEO, it’s the garbage they read online.

One of the previous articles written by the same SMH journalist uses terms like mysterious or art when he is discussing SEO does nothing to improve both a reader’s understanding of search optimisation, unless you are doing blackhat/greyhat practices it’s not a mystery it’s just hard work!

Keyword stuffing??

The rocket your search ranking article talks about peppering pages with keywords and every page should repeatedly feature one keyword and to embed that keyword several times.  This amounts to nothing more than keyword stuffing or spam and shows the misunderstandings the website designer has about effective SEO and to the writer for publishing it, where is your journalistic skills in vetting both the subject being interviewed about a subject he doesn’t understand and a topic you vaguely don’t care about. If you are unsure of his experience his background states that he “vaguely specialises in the internet” in an interview back in 2007.

Don’t make SEO harder

If you are going to conduct an interview with a focus around SEO that is just going to make the job of SEO consultants and SEO agencies that much harder, please just don’t publish it.  Articles like this are often brought up during discussions with business owners when talking about SEO, and often the business owner will stand by the article’s points because they read about it in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Small Business section so it must be of reasonable standing.

Facebook Places fails

Facebook Places Logo

Facebook has finally rolled out its location feature today, in what seems to be a stamp down on FourSquare and Gowalla’s growing dominance of locational based badges and social networking, but are they going to ruin it for everyone? Facebook is a global platform so today’s announcement that going just allow the product to their US members is more of a slap in the Face of their growing international audience, which according to official Facebook statistics, they are only concerned with offering their product to 30% of their users.  Once again Facebook is trying to set the rules in social media and well there is a good chance that you or your business is not invited!

How can Facebook with over 70% of its audience outside of the USA, launch a new product that is just usable for their US members, and that’s not counting the international audience that is currently visiting, working or living in the US.  It seems that the Facebook Places functionality is not just geographically limited to those who have created an account in the US and not those who have a current location as being in the USA.  Its not clear if this is a move by the company to segment user data via the initial settings, but doesn’t make sense that accounts might be treated different based on their initial settings.  People change and move but it seems Facebook hasn’t yet worked that concept into its platform… people share but don’t ever move country….

Facebook Places So What?

So Facebook has started marketing the service as the ability to share where you are, what you are doing and the friends that are with you right now, but several other platforms already offer that functionality and don’t violate your privacy on a daily basis.  The other idea of connecting to friends nearby is not a ground breaking option and is also very limited to those who are using an iPhone and can once again already be done by a number of platforms such as FourSquare, Google Latitude or Gowalla, so do we really need another me too app?

Facebook App

Facebook Geolocation limited to iPhones

It seems that a few other people were having some issues with Facebook places already even the US audience and has been intentionally held back as Facebook is trying to test to see if their severs can handle the service. Another aspect of failure around launching a product that clearly was not ready was a new version of the Facebook iPhone app was required if you wanted to use the service, it’s not ready and its a concern that Facebook continues to be cutting out the testing stage before launching new products.  This seems to bring a level of concern that the platform might be a stable enough.  My early testing shows that might be a bit problem with the user adoption of its Facebook places product as its fairly slow to locate you running on Wifi, imagine how slow that will be on older iPhone models running on EDGE or 2G. But maybe Facebook doesn’t really want to develop its platform so Google Android users can use it but a good question will be if it is available for the Windows7 Phone from day 1?

Facebook has a perfect mobile audience

Being that more than 150,000,000 active users are currently accessing Facebook via their mobile devices it shows a huge audience but the launch of this platform shows that it’s not yet ready for market as its only available to iPhone users.  A larger number of mobile users are not using devices as advanced as iPhones that support W3 geolocation that limit its potential audience, it is also unclear with a larger number of Facebook users using SMS to update their status can be integrated into the Facebook Places platform. So even when they have 150 million mobile users its a struggle to understand how they could have failed to build a platform that allowed all their mobile users to utilise their places platform.

Facebook just copied Google

As for naming a product after a competitor is not really a smart move from marketing perspective and its likely to confuse less technical users as the difference between Facebook Places & Google Places, and why the hell can’t they just work together? By creating a new place for business to register and claim their online presence may lead the a low acceptance of businesses and defeat any future commercialisation plans that Facebook might have in the pipeline around local advertising.  The big difference is that Google Places receives a massive traffic exposure via Google Local results as shown below which is of massive commercial value to businesses but it doesn’t appear that Facebook has matched what a competitor already offers.  If you are going to copy a competitor seek to at least improve on its product…

Google Local Places

The search results for a known place on Facebook that has already recorded 2 checkins, doesn’t actually show when you do a search for its business name, so is Facebook keeping 2 separate locational datasets?  This one of many early failure if they are trying to build a local business product if Facebook lists it as a local location I can checkin but I can’t find the location at a later stage unless it’s in your news feed. You can see on the side menu that its not possible to find or search for places you just have to find them via your iPhone/iTouch or if one of your friends checkins and it shows up in their news feed.  The failure to allow places to be easily found via the main interface is very strange as there is limits as to what you can do via your iPhone and most business owners would likely prefer if they make the effort to claim their Facebook place that it would at least show up in internal searches.

Friend Chicken Locations

Facebook Places Stalks your Friends

Facebook has developed a new tool that allows you to select between mayhem and stalking your friends online, one of the first and only one of my friends who has tested the platform checked in last night.  By moving your mouse over the location you view the pop-up window that features a Bing map, a list of friends who have been to that location, the ability to like that business or get directors.

Facebook Checkin

Clicking the local business link brings up far more information than any of their competitors such as FourSquare and brings concern around zero privacy features of Facebook places.  I can see who is at a particular location currently, who of my friends has been there and even exactly when my friend checked-in.  The problem is as the service grows the ability to understand friends movements is a little creepy this was highlighted in a blog post I did in June Finding Location, Losing Privacy, do you really want the ability for your movements to be profiled? Some of the early responses from twitter show those who understand the value of privacy understand the concept but see it as a problem. ”Thinking #facebook places – good concept but not liking the privacy issues. Go original. Foursquare.com All the fun. None of the worry.

Facebook Checkin Places

Using Facebook Places

You can see below that the way that Facebook provides a list of nearby locations is fairly useless compared to FourSquare, as it doesn’t show useful icons of what the place is “food,art,drinks,deli,pizza,pharmacy”.  To roll out a product that once again fails to match what the competitors having been doing for a while will likely lead the product to failure.  Also unlike Foursquare or Gowalla there is no real benefit to checkin, no badges, no discounts, no prizes, no points… its not offering the users a perceived advantage such as Facebook Credits for checking into a business.

Facebook Places Locations List

Facebook Places allows Tagging

I was alerted to an early privacy issue by @schachin, as the Facebook Places platform allows you to out friends with you via the status tagging feature even if they are not there “With #facebook places checking in is subject to YOUR Privacy settings TAGGING is based on your FRIENDS!“.  The Huffington Post also did a detailed write-up on how you can avoid the embarrassment of being tagged by a friend as being somewhere you are not supposed to be and show everyone in an instant. You now have to worry about friends tagging you in photos, status updates and now via Facebook Places and you don’t even need to be there to have your privacy violated. FourSquare got it right when it automatically associates your checkin with existing friends if you both checkin to the same venue, you should have to manually tag them as being with you at the same location.

Facebook Places Checkin

Share Facebook Checkin

You don’t actually have much of a choice if you want to checkin to a location and not reveal this to all your friends, unlike FourSquare which has a always visible setting on your update to not share this checkin with your friends.  This continuing failure to accept users privacy rights seems to be a constant theme with Facebook with its share all and everything mentality, but why don’t look to other services like FourSquare which are trying to build a wall around their users privacy and protect their users if selected. Unlike FourSquare which allows you to checkin and just not tell your friends it seems that Facebook doesn’t allow this option, and really if they are looking to bring in FourSquare and Gowalla users via API, its going to produce some issues and complications for their users who are used to having control of their privacy.  Facebook only allows you to share your location or not checkin there is no halfway option which makes most people not inclined to use it.

Share Location with FacebookLooking at the Places checkin screen shown above, the use of the language also implies that you enter into a long-term contract which is a little more worrying, and the language used to advise about the check-in functionality is a little scary “wherever you go”.  So think clearly about if you want to be Facebook’s guinea pig for its latest product test, my advice is to sit this feature out.

How to Disable Facebook Places

LifeHacker has posted a good article on how to disable Facebook Places, but you can also do it easily through your privacy settings as shown below, it is important that you consider at least checking the places feature to ensure its set that you just show your friends immediately, then I advised that you can goto your privacy settings and ensure its disabled.  An important not that if you are under the age of 18 or have changed your date of birth to make you under 18, you have an increased level of privacy settings enabled automatically that will limit updates to just your friends.

Facebook Privacy Settings

The privacy setting you are looking for to disable Facebook Places updates is hidden under “applications, games and websites”.  You will see 5 Facebook privacy settings that you can select to refine your privacy settings:

  1. What applications you’re using (Tweetdeck/Eventbrite)
  2. Games and application activity
  3. Information accessible through your friends (Places)
  4. Instant personalisation (Facebook connect)
  5. Public search (Bing/Google)

Facebook Privacy Settings Options

Once you have selected option 3 highlighted with the red arrow you are shown a pop-up window with the privacy settings.  All your Facebook information available is available to any applications, games and websites when friends choose to use them, so its important to limit what information Facebook obviously advises you to share more information to make the experience more social, but that’s not always advised.  Consider if you really need to share all the following information with everyone, but you will want to ensure that the “Places I check into” setting is unchecked and then click to save changes.

Facebook Privacy Settings

That’s done you now know more about how Facebook Places works, how it might affect you and how to disable it so you reduce the risks exposed with sharing too much information online, and go back to using FourSquare or Gowalla. Think twice before electing to share your every step and visit even if there is a slight benefit for your social circles and not everyone cares to know what you are doing at every moment of the day!

RailEasy fails at marketing

Rail Easy LogoOne of the biggest complaints is the requirement for most online booking and travel services to require you to include an email address, which is used to obviously email you the itinerary but its also being used for ongoing marketing. The problem is that with any failure in the marketing cycle it leads you to sometimes closely examine other aspects to see how many other places does a company fall down by not having an effective digital strategy or a sometimes any idea at all….

There is a number of failures noticed the first is the lack of campaign or tracking code for the link for information about the annual Worthing Birdman event.  The email talks about sending your own photos/videos from the Worthing Birdman event and the best one will win a £100 of Rail Travel but doesn’t include any address or details of where to send the photos/videos. The image below just shows a single link to Worthing Birdman festival but the rest you will have to visit their site directly and search for the information.
Rail Easy Email
The other aspect of promoting Twitter and Facebook is great, but usually I would suggest promoting your actual fan page and account not just the service in general.  Most people have heard of Twitter & Facebook so they don’t need that much extra promotion and links do make it easier for people to find your Fanpage or Twitter account.  The email fails to deliver even the basic strategies of marketing, if you talk about something like your social media properties, link to it don’t just talk about it!
Email Marketing Failure (SPAM)
The common problem is when running email marketing is when companies use email lists and fail to disclose who they are actually sending the email to, the first problem is that its often flagged as spam by most email filters.
Easy Rail Email Header
The continuing issue that that Rail Easy does not actually disclose any of the information most countries require to ensure the privacy of its citizens is not being infringed upon.  There is no contact details of who is sending the email, no details on what email was targeted or user has been subscribed to this email newsletter this would lead to classification as SPAM under a number of laws in countries around the world. The email is not compliant with any US citizens/residents on their email marketing list under the CAN-SPAM Act because it does not:
  • Does not contain all the header information and email routing information to accurately identify who the email was sent to
  • The message does not include a valid physical address of your business
  • The opt out of receiving future email from you is not easy and does not include a return email address
  • Both Kiwiana and Easy Rail can be held legally responsible for not monitoring what others are doing on their behalf

Again within the UK it appears that under the UK’s eCommerce Regulations, Rail Easy has failed to include the regulatory information in their email footers and are in breach of the Companies ACT and they are a UK based firm with a target audience of UK residents.

  • The name, geographic address and email address of the service provider. The name of the organisation with which the customer is contracting must be given.
  • It is not sufficient to include a ‘contact us’ form without also providing an email address and geographic address somewhere easily accessible on the site
  • If a company, the company’s registration number should be given and, under the Companies Act, the place of registration should be stated
  • If the business is a member of a trade or professional association, membership details, including any registration number, should be provided.
  • If the business has a VAT number, it should be stated – even if the website is not being used for e-commerce transactions.
  • Prices on the website must be clear and unambiguous. Also, state whether prices are inclusive of tax and delivery costs.

It is also breaking more laws under the Australian spam laws under the Spam Act 2003, and would also likely be breaking a EU directive or two around email marketing and consumer privacy, the very basic email footer is shown below and clearly fails to satisfy more than one of the requirements for email marketing under US/UK/AU laws. Rail Easy is not just failing email marketing, they are in conjunction with Kiwiana are spamming everyone on their email marketing list.

Email Footer
Hard to unsubscribe from list
The second issue is not masking the domain the email platform is built on displaying useless and confusing numbers to those wishing to unsubscribe, the other problem is that you can see that I’m part of group 53 but what email address did I subscribe with originally? This can be a problem when you are multiple email addresses or have email forwarding from another account to your primary account.
email urlThe issue of what email was actually receiving the email becomes an issue when I have to manually enter the email address that was used, but I don’t have that information contained in the email, so I assume that I can just guess until I get it right?
Kiwiana Unsubscribe
The problem with the Kiwiana email marketing platform is that you can actually place any email address in the system, even if it has never been part of the list and it will advise that it has been now removed from the mailing list. The false sense of security that this status message provides is enough to send chills down my spine, its a placebo message that doesn’t appear to do anything and no confirmation message is sent to confirm you have been successfully unsubscribed.  It brings back memories of an earlier article I wrote on how “Diesel Fails Email Marketing” they had a similar problem where the unsubscribe function did nothing.
The problem with cutting corners with packages is that you expose the platform that is used to power their email marketing and this doesn’t match with the client’s brand or image, if you attempt to visit the site hosting the unsubscribe tool you are greeted with a very useless notification message from Kiwiana, that could be more proactive such as if you are having problems unsubscribe to our clients emails please complete the form and we will seek to resolve the issue. Since Kiwiana is technically legally liable for Rail Easy’s spammy email marketing process they should do something more proactive about it!
Kiwiana Email Newsletter Systems
Online Bookings via Email
There is several travel offers listed with a book now and save button, that doesn’t actually allow for booking any of the offers listed.  If the reader decides that they want to book one of the trips they should be able to click the location and be taken deeper into the purchase funnel “timetable” section where they can select which trip is suitable.  Making the process more time-consuming and manual for the user will lead to a large decrease in conversion rates and less sales for your email marketing campaigns.
Rail Easy Booking
The booking button takes you to the generic homepage, which requires the visitors to remember what was the destinations and dates that had the special offers listed above.  You are failing to make it easy for your subscribers to book the promotional offers you are sending to them.  Sending email subscribers who have purchased previously to your home page does not offer a great user experience and in the next email they are likely to ignore the offers so you have potentially lost any advantage by being lazy.  If you CMS doesn’t allow for static links or deals change or update your CMS to allow for better marketing campaigns and high conversion rates.
Rail Easy Homepage
If you do a test on one of their offers listed you will actually save 64% which is actually more than the email’s promise of 44% savings for booking online. The problem with this is that differences in pricing between what is advertised may lead consumers to look and search for more deals instead of buying with the advertised 44% discount offer in the email.  You maybe potentially delaying the purchase by not having a consistent pricing structure for your online bookings.
London Train Travel
Facebook Fanpage
The RailEasy Facebook fanpage could almost be said to be dead in the water, it contains 3 updates from 17th April 2009 and only 19 people claim to like this.  I understand that if Raileasy is not promoting their Fanpage or making the effort to add any content you can understand why it’s not gathering any momentum.  If you are going to be that lazy as to not update your Fanpage more than once every 1-2 years maybe its best not to try social media…
Rail Easy Facebook
Twitter Account
The Rail Easy twitter account is fairly active but with only 67 followers it’s not likely to make an impact on bookings anytime soon.  Another point of failure is that they are also following more people than are following them back which would show a slight disconnect with their audience.  They should also look at taking the time to create a custom background this is extra advertising/promotional space that is not being used, and the BIO is more of a novel than something you can easily scan over, it’s almost like old school keyword stuffing and doesn’t look professional.
Raileasy Twitter
Overall it seems that Rail Easy is 3-4 different chefs all trying to make a different recipe and all with no idea as to what is going on, as they say too many cooks spoil a good broth…. well in this case too much inconsistency leads to failure and a poor customer experience.  Rail Easy has stumbled and failed to do online marketing but it’s not too late to fix it and just a few basic changes will have a massive impact on their bottom line!

Related Images: