In this month’s NSI Newsletter, I take up the issue of the ever-changing landscape of mobile devices and offer up some of the most recent stats. I’m less interested, however, in the Apple versus Android debate, or the native app versus web app discussion. What intrigues me – and what will be increasingly important to online and mobile marketing – is device preference. As more of us find ourselves juggling laptops, smartphones and tablets, which device do we choose for which activity? The topic is gaining more scrutiny and thus yielding more data, but what remains more obscure is “why.”
My other fascination is with “dual-screening,” which is most often the act of watching television while using the internet on another device, usually to interact on Twitter or Facebook about the content being watched, but also to search for additional information. During the election The Pew Research Center for People & The Press studied the trend during the debates, and found that fully 11% of those watching the debate live were “dual-screening.” I’ll confess to being an ardent dual-screener, though I find it hard to pay attention to live television and maintain an active Twitter stream. But put me in front of a television equipped with a DVR – and no need to stay up-to-the-minute with the program – and I’m likely to hit PAUSE on the DVR several times while I use my iPhone to pull up relevant information. (Just today: Where do I know that speaker from? Am I right about the difference between an automatic and semi-automatic weapon? 3-D printers are available for home use now? Seriously?)
The full article is linked below. But join the conversation here: Do you prefer to handle Facebook or Twitter on your smartphone even if you’re sitting at your computer? What about reading news articles? If you have a preference, are the reasons for it obvious to you? And if, like me, you find yourself dual-screening, what are you doing? Is it a drive for more information? For social interaction?
This is an ever-changing frontier, so please – share your thoughts and experience with us!
Not long after ditching my (mostly) unloved Blackberry for an iPhone, I found myself answering a personal email on my iPhone while sitting at my computer. Ludicrous, I thought! I’m one-fingering it on a 3.5 inch screen while my full-sized computer and keyboard are right in front of me!
A year later, I offered a neighbor my netbook after fire destroyed much of her home. Her response? “No, I’ve got my phone. But thanks!”
It turns out my experience isn’t all that unusual. As smartphones penetrate deeper into our economy – having earlier this year passed the 50% threshold for all US mobile subscribers – and tablets become more prevalent each month, it is becoming increasingly important for marketers and content producers to understand the device preferences of their audiences. Consumers are not just showing a preference for certain devices for specific activities, but are engaging more frequently in “dual-screening.” While this normally takes the form of web surfing on one device while watching television on another, it applies to any simultaneous engagement with multiple devices, such as choosing to use your smartphone for Facebook while reading news on your tablet, or surfing the internet on your laptop. (As a matter of fact, “dual-screening” or “second-screening” involving television has become so widespread that Nielsen just announced yesterday that it has teamed up with Twitter to establish a “social TV rating” system to be available for the fall 2013 televsion season.) …../ continue reading
You can have the most perfectly search engine-optimized website in the world, but what do people see when they get to your site? Sure, you need to optimize your site with keywords and phrases so prospective customers can find you. But once they do, if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll quickly move on to the next site on the list.
Your website needs to do several things:
- Describe your unique product or service and how you are different from your competitors
- Provide information that’s valuable to your prospect
- Let your prospect know who you are and why they should buy from you
- And most important, get your prospect to take action resulting in a sale.
We see so many websites that are all about the vendor; websites that contain spelling and grammatical errors; websites that tell and don’t show; and websites that are hard for prospects to navigate.
Take a good look at your site, from your prospect’s point of view.
Are there clear pathways for your prospect to follow to get to the information he or she is looking for?
Have you avoided jargon as much as possible? Even technical websites will benefit from saying things in plain English.
Have you proofread every single page?
Are you providing fresh, relevant content on a regular basis?
You want your prospects to have a great experience on your website. Is yours performing the way you want it to?
You’re a business owner, and you’ve started using Facebook, Twitter and other social media. You are using social media, aren’t you? As of June 1, 2012, more than 950 million people worldwide were on Facebook, and Twitter had 500 million active users, about 140 million of them in the United States.
But before you make your next post or Tweet, consider that many of those folks are simply broadcasting advertising and marketing messages. Think about it. Do you like being bombarded by these messages 24/7?
A better approach, as our friends at Likeable Media point out, is to put yourself in your customer’s place. The secret is to share interesting stories with your following, be interested in others, and be authentic and honest.
Here are five suggestions from Likeable that will lead to social media success.
1. Listen, listen, listen. Find out what people on Twitter are talking about regarding your business and your competitors. Look for conversations using words your prospective customers use.
2. Tell people who and how they should like and follow you. Give people a reason to connect with you—what’s in it for them? And make it easy to do. There’s a big difference in saying, “Like my page on Facebook” and “Get answers to all your social media questions at Facebook.com/MyBusiness.”
3. Start a conversation by asking a question. Social networking is all about engaging in interesting discussions. Instead of saying, “We can answer all your marketing questions,” say, “What’s your biggest marketing challenge?”
4. Share photos and videos. Pictures and videos get the greatest response on Facebook and tell stories in ways that words alone cannot. Use your smartphone to take photos and short videos of your customers and staff.
Invest the time. If you only spend a minute or two once or twice a week on social media, you’re not likely to get the returns you want. Likeable recommends spending at least 30 minutes a day learning, listening and responding—truly engaging in conversations. The more time you put in, the more you will benefit.
- Image via Wikipedia
Browser battles are ongoing regularly these days. Mozilla is releasing new versions of Firefox with increasing rapidity, and market share has definitely changed, but a comment from one of my co-workers this past week made me ponder why so many are still using Internet Explorer when it is still having more problems than most other browsers.
To be fair, IE has made major progress from 7 to 8 to 9. Regularly rotating into the top position in terms of speed and security features, Microsoft is doing their best to keep up with the competition.
New features, such as HTML 5 support, hardware acceleration, best plug-in libraries, and now RAM optimization (Firefox) must be emphasized by browser manufacturers in order to try to differentiate themselves.
One thing I have noticed is that, in most cases, speed is now the least relevant item to use to distinguish one browser from another. All recent benchmark reviews I have seen, really over at least the last year, show no “human-discernable” difference between browsers. However, one area where IE seems to consistently lag behind the other browsers is in Java-scripted site content, where it continues to struggle.
All this, and regular usage of all browsers, has led me to realize that the “look and feel” and feature-set are more important to me than raw speed, stats, or behind-the-scenes security settings that aren’t exactly visible.
For instance, the RSS-feed-aggregation in Safari I wrote about in my last update. As an IT professional I regularly need to be seeing and digesting industry news, updates, tips, etc. This method of adding feeds in Safari, and the built-in tools and sorting methods it provides, represent a real improvement in efficiency AND my own experience/perception.
All else being equal, it seems the individual user experience, which is NOT measurable in the way most benchmarks work, makes the biggest difference for individual selections.
Some of my co-workers like Firefox because they are used to the larger library of plug-ins. Chrome, the first to introduce search in the address bar, with a more-streamlined UI and behind-the-scenes updates, impressed others and hasn’t done anything since then to convince them to switch. Opera, long considered the “geeks” browser, actually won the latest round of speed tests done by Lifehacker, and continues to add new and interesting features, some of which are not immediately apparent.
However, looking at the stats, it seems the overwhelming issue for users is which browser is the default for their OS. Even though I can and have installed Firefox and Chrome for Lion, I rarely find myself opening them because Safari does everything to my satisfaction and I really enjoy the minimalistic interface. Since Windows still ships with the largest percentage of computers sold, and IE is the built-in, default browser, the majority of people still use IE. Despite its’ lag, bugginess, and lack of some features and UI design elements compared to other browsers, most users seem content to use it. Maybe because they don’t need to spend extra time researching, downloading and installing other browsers, configuring and migrating favorites, plugins, etc? Or maybe because a high percentage of the computer-using world doesn’t even realize other browsers are options, and might provide them value?
Regardless of the causes, I must say that when it comes to browsers, it is one area where ignorance is NOT bliss, and I am glad to have the time to regularly review, test, and experience the various products.
What are your experiences?
Stores are coming to us and saying “we want apps!” But should those apps all be customized native apps, or is the growing library of “legacy apps” –that’s an interesting term!” sufficient for growing numbers of these?
John Jantsch, The Duct-Tape Marketer, says to reexamine FourSquare http://bit.ly/nUCBvT, particularly by piggybacking on popular businesses in your area, collaborating with other Check-In locations all over town to create a referral web and taking advantage of FourSquare’s flash specials.
Meanwhile, according to News Backbone http://bit.ly/nKkahS, ShopKick, which has spent most of its first year recuiting national chains, is now beginning to court local merchants like coffee shops, but only in major markets: Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, CA; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Seattle, WA; and Washington D.C.
Then there’s Yelp, Google Places, Facebook and even Groupon and AdzZoo’s just-launched Groupon competitor.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is customizing, or at least private-labeling, an existing app, using HTML5 or completely going native. Someone must have these options laid out in a flow chart. More research to be done, but I think in a year’s time, it will be pretty common to have an app (in some form with increasingly blurred lines across all these options) for many of your favorite stores.
(Image credit: Review Unit)
Well it’s actually a laundry building at Colorado Springs’ Broadmoor resort. The facility is a multi-million dollar operation that pays for itself with revenue from its retail service to the surrounding neighborhood: one of many “Great Ideas” the Broadmoor demonstrated in the final session of the American Society of Association Executives 2011 Great Ideas Conference held here from March 13th-15th. It is also where I was standing when my wife called from our nearby home, wondering why I hadn’t yet returned.
“Didn’t the conference already end?” I could hear her thinking over the noise of giant machines that dry, press and fold spa towels in one well choreographed motion. The conference had ended for most who had already headed out for the Denver airport or some other way station en route to resuming normal workweeks, equipped now with some Great Ideas to help their organizations.
Though for me and a handful of others, the Conference made it all the way to the depths of the hotel: the laundry center and boiler room, all part of the grand finale “Broadmoor Behind the Scenes” session led by Kate Manzanares, Assistant Director of Human Resources for the resort. It was one of the best sessions for its insights into the management of a very successful business, both local and global, which has won fifty consecutive years’ worth of Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond awards, the only property to ever achieve that status, according to the hotel.
Not only was the glimpse into the resort industry fascinating, but it made me look at the Broadmoor differently. I confess that, like any expensive resort where class differences are large enough to trip over, the Broadmoor had always seemed from a distance to be insular and even presumptuous.
But Kate, followed by one employee after another, filled us in on the implementation of a simple but profound idea: Broadmoor takes care of its staff so that they can take care of their guests. Valuing employees is hardly a new management principle, but I realized I had never heard it formulated as a cause and effect: it wasn’t “train” staff or “equip” staff or “incent” staff, so that they could take care of guests, but it was care for them in tangible, unique and creative ways so that they could extend that care beyond themselves. Expressed as a core competency rather than a benefit, it sounded downright New Testament, and they are on to something.
And I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this idea demonstrated as clearly as I did standing among the laundry team members, as they carefully worked together to feed literally tons of clothing to giant dryers and ironing machines. You expect smiles at the reservation desk because you’re paying for them, and it’s not like the laundry center was bubbling up with laughter. Yet there were lots of smiles there and throughout many back hallways and break rooms, as well as a palpable sense of camaraderie. Admittedly, I only caught a glimpse, but you don’t get to be the longest-running winner of the some of the most coveted customer-service awards in history through just lip service.
“If you can’t remember–I mean instantly recall–the last time you praised an employee, it’s been too long,” Kate explained. And it goes well beyond pats on the back, as she reviewed about a dozen different employee motivation programs simultaneously in operation at the hotel. Recognition is based on both colleagues and a diligent interest in customer feedback all the way up to President Steve Bartolin who, Kate said, regularly meets alone with random samplings of staff members to get unfiltered details and starts each morning by reading every guest comment card from the 744-room complex.
Guest feedback, too, is surprisingly unfiltered. The only formula used is the percentage of positive verse negative feedback by department. No other statistical distillation takes place; instead, every comment seems to be treated like a simple but important story. She tied these unusual measures of care directly to numerous accounts about how it overflowed into exceptional customer service. She meant the word “exceptional,” and included the poignant memory of the Executive Committee following a line employee’s suggestion to use hotel shuttle buses to return otherwise stranded bankers back to their homes in devastated Manhattan after September 11th, 2001.
Through the session and the tour, with its impromptu interviews with the surprisingly receptive and warm staff, I realized that the smiles I’ve often seen in the lobby were very likely sincere and sometimes even familial. If creating community is what we as well as our association and other customers try to do every day, treating each other and our customers like family is the next step. It was the final Great Idea of a remarkable conference held in a truly exceptional place.(Image credit: The Broadmoor)