Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Prediction For 2009 #4: Mobile Takes Bigger Role In Customer Experience

There's been a lot of talk in the past few years about the rise of the mobile device as an advertising vehicle. I've never bought that. Not in the traditional mass marketing sense. My mobile phone is too personal to me. I don't want push messages on there as I wouldn't have wanted them on my computer.

We all know the iphone has revolutionized the way we are starting to use our cell phones. Surfing the Web on mobile devices, Google searches, mobile apps, social mobile. And it will start to push mobile to the forefront of marketing discussions and will start to take some budgetary priority.

One of the biggest areas where we are going to start to see this practically emerge is the role of mobile in the overall customer experience. From marketing to customer service, we need to start working with clients to examine the customer experience life cycle and map where we can fulfill unmet customer needs through the mobile device. How can brands connect you with other shoppers through mobile? How can they create value added marketing experiences in retail (i.e. extend product knowledge on the retail floor?) How can they extend the actual product experience through needs based functionality?

Many clients were only starting to touch on these questions last year and hopefully we will start to see an explosion of examples where mobile starts to take a bigger and potentially even leading role in customer experience.

Photo credit:

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Prediction For 2009 #3: Explosion Of Online Retailing

Well I was going to save this one for later, but Fred Wilson had a similar post this morning over at AVC.

While online retailing has been growing on a consistent basis what's starting to happen is that the world is dividing up into two camps. Those that get how to leverage the online channel to grow their businesses and those that don't. Those that get it, are going to tap into new markets to make up for the decline in overall retail sales.

Case and point? Ron White Shoes. A friend of mine who is not a particularly web savvy person was raving to me a while ago about Now, I"ve never shopped at Ron White in the offline world said a few drive bys when I was at Sherway Gardens. However, Lianne told me she only shops there online now as it's the worlds easiest expedience. I thought, I need winter boots for my daughter, I hadn't made it out to shop because I had been so busy, why not give it a try?

Went to the site, ordered a pair of boots and voila! Within a week they arrived in a lovely gift wrapped box with a discount coupon for our next online shopping venture. Cee tried on the boots and it was a perfect fit, however, if they didn't fit, return policy? Bring back or send back to any Ron White store and bobs your uncle. No fuss, no muss. Ron White? New happy customer and I think I will never buy boots offline again!

While the keys to success for me are simple - the ease of shopping, the no risk return policy, the free shipping, the sexy packaging, the future discounts - many traditional retailers aren't getting this. They suffer offline and on top of that are missing a huge opportunity online.

This isn't about social networking or fancy marketing - it's just plain, simple, smart online design and overall attention to customer experience.

IMO, while setting up such experie3nces might put a retailer back some at first, it's just the wisest investment they could make for 2009. Talk about ROI.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Prediction For 2009 #2: Rise Of The Experiential Class

Last year I wrote a post "Have We Crossed The Chasm" that questioned whether or not we need to start redefining the 'early adopter'. With the speed of change and introduction of new digital services on almost a daily basis, capturing the first and often passionate users is crucial to your businesses success.

In a US today article from 2005 that studied the make up of the early adopter across the Globe Geoffrey Moore, the author who popularized the notion described them as a psycho-demographic:

"When offered a new tech device, this kind of consumer says, "Great, let me at it," Moore says. "They like to totally engage with the novelty of the device. They're the only ones who really care about how the thing works and the properties of the new object." This group includes the "boys with toys" types who buy almost anything new, no matter what.

Back in the day, these were mostly the tech geeks but that has all changed. We now have new segments of individuals all who are clammering to test, try and play with the newest gadget and/or service.

From what I"m seeing, there are some new classes of early adopter that are as if not, more important than the traditional early adopter tech geek of Moore's theory. Who are they? I'm calling them THE EXPERIENTIAL CLASS.

Years ago I conducted a future looking research study on the digital customer. One of the most interesting insights was the cultural shift in how this new generation learns. This new way of thinking is at the core, experiential, and IMO a foundation for this new experiential class. Think of it like this:

Pre Web:
Read, Write, Remember

Early Web:
Look, Link, Think, Try Again

Web 1.0:
Look, Link, Think, Experience, Try Again

Web 2.0:
Look, Link, Think, Experience, Participate, Try Again

See what I mean?

This group doesn't worry about failure the same way we did. They don't read manuals to find the right way to do something. Have a hive mentality and often will ping that hive with their latest finds and develop new learnings over time through collaboration with their network. They have little or no fear to jump in and try new things and most importantly, they don't have to be tech savvy to do it.

Understanding how to reach, communicate and interact with this new class may be one of the most important trends for those marketing new products and/or services in the coming year/s.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Prediction For 2009 #1: The Rise Of The Presentation Layer

Blake Ross of Firefox fame once said, the next big thing is whatever made the last big thing more usable. I've always loved this quote and I think it's going to become even more important in 2009.

Innovation comes in many forms. Sometimes it's about creating an entirely new way of doing something but more and more, it's about creating new and innovative ways of experiencing something differently that is already there.

One of my favorite examples of this is Coolaris. What is it? According to their site, Coolaris:

"Transforms your browser into a lightning fast, cinematic way to discover the Web"

In practical terms it means anytime I view images on the web I can click on the that image and have an entirely new experience viewed through the Coolaris interface.

While this may seem trivial, what's been happening is that I mostly view my Google images searches through the lens of Coolaris. Why? Because I can browse the images much much faster and the visual experience is far more rich. What this means is that I no longer have my relationship with my search content with Google - their engine has become just that - an engine for where my real experience is happening - in the presentation layer with Coolaris. And due to this, Coolaris now has the opportunity to create an entirely new business as they are the ones controlling the interface I'm interacting with.

Coolaris isn't the only example. From products like Perceptive Pixel which I talked about here and that CNN used during the elections, or newer products like Boxee that present your multimedia content in a new way, it's how we experience content that presents the opportunity.

And as we are looking for richer experiences online, it will be businesses and brands that capitalize on that who could become the next big thing.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Influence Is Earned

Mitch has a good post this morning on the entire sponsored blog debate. He makes three excellent points:

1. Real interactions between real people
2. Trust is non-transferable
3. You can't buy trust

I believe where a lot of the debate stems from is that fact that we aren't really sure how to view blogs as part of the media landscape.

With regards to 'social media' platforms, as marketers we set objectives like moving opinion. But what happens to the model when we aren't "influencing influencers" with our brilliant product, service, and/or marketing idea and instead, we are actually trying to just buy them? If money can't buy you trust, that leads to the question, what CAN money buy you, if anything?

IMO, money can buy you awareness. And maybe that's what's happening here. As mass media options continue to be disintermediated, marketers are trying to find new ways to get their messages out. Buying media remains one of the easiest ways to get that message out. In digital, this often means banner ads...and now within the blogosphere, it also can mean 'paid posts' with the 'transparency disclaimers'.

As a marketer however, you have to be sure that what you are trying to do is get awareness of your message and not gain influence on your product and/or service - because influence implies that you have somehow earned that recommendation or blog post. As the reader the blog post in question, I now perceive that piece of content differently and therefore how you are impacting my purchase decision is equally changed.

Ultimately, there is likely some influence on every level of the tactics that you choose to employ but if it's influence you want and not just awareness, that simply cannot be bought.

To paraphrase Mitch, money can't buy you trust.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Socially Connected Search

Mark Ury put a link on Twitter that poses an interesting theory about email as the social network. Om Malik also referred to this in his post a year back asking the question, is email the ultimate social network?

Leaving aside the fact that the younger generation is using email less as a means of communication, I have to wonder as we become more ingrained in network culture, if the notion of email as the platform is completely missing the mark?

While our address books are certainly reflective of who we know, email is for the most part a means of communication with our strong ties. One of the advantages of social networks are its ability to leverage the connections of our weak ties as we all acknowledge that in real life, managing 250 'friends' would be a pretty difficult task.

So I'm not buying what Om says in his post:

"The only way for Yahoo or Google to challenge the social networking incumbents like Facebook [is] to leverage their email infrastructure ..."

Why? Because to me, Google in particular has another infrastructure that seems much more relevant - their search infrastructure. While everyone focuses on serving more relevant and 'personalized' ads, I have to wonder why they aren't also putting equal focusing on connecting people who search for like minded information? After all, if they did that, then as I developed those connections over time, I could then start to search like those individuals I'm connected to or see what content they thought was most relevant based on their searches - and even discover new searches that might be of interest to me?

I've touched on this type of search before. So in my mind it won't be email as a socially connected platform, it will be search.

(This blog post was written with a baby in my arms so excuse any mistakes or fumbled grammar :)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Real Time Web Analytics