Does Twitter even matter?

It sure does. Social media expert David Griner (@Griner) gives some good reasons here, but it’s reason no. 4 — “It’s an ideal forum for businesses to talk to customers” — that really drives home the message. Citing the study that Twitter followers are most brand-responsive, Griner points out how easy Twitter makes it for companies to spot customer service issues. 

One easy (and obvious way) to observe this phenomenon is by following airline carriers. Lost baggage? Snotty flight attendant? Terrific service? Well, there you are, smartphone in hand: Put it out there! Companies who understand this quickly address customer concerns and solve their problem, online or off. They know how far 140 characters go toward building transparency, responsiveness and goodwill.

— Gretchen Schmidt

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Ka- Ching! Shopping Goes Mobile

When online shopping first took off, even I was skeptical as to its success. The notion of buying something without looking at it, touching it, trying it on seemed bizarre to me. Odd until I actually experienced it and now shopping is shopping regardless of where it is done.

Let’s face it, convenience overrides the risk of getting something you don’t like, at least in my book it does. Maybe it’s because the return process online is so much easier than actually returning something to a store. All I know is that online shopping has spread like wildfire. Recently, Nielsen published online shopping trend statistics and found that over 875 million consumers have shopped online –the number of online shoppers has increased by 40% in just two years.

But with the advent of smart phones and the iPad, will online shopping evolve into mobile shopping as well? Is mobile shopping the next revolution of shopping? When I found myself eagerly searching the app store for such applications, I thought, yes.

This is evidenced by a good number of retailers moving their business from the stores to the phones. Several companies such as Sears, Staples, Estee Lauder, Barnes and Noble and are taking a proactive approach and going mobile.  Sears for example, first went mobile with a few categories such as electronics, but once it took off, they found that consumers wanted to buy items via their mobile devices such as refrigerators and other appliances.

Gilt Groupe has been quick to adopt mobile applications to provide users with the ability to shop for clothing, accessories and other brand name products via their mobile devices. Gilt Groupe launched Gilt on the Go App for iPhone on the Apple App Store. Gilt Groupe also announced the launch of its Gilt App for iPad, becoming one of the first retailers to develop an iPad application.

If consumers thought online shopping was convenient, then how will they feel about mobile shopping? Mobile shopping gives a consumer the opportunity to shop from anywhere and at any time, 24/7. Netsize has released global survey results indicating that almost 95% of mobile professionals would use mobile shopping services.

  • 94% of respondents said they would make payments for goods worth up to €25 ($32) using their mobiles
  • 83% said they would pay for single items like tickets up to €50 ($65)
  • 51% said they would pay for goods worth up to €100 ($130)
  • 60% said that being offered a choice of payment methods was important
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Keep Your Conversations Meaningful … Or Else!

Just as the “Do Not Call” list was mandated because of the surge in unsolicited telemarketing calls and a microscope was placed on permission-based email marketing, a “Do Not Track” list could become a reality for online behavioral tracking.

A warning shot was recently fired by Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jon Leibowitz. He told the Senate Commerce Committee “we are gravitating to an opt-out of behavioral targeting [for multiple sites] through a single entity.” With the focus by the current administration on transparency and consumer privacy, this kind of dialogue may have more teeth to it than marketers would like to admit.

But is making sure conversations with customers and clients are impactful and benefit-driven regardless of the method really a bad thing? Certainly not! As marketers, a major objective is to keep our products and services top-of-mind. If advertisers are told they must respect the hows, whys and whens of consumer and business-to-business marketing, then all’s the better, in my opinion. This will only ensure a more engaged audience who will reward those who provide them with valuable communications.

I remember the concerns swirling around the telemarketing industry before the Do Not Call list was implemented in 2003. Many thought the call-center business and telemarketing would be completely up-ended as a result. Things did change, but in a good way. Marketers were forced to run smarter call programs and consumers were the beneficiaries.  If a similar regulatory program is indeed adopted for behavioral tracking, let’s focus on the positives and hope the results are the same.

Yes, there will be growing pains for marketers and advertisers alike, but this issue is about empowerment over your personal privacy — something we should all support.

What’s your opinion?

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Finally… An Eye Tracker You Can Stomach!

Whether your objective is to determine what content garners the most attention on your website or if your home page design is efficient, “eye tracking” is regarded as one of the most accurate ways to measure website usability. Certainly compared to “click maps,” which simply show what web links are being clicked on, the ability to literally follow a visitor’s eye movements from an image to a headline and across and down the page is a tremendously valuable tool.

In March 2009, I wrote a two-part post discussing the benefits of eye tracking and what some of the consistent findings had been up to that point in time. It mostly focused on Jakob Nielsen’s teachings on the F-shaped pattern to UI design. The biggest catch to this technology, though, had always been the cost. That was due to the software and hardware required for the creation of the “heat map” that visually represents where a visitor to a site would direct his or her attention. Depending on the scale of your tracking efforts, the bill for such a customized research study could cost you well over $10,000.

But now there’s finally a low-cost market solution at our fingertips. I recently caught an article in Fast Company speaking to the relatively cost-effective and easy-to-use service provided by a small startup called Gaze Hawk. The shop debuted in December 2009 with their $50-a-tester eye tracking program and opened the window of opportunity for small businesses to take advantage of a research technology previously reserved for big-ticket corporate America.

Touting newly developed webcam technology and their own proprietary software, GazeHawk takes a “We’ll Take Care of Everything” ease-of-use approach to providing website usability testing for an easier-to-swallow cost. They’re not the only ones coming to market with this type of program. An open-source, open-hardware solution called Open Eyes is already making waves.

These new industry innovations are making this once five- and six-figure technology nearly “do-it-yourself” friendly. For marketers, this is just another awesome and more readily available measuring device to better understand our customers and how they think.

Share with us if you’ve taken the jump into this space and what the results were… 


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