3XE Digital has just announced that the Founder & CEO of Fathom, Gareth Dunlop has been announced as another great speaker at their next conference. 3XE Digital is now Ireland’s largest dedicated digital marketing conference series, with topics including Search, Social Media, Content Marketing, Mobile and Data Marketing.
This one-day, action packed conference takes place in Croke Park, Dublin on 27th January 2016.
Following 15 years of direct commercial experience helping businesses use the Internet more effectively, Gareth established Fathom in September 2011 to advise companies on how to get the most from the web by seeing the world from the perspective of their customers.
Previously Gareth was the MD of iON, a leading digital strategy and marketing company, headquartered in Belfast and with major clients in 15 countries. Prior to that he was the MD of Tibus, one of the largest and most successful web development agencies in Ireland, from 2002 to 2009 when it was sold to UTV Media. Since 1996, he has gained massive commercial experience advising blue chip clients in Ireland, UK and Europe (Fáilte Ireland, SOCITM, SPAR, DHL, Post Office UK, BBC) on Internet strategy and best practice.
A former Board Member of the Irish Internet Association, and Chairman of WeddingsOnline.ie, Gareth writes & lectures extensively on Internet related matters. As well as speaking regularly for University of Ulster, Digital Marketing Institute, Irish Internet Association, Irish Times and Sure Skills, he has guest lectured for UCD, DCU and DIT. He occupies regular columns in SiliconRepublic.com and Business Eye magazine.
Ahead of his talk on the how to improve the mobile experience with contextual data, we caught up with Gareth and asked him about his knowledge and experience in the area of mobile & data marketing:
3XE: Hi Gareth, could you tell us a bit about yourself and a bit more about your business?
Gareth: So my name is Gareth Dunlop, I own and run a User Experience company called Fathom and I have been involved in the internet for 20 years. I started life off as a programmer and I worked on Ireland’s first online personal banking project in the winter of 1997, joined a web agency later on that year and was part of that agency when we grew from 4 people to 55 people over the remaining 13 years. My interest has always been in interface design and, in particularly, designing interfaces that are effective, intuitive, simple, drives results for users, help businesses, make more money or save more money. So that has always been my interest. So when the opportunity came, four years ago, to set up a specialise, dedicated, user experience agency, I noticed that the market place was maturing and that organisations were taking experience design more seriously, they were getting better value from it, I felt it was time to set up a dedicated agency so that is what I have done. We set up Fathom in September 2011 and we have been trading and growing ever since.
3XE: Sounds fantastic. Could you give an overview on mobile marketing, for someone who may not be familiar with area?
Gareth: We are going to talk about mobile and in particular talk about how the increasingly ready availability of contextual and environmental information is allowing mobile designers to improve the experience that the user gets. So what that really means is that when you are designing an experience for a user on a mobile device, you are responding primarily to stimulus that is provided by the user. So the user will scroll or touch or tap or navigate but on top of that there isa lot more information that the user doesn’t provide, but which is available to the app designer and that can help provide a better experience. So the app knows where the device is, geographically, the apps knows what the previous behaviour the user might have been, the app might know the what the previous Google searches are, or for instance, what websites the user previously visited. So a combination of this explicit stimuli in the form of navigation, scrolling and touching and all that sort of stuff plus this implicit stimuli which is the contextual and environmental information, those two things can work together to provide a really rich interface and a really rich experience for the user and a clever experience designer is cognisant of both those types when it comes to designing an interface or designing an experience.
3XE: Sound like a good overview, I suppose it is a very important topic that we have a large section of our target audience that are both using mobile from a smartphone or using mobile from a tablet as their primary means of surfing.
Gareth: Yeah, it is and you have summed it up very nicely there. Because the first thing we would want to talk about here, is the difference mobile and mobility. It may seem like a pedantic differentiation to make but what that refers to, one refers to a device and the other refers to the context of use. It is a useful litigation, not for the purpose of being pedantic, but because it allows us to separate the hardware that we are using and the hardware restrictions that certain devices bring, it separates that from understanding the context in which the user is trying to use the product or the service.
3XE: So lets say for example I am using my mobile device, like my smartphone, can you then track, maybe using go location pings, to find out if Rob is walking down the street now and he is 50 metres ahead and another 50 or if he is stationary on this couch, can you track that and then decided on which way we should do our marketing, maybe something else for the audience?
Gareth: Yeah and again, what we are finding, as an industry, is that the way that the technology is used is that it is used in quite functional ways, so when the technology first became available, marketers got really quite excited with the fact that they could do geo marketing and you could market that there were bargains to be had in your local area. But actually what we are finding is out is how that technology is used as a much more practically way, so for instance, if you are standing in the middle of a city and you go to Google and you search for a coffee shop, Google will know that you are standing in the middle of that particular area, Google will know where you are and Google will give you coffee shops near your location.
3XE: Do you think it is important to have mobile as part of your overall digital marketing strategy with the different channels, whether they be digital display, social media, email, website, so it is part of the mix and not just a stand alone entity?
Gareth: Yeah exactly, it is important. Your design process and creative decisions and all that sort of stuff have to be cognisant of the fact that mobile will be an important expression of your brand and an important expression of how to creatively express yourself.
3XE: Are images still very important in a mobile experience or is text having some sort of rebirth?
Gareth: Well it is all about what the user is trying to achieve, what are the user’s goals and depending on what the user’s goals are, and what they need to find out, what they need to know in order to achieve those goals that will determine whether text or images or video or audio are best for that. We, like all others in the industry, celebrate the fact the web is a richer media environment than it has ever been but that doesn’t mean that you use rich media for its own sake, we are big fans of using the right tools for the right jobs. Sometimes if 5 words or 10 words will tell the user what they need to know and they can go get stuff done from that then that’s the solution, but if a diagram or a short video communicates better, then you would use those.
3XE: With all this rich data, about the user, how can we obtain this, where do we get it from?
Gareth: There are quantitative and qualitative sources, it is a good question, because for me this question reminds us that we are communicating with human beings, there are people like you and I trying to stuff done, and for the starting point is that our technology and design has empathy and it has empathy to help people achieve what they are trying to achieve. There are lots of places where you can get the data, you can get it from Google Analytics but frequently to have to go and see and meet users, you run five second tests, you carry out tree tests, you carry out online surveys, you carry out usability tests. The more time you spend with users, observing them, watching them, try to use your stuff, getting inside their shoes, the more time you invest with that the better you will understand them, the better empathy you will provide for your design and a higher preforming your digital product will be. And that’s the design methodology that we have seen the web pioneers, like Google, like eBay, that is how they have designed for two decades and if it good enough for them then it is good enough for the rest of us. And when I use guys like Google and eBay, it probably makes its sound expensive but it doesn’t have to be, getting inside the mind of a user starts with just identifying who you are, starting your research, learning stuff about them and applying what you have learnt to your design.
Book tickets here to learn from Gareth at the next 3XE Digital Mobile & Data Marketing Conference on January 27th.