I’ve been working in technology pre internet, pre PC, pre mobile.
In my early childhood, digital engagement fascinated me as it could grab my attention for hours with nothing more than a simple block moving round a screen. Then again I was a geek.
When I started Matmi I just wanted to make the world smile with digital innovation. I could not understand why everyone was producing such boring content. For Matmi, content was king.
We always shied away from SEO, buying marketing lists, Spam, storing cookies (not the edible types) and unscrupulous marketing practices.
Our company has changed beyond recognition over the years but our ethos has always remained the same. Make good content and users will come. Not only will they visit they will also engage and tell others about it. Often this content then becomes viral.
When looking for a girlfriend it would not be advisable to stalk and spy on that person in order to learn about everything about them, follow them to work, follow them home, check on everything they look at online, read their emails etc. You would probably get arrested and it would not be the best start to a relationship.
However this is how business are trying to start relationships with their customers. A relationship is about trust. If there is not trust then the relationship will fizzle out.
Its not just online that we have the problem. It happens everywhere. Supermarkets with 2 for one offers that work out more expensive that buying good separately, 50% off sales where the price was doubled a few weeks beforehand, free line rental (that is not free), unrealistic photoshopped beauty, sexualisation of children, disclaimers, read the small print, ridiculous add ons to flight costs, premium numbers for support, selling data for third parties, junk mail, suffering for being a loyal customer when new customers get better deals. Horse meat in our beef! The list goes on.
Why am I making this point?
I think that we do not give the public the respect that they want or deserve. I think its time that companies should be more honest with the end user, I think that the public are starting to resent the companies that deal with these unethical practices.
A certain rather large supermarket chain is suffering recently as more people flock to budget supermarkets and premium supermarkets. They believe that its because of the constant recession and the fact that the middle class are going budget and the upper class are going premium and they are lost in the middle.
I have another idea. The reason that many of my friends and I do not shop there is because we have had enough of unscrupulous offers that are not real, bargains that are not, the bullying of our towns and our councils, they they are one of the biggest property owners in the UK which kill towns with their army of lawyers, the fact that the supermarket just look at us as profit and not customers.
Their only engagement is to milk every last penny out of the public until we have no where else to go.
So this store tries to change, it puts wood on the front of their stores to try and appear “more organic’ with the words HELLO on a delft style font. Its so bloody obvious that they think we are stupid.
In the Digital world we now have freemium which has changed the App world forever. Freemium allows in app purchases and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when you realise that in some cases 50% of the revenue from freemium comes from 0.5% of the players. These are classed as whales which is the terminology from the gambling industry. Whales generally have serious addiction and gambling problems. When 50% of the revenue comes from people who have a mental problem than the business is not sustainable. Gambling is regulated whilst freemium is not. Some users spend thousands on these in app purchases. The trust between the user and the publishers is breaking down. A relationship with no trust will break down. The industry is in danger of eating itself.
Brands and corporations need to change the way they engage with users, positive engagement that makes the user happy. Give the user something back for their custom, not take them for everything that they have.
Its not only in business we have this problem. The public have become disillusioned with the political system and the constant bullshit from politicians. The last election was between two parties with similar policies represented by carrier politicians who are masters of NLP. The reason that Jeremy Corbyn has won a landslide in the labour leader election is because he is real, authentic and seems to be a man of integrity. Whether you agree with his policies is irrelevant, the younger generation see him as a positive alternative that is not just out for himself. Trust is vital to our political system.
At Matmi we’ve always believed in making content that engages users in a positive non intrusive way. Make a user smile, give them tools that make their lives easier, educate them and pay them for their positive engagement.
We’ve helped major brands worldwide engage with millions of users and never used unethical business practices. A great relationship is based on trust. It pays to be nice.