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  • signaltonoise 2:15 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , technology   

    The Courtship of “Lady Geek” 

    In the U.K. this week, advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi is getting a lot of attention for a new survey it released which finds retailers and manufacturers are falling sort when it comes to connecting with female consumer electronics purchasers.  According to one report, consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers will miss out on £600m this year because of this failure.

    Below are some of the highlights from the report: 

    • 35% of female internet users polled said they would increase their spending on consumer electronics if marketers and retailers thought harder about how they approach them and offered more guidance in stores and on e-commerce sites.
    • One in two women said they walk out of shops and leave websites without buying anything because they’re unable to find what they want, representing a huge opportunity for brand owners and retailers who are prepared to rethink their approach.

    Surely, retailers will take note of these numbers.  Despite the fact that 35% of those surveyed said they’d be willing to increase spending if offered more guidance, retailers are still seeing 50% of female visitors abandon. 

    The Saatchi & Saatchi survey notes that north of 40% of women go shopping for consumer electronics without a specific brand or product in mind representing a massive opportunity for retailers and brand owners to reap the financial rewards if they effectively market to this group of women. 

    Imagine the incremental sales they could generate if only they were to reach out to those that would otherwise abandon, and offer the guidance they say would help increase their spending?

  • signaltonoise 1:22 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , technology   

    Teens Love Texting, Right? Not So Fast. 

    The Pew Internet and American Life Project released some interesting data today which might have you whipping out your cell phones to text your incoming class.  Or maybe not. As you probably have guessed that report finds that teens like their mobile phones…a lot.  

    In fact, Pew finds that mobile phones are now the centerpiece of communications for most teens.   According to a summary of the report’s findings, “Those phones have become indispensable tools in teen communication patterns. Fully 72% of all teens2 – or 88% of teen cell phone users — are text-messagers.”  

    At this point, many college marketers are probably salivating at the possibilities. However, before you start thinking of pithy, 160 character messages that you can start broadcasting via SMS to your database, here’s what others have found with respect to SMS advertising and teen preferences.

    SMS Is Personal

    A number of studies have found that while SMS is a preferred communications channel for many teens, they still view it as a “friends only” medium.  A recent White Paper from ExactTarget written with the Center for Media Design at Ball State University stated that “Another surprising data point is that 42% of teens prefer to communicate via SMS, yet 62% prefer to receive promotions via email vs. only 1% via SMS.”

    This is consistent with some surveys that we’ve conducted here at Intelliworks.  When it comes to conducting “business” teens and young adults still view email as a primary channel of communication for receiving promotions and interacting with organizations. Similarly, social networks like Facebook are gaining favor with brand and affinity marketers, but still have a ways to go when it comes to delivering transactions.  

    Notifications Not Promotions

    In a summary of their channel preference survey conducted last year for CRM Magazine, Morgan Stewart of Exact Target summed up the feelings towards SMS as a marketing channel: Only those that have all-inclusive data plans are receptive to text marketing, but even then they are likely to prefer direct mail or email promotions. Consumers feel customer service notifications, such as travel or financial alerts, are the most appropriate uses of corporate text messaging. Even then, it is still a matter of personal preference.

    The same probably holds true for consumers that are engaging colleges and universities.  More than likely they’re not going to want to receive an advertisement from you via text message.  However, if they’ve already engaged your institution (i.e. applied) then perhaps they’d be willing to opt in to receive notifications from you via text message regarding their application status or reminders of upcoming deadlines they need to know about (for example).

    LOL, OMG: Not Just for Kids

    This advice seems to hold true not just for reaching out to teen student populations, but adult learners as well.  As mobile use grows across all age groups, marketers will look to ways to engage with consumers on this platform, but the marketing preferences seem to be consistent across generations.  In a recent channel marketing preference survey of adult learners, consulting firm (and Intelliworks partner) DemandEngine found similar results:

    Opt-In Is Key

    Regardless of channel, opt-in is key to whether or not recipients will respond.  Below are some more details from the CRM Magazine article on what channels are appropriate and when:

    • Direct mail (85 percent of American online consumers have provided at least one company with permission): Direct mail is universally seen as the most appropriate channel for marketers to communicate with American online consumers. The majority of consumers are receptive both to permission and unsolicited messages through this channel, making it the direct marketing channel for acquisition. Direct mail gives consumers time to review messages at their leisure, which gives them the sense that they are in control of the relationship. It also provides people with written documentation of transactions, which is a source of comfort for some (especially older) consumers. The delay associated with delivery of direct mail makes it less than ideal for customer service issues, especially those requiring immediate notification.
    • Email (95 percent have provided permission): Email is also used universally among online consumers and is widely accepted as a direct marketing channel. That said, issues with spam have rendered this channel acceptable only for permission-based communication. Consumers’ negative views of unsolicited email can cause them to turn against even reputable brands if they perceive email communications to be spam, making relevance critical. Online consumers expect confirmation of online transactions and customer service calls through email.
    • Text messaging (7 percent have provided permission): Text messaging is growing in popularity as a channel for communicating with friends and family, but it is largely off-limits to marketers for promotional marketing. Targeting consumers as they drive past your retail location is still too “Big Brother” for the vast majority. Only those that have all-inclusive data plans are receptive to text marketing, but even then they are likely to prefer direct mail or email promotions. Consumers feel customer service notifications, such as travel or financial alerts, are the most appropriate uses of corporate text messaging. Even then, it is still a matter of personal preference.
    • Social networks (4 percent have provided permission): Social networks have not evolved into a welcome place for marketers-at least when it comes to direct marketing messages. Consumers understand the ad-supported model and don’t mind general ads in this environment, but this does not translate into receptivity to direct messages from marketers.
    • Telephone (37 percent have provided permission): While unsolicited telemarketing is universally viewed with contempt, calls related to the status of a current account or alerts related to travel or potential fraud are viewed very favorably.

    When it comes to communications channels it’s important to know that just because you can do something that doesn’t mean you should.  That’s a lesson the Word of Mouth Marketing Association learned when they sent out a phone blast to its members.  The same holds true for text messaging.  There’s a time and place for it, but just because your audience is there that doesn’t give you the right to intrude without their permission.

  • signaltonoise 1:21 pm on September 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , technology   

    Ooh, shiny! Me likey. 

    Do institutions suffer from shiny new object syndrome?  It may appear so with all the time and attention devoted to leveraging the next great thing to help them engage students.  But how often do these new toys pan out?  Remember all the hype surrounding Second Life back in 2007? 

    Institutions and brands of all shapes and sizes took part in the virtual land grab that SL had to offer. They built it, often investing lots of money, and ultimately “they” did not come.  Today, many of the site’s once promising venues have a rather ghost-town feel to them.

    One of my favorite bloggers, Tom Fishburne, found a great quote from Ted Simon which sums it up well:

    “In this headlong rush of confusing a tactic with a strategy, organizations waste time, energy, resources chasing a “shiny new object.”

    We’ve written about strategy vs. tactics here in the past.  However, I’m not saying that institutions shouldn’t experiment and try new things…despite all the duds there are certainly a few new toys out there that are worth keeping…but they should be careful about becoming obsessed with trying something new, especially if it distracts from your core focus.  

    If that’s the case, then perhaps instead of asking yourself, “how can I use this?” you should be asking these questions instead: “should I use this?” and “will this help us meet our strategic objectives?” 

    Or, as Chris Brogan puts it, “Pursue the goal not the method.”

    Inevitably, what winds up happening is that institutions will get so worked up about missing the boat on the “next big thing” that they rush to “be there” without thinking things through.  As a result, you have many half-hearted attempts to build a massive online presence and oftentimes one or more of your communities becomes neglected.  This is certainly true with respect to the slew of social networking options that are out there, but it does not only apply to social networking.  

    Perhaps it’s time for institutions to exercise the Unix Philosophy, which is (to paraphrase) to do one thing and do it well.  Once you’ve done that well, move on to something else and do that well.  

    In short: Measure and optimize your existing efforts before opening up the box on that new shiny toy.  

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