Saturday, September 10, 2011
A look at how some businesses are handling tomorrow:
Marketers Searching for Ways to Observe September 11 Anniversary
As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, marketers like The Home Depot, General Motors and American Express are struggling with the best way to connect with the tens of millions of consumers who will observe the day, without appearing to be either exploitive or insensitive.
The Home Depot is the latest, just announcing that its foundation is working with The Mission Continues and rock band 3 Doors Down to introduce a "Celebration of Service" campaign, an effort to enhance the lives of U.S. military veterans. The campaign kicks off on Sept. 11, and is scheduled to run through Veterans Day Nov. 11, addressing some 200 service projects that it says are directly aimed at "improving homes, facilities and community centers where veterans live and receive services."
Last month, the General Motors Foundation and Chevrolet donated $250,000 to the Travis Manion Foundation, to help increase participation around the country in the 9/11 Heroes Run. And companies like American Express, Chase and Best Buy are key supporters of the 9/11 Day of Service. That group, founded by families of 9/11 victims, reports that nearly 70% of Americans say they are interested in paying tribute somehow on the 10th anniversary.
"I haven't seen many active efforts yet, but I think a lot of companies are really grappling with this question," Sarah Kerkian, an insights supervisor at Cone, Inc., a cause-related marketing agency in Boston, told Marketing Daily, adding that she anticipates more efforts from major brands in the coming days. "These will likely center around employee service, but I'm sure we will see a few consumer-facing efforts, too."
The Home Depot effort, for example, in addition to awarding $9 million in grants, invites customers to contribute by purchasing a Celebration of Service-themed gift card from the retailer between Sept. 11 and Veterans Day. It says 5% of the value placed on these cards is to be donated to The Home Depot Foundation to support nonprofit organizations serving the housing needs of veterans. Kerkian says that effort is likely to click with core customers because of the Atlanta-based company's long association with veterans' causes. (Back in April, it also pledged a three-year, $30 million initiative to address veterans' housing needs.)
But appearing overly promotional, she points out, can backfire: New York Sports Clubs recently touted a $20-a-month-for-life offer for First Responders that got spanked in some local media. "However, as the fine print notes, the offer is only good till September 11th and only applicable to police, soldiers, and EMTs who are currently employed," notes blogger Bucky Turco, on Animalnewyork.com. "Anyone who worked in the rubble but has since retired is ineligible."
"I don't think it's necessarily taboo anymore to link events to 9/11, particularly on this significant anniversary," Kerkian adds. "But I do think there's an incredibly high level of sensitivity and care being paid to make sure efforts are in good taste."
(Source: Marketing Daily, 08/25/11)
from my email:
Daily Sales Tip: Prospecting the Right Way
Unless we have an all-referral business, we all have to prospect to generate new business opportunities. To do that effectively, follow these simple tips and watch your results improve:
1. Ask for permission. Ask if they are open to talking with you now. If they are, ask why they are open. If they aren't open to talking with you now, move on.
2. If you've engaged the prospect in a conversation, ask if your follow-up would be welcomed or an intrusion.
3. If your follow-up will be welcomed, ask when your follow-up would be appropriate. When you arbitrarily set the follow-up date, you have no idea what is on the prospect's plate and you have no idea of their priorities. If you have secured permission to follow up and then asked deeper questions about when, you start to align yourself with their priorities and you don't become a pest.
Most salespeople get frustrated waiting for the prospect to respond. Then they get nervous and tend to start stalking. If you let the prospect set the timetable for follow-up, not only are you building respect and rapport, you are also reducing the amount of time you spend stalking the prospect and losing rapport. You'll also reduce your frustration levels and the number of voicemails you leave for prospects who don't return them.
4. Ask for permission to send business articles that apply to the prospect's problem. Doing that is as simple as this: "I'm constantly staying on top of industry trends and issues. If, between now and the time I am supposed to follow up, I find an article or an idea that might make sense for you, would you be open to receiving that?"
Securing permission to send articles and ideas gives you permission to "market" to them. Giving them something they can use, giving them something of value instead of "just checking in" sets you apart from everyone else. Now your follow-up is about them, and not about you. And when you voicemail them you can insert a fact the prospect can use, thereby adding value.
5. If they are open to receiving articles or ideas, ask them to tell you more about what they are looking for. That will give you tremendous insight into their priorities and how they think. It will also help you qualify the prospect in a different way and help set yourself apart from the rest of the herd.
6. Use reverse psychology. When leaving your voicemail, don't say "Just checking in..blah blah blah!" Instead, try "I found this fact (or I had this idea) and wanted to make sure you had it." Then, leave your name and number, but don't ask them to call you back.
Everyone says, "Call me back." If the prospect is interested, they'll call. If they aren't interested, they won't. So don't ask. Calling back is understood. If you've piqued their interest, they will pick up the phone, or email you, and further engage. Telling the prospect to call you back won't make them contact you if they aren't planning to already. So don't bother. You'll be less frustrated and the prospect will feel less guilty.
Prospecting today has changed. You've got to do the things that get prospects' attention and add value. If you are just checking in, your prospects are checking out. Prospect the right way.
Source: Sales author/trainer Ryan Sarti
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Friday, September 09, 2011
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I read last week that newspaper advertising has declined for the 20th straight quarter. That's 5 years for you philosophy majors.
We get the Sunday paper, for two reasons. There are a couple of regular features my wife likes to read, and I like looking for leads.
What's replacing paper?
Digital Divide: Print Media Declines As Tablets, E-Readers Rise
Demand for print media is rapidly declining, digital pundits assure us -- but don't take their word for it: paper manufacturers also see the handwriting on the wall.
In fact, a new survey from RISI, a trade organization and business information provider representing the forest products industry, predicts that total demand for paper for magazines and newspapers will drop 12% to 21% by 2015 -- attributing the slump directly to the rise of tablet-style computers and e-readers.
And that's just the beginning, according to RISI, which says paper usage will drop another 40% to 50% by 2025, potentially leaving some paper manufacturers reeling.
As noted, RISI draws a correlation between these projected decreases and the rise of digital devices. At the end of 2010, the RISI study estimates that 15 million tablets and 10 million e-readers were in use in North America, and North American sales of tablets alone are projected to total anywhere from 120 million to 190 million by 2015.
A survey by Morgan Stanley found that 42% of Americans who own a tablet said they plan to cancel their newspaper subscriptions; iBooks continue to be among the most popular free apps for the iPad; and Amazon revealed that digital books outsold print books in the U.S. last year.
What's more, there is still considerable room for digital book sales to increase, according to RISI, as overall adoption rates are just beginning to pick up. From under $100 million in 2007, total digital book sales have increased to about $750 million in 2010, the study estimates, while total print sales have tumbled from about $8.7 billion to $7.7 billion over the same period.
Although digital evangelists will find encouragement in these data, they paint a rather grim picture for paper suppliers.
John Maine, RISI vice president for world graphic paper, who led the study, stated that as "many graphic paper producers make their living selling paper to the publishing industry, those companies will be greatly affected by media tablets," warning that "significant demand impacts could come as soon as 2012."
(Source: Media Daily News, 08/22/11)
By the way, I have a few ideas on how you can convert the budget you have been spending in the newspaper to reach people who are looking for you to spend their money with.
Contact me at Scott@ScLoHo.net and mention newspaper in your email.
A blog I follow is called Dumb Little Man. I prefer to call it DLM. Here's a sample:
Posted: 17 Aug 2011 10:20 AM PDT
Persuasiveness is one of the most important skills anyone can learn because it is useful in countless situations. At work, at home, and in your social life, the ability to be persuasive and influence others can be instrumental for achieving goals and being happy.
Learning about the tricks of persuasion can also give you insight into when they're being used on you. The biggest benefit of this is that money will stay in your pockets as you realize just how sales people and advertisers sell you products that you don't necessarily need.
Here are 9 of the best tricks to be persuasive and influence others:
Framing is a technique often used in politics. A popular example of framing is inheritance taxes. Politicians who are opposed to inheritance taxes will call them death taxes. By using the word death instead of inheritance, all kinds of negative connotations come to mind.
Framing is quite subtle, but by using emotionally charged words, like death, you can easily persuade people to your point of view.
Mirroring someone is when you mimic their movements. The movement can be virtually anything, but some obvious ones are hand gestures, leaning forward or away, or various head and arm movements. We all do this unconsciously, and if you pay attention you'll probably notice yourself doing it, I know I have.
How to mirror someone is self explanatory, but a few key things to remember are to be subtle about it and leave a delay between the other person's movement and your mirroring, 2-4 seconds works best.
This is one that advertisers use a lot. Opportunities, whatever they are, seem a lot more appealing when there is a limited availability.
This can be useful to the average person in the right situation, but even more importantly, this is a method of persuasion to be aware of. Stop and consider how much you're being influenced by the fact that a product is scarce. If the product is scarce, there must be a ton of demand for it right?
It's the old saying, "Do unto others...". When someone does something for us, we feel compelled to return the favor. So, if you want someone to do something nice for you, why not do something nice for them first. In a business setting, maybe you pass them a lead. If at home, maybe it's you letting the neighbor borrow the lawn mower. It doesn't matter where or when you do it, the key is to compliment the relationship.
People are more likely to be agreeable and submissive when they're mentally fatigued. Before you ask someone for something they might not be quick to agree to, try waiting until a more opportune time when they've just done something mentally taxing. This could be at the end of the work day when you catch a co-worker on their way out the door. Whatever you ask, a likely response is, "I'll take care of it tomorrow."
We all try, subconsciously, to be consistent with previous actions. One great example is a technique used by salespeople. A salesperson will shake your hand as he is negotiating with you. In most peoples minds, a handshake equates to a closed deal, and so by doing this before the deal is reached, the salesperson is much more likely to negotiate you in to a closed deal.
A good way to use this yourself is to get people acting before they make up their minds. If, for example, you were out and about with a friend and you wanted to go see a movie but the friend was undecided, you could start walking in the direction of the theater while they make up their mind.
When we talk, we often use little interjections and hesitant phrases such as "ummm" or "I mean" and of course there is the ubiquitous "like". These little conversation quirks have the unintended effect of making us seem less confident and sure of ourselves, and thus less persuasive.
If you're confident in your speech, others will be more easily persuaded by what you have to say.
We are all natural born followers. It's sad but true. We constantly look to those around us to determine our actions; we have the need for acceptance.
A simple, effective way to use this to your advantage is to be a leader, let the herd follow you.
Friends and Authorities
We are far more likely to follow or be persuaded by someone we like or by someone who is in an authority position. Not only is this a good one to be aware of to combat persuasive techniques being used on you, it's also a good one to use on others because you would be surprised how easy it is to get people to like you and establish authority within groups.
Give some of these ideas a shot and let us know if you are suddenly selling more, having more favors done for you, or becoming a master of delegation and persuasion at work!
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Thursday, September 08, 2011
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Fashion, football and Philly cheesesteaks. Let's launch!
Bare Escentuals launched an ad campaign that focuses less on its bareMinerals foundation and more on the five models selected to appear in its ads. Models were chosen using an untraditional method: blind interviews. Yes, blind casting calls selected five women to participate in the brand's "Be a Force of Beauty" campaign. Women first answered a set of survey questions about their passions and values. The field was then narrowed and additional questions were asked, while Bare Escentuals execs were unable to see anyone's face and only able to hear responses. See? It's on the inside that counts. One ad, "Anthem," describes the difference between pretty and beauty. "Pretty is what you are. Beauty is what you do with it." See it here. Another ad focuses on one model, a volunteer firefighter, showing lots of close-up face shots and interactions with coworkers. Watch it here. TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles created the campaign.
The Gate Worldwide launched a pair of ads for State Street Global Advisors' SPDR ETFs, funds that allow consumers to select investments for their precise investment strategy, despite living in an imprecise world. In "Jungle Gym," a father decides to forgo using directions when building his children's backyard amusement and wings it instead. The end result is an unusable monstrosity, leaving the kids entertaining themselves with the cardboard box the jungle gym came in. "Dads don't always hold precision in high regard. But SPDR ETF investors do," closes the ad, seen here. "Missing Piece," seen here, is funny, for a financial ad. A wealthy woman takes a hammer to an antique plate, smashing it to bits. She takes one piece of broken plate, rushes to her local museum, and places the shard inside a mosaic that's missing part of a blue eye. Perfect fit. "Is there an important piece missing from your portfolio? SPDR ETFs can help you fill it."
As expected, there's organized chaos taking place moments before the opening of a fashion show in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. There are cameras flashing, impatient guests using their gold invitations as fans, and Charlize Theron arriving just prior to walking the runway. And this is just the start of an international campaign for Dior's fragrance J'adore. I haven't even mentioned the part where Theron hobnobs with digital recreations of Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich. For an ad that brings celebrities back from the dead, it's a good one. Theron air kisses Grace Kelly, nods approvingly to Dietrich and turns her head when she hears Monroe say, "Dior." See the ad here, created by TBWA/Paris and directed by Jean- Jacques Annaud.
Daffy's mocks the high-fashion scene with a print campaign running in New York, just in time for New York's "Fashion Week." Models are placed in outlandish scenarios with a Daffy's twist. Take the model that's wearing a nest as a hat, for example. Sounds crazy, but as the copy states: "What's really ridiculous is her $120 coat is only $39.99." See it here. There's also a model trapped behind wallpaper, holding her poodle on a leash. The only thing visible is her discounted high-heeled shoes. See it here. The last model is on all fours, used as a table. That's been done before, but her dress costing a mere $29.99 might be a first. See it here. DeVito/Verdi created the campaign.
Who makes the better Philly cheesesteaks: Geno's or Pat's? I'd love to find out. Since they're right across the street from each other, I'd want to do a side-by-side comparison. The Neiman Group created Philly SteakOut, a site that takes real-time data from Foursquare to rank the top 25 cheesesteaks in Philly. This is cool stuff. It breaks down info by tourist and local ratings, to determine who goes where the most. The site even provides Yelp ratings, peak activity times and names the mayor of each establishment. Anyone else hungry?
The VIA Agency created a TV spot for Welch's grape juice that plays heavily on the brand's family-owned farm roots. The ad takes place in upstate New York, where Welch's grapes are grown. Spokesman Alton Brown touts the brand's nutritional value as scenes of a family walking through an orchard are shown. See it here.
Infiniti Europe launched an ad campaign throughout Europe in an effort to compete with the big 3 German car manufacturers: Mercedes, Audi and BMW. Creative shows the outlines of the Infiniti M Hybrid along with dancers in motion. I don't get it, especially when the ad ends with statements like: "Since now, the perfect line is a curve" and "Since now, there is Infiniti." See the ad here, created by TBWA/G1 and directed by Raf Wathion.
Random iPhone App of the week: PostSecret, the online art project created by Frank Warren, is now also an app. You know the site, where people design a postcard that hides a secret that they would like to tell. Some secrets are sweet, like someone with a crush, and others not so much. Warren reads through countless entries and posts a few dozen on his site every Sunday. Using the app, users can now read anonymous secrets and post their own admissions, like "I love spending time with you, even when we're standing in the pouring rain." The app launched on September 3 and already more than 50,000 secrets have been posted. All you need is a picture and a sentence. Bonobo created the app, available for $1.99 in the App Store.
Excellent Advice from Pat McGraw:
Posted: 11 Jul 2011 09:45 AM PDT
Sales is NOT order taking.
Long ago, when I was in college, I had a part-time job in the men’s department at a regional department store chain. I started off with your typical part-time job perspective – I show up, put in my time and collect a check so I could keep going to school, pay my rent and maybe event afford groceries.
But after a few days on the job, meeting my co-workers, I realized there was going to be more to this job. I quickly learned that I was going to need to learn about my products strengths and weaknesses, features and benefits. And I realized that my role, my responsibility was to help the customer find the best solution for their needs.
I was there to help them make a great purchase. And I learned that this made the job a whole heckuva lot more fun.
When someone came in to buy a suit, I asked about where they worked and how often they planned on wearing the suit. I probed until I understood if the person was interested in style, functionality, easy care…
And then I showed them what we had and explained the features and benefits of each option – followed by recommendations based on what I learned about my customer.
After the suit was selected, I asked about socks, belts, shirts and ties because you need those things when wearing a suit. (That’s where I really learned how to match shirts and ties and sock…yes, I learned how to dress myself.)
And if the subject of cost came up – and it did sometimes – I knew what payment options existed in order to make the purchase affordable. (When the buyer would back out of a shirt or tie – I would put them aside and make sure I called the buyer in a couple of weeks to see if they might be ready to buy. Thanks to a marketing department that loved promotional sales, I usually got to call and tell the customer that the shirt and tie were now on sale.)
The full-time salespeople had small file boxes with 3×5 cards that had the customers information on them – name, contact information, size, preferences…and whenever we had a sale or new merchandise came in, they called the right customers and invited them to stop by. So I helped them add to their files – after all, this was their full-time gig and they were commissioned.
Oh, by the way, this approach built strong, personal relationships that made the customer experience more unique and valuable. It drove referrals and retention.
But that’s how we handled cross-selling, up-selling and re-selling. And I don’t often run into this anymore. (Maybe I hang out in the wrong places?)
So, what’s your plan for cross-selling and up-selling and re-selling?
- An upsell is simply convincing the buyer that he or she should purchase a more expensive (and higher quality or more versatile) product than the one under consideration.
- A cross-sell is an effort to encourage the committed buyer to add auxiliary items to the purchase, such as accessories or related items.
- A re-sell is simply convincing a current customer to come back to your business and purchase your products/services again and again (retention).
How skilled are your sales team members in identifying the customer’s needs and offering the best, most appropriate solution for those needs? Do they take orders? Or do they ask question, probe and offer relevant alternatives so the buyer can make an informed decision?
Do they know what else to recommend – and why – once the buyer has made a decision on the primary purchase?
And what does your sale team do to remain in touch with the customer in order to increase the chances for repeat business?
Recommended Reading: Cross-sell versus Up-sell StrategiesSphere: Related Content
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
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According to "S-Net, The Impact of Social Media," a social network study from ROI Research sponsored by Performics, 52% of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that voicing opinions on social networking sites can influence business decisions of companies/brands. The study reveals the inherent differences in why and how people use social networks among various categories.
31% of overall respondents purchase more from companies/brands that they like/follow than from brands/companies they do not. And, educational institutions, sports and entertainment top the list of most discussed categories on social networking sites.
Key industry-specific highlights for social media include:
- 74% of respondents who purchase entertainment products discuss them on social networks
- 53% follow travel companies/brands on social networking sites for coupons/discounts
- 43% follow electronics companies on social networking sites for offers to win "points" or online currency redeemable for products
- 42% discuss automobiles on social networking sites to compare prices
- 32% have made a sports-related product purchase as a result of seeing something posted on a social network
Daina Middleton, CEO of Performics, says "Customers expect, and are already participating in, a two-way dialogue... marketers (should) adopt strategies that engage them in every channel... across all platforms, devices and screens."
52% of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that voicing opinions on social networking sites can influence business decisions of companies/brands. For instance 43% who purchase alcoholic beverages discuss them on social networks and15% have purchased as a result of content on a social network.
The reasons respondents discuss these products on social networks are:
- To express satisfaction with a purchase... 36%
- To compare prices... 25%
- To give advice... 18%
The reasons for following the alcoholic beverage category are:
- They are loyal customers of the brand... 49%
- For coupons or discounts... 26%
- To identify with the brand... 23%
And, the desired brand interaction on the Network is:
- Availability of coupons... 34%
- Notification of sales or deals... 29%
- Information about contests or sweepstakes... 26%
This study reports findings, similar to those for the alcohol industry, specific to 18 different industries which include: alcoholic beverages, apparel, appliances, automotive, education, electronics, entertainment, financial services, food, healthcare/pharma, household, magazines/newspapers, non-alcoholic beverages, personal care, restaurants, sports related, telecommunications and travel.
Based on the study results, the report suggests best practices to make the most of social networks might be:
- Understand customer desire for brand interaction
- Create and adapt strategies to cater to participation expectations and desires
- Allocate resources to the most relevant and appropriate social networks
- Regularly monitor and measure social network activity
To request complimentary copies of the category reports or the summary of findings from the overall S-Net study, please visit Performics release here.
Social Media is one of the areas that we cab help you with at Cirrus ABS. Contact me at 260-255-HELP (4387) for help. You can also email me at SHoward@CirrusABS.com and visit our website for a more complete look at what we do.
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Labels: social media
From my email:
Daily Sales Tip: Giving 100%
There is a wonderful sales lesson in a story I found about Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln once took a sack of grain to a mill whose owner was said to be the laziest man in Illinois. Abe watched the man for a while and then finally commented, "I can eat the grain as fast as you're grinding it."
The owner of the mill grunted and said, "Indeed; and how long do you think you could keep that up?"
Abe looked at the man and replied, "Until I starve to death."
Do you know any salespeople who never give it their all? They are always looking for the short cut, the easy way, the fastest way. Well, selling is hard work. The quickest, easiest, fastest way is not always the most productive way. A short cut is not a short cut if you "cut" corners. Give it your best and watch the sales orders come in.
Source: Sales trainer/speaker Mark Bowser (www.markbowser.com, 2009)
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
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One of the services we provide our clients at Cirrus ABS is email marketing campaigns.
Here are some tips from MaketingProfs.com:
Four Ways to Remove Attention Barriers From Email Campaigns
"People have limited attention to spare," writes Mark Brownlow at Email Marketing Reports. "They focus on those messages perceived as deserving that attention: messages that are clearly important, personal or something they want and expect." There are, however, a number of barriers that stand between your email campaigns and your subscribers' all-important attention.
To help you remove attention barriers from your email campaigns, Brownlow offers advice like this:
Create an immediate impression of value. Avoid a standard "You've been subscribed" message on your confirmation page. Instead, fuel anticipation by touting an exclusive, email-only discount that will arrive shortly. You might even include a sample screenshot of the offer so subscribers will know what to look for.
Don't allow long periods to lapse between messages. If you send less than one email per month, you risk greater problems than losing a subscriber's rapt attention. "Once the gap between emails grows to a few months, people will start forgetting they even signed up," he notes. "Your problem moves beyond one of recognition to permission issues."
Send email when your customers are most likely to read it. While there isn't a hard-and-fast rule for sending an email, notes Brownlow, there might very well be a right day and time to send your email. Continual testing will reveal when that is.
Avoid trust-destroying tricks. Misleading subject lines may boost open rates in the short term. But in the long term, you teach your subscribers to delete your messages without reading them—or even to unsubscribe.
The Po!nt: Don't defeat yourself. Holding your subscriber's interest takes more than strong content; it takes an ongoing focus on removing attention barriers from your campaigns.
Source: Email Marketing Reports.
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from my email:
Daily Sales Tip: Work On Your Weaknesses
Some salespeople work on things they're good at and don't spend enough time trying to overcome weak areas. They can only improve their strengths so much.
Even if they do improve strengths, there's a good chance no one will notice, since slight improvements are hard to spot. Strengths will take salespeople only as far as their weaknesses will allow. Be grateful for your strengths, but work on your weaknesses.
Try to do a "weakness" audit each week. What situations in selling make you uncomfortable? Where does your sales manager suggest improvements are needed? Write them down. When you improve your weaknesses, the difference will be dramatic and visible to everyone.
Source: Adapted from How To Be A Sales Superstar, by Mark Tewart
Monday, September 05, 2011
I want a tablet.
Yes, an iPad would be dandy, but I may consider a different brand.
And I'm not the only one: Mobile as an E-Commerce Supplement The buzz around mobile applications, mobile design and mobile advertising can distract Internet retailers from their core mission, which is to sell products.
Today's most successful e-commerce merchants, however, understand how to best use these technologies and platforms to increase revenue and deepen engagement.
The most effective way to do that is by using mobile as a supplement to an existing website's promotional efforts. Below we will explore several strategies for excelling in what has become a challenging and competitive environment.
For several years now, online retailers have anticipated and prepared for a dramatic rise in mobile commerce. Many have gone so far as to invest in elaborate applications or optimized their websites specifically for smartphone and tablet users. What the Internet retailing community has learned in the past year, however, is that consumers are still unsure about making actual purchases from their mobile devices.
Smaller screens, unfamiliar interfaces and slower load times are but a few of the obstacles facing both users and merchants. One humorous survey from Tealeaf Technology reported that most users consider mobile transactions more frustrating than going to their Department of Motor Vehicles. The same study revealed that 23 percent of mobile users have cursed at their devices while making a purchase; 11 percent have screamed at their devices and 4 percent of mobile shoppers have actually thrown their devices when things didn't go as planned.
As a result, today's retailers must remain relatively cautious with their mobile strategies. The "all-in" approach is no longer advisable, as evidenced by the fact that most merchants receive only about 2 percent of their overall revenues through sales made directly from mobile devices, according to a recent report from Forrester Research.
That percentage is sure to increase over time, making mobile a vital component to the success of every e-commerce enterprise in the future. The key is in knowing how to supplement a company's existing online presence through the implementation of a well-conceived mobile strategy.
"It's been a transition that's taken the past three to four years, and it is still very much going on," says Tom Nawara, vice president of digital marketing firm The Acquity Group. "No business should shut down its website and jump into mobile 100 percent. It is about providing customers with multichannel engagement -- testing the waters to find ways of augmenting sales through mobile."
Augmenting sales through the mobile channel -- rather than relying on sales directly from mobile shoppers -- is the best approach for merchants to take in the current environment.
Most of today's smartphone and tablet users rely on their devices for searching, browsing and gathering information, and not necessarily making purchases. Mobile consumerism is still very much a work in progress, but the convenience of finding a business' Web pages while stuck in traffic or in line at the bank is a significant draw for users.
Before investing in mobile applications that only a handful of users may utilize, business owners should ensure that their companies are readily available through mobile searches. At the very least, that will require a noticeable presence on Google and Bing -- most fundamentally creating a Google Places page that includes all of the information that a user might need. To take it a step further, business owners will want to enlist the services of comparison shopping engines, making their products and prices available to mobile shoppers in real time.
Mobile customers may not intend to make purchases directly from their smartphones, but they will very likely want to research products, compare prices or simply find a brick-and-mortar establishment. Make the process easy for them, or they will move on to the next option without hesitation.
Most retailers think of mobile as a vehicle for customers to find them, but too few consider the flip side. The mobile channel is also ideal for merchants who want to increase their visibility, and SMS or text-message marketing is an effective tactic for doing just that.
Incorporating the mobile channel into a marketing plan requires significant effort. E-commerce websites should require that an option to include mobile telephone numbers is available on each registration form, and the most successful companies know how to use that information advantageously.
The idea is not to be intrusive but accommodating. Ways of doing that may include sending out discounted deals via SMS, or conducting contests exclusive to mobile subscribers. Any tactic that invites engagement through the mobile channel is a viable strategy -- but they should not be limited to building applications or optimizing websites.
"A proper SMS program should be viewed not just as a potential way to communicate and cultivate a relationship but also as a relevant connector to other aspects of your brand experience for a customer," says Dave Lawson, director of mobile engagement at Web marketing firm Knotice. "It can include alerts, branding messages, discounts, exclusive content, etc., but it works best when it is combined with a mobile website and is relevant to the message, works in conjunction with push notifications in apps or contests, and sweepstakes to activate sponsorships or a social media presence."
If you're considering getting involved with SMS marketing, vendors to evaluate include Mobile Storm, Trumpia, SumoText and CallFire.
The mobile landscape is constantly changing, which makes strategizing all the more difficult for merchants. The best course of action is to gain an intimate knowledge of your audience before considering a mobile application or optimizing your company's website.
Both options may require a significant investment, and might not be completely necessary depending on your company’s vertical. A flashy application for the iPad can be an alluring prospect but makes little sense for a business whose core users are not yet tablet-savvy.
Customer research is an essential element in the process, the goal being to gauge your visitors' needs based on their habits. Surveys provide the best insight into user behavior, as do simple analytics and even A/B or multivariate testing.
"Try taking a look at the way your customers are interacting with your website on mobile devices and optimize for that," says Lawson. "Look at referrals from search, opens and clicks from emails, affiliate and social media paths to your site -- even QR codes. All are things that you can first quantify, then determine how valuable that type of mobile user is. You can optimize the most important pieces first with the long-tail customer types becoming fast followers."
A company's most effective mobile strategy will depend on what is determined through this research. Whether it be an app for tablet or smartphone users, a mobile-optimized upgrade to an existing website, a brand new microsite or some variation of them all, the one thing we know for sure where mobile is concerned is to proceed with a certain amount of caution and a lot of optimism.
Local.com announced recently the launch of its first integrated solution resulting from the recent Krillion and Rovion acquisitions. The dynamic, geo-targeted rich media ad units from Rovion provide real-time data from Krillion on products that are geographically local to each user, including information on current discounts, pricing, product details, store locations and in-stock availability. Local.com plans to distribute these dynamic ads across its network of 1,400 regional media publishers’ websites, as well as third-party partner networks, which will create additional reach.
(Source: Website Magazine, August, 2011)