Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

Blogs and Social Media Influence Shopping Behavior

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Blogs and Social Networks are increasing in importance in the shopping experience.

The Women and Social Media 2012 BlogHer study reveals that information and advice provided on Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are all highly trusted by consumers (over 85%.) Blog information is the most trusted possibly due to the detail content provided in a blog compared with a brevity of a Facebook post.

Trusted Sources - 2012 Study

Given the high trust level of these sources, consumer purchase decisions are being heavily influenced by the information and advice provided by blogs and social networks. Blogs seems to have greater influence over the purchase decision than social networks (87% versus 54%, respectively).  The study also shows a new social media entrant, Pinterest, has grown quickly to be a respected source.

Purchase Intent - Blogher 2012 Study

The study also reveals the impact of blogs and social networks across consumer electronic and beauty product verticals. For help with consumer electronic purchase decisions, 84% of survey participants relied on blogs and 56% upon social network information or status updates. For the beauty products vertical, 61% of the survey participants relied blogs and only 33% on social networks for help with their purchase decisions.

This study supports the need for consumer product and service companies to refine their marketing strategies to address the growing importance of blogs and social networks.

How will the results from this study change your company’s digital marketing strategy?

The Digital World Continues to Advance

Friday, March 18th, 2011

What are some of the latest developments?

Here’s some of the news that we have been paying close attention to over the past couple of weeks:

• Sports Illustrated recently announced it will be offering subscriptions to digital editions on Android smart phones and tablets. The Time, Inc. publication will offer readers options for a variety of electronic and print formats. An iPad version should eventually become available once issues with limitations are ironed out with Apple. Details on packaging and pricing of the digital subscription have not been released.

• Amazon’s Prime Member service will now offer its member access to 5,000 movies and TV shows at no additional cost. And, the service is offered commercial free (well, at least for now). This is in direct competition with Netflix and YouTube. Amazon is also welcoming self-published e-books through its Digital Text system which allows writers to upload unedited manuscripts for sale and readable on their Kindle.

• Ryanair, an Irish budget airline, is planning to sell targeted advertising aimed at people booking tickets at home and checking in online. Having ads on boarding passes is not new. What is new is the ads will be much more precisely targeted to the individual traveler. This will allow Ryanair to command higher ad rates from their advertisers.

• Apple announced a new subscription service for digital content sold through the iPhone and iPad. Two magazines, Elle and Popular Science have signed on to the new service. Publishers are continuing to struggle with Apple regarding the terms for sharing custom data and ad revenue. As these issues get ironed out, look for for magazines to become available.

What does all this have in common?

For consumers, the abundance and availability of reading material is continuing to move into the digital world. Consumers will need to adapt as traditional print subscriptions will become less relevant. Online marketplaces like Amazon will leverage content, like movies, to drive consumers to subscribe to their premium services. Airlines will use their captive audiences as source of revenue to help subsidize their up and down profits.

So how is the way you read your favorite magazine, watch a movie, or look at your boarding pass changing in the digital world?

Being Visible in the Digital World

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Is your business managing its Digital Footprint?

Just the other day I was talking to one of our partners about some new work for one of our clients. He was telling me how he is still struggling to convince a couple of his clients about the need to extend their efforts beyond their site…something I would call expanding their digital footprint.

A digital footprint is the data trail left by activity in the digital world. Information is captured through interaction with web sites on the internet, social media sites, mobile applications, scanning loyalty cards, and the list goes on.

For consumers, your digital footprint is driving how you are being targeted by marketers for their ads, offers, products, and services. Marketers see it as a source of fresh data to help profile and target consumers. And, it can also determine your reputation based on the posts, comments, and images you leave on social media sites.

For your business, a lot of similar factors are involved. However, the stakes are much higher. Your ability to generate sales, keep customers, and attract new customers is impacted by your digital footprint. Your brand reputation is at stake. It can be as simple as your site being found by a search engine to how you respond to an unhappy customer’s Facebook post.

A business needs to have a practical digital footprint strategy and tactical activities that keep your business visible and vibrant in the digital world. So how can you get started? There are simple steps you can take and a host of free tools available out there to help you.

Here are some questions you can answer to begin to develop your digital footprint strategy:

• What are your online objectives?
• Is your site a commercial site or are you building a community? A commercial site is focused on generating sales; helps sell products and services. A community site is place for people to get information, meet, aware of an issue or group…
• How do your customers or audience interact online? Do they frequent social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter? Are they business customers more likely to be using LinkedIn? Do they actively use their mobile phones? How to they find you? How do they find your products, services, or group?
• How can you listen to what is being said about you on the web? There are some free tools out there that can help. Google alerts will allow you to track who is talking about you and where. Twitter Search allows you to see who’s twitting about you. You can try out SM2 by Alterian social media monitoring tool. And the list goes on…
• How can you interact with your customers and followers? See where they hang out. See how you can leave comments and respond to posts.

All businesses in all industries need to examine how their digital footprint impacts their business.

So will you take a close look at your digital footprint and how it impacts your business in the digital world?


Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Are you using a Tablet?

CES 2011 is less than One Day away. There is already speculation that this year’s event buzz will feature the WAR OF THE TABLET COMPUTER.!

Forrester is predicting that over 82 million Americans will own a tablet — or more than one-third of U.S. adults — will own a tablet computer by 2015.

Forrester estimates that 10.3 million tablet computers were sold in 2010 and predicts sales of 24.1 million this year and 44 million by 2015.

The reason Tablets computers are experiencing this rapid growth is because they are providing practical solutions that can be used in business, at school and at home. The tablet is certainly helping productivity but it is also becoming a lifestyle device. At home, it will be used as a TV remote, the new cookbook with videos, review your stock portfolio, a new entertainment device for the kids in the back seat of the car and much more. Schools are also becoming major consumers of tablets to support new learning initiatives. The Wellesley, MA school system will be using tablets.  Then there is your favorite restaurant that is now featuring their wine list─on a tablet!

While many of the pundits predict that Apple will continue to dominate the tablet marketplace, there will be some fierce competition. Google’s Android operating system, Microsoft’s Windows and platforms from Hewlett-Packard, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, and Nokia are all stepping up their efforts to capture the market.

So how will this change how you are delivering your digital content in 2011? It is time to take a hard look at Tablets.

Amazon Admits Selling Millions of Kindles

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

What’s happening with the Kindle in the e-Reader Market?

This week Amazon let us know it is selling millions of Kindle e-readers.  The 2010 holiday quarter has already surpassed the total of all sales for 2009.  The various estimates for Kindle sales for all of 2010 range from 4 to 7 million units will be sold.  What’s the real number?  Hopefully Amazon will tell us early next year. 

A recent report by ChangeWave has the Amazon Kindle at a 47% share of the e-reader market based on their survey of consumers.  The Apple iPad is next with 32% and that is if you consider the the iPad just an e-reader.   The iPad certainly impacts this market and will continue to do so. 

It should be no surprise the Kindle is at the top right now as a true eReader.  The Kindle is relatively cheap, priced at between $139 and $149.  You can find cheaper devices such as the Aluratek Libre and Kobo eReader which cost between $99 and $129.

What about functionality?  Not all avid readers feel the need for over-the-top functionality.  The Kindle’s black and white display is fine for reading.  It is neat to have wifi that enables an online dictionary to look up those occasional new words.  But this is not critical.

A revolution is starting as publishers are now beginning to convert their vast inventory of illustrated books into e-books. This is all possible due to Barnes and Noble’s new Nook Color and the Apple iPad color displays which will help them showcase their color illustrations and photographs.  On Wednesday, Apple introduced 100 illustrated book titles in the iBookstore, a collection of cookbooks, children’s books, and photography books. Some of the most popular children’s books will be available with illustrations. Barnes & Noble’s Nook had announced publishing famous children’s books last month.

The Kindle and eReader market will continue to grow.   According to Gartner, the market for eReaders is expected to grow by 68% in 2011 despite competition from the iPad and Galaxy Tablet.   The Kindle is projected to sell 11 million devices in 2011 and will continue to be the market leader holding on to a 45% share.  A key will be holding the price to a point where it can continue to be an affordable alternative.

It will be interesting to see if the Kindle continues on the predicted path or if the new entry in the market, Barnes and Noble’s Nook and the iPad will impact this trend.  It will also be interesting to see how publishers will embrace this new technology to reach this new age consumer.   

So how are eReaders impacting how you publish your content in the digital world?

Social Sentiment

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

How will businesses deal with this unstructured data?

Recent news from SAS announcing their release the SAS Conversation Center in 2011 is another clear sign how social media continues to change business in the digital world.

The new product is designed to help companies capture tweets in real-time that are important to a company’s brand or product. The tweets are analyzed for their sentiment and influence of the tweeter and then can be routed to customer service to handle. It is no wonder the unstructured data flowing from social media sites are driving companies to invest in the technology to link them to their customer service operations.

According to Nielsen Online’s research report from last year “Global Faces and Networked Places”, social media sites are now being visited once every 11 minutes and the 35 – 49 year old category of social networking site usage is growing at the same extent as the 18 – 34 year olds. As for the younger generation, in 2010, kids are spending 27 minutes more time online than in 2009 with most of this time dedicated to social media activities. Not to mention the growth in smart phone devices is helping to accelerate the process and access to social media.

So what are the challenges of dealing with customer sentiment?

Linking customer sentiment to a customer service strategy extends beyond tracking tweets. It means capturing information from other sources such as Facebook and customer reviews. A company such as Expedia gets about 80,000 customer reviews per month. All this data must be captured and analyzed. Part of the analysis is separating out the real issues from a flip comment before investing time and money into a response. Social media is another source of feedback and analytics.

A recent survey of 2,100 companies sponsored by the SAS Institute found that 75% of the companies did not know what their customers were saying about them. Only about 23% were using some sort of social media analytic tools. With the impact of a bad customer experience being made many times worse by social media channels, there is no doubt this will change over time.

So how are you making use of social sentiment in managing your business in the digital world?

Social Scraping

Monday, October 18th, 2010

What are the ethical boundaries?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal got our attention. The article is titled “Scrapers Dig Deep for Data on the Web”.

This article begins by talking about a “break-in” at a web site called PatientsLikeMe in May of this year. A new member was using sophisticated software to scrape or copy information from private online forums. PatientsLikeMe was eventually able to identify and block the intruder. The company did inform its members of the break-in.

It’s a fact of life that there are companies out there actively scraping data from social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Scraped or not, there is a lot of valuable information on social networking sites companies want and will actively seek. The question is should there be limits placed on what information is available for companies to collect or analyze. There are certainly ethical and legal challenges that need to be addressed.

For the ethical and savvy marketers, information from social networking sites can provide a wealth of customer insight. Social networking sites also have become an extension of customer service and support. Some companies have staff monitoring the sites and in some cases are responding to service problems through social media sites. The use of social networking sites and the information from these sites will only increase over time. According to the Winterberry Group, spending on data from online sources will more than double to $840 million in 2012 from spending of $410 million in 2009.

Users of social networking sites expect marketers will gather and use their data. A survey conducted by Webtrends indicates half those surveyed who use Twitter expect brands to use their information. However half also indicated they would leave social networking sites if they became too commercial.

So how do we ensure collecting this information remains within ethical bounds?

The answer may rest with the social sites and the collectors of this information. For example, Facebook is putting a strong effort into data security. It is important for them to lead the way to taking this issue seriously. Nielsen says it no longer scrapes data from sites requiring individual account access unless it has permission. These are examples on both sides of the issue.

Social network scraping can remain within reasonable bounds that protect information that needs to remain confidential. However, it will take the social networking industry leaders to invest in data security and markers to abide by ethical practices. This is yet another stage in the evolution of the digital world. And, unfortunately, there will always be some individuals and companies that attempt to reach beyond the areas of reasonable ethical behavior. It is up to all of us in the digital world to call their actions into question to protect this valuable world of information.

So how are you making use of social networks in managing your business in the digital world?

The c-store: A microcosm of retail marketing

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Interested in recent findings on the in-store shopping experience?

Here is an article published by DDI, a Nielsen Media Company.  Author George Wishart analyzes a study conducted by Wesley Partners in-store intelligence partners Bill Dupre and Linda Brennan of In-Store Insights.

Here’s George’s article…

In-store marketing gets increasingly difficult when the entire shopping experience is only 103 seconds. How would you have to think about your environment differently, if that was the entire time a person was in the store, including walking in, shopping for desired items, paying the cashier and leaving?

In a recent study by In-Store Insights, a consultancy run by in-store veterans Bill Dupre and Linda Brennan, results confirmed that the average shopping experience in a convenience store is a mere 103 seconds. This is not surprising, given the definition of a channel where shoppers want to get in, purchase what they need and get out of the store quickly. Two things become clear. First, impressions are vital in convenience stores. The first instore destination visited is critical, because there is a very good chance that it will be the only destination visited (other than the checkout). The second critical issue is the stopping power of the marketing/display.

In-Store Insights data demonstrates the split-second decision making that consumers make when they are shopping. Most of the items are only shopped for about 1 second to 4 seconds—not much time. The coffee zone has longer dwell time, but stopping power is not very strong. The coffee items jump up to 9 seconds, only because the customer is actually making his coffee. On the other hand, hot dogs have high stopping power, but the average dwell is quite low, strongly suggesting either poor in-stock conditions or that the hot dog offerings are not meeting shopper expectations.

Unique Stop Unique Pass Stopping Power % Total Stop % Total Pass Avg. Dwell
Checkout 4,482 4,742 95% 95% 100% 44.12
Front-End 2,161 4,757 45% 46% 100% 13.36
Coffee 556 1,743 32% 12% 37% 9.00
Middle Aisle 492 1,358 36% 10% 29% 4.82
Refrigerator 439 882 50% 9% 19% 4.62
Soda 574 1,002 57% 12% 21% 4.23
Lotto 127 651 20% 3% 14% 2.56
Front Aisle 302 1,260 24% 6% 27% 2.42
ATM 112 581 19% 2% 12% 2.00
Back Aisle 265 1,421 19% 6% 30% 1.76
Fountain Drinks 241 788 31% 5% 17% 1.57
Hot Dogs 206 293 70% 4% 6% 1.29
Water 129 524 25% 3% 11% 0.81
Soda-Floor 54 501 11% 1% 11% 0.28

Source: Sapphiresky Image Marketing Inc./In-Store Insights Inc.

New questions arise with this data. In fact, further research is needed to determine if longer dwell time is the result of out-of-stocks, assortment issues, poor execution of signage/tags, confusing shelf set, etc.

According to Dupre, 71 percent of shoppers purchase two items or less per c-store trip. “One difference between c-stores and other retailers is, in c-stores, few customers go to the display. This is for two reasons. First, the categories that the customer wants are all close at hand, and secondly, cstore retailers use display space to inventory products, usually drinks, that the consumer would prefer to get cold from the refrigerated case,” Dupre says. “The c-store shopper is a shopper on steroids compared to other channels. They are prepared to spend just a couple of minutes in the store, and anything that jeopardizes this quick-trip mentality will result in an extremely frustrating experience.” The convenience store is a microcosm of retailing in general. If shoppers can’t find what they want, they leave the store. In other retailing channels, the customer could move on to the next aisle or department and buy nothing from your category—in addition to leaving the store.

Brennan, a partner at In-Store Insights, cites research that it takes about 7 seconds to shop an aisle in a grocery store.

c-store Digital Media

Therefore, just like in convenience stores, the marketing in an aisle must have stopping power, and the message must be clear and quickly communicated.

Brennan and Dupre have done research into displays in various channels. “We have done extensive research in the use of digital displays in-store, and too many clients want to have 15- and 30-second commercials on the digital sign,” Brennan says. “That is way too long for shoppers.” Recent research was conducted on a category where shoppers dwell for an average of 30 seconds before purchasing. Even with digital media planted squarely in that category, with shoppers’ faces 9 in. or less from the stimuli, shoppers will only engage with the media if it has a relevant message, and if it has the ability to getshoppers out of their “shopping mode.”

The research insights that Dupre and Brennan refer to are not new. For years, basic Marketing 101 says that the marketing message must have stopping power, clearly communicate the brand message, and provide the consumer with a way to get more information and have a dialog. The trouble is we keep forgetting these lessons. We need to keep reminding our teams, including the new recruits to marketing and the TV-trained art director who thinks he (or she) knows better, and help them get focused on the only thing that really matters—making those 103 seconds of shopping a productive, enjoyable experience.

A pioneer and consultant in the shopper marketing industry, George Wishart is the president and CEO of Edgewood Industries LLC. He shares his shopper marketing insights with DDI in this regularly appearing column.

That Sign Can See Me!

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Where is recognition technology taking direct response marketing?

How would you feel about this scenario?

You walk up to a beverage vending machine. It is a flat screen monitor with high resolution images of your beverage choices. After a second or so of standing in front of the machine, the machine TELLS you what beverage selections might suit your taste and they begin to flash on the screen.

We have all probably seen this technology to some degree in our everyday lives. Whether it’s the camera at the ATM machine or toll booth, in-store digital displays, the voice at the self-serve gas station telling us to reposition the pump…well I am sure you get it.

But this new technology takes things many steps further. It actually profiles you on the spot to determine gender, age, ethnicity, and level of attentiveness. According to NEC digital signage group, these signs can identify the right gender 90% of the time and age within 10 years 70% of the time. This is the transformation of digital display boards into powerful direct response marketing tools. Japan is taking the lead in using this technology for digital public displays. They are also incorporating mobile technology into the display boards to make them even more interactive. The Wall Street Journal has an article titled “Billboards That Can See You” that provides more detail on what’s happening in Japan with this technology.

For privacy advocates, this can be construed as a scary thing. In particular, there are the demographic profiling aspects of the new technology. It has all the possibilities of taking our concerns about internet privacy to another level. We are in the midst of increased consumer sensitivity to privacy issues.

So will there be acceptance of this new technology? Retailers may be motivated. They are already investing in Smart Networks that do not have this extra functionality. A Walmart revealed at the Digital Sign Show this past February revealed there is a sales lift in departments which featured Smart Networks:
• Electronics – 7 percent
• Over-the-counter 23 percent
• Food – 13 percent
• Health /Beauty – 28

It is inevitable this kind of technology will become more main stream and retail will continue to invest in-store digital networks. With the advances in displays, recognition technology, mobile, etc. and the Generation Y or the Millennial Generation who grew up using this kind of technology becoming major consumers, it will become part of our culture.

The question will be how consumer privacy is integrated into the implementation of this technology. The lessons learned from the online privacy should heighten awareness of the need to deal with privacy up front.

Okay. So how will interactive display technology impact you as you manage your business in the digital world?

More News about Digital Content

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Did you hear what’s happening with your dictionary and the espresso machine?

Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal brought to light changes in content delivery that are impacting an old traditional publication and how on-demand paperbacks are going direct to the consumer.

The Oxford English Dictionary may not be printed again.  This is a 126-year-old dictionary.  According to the WSJ, the online version of the dictionary gets 2 million hits a month from subscribers.  The cost of the online subscription is $295.  The full printed version is 20 volumes and weighs 130lbs.  The cost is $1,165 and has sold 30,000 sets since being published in 1989.

With its online subscription and the availability of free sites like, your “oxford” is your laptop or smart phone.  This is another example of a business model that has been turned on its head by the digital world.  It will be interesting to see how Oxford University Press, publisher of the dictionary, evolves its business.  Old reference books that have gone online like Encyclopedia Britannica have fallen far behind Google and Wikipedia as online reference tools.

Another change in the traditional world of books is the on-demand book. These on-demand books are not produced at the printer but at the bookstore thru what some have called an “ATM device for books”. One of the direct to consumer printing machines available is called the Espresso Book Machine.  It is manufactured by the New York firm On Demand Books, LLC and has sold 51 machines so far placed in 50 locations. The fully configured machines cost between $100,000 – 150,000.

A three hundred-page book produced by these new on-demand machines can be printed, trimmed and bound within 4 minutes at a cost of pennies per page.   On Demand Books claims access to over four million public domain titles provided in part through a partnership with Google for access to public domain titles and Ingram Content Group for in-copyright titles.  If you’re in the Boston area, you can check it out at the Coop in Cambridge.

According to Interquest Research Group, digitally printed books currently represent about 4% of the market and are expected to grow to 15% by 2015.

Okay.  So how will the evolving world of digital content impact how you manage your business in the digital world?