Hey Siri, Can you keep a secret?

The expansion of mobile advertising has lead to a concern of privacy for consumers. Mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and personal computers hold our entire life from family photos to bank statements. Wi-Fi, cellular data, and Bluetooth technologies with these devices can open up your personal information to online advertisers or hackers. Government entities like the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have been tackling privacy issues regarding emerging technologies. The ultimate goal is to protect citizens from personal data breaches that lead to identity theft.

Apple experienced its own privacy issues known as “man-in-the-middle.” In this case, a private communication between person A and person B would be picked up by a hacker or person C. Person A would be talking to person C then person C would relay that conversation to person B. The “man-in-the-middle” helps hacker’s access bank accounts, Facebook posts, usernames and passwords.

Experts recommend the devices should not be connected to an unsecured network and that those devices should be updated regularly. Also, people should log out of all accounts on public networks upon completion.

Emerging technologies are great. But they come with some inherent issues that consumers must be mindful of. When it comes down to your privacy, don’t you want Siri to keep your secrets?

Tell me what you think in the comment section below.

Searching, Searching.

Search

I was doing a keyword search on my employer using keywords that would regularly come to mind. I was using words that included the industry, company name, goods/services that we provide and words that would define a part of this industry that I work in. My search turned up some long page views prior to me finding a mention about my company or its website. But there was a reason for this and Jaclyn Spoljarick in my IMC 619 class proposed something that I didn’t realize when I was compiling my thoughts on last week’s discussion; my company is a B2B company not a B2C company. The goods/services that my company provides are not purchased by the end user in the same fashion as a customer would be shoes at the shoe store. My company sells its goods/services to another business in the value chain. Therefore, Jaclyn provided the right response on my discussion post:

 “The goal of search engine optimization for most B2B marketers is not an immediate sale, but rather inclusion in the consideration set, the short list of preferred suppliers from which the ultimate provider will be selected”

 Since B2B marketing is different than B2C, the search engine marketing strategy should be drastically different. This is the point that Jaclyn was making.

Neal Lappe made an effective argument not only for the use of pay per click as a marketing strategy for B2B companies, he also illustrated 6 points that show the difference in using PPC for B2B compared to B2C.

  1. Focus on Longer-tailed phrases to prevent irrelevant clicks
  2. Use “exact match” and “negative keywords” to avoid irrelevant/inappropriate clicks
  3. Make paid search ad text credible and appealing
  4. Paid search ad text should directly answer a customer’s problem or question
  5. From the paid search listing, take the customer to a well-designed landing page that relates closely to the ad text the customer just clicked on
  6. Make sure the landing page answers any further questions/concerns of the target audience along with a call-to-action to generate lead sales information

It wasn’t that my search was wrong, but it was ineffective. As a potential consumer (directly or if I am a business consumer), if I search and can’t find you, the paid search technique should change. This in turn would require a revisiting of what the target audience needs and wants when search is conducted. Maybe B2B companies that haven’t following the above advice should look into it. The revenue figures laid out look pretty good.

Happy Searching!

 

*Special thanks to Jaclyn Spoljarick whose response to my discussion board broached a much larger discussion for this week’s blog post.

What’s Your Story?

The internet has changed the shopping experience for customers. Companies in the past tend to steer away from storytelling. Storytelling carried a risk of harming inexperienced users. Customers are no longer looking through catalogs or window shopping; they are opting in for promotional email, liking companies’ Facebook pages for exclusive offers, and scoping the reviews and feedback pages of websites. Due to the “digital shopping age”, companies are no longer engaging the customers’ emotional sides. Companies are using technologies that are not created for storytelling. Storytelling is the best way to interact with the customers’ emotional side but many companies especially online companies are only focusing on the mechanics of online shopping.

Companies need to focus on why the product is being purchased by the consumer. This information can be use for storytelling. A Betty Crocker’s cake pan can be advertised as a mother making her baby’s first birthday cake or a group of friends making cakes for a bake sale. The use of the product has an emotional connection for the consumer. Thus, the company has found a way to connect their product with a story that resonates with their target audience.

The biggest way companies can use storytelling is by being sincere. Online companies should research their target audience and talk to their consumers, finding out their desires and goals. Companies can figure out how their product has been inspirational to them and relay their stories to the rest of their consumer base. Consumers are looking for relevant, useful, and authentic content when shopping.

The infographic below provides some tips that businesses can use as they look to develop storytelling as a business tactic.

Storytelling tips

Do you think storytelling is needed for all businesses? Or is this tactic only for certain businesses in certain industries?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging is FUNdamental

Blogs

Blogging is one media tactic that is more commonplace for businesses as they look to build their brand and connect with customers.  Blogging is no longer a new phenomenon that only the tech industry and a few forward-thinking companies utilized as a part of their marketing strategy.  It is becoming a, wait for it, fundamental part of business communication to their external stakeholders.  You can see that here under item 9 that 62% of companies were looking to blog in 2013, however, only 9% have a full-time person dedicated toward developing and posting the content.  That is staggering to think about and shows that while the acknowledgement is there from business, their actions shows that they are not willing to provide the necessary investment to make the blogging a truly valuable commodity for the organization.  Corey Eridon of HubSpot gave 4 reasons why business blog:

1. Increases traffic to the company website.

2. Help turn traffic into leads.

3. It helps establish authority.

4. It drives long-term results.

Below is a chart outlined by Eridon that graphically represents each of the four steps above.

blogging-inbound

Business investment in blogging is investment in their customers and the results of the organization.  Customers will appreciate the thought leadership and engagement and can instantly spread that knowledge to others with a few clicks on their device.  The more shares the blog has, the more you see #1 above come to fruition.

The integration of blogging as a means of business communication is more fundamental to the overall marketing plan than ever before.  Customers have made the use of communication tools like blogging mandatory as organizations look to connect in ways that their consumers demand.

 

 

With Mobile, Are You In or Out?

Companies and brands need to be mindful of servicing consumers through their mobile devices.  It just makes sense as 5.1 billion people on Planet Earth own a cell phone according to Jason Wells of ViralBlog.  That is an enormous opportunity for marketers to reach their intended target market because there is a 72.8% chance that your particular target audience owns a cell phone.  The market potential is there as long as the willingness to take advantage of that potential is there as well.  The growth potential is clearly identified with some of the graphics here and here.  Wells has some other good statistics that should convince marketers to get mobile right away.  See the comprehensive list below.

  • It takes 90 minutes for the average person to respond to an email. It takes 90 seconds for the average person to respond to a text message. (CTIA.org, 2011)
  • Mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons. (Mobile Marketer, 2012)
  • 91% of all smart phone users have their phone within arm’s reach 24/7 – (Morgan Stanley, 2012)
  • 44% of Facebook’s 900 million monthly users access Facebook on their phones. These people are twice as active on Facebook as non-mobile users (Facebook, 2012)
  • Mobile marketing will account for 15.2% of global online ad spend by 2016. (Berg Insight, 2012)
  • It takes 26 hours for the average person to report a lost wallet. It takes 68 minutes for them to report a lost phone. (Unisys, 2012)
  • 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour. 70% of online searches result in action in one month. (Mobile Marketer, 2012)
  • 9 out of 10 mobile searches lead to action, over half leading to purchase. (Search Engine Land, 2012)
  • 61% of local searches on a mobile phone result in a phone call. (Google, 2012) 52% of all mobile ads result in a phone call. (xAd, 2012)

These statistics should get marketers excited about the possibilities to reach their audience, engage with them on a two-way basis and guide them to making purchases before the competition gets wind of what’s going on.  Wells has some interesting things to say in this blog post but the most profound is that he mentions that resources should be substantial to reach consumers in a highly-targeted, highly-responsive manner.  Consumers are demanding that brand extend their figurative hands to them wherever they happen to be.  Wells’ point is highly valid, are you in or are you out?  If you’re in, dive head first like you’re swimming for gold at the Olympics.  But if you’re out, the race will be over before you get off the starting block.

What’s your thought?  Leave me a comment below.

Online Advertisers Need In-store Customers

The growth of online marketing is lead partly by the retail marketplace. Consumers perceptions online versus in-store shopping are leading to those consumers not only researching expensive electronics online but also everyday items like diapers and detergents.  The chart below explains this phenomenon.

Accenture Online v In Store Prices Nov2012 Online vs. In Store Price Perceptions, November 2012 [CHART]

According to Ellen Byron “a fifth of consumers research online for food and beverages, a third on pet food, and 39% on baby products however they tend to buy those products in stores. Retailers and brands are now targeting customers by using social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) however, this does not connect with their customers’ in-store visits. Online advertising firms such as SiteScout are teaming up with Aislelabs to reconnect with in- store consumers. SiteScout is the world’s largest self-serve advertising platform for buying ad space. Aislelabs provides store customer analytics and mobile marketing automation. The partnerships can help retailers figure out customer’s in-store behavior instead of solely focusing on consumer’s online behavior. Retailers use Aislelabs Engage with its mobile app to understand in-store behavior and SiteScout to re-target the same customer on the web, smart device, or on social networks. Retailers can also customize ads to fit the needs of the consumers in real time.

The CEO of Aislelabs Nick Koudas said ” the vision is connect online and offline customer behavior.” Retailers can retarget in-store visitors once they’re online which will fill in the gap in marketing.

Retailers such as Procter & Gamble Co. have used this concept of in-store marketing. In 2010, CoverGirl Smoky Eye Look sparked buzz with live demonstrations and print ads with Wal-Mart stores. Customers were asked to write product reviews of the product on Facebook, which spread the word to consumers looking online for makeup products.

In today’s technological age, retailers have multiple ways to reach it customers; which can be a blessing and a curse. Finding the right balance between online and offline marketing has become a challenge. Companies like SiteScout are trying to fill the gap as consumer behavior changes.

Full Screen Websites: A Natural Progression

Full screen websites seem to fit in with today’s overall movement toward bigger screens.  It seems that these full screen websites are a natural progression in today’s bigger is better world of mobile, computer and entertainment devices.  Bigger screen resolutions are becoming more and more popular each and every month, so having a website utilize that same thought by using the entire page as a medium for visitors makes a lot of sense.

Consumers are becoming more accustomed to having bigger devices to accommodate their desire to see more without a lot of pinching, zooming and scrolling through the page.  This has become such an inevitability that Apple, Inc. had to join the fray by offering larger screen iPhones with their next phone offering; the iPhone 6.  The graph below from 9 to 5 Mac shows how Apple internalized the need to make bigger offerings to their consumers.

Why-bigger-iphones

In order for any website to capitalize on the mobile fray, their website should be optimized in a manner that accommodates the bigger is better phenomenon.  Janelle Monae’s personal website is a great example of the future of websites on a full screen scale.  Her site is a full screen page with large tiles that link to various items on her site.  The site takes advantage of the users device size to allow for maximum viewing capabilities.

Just from Feb. 2014 through May 2014, there has been a 26%-28% share of devices utilizing one of the higher resolution screens on various electronic devices.

The next step for new website designs is to take full advantage of the screen size to fully convey the brand message.  Full Screen websites are the next step in what consumers are looking for in the marketplace.  First larger devices, then larger screen sizes.  Who knows what will follow next?

Are African Americans Missing in the Technology Realm?

Silicon Valley, the Hollywood for the tech world, is a major hub for media giants such as Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  However, African Americans have only played a consumer role in technology.  With over $900 billion in consumer buying power, African-American play a large role in technological purchases.  However, there may be some notions that racial bias could be a factor for lack of technological innovations.  Business investors use pattern matching to decide the success of internet businesses.  This includes the founder’s tract record, personality type and alma mater.  Usually, Caucasian computer science graduates from elite schools produce successful tech founders due to university’s status and its preparation of the students.  African Americans are least likely to attend universities such as Stanford due to lack of quality high school education, finances, etc.

Some will say big internet businesses such as Google, Facebook, and Apple hiring practices statistically show that they are lacking in diversity. Another cause could be the African American community not encouraging it’s youth to pursue an interest in technology.  However, the benefits of a diverse background can be long lasting.  Google provided a very candid report about its company, their company make up and how it can lead to greater innovation.

Soledad O’Brien quoted an entrepreneur’s thought about how they feel that there is a notion that no one will give you money to build a web company.

The question then becomes, where is the fundamental cause?  It can lie in multiple places.  Each answer is a possibility.

The Social Dilemma: To Tweet or Not To Tweet? That is the business question.

Social Channel Pic

 

There is a competing view about social media is whether businesses can fully utilize the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Instagram to generate revenue for the organization. That’s the goal of the organization: make money. And if that organization is a publicly-traded company, making money is imperative to the stock price growth and the attraction of more investors. But can social sites like Twitter and others give businesses the boost it needs? Below are three examples that may help convince businesses to utilize social media as a new corporate tool.

One of the biggest ways social media can help organizations is its ability to actually boost sales from its customers. For example, Dell Computers utilized Twitter to a large extent to generate an additional $6.5 million in revenue through leveraging its 1.5 million Twitter followers. Even with over $60 billion in revenue, Dell realized the potential to leverage their followers into more revenue for the organization.

Another way that social media can help organization is through connections with their customers. In the midst of GM’s crisis, the utilization of their various social and media channels (like Facebook, Twitter and video) provided some opportunities to respond to customers directly about their issues. One example in the New York Times was a customer in Alaska who tweeted to GM about why she couldn’t get the vehicle to a GM dealer since she lived on an island. GM responded by paying the ferry freight and the cost of a rental vehicle while her car was under repair. In this case, GM used social platforms to manage their customer base and take care of issues that could potentially lead to lost revenue from them.

It may be underappreciated or unknown to organizations, but social channels can really help businesses if the deal with any sort of a crisis situation. While the reputation of an organization may be intangible in nature, if damaged, can be a drag on profitability. W. Timothy Coombs wrote in the text Ongoing Crisis Communication that organizations have three rules when uses online tools for crisis situations; 1. Be present 2. Be where the action is 3. Be there before the crisis begins. Item number 3 rings true for businesses as their reputation can be a reason that customers buy your goods or services or the reason they choose your competitor.

The focus of any business is to make decisions that would provide greater sales, engage customers and protect its reputation. Each of these items can have an effect on the bottom line. For those who haven’t begun, it’s their move.

Welcome

Hello Everyone!

Here is my new blog.  As I learn the nuances of the blogosphere, I will get better.  Hopefully, you will enjoy what I post throughout my Emerging Media Class and beyond with posts that I’m interested in.  I’m looking forward to communicating with all of you and I look forward to blogging on a more regular basis.

Welcome!