Give it a go with Google adwords

To follow up my earlier post ‘Doing is learning, no it is really’, what I really meant to talk about was Google Adwords.

I noticed recently that the very excellent Robin Riley @robinwryly as part of his email signature, says search on Google under his name – which brings you to his site

I asked him about this and he said that he pays a very, very small amount for Google Adword to generate this result.

Wow, now I was impressed and once again felt deeply ignorant. So being somewhat of a copycat I have tried to do something similar.

Thats why I went off and created a Google ad for this blog.

I am not entirely sure that I have got things working properly yet but apparently my ad has been seen over 44,000 times but with no clicks yet. I am not totally surprised that so far no one has wanted to read my ‘insights’ but that’s not the point.

Once again its really worth having a go to learn a bit and now I feel I have crawled a little bit out of my pit of ignorance.

Try it.

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Update – 31 January 2011

It has become clear that my ad needs to change – will I never ‘sell’ my advice to anyone? Therefore I have tried a few tweaks to draw in those eager readers! However one downside is that previous stats are reset to zero. So now impressions are 22,977 but still no clicks.

The sense of dispair is increasing. I might have to resort to using the word ‘cheap’ which apparently is always a winner.

In the meantime Google have kindly suggested some more keywords that might work so I have added those as well. At this rate I will have more keywords inside the Adwords centre than words written on my blog.

So as well as changing the wording I have increased the number of keywords it should be placed against. Oddly the automatic bid per click has gone up from £0.10 to £0.26. Also the average position of each keyword has increased from 6 to 5.8 so I might have chosen slightly more relevant words?

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Update – 2 February 2011

Having got excited by the concept of Adwords I added them to my other blog about arts events. Click here to view full size

Somewhat amazingly there have been four clicks on the Ad. Its cost me a bit but no pain, no gain

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Doing is learning, no really it is!

Yes, yes, I know its old hat but doing really is learning.

The best example I have read for a long time is Avinash Kaushik in his book on Web Analytics where he talks about how he got started after someone told him the same thing. He went off and added every tool he could find to his blog to see how the worked. Look where that got him – being one of the most respected sources on web analytics.

I remember going to a seminar about digital stuff a few years ago and Caroline Halrcrow at the British Library said the same thing and me being slightly sceptical but she was right. 

So when I set up my first blog I thought crikey what to write about? Everyone else I know does things about workish related digital things.

I did not want to do that for two reasons, one I did not know anything compared to them, and also it seemed to be a bit too much of the day job. So I thought what do I do a lot of? – ah ha, cultural things – why not try that. So I did. Its not the best in the world but hey I know how WordPress works now, plug-ins, SEO tools, keywords etc.

Obviously if you are reading this you will realise that I now write about work related stuff since I feel happier and more confident with digital issues. 

This is a bit of a long-winded way of saying the same thing. Generally give it a go and don’t be scared.

If you did not attend GovCamp at the weekend #ukgc11 why not try and make it next year?

If you have never been to #Teacamp come along – a very friendly bunch.

And you know the best bit, you get to know lots of great people who become friends. I think that is what is called a ‘win, win’



In praise of Govcamp (2011) #ukgc11

Saturday 22 January was the fourth UK gov camp (barcamp) aka #ukcg11.

I did not go to the first govcamp because I was very new to digital and too scared to go to something were I did not really understand the concept. 

What? Talking about digital work related things on a Saturday? With no timetable? The work bit, the talking bit and the digital bit not being my strengths at the time.

However I have now been to the last three and thoroughly enjoyed them. My only regrets are the same as many other peoples’ – the friends that I did not get to catch up with and the talks that I missed – the grass is always greener.

To give a flavour of the event and to encourage others to attend next time this is what I did on the day:

Was waiting for Victoria Line at Oxford Circus and bumped into Jenny Poole (BIS) @treexpixie so we had a quick catch up on the tube.

We went to Pret for a coffee and could see @annkempster talking to a friend inside.

Got into Microsoft building said a quick hello to @timolloyd (DoH) had a quick chat with @danielatkinson (HMT), talked with @simoneverest (Defra) about his goldfish avatar – don’t ask; and caught up with the great @stephendale and on progress with the Khub for Local Government.

Then into the conference hall.

I said a quick hello to @vickysargent (Boilerhouse) – though sadly that was our only contact in the whole day. I was sitting next to my ex-colleague and friend the fab @neilfranklin (ODI) and we had a quick chat about his new job a key role hightening awareness of accessibility issues – was previously at DWP.

Introductions we made by everyone present, then the tricky bit of choosing which rooms/events to go to – in the process exchanged a quick hello with @hadleybeeman (Linkedgov). Dilemma is to go to things that you already know something about or just dive into something new?

I decided to go for the workshop on Flickr, Openstreetmap and Wikipedia with Neil Franklin – @pigsonthewing (Andy Mabbett – ‘the handsome one’ – I quote) ably assisted by @danslee (Dan Slee) gave us a great run through on how to best use these tools and how they can be used together. In the process I had a very short word with @juliac2 (Julia Chandler – Dfid) across the corridor who wanted to be in our room and another talk at the same time.

I think there was then a coffee break – I think was when I said a quick hello with the ever smiling Jane O’Loughlin (Directgov) I had a chat with @shane_dillon about his talk on location based services – I really wanted to go to this talk but decided to go to something that was new to me. This might, or might not, have been when I said hello to @paul_clarke who took a great picture of Shane and myself; and lots of other great pics.

I think this was when I had a quick chat with @ DigEngAdvisor (Zoe Hoyal – cabinet office) – or was it later?

I then went to a discussion ran by @marxculture (Mark O’Neil DCLG, DCMS) about the work he is doing regarding a government Skunkworks – what it is, could be and should be. Nice ideas all round. In the process I was sitting next to @emercoleman from GLA – who I had never spoken to before though we follow each other on Twitter. I told her that I had been present at the launch of the London data store etc.


A bit of a blur but I had a chat with @Puffles2010 (pink dragon) don’t ask – and a very interesting conversation about the volume of enabling legislation and statutory instruments. I was also sitting next to @annkempster from GCN and we had a chat about the plans for developing the network.

I think this was when I stood in on a chat with Simon Wheatley and Simon Everest plus @simond (Simon Dickson – Puffbox) about WordPress who was talking to @jeremygould about a potential project – or was that later?

Somewhere in the midst of this I had a quick hello with the two key organisers @davebriggs (The Learning Pool) and @lesteph (Steph Gray – Helpful Technology)

Post lunch

I think the order is muddled now but – went to a discussion about digital policing organised by @nickkeane and how best to do this in the future. The positive point was, that as Nick said, when he first came to this event he was the only police related person but now in the room there was a handful of similarly minded colleagues. So can the police ‘police’ everything or should the use intermediaries?

I dashed out and managed to bump into @rufuspollock (Open Knowledge Foundation) and managed to get hold of his phone number to follow up something later on. Useful to know that he has a secretary now to be more organised. He made the point that open data is great but that the ‘stack’ that it is on also needs to be open. In the meantime @willperrin of hyperlocal fame came to talk to Rufus and hold a audioboo with him. I left them to it at that point.

It might have been this point that I went to the talk about future developments at GCN and exchanged some ideas with colleagues about how to engage more users – very tricky – how to bring together such diverse audiences and get them to contribute? @annkempster was the facilitator with assistance from @scrump (COI) – who sadly I did not really talk to – the ever strategic @jkerrstevens (NHS) made some great observations as did @learningcrowd Tony Plant (MoJ).

I think I then came out and had a general chat with @linguinigenie (Alex Coley – Directgov) about my ideas of creating a conversion funnel for graduate recruitment – also about why we don’t do business cases for shopping; and whether titainium or platinum made better wedding rings – work out the cost!

The end

Things were now winding down prior to the final round up so I bumped into @jennybee (Jenny Brown -The Awesome Web Company) and thanked her for getting me addicted to Angry Birds. As I had to dash to another event I had to miss the drinks but said a quick thank you again to Dave Briggs and Steph Gray before running off.

I kicked myself aftewards for not speaking to:

@rossferg (FCO) we had exchanged a quick nod @johnlsheridan (TNA) @tiffanystjames (Freelance) @carlhaggerty (Devon County Council) @ingridk (IDea) @Baskers (DfT) @sharonodea (Parliament) @pubstrat (DWP) @rogeroldham (MoJ)

Lessons learnt

Try and keep better notes of events – move and mingle more – and must make more effort to talk to people I don’t know.

Oh, and why was it you did not attend?


Issues with Natural History Museum checkout process….

A friend’s story….

I just tried to book for the Wildlife Photography exhibition again, but still get the message “Sorry, there has been a problem”. Does this mean that there is a problem with their system or that there are no tickets available for Sunday??

I also called the “occasionally staffed” number again and left another voicemail. They say that callers will “normally” receive a reply within 24 hrs.

So I finally now sent an email via their website

“Dear Sir/Madam

Yesterday and today I tried to book the following tickets for the Wildlife Photography exhibition online:

2 Adults (£ 8.00 each)

2 Art Fund Members (£ 4.00 each) for Sunday, 23 Jan, 12.00 hrs.

I received the following message “Sorry there has been a problem”.

I have also left a voicemail yesterday at the ticket enquiry line (020-7942 5725). I understood that someone would respond within 24 hrs. As I did not receive a call I left another voicemail today.

I would be grateful if someone could call me as soon as possible on 079…….. so I can book the tickets.

Thank you for your help

Kind regards

A. (potential) customer

And the good news is finally:

The Natural History Museum just called and I booked the tickets for 12.00 on Sunday’

Issues with public sector check out processes for booking tickets

It’s bee in the bonnet time!

I go to a fair few exhibitions in musems and galleries and have been known to book online. However the last few weeks I have been driven to distraction by the quality of the checkout procedures.

I hate to name names but these guys have really could do better:

The Natural History Musuem has the ever excellent Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition on at the moment. I went to buy some tickets but for some reason they now want me to register. I was so annoyed that I emailed them to complain and suggested some articles that they might want to read. I wonder how many visitors they have lost by forcing visitors to register?

And its not just me a friend tried booking online and – ‘Well, I tried to book tickets online, but apparently there is some problem. So I called to get a message saying that this line is “occasionally staffed every day between 9 and 5” and I can leave my details and a preferred time and they will call back within 24 hrs…

it’s just so annoying. In the message they also refer you to book online! They better call back before tomorrow morning…’

The British Film Institute ticket booking system has foxed me a number of times as there is no logical sequence to know what to click on – the so-called ‘go’ button does not help either.I know how it works now but a bit of faith is needed to know that my membership discount is applied right at the very end of the checkout.

Sorry British Museum but I cannot work out why on your website you use the phrase ‘book online’ when I am clearly online already. Then take me round a number of clicks before I am forced to guess how to choose a date. In the meantime I had two pop-up boxes asking me to become a friend. After I clicked no the first time I did not expect to see it again.

Why is the Barbican automatically adding a donation to their fund – which you have to uncheck if you don’t want to contribute. I would not mind if they explained what the fund was for in the first place.

Dare I mention the Royal Academy who I have also complained to in the past as their checkout system can get into a bizarre loop of not letting you see what you have booked for. The only reason I don’t use it anymore is because I am a Friend which makes life a lot easier.

I am not sure if there is a pattern here? A desperation to collect money and contact details? Surely there are some basics that they should all be following? Lack of user testing? Or are expensive designers selling fancy features?

Hopefully this does not sound bitter and twisted as I love all these venues but as they said at school ‘could do better’.






Digital communications strategy anyone? Part 2

So we now have our digital communications objectives aligned with our coporate objectives – what next?

Go back into the kitchen and adjust the recipe to make sure that what we are cooking up will actually work and leave a nice taste.

So how about:

  • Rejing the slides (more than once) that surround the objectives to produce a clearer narrative to fully ‘sell’ the benefits.
  • Try to work out what are the workstreams that will deliver against each objective.
  • Fit all these workstreams onto one slide – gulp.
  • Not just name workstreams but describe each activity in detail: what, who, when, how and the costs
  • Fill in all these details into a workstreams template document – its long. 
  • Better put them in some order of priority as well.
  • Don’t forget to allocate money for the workstreams in advance to avoid missing the boat
  • Review workstreams document.

Not as easy as it sounds as how far can we predict months ahead what we are going to do especially as we will be reviewing a number of activities?

Watch this space for the next update.



The perfect information sources for me

Having just been thinking about Quora, email newsletters, Twitter etc I have decided that what I really need is the following:

To sit down with someone and say – this is what I am interested in – list them – say top ten.

List maybe people I am interested in; maybe organisations as well

Say how I prefer to consume information – and be suggested some alternatives.

Wait a week and have someone deliver the solution to me which I can access from my desktop or mobile

Not sure what the actual product would be but hey its nice to dream.


Nine small moral dilemmas – an update on number five

One of my original nine small moral dilemmas number was:

5) A current supplier asks to connect with you via Linkedin

Recently and somewhat oddly a software supplier kept insisting that it was to my benefit to be linked to them. Apparently I would become part of their ‘community’ and I would then be able to directly contact their other customers to compare notes with them about this supplier.

This might well be true but I concluded that if a supplier was very keen on me doing something then it was probably really for their benefit and not mine. 

Just call me cynical but I have not linked with them.