Consumer Behavior

  1. Book Review – Contagious: Why Things Catch On

    Contagious: Why Things Catch On

     

    As a digital marketing manager specializing in social media, I’m like a proud parent with the “My Child is on the Honor Roll” bumper sticker: I love social media and it’s easy to idolize. But a book I read recently gave a practical reminder that social media is a supportive communications vehicle, rather than a marketing strategy. For true success, a great social media presence requires contagious content!

    Book Review | Contagious: Why Things Catch On

    Jonah Berger’s book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On is a must-read for anyone seeking to differentiate their product or service in the marketplace and gain viral exposure through customer referrals.

    In the opening, Berger hooks every reader with this stat from a study by the Keller Fay Group: only 7% of word-of-mouth happens online.

    Now, before you throw your MacBook out with the bathwater, reconsider this surprising information through another lens – there is not a lack of valuable opportunities accessible through online marketing, but rather there are even more opportunities to trigger off-line conversations about your brand through strategic digital marketing. A key take-away from Contagious is this:

    Social media should be designed to support off-line conversations for maximum impact.

    Contagious breaks down the author’s six driving principals (STEPPS) uncovering why and how content becomes viral and, well, contagious.

    1. Social Currency - People care about how they look to others. Help them feel smart and appear in-the-know by giving them something they can share with others that will boost their social IQ. Whether it’s a funny video that just broke on YouTube or the phone number for the best tax pro in town, find a way to be their next bit of social currency.
    2. Triggers – As Berger says, “top of mind means tip-of-tongue”. By creating a context for your product outside its typical space, you’ll be thought of by your audience when they least expect it. (Try going just one Wednesday without being reminded that it’s Hump Day a la the Geico camel and tell me that triggers don’t work. I dare you!) 
    3. Emotion – “When we care, we share.” Emotional content reaches a place deep inside us that begs us to share it. Case in point? Every mom who’s watched this Publix Valentine’s Day commercial.
    4. Public – “Built to show, built to grow.” When your product or service leaves visible behavior residue, it’s more likely that it will be imitated by  others. Whether it’s the orange Cheetos dust (literal residue), a Bloomingdales big brown bag, or a yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet, find ways to help your products or services advertise themselves.
    5. Practical Value – Want your content to spread like wildfire? Berger shares the most simple solution of all: offer content with incredible value and package your knowledge and expertise so people can easily pass it on. From infographics and handy “how to’s”, people love sharing tools to simplify and solve everyday problems. Help them be a hero!
    6. Stories - Everyday brand stories travel under what seems like idle chatter. Berger stresses that stories are vessels, just like the famous Trojan horse. A narrative or story that people want to tell will carry your idea long for the ride. (Example: Think Jared from Subway.)

    Can’t imagine how to incorporate all of these principles in one Facebook post? Fear not! Try adding even one or two of these ingredients to your brand’s story and you’ll see a big impact.

    Keep this diagram handy after you read the book and remember to add some contagious content into your marketing mix to give both your social media and off-line communications a boost!

    Contagious Framework STEPPS

     

     

     

     

     

     

  2. Snappy Parenting & the Changing Social Media Landscape

    As a digital marketing professional, social media is a big part of my life, whether I like it or not.  And it is because of this importance to my business, that I am pretty in-the-know about what my kids are doing when they bury their faces in their phones.

    Look, my kids are 16 and 12. I discarded my social naiveté years ago and I am done justifying it to my friends. My kids literally taught me how to take a selfie. They can art direct a photo better than a lot of professionals.  They share content with me that is relevant and helpful to my business – and they don’t even know it.  (It would not be cool if they knew this.)

    Snapchat 101

    SnapChat & Social Media

    A Professional Selfie.

    Several months ago, I started to notice that my son no longer commented on my Facebook posts. I knew it was becoming passé to his age group, but the latest statistics are fascinating.

    There are 3 million fewer teens on Facebook now that in 2011; that’s a 25% drop.

    No business wants to see their bread and butter clients flee this quickly.  On the flipside, users in the 55+ age demographic exploded in two years by over 80%.  Plus, Facebook owns Instagram which is where the kids go when they flee Facebook.  Where will the kids go next?

    Tumblr, Flickr and Vine are favorites – and have you heard of  We Heart It?  It may be exhausting to think about, but it’s a day in the life of teens.

    Ironically, my kids are teaching me a lot about social media behavior.  (It would not be cool if they knew this.) They are interesting not only because they share my DNA, but also because they are a great focus group.  Case in point, Snapchat.

    Snapchat from a marketing perspective

    Our clients currently do not have a compelling marketing need for Snapchat, so it has not been a “need to know” – yet.  (I’m busy still trying to make sense of Google+.  But I digress.) My children recently requested this wildly popular photo sharing app. I have heard all the negatives and I wanted to know the positives. So along with doing my own research, I had them write a paper about why the want Snapchat. I needed convincing (in other words, I needed to learn about their behavior in their own words).

    The truth is, Snapchat has intimidated me for a while.  My children sharing pictures that I may never see?  How could I allow that?  However, having been a recent “victim” of social espionage, I was reminded that photo sharing is tricky. (A photo was lifted from my private account and given to a media outlet, which then proliferated in seconds.) Suddenly, thinking of my kids exchanging self-destructing photos didn’t sound so bad, as opposed to photos that live “forever”.  If they are going to post photos anyway, what is so horrible about them disappearing? It was beginning to make unlikely sense.

    After reading the Snapchat white paper penned by my 12-year-old and speaking to five other trusted moms, my children and I are diving into the world of Snapchat together.  My goal is to learn from their behavior as a parent – and apply these observations as a professional.

    Let the snapping begin…

  3. Apple Commercial: The Relatable Approach

    Perhaps you’re a skeptic of the latest Apple commercial, and with as much attention as Apple has received, you’re not alone if you’re second-guessing their motives.

    The hit commercial has been viewed more than any other video posted on Apple’s YouTube account. In fact, it has more than doubled their second highest video, one that introduced the new iPhone 5.

    If you haven’t experienced the Apple commercial yet, take a gander. For many families, the setting is familiar: a teenage boy appears to be attached to his iPhone 5s during key moments of a family holiday gathering. The video concludes with quite a heart-warming twist as the teenager reveals that he was secretly recording their family get-together, a scene that subtly highlights various Apple products. For many, the sentiment is shared that moments like these should be lived rather than recorded; advising that users should not be glued to their devices in lieu of spending time with loved ones. So what were Apple’s intentions?

    By provoking the all-familiar emotions of their audience, the video has become a highlight of conversations as evidenced by the hundreds of Facebook shares it has received, ultimately giving Apple the exposure they were seeking.

    Simply put: Apple cemented itself as a holiday household name.

    Besides the relatable storyline, Apple proved to be the company that is all-inclusive for their customers. To capture and display a touching family Christmas, the boy was able to incorporate four of their products within this commercial:

    • iMovie
    • AirPlay
    • Apple TV
    • iPhone5 s

    The video was recorded on the iPhone 5s, iMovie was utilized as an editing application, AirPlay was used to stream the video to the Apple TV device, and the video was viewed with the comfort of a family-room setting. Given that all of these products are available at the average consumer’s fingertips, viewers are not only familiar with the storyline, but they see themselves as capable of capturing similar magical moments.

    To give a recap of how well the Apple commercial performed from a user standpoint, Ace Metrix provides analytics based on polls taken by users. As seen on the graph below, Apple’s Christmas commercial scored high in the “like-ability” category.

    Apple commercial Analytics for likeability, watchability, relevance, information, attention, change, the harris' holiday commercial, ace metrix

    Analytics for the  Apple commercial provided by www.acemetrix.com

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Apple succeeds because they relate the content to their consumers. By allowing users to see themselves in the shoes of the commercial characters and by subtly flashing the Apple products that capture such a moment, consumers walk away with a greater appreciation of what Apple products offer to consumers – re-livable family moments.

  4. Investing Ideas: Starbucks Customer Feedback Goes Social

    I recently received an email from Starbucks about their five-year-old website: My Starbucks Idea. If you’ve never been to the My Starbucks Idea customer feedback website, it’s a portal where Starbucks steals all of your awesome ideas!

    Just kidding! (But only a little.)

    Good old fashioned suggestion boxes have been around for years, but My Starbucks Idea (MSI) embodies one of the earliest and best efforts to bring the customer feedback experience into social sphere. MSI gives customers a social forum to share ideas for improving their Starbucks experience. And to make the process truly social, other Starbucks aficionados vote for or against the shared ideas.

    Successful ideas have covered everything from food concepts to drive-thru designs, and even those sticks that stop your hot drink from spilling everywhere!

    The most popular ideas are reviewed by Starbucks, and if the ideas are things that Starbucks can implement, they do.

    Since launching in 2008, more than 180,000 ideas have been shared on the website and over 277 of the ideas have been implemented by Starbucks. My favorite concept being rolled out thanks to the ideas shared on the site is the up-and-coming HD video drive-thru.

    The secret to MSI’s success is really no secret at all.

    Brands need the next big (or little) idea. Customers want to be heard. And everyone wants to know, “What’s in it for me?”.

    My Starbucks Idea is mutually beneficial to both Starbucks and their customers. When customers invest a little of their time and brain power in the brand, the brand implements their ideas, and customers feel as though they’ve contributed something important to Starbucks. In theory, this give-and-give model makes for more loyal Starbucks customers and is a great way to keep the company moving forward in the direction that its customers want.

    Explore this infographic highlighting some of the biggest successes launched by MyStarbucksIdea.com, and consider how you can open a genuine dialogue with your customers.

    My Starbucks Idea Success Infographic

    Originally Shared on MyStarbucksIdea.com

     

  5. Your Web Design Has 10 Seconds to Capture a User

    High speed and zero cost have become the price of admission for those wanting to capture the consumer’s attention through web design.  And our attention is divided enough as we know from those of us who insist on walking, driving, and sleeping while texting.  If you look around at other drivers on the road, for example, you will see many people staring at their mobile phones waiting for a red light to turn green.  But what is the message for brands?

    web design stopwatch

    Image by Flickr user purplemattfish; used under Creative Commons Attribution license.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Anecdotally, we might presume that the consumer who is not quickly satisfied with a web page’s design or content will simply keep looking—and quickly.  But research data reinforces this premise.

    According to Jakob Nielsen, author of Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability and perhaps the foremost thinker in this area of digital attention, concluded the following in a recent study:

    “Users often leave Web pages in 10-20 seconds, but pages with a clear value proposition can hold people’s attention for much longer…”

    The message from consumers to brands about web design is clear:  I don’t have a ton of time.  Give me what I want as soon as possible.  And if I can’t find it, I will move on because I know I can find it elsewhere.  I’ll just keep looking.

    So what are the best ways to be sure that your web design captures your users’ attention quickly?  Here are a few ideas:

    • Make your web pages visually interesting and engaging.
    • Be extremely clear about your message and sharpen it over and over again.
    • Think selfishly on behalf of the consumer about what would really provide value.
    • Communicate using clear headlines and clear copy points.
    • Use white space to direct more attention to your key points.
    • Invest in high quality photography.  A picture says a thousand words.
    • Give users something for nothing.  A white paper, a tip sheet, a downloadable guide–to make their lives or their jobs better.
    • Include a call to action to sign up for your email marketing newsletter, your Facebook page, etc.

    You only have a few seconds to capture your users’ attention using web design.  As a quick starter, pull up your company website and ask yourself if it meets the test(s) as described in the bullets above.

  6. Web Design Questions to Contemplate

    A client of ours recently asked us what questions they should contemplate internally when planning for a new company Web presence.  As a group, they plan on thinking through a strategy before embarking on the Web design project itself.  Wanting to be particularly practical, the client wanted discussion questions that would look at their own Internet use as a way of identifying with the Internet behavior of their customers and prospects.  Here are a few of the questions we suggested they use as conversation starters for group discussions:

    • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current website?
    • How do you currently use the Internet when doing product or service research?
    • How does what we sell differ from that of an online retailer like Amazon.com?
    • How do you use social media?  What social media platforms do you use?
    • Do you interact with companies on brands using social media?  If so, how?
    • What social media platforms should we use, if any?
    • How can a new website help us make new relationships with new customers?
    • How can a new website help us grow relationships with existing customers?
    • What are the product/service areas that we need to build more marketplace awareness around?
    • How are our competitors using the Web?  Is there anything about their approaches that we should emulate?
    • Are there any efficiencies we can gain on the service side with a new website?  For example, are there commonly-requested documents and/or frequently asked questions that we could post online that would save us time?  Are there forms we should move online?

    Are there other questions you think they might use or that you have used internally?  Feel free to respond with your ideas in the comments.

  7. Zombies Don’t Carry Credit Cards

    If you asked most marketers, the goal of digital marketing is conversion.  For the sake of this post, let’s define a conversion as a purchase of an online product.  The word ‘conversion’ is used because the goal is to convert a web visitor to a buyer.  The more conversions, the more revenue.  The more revenue, the more profits.

    Since not every visitor will buy (in fact, most visitors don’t buy anything at all), marketers typically study the ratio between buyers and visitors.  If you sell your product to 3 out of every 100 visitors, your conversion rate is 3%.  Naturally, the aim of efficient promotion is to increase that conversion rate so that you sell to as many visitors as possible.  There are several ways to influence this figure, but we will explore them more deeply in a separate post.

    As a marketer that is striving to increase efficiency, you might measure the profitability of your promotional activity by analyzing the cost of attracting these 100 visitors and analyzing the overall viability of the investment.  If it costs $1,000 to attract these 100 visitors, the cost-per-conversion comes in at $333.33.  The marketer has to then evaluate this rate and decide whether the spend is worthwhile: that figure is a total failure if you are selling a $29 widget but a complete success if you are selling a $5,000 cruise to Alaska.

    The scenario above is not particularly challenging to grasp and it’s certainly not new.  In fact, this concept of conversion is taught at seminar after seminar and relayed in blogs, tweets, and books on this subject.  And while most marketers would agree on the methodology, it’s inherently flawed.

    Zombies Don't Carry Credit Cards

    Zombies Don’t Carry Credit Cards

    The scenario above is based upon the notion that buyers of products are Zombies with credit cards.  In other words, it paints a picture of 100 passive, ignorant consumers going through a line in lock-step while only 3 of them whip out an American Express and buy the product.  It also assumes that the ratio calculation will hold for the next 100 Zombies to come through the line.  While I wish the scenario was this simple, it’s not.  Not by a long shot.  The truth is, Zombies don’t carry credit cards.

    Today’s consumers (the people that actually do have credit cards) have more options, knowledge, control, discernment and discretion than ever before. They are bombarded with more messages in a day (some estimates say 3,000 – 20,000) than they can possibly hope to process.  They look to friends for recommendations, make purchase decisions on their own time, and are reflective and thoughtful about financial decisions.  Assuming that a cleverly-crafted social media or Google ad campaign is going to consistently coax consumers to plunk down their credit cards to fit within the confines of a marketer’s metrics spreadsheet is inherently flawed.  Things simply don’t work this way.

    The idea of data gathering, measuring performance, and optimizing marketing results are all good, constructive activities to embrace.  But assuming that the underlying results will emanate from a “set it and forget it” approach to promotion and results is asking for disappointment.

    So how does the marketer move from the idea of a “hands-off” marketing funnel to a more practical and realistic approach?  While I’m not sure that there is a simple answer, there are some truths that marketers would do well to ponder and embrace.  Here are some of those truths that, when applied to a specific marketing challenge, would lead toward a more satisfying digital marketing approach:

    1. Conversions are rarely instantaneous – it usually takes multiple interactions with a brand before we ultimately pull the trigger.  The old marketing adage called ‘The Rule of 7′ tells us that it takes 7 interactions with a brand before most of us buy.  In today’s hyper-connected, always-on world, that number is probably closer to 77 than 7.
    2. Facebook Likes are worth something – it’s hard to say for sure exactly how much, but a consumer’s choice to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or otherwise is an opportunity for you to build a relationship.  So don’t minimize or waste it.
    3. Your social media content must be worthy – People rarely subscribe to your social media content to be nice.  They do it to gain something:  an idea, a tip, to be entertained, a deal, or just to remember you.  Before they make that decision, they’ll look to see how valuable your messaging is.  So make it count.  Be informative, helpful, and/or funny–be of benefit.  And keep doing it so that they stay subscribed.
    4. Your product must be remarkable – This is tough for most marketers when they see disappointing sales figures.  But it is important to remember that the first ‘P’ in the four P’s of marketing is Product.  Your product must be valuable, indispensable, and a must-have.  If it’s not, the rest of the four P’s (price, place, promotion) won’t do you a ton of good.  Hint:  Part of social media really succeeding for you is that people speak well of you on social media because of how highly they think of your product.  So make the product so remarkable that people can’t help but tell their friends.
    5. Consumers are skeptical – People don’t often buy from people they don’t know or trust.  Brands must build that trust.  And that doesn’t occur in a Google Adword or a broadcast e-mail message.  It happens over time through their interactions with you, the recommendations of their friends, product reviews posted by strangers, and the content you create.
    6. Marketers must have patience – People don’t all buy immediately.  They think about it first.  Consumers like to flip through pages, kick tires, ask their friends, and go for test drives.  So have patience.  If your initial clicks don’t turn into dollars within the first nanosecond, it doesn’t mean that your promotions have failed.  It means that they’ve just begun.  Expecting otherwise may set you up for disappointment.
    7. Google rewards content – We all look for things on Google.  That’s how we behave.  Your product’s buyers are looking for you right now but don’t know it yet.  Google will introduce them to you if you provide thoughtful, relevant content on a consistent basis.  That’s the essence of how Google works–it rewards the authentic marketer who writes and produces content.  So write–well and often.
    8. Some diseases don’t have cures – so while hoping for a miracle is encouraged, expecting one is probably not wise.  In marketing, there are very few miracles–defined as a bunch of buyers logging on and giving you a credit card at a hefty profit.  Plan, instead, on a slower, more gradual process where sales are earned over time–not in an instant.  If you’re looking for quick and easy, well that’s akin to a asking a physician for a cure that doesn’t exist.  You can beat up the doctor all you want, but it won’t change the facts.
    There are many more truths that we could discuss here, but the essence remains:  today’s consumers are smarter, savvier and more discerning than ever.  They’re the ones with the credit cards.  So if your conversions don’t come through a predictable, well-formed funnel, you’re probably doing something right–creating authentic, long-lasting customer relationships.

     

     

     

  8. What is Mobile Web Design and why is it Important to Marketers?

    Looking to see your site stats? Check out MetricPulse.It is 2012. While we are still a few years away from hoverboards, the future is definitely here. Computers have already made the jump from our desks to our hands. Smartphones, tablets, 3G and wifi have changed how we use technology and it is now possible to access the internet from almost anywhere.

    Mobile viewers are growing – and they’re growing fast. Between 2009 and 2011 mobile viewers increased by 1000%. That is crazy fast! As a result, almost 15% of all web traffic is now originating from mobile devices. The numbers are there and by all indication mobile viewers are going to continue to increase. Reports say that by 2015 half of the US population will have access websites through a mobile device. That means that if you have a website, odds are people are trying to visit it on their phones.

    You should already have a website for your business by now, so you’re already off to a good start. But unfortunately, having a website doesn’t automatically mean mobile viewers will have a pleasant experience while visiting your website on their smartphones. Most sites do not adjust well from a traditional screen to that of a mobile device, which can be as small as 3 inches across. 57% of mobile users would not recommend a business with a bad mobile site. It is in the best interest of your company to have a mobile site that stands its own against competitors.

    Users are generally looking for 3 things: Speed, Functionality and Searchability.

    • Speed: Users who access your content from their mobile devices are most likely on the move, which means that they have significantly less access to high speed internet. As a result, the size of images and content should be considered. Having a condensed mobile site with smaller images with help keep load times down.
    • Functionality: A mobile websites goals are different than that of the traditional site. For one, users navigate with their fingers, not a mouse. So, navigation needs to be simplified. Buttons need to be large and clear. Make sure that next is an appropriate size and can be read without zooming. 95% of mobile users have used their smartphone to look for information such as address, phone number, and office hours.
    • Searchability: mobile sites aren’t as instinctively easy to navigate so it is important to have a search box prominently displayed for users as well as buttons to quick links to the most popular pages. 40% of users who get lost or have a bad experience on a mobile site turned to a competitor.

    Like a band-aid, a user’s mobile experience should be quick and painless. Mobile sites should be designed to direct them to the information they are looking for in the fewest steps possible. By taking taking this guide to account, and focusing on the suggestions provided, you can keep your mobile users happy and assure that your site will stand a strong chance of success.

     

  9. What is Content Marketing?

    Content marketing is a quickly-emerging area of practice for marketers.  It is emerging rapidly and will continue to be more and more important as time goes on.  But before defining exactly what content marketing is, it is important to acknowledge the shifts in the landscape of consumer behavior:

    • Consumers are no longer using the Yellow Pages to shop for things
    • People are turning to Google, Bing and other search engines to shop for products and services
    • Buyers are reaching out to friends and acquaintances on social networks to look for recommendations and reviews

    If you ponder this shift in consumer behavior–especially the search for products on Google–the challenge of marketing becomes much different the old days of designing a yellow pages ad.

    Content marketing is a term which refers to the development, production and sharing of content in order to attract and engage a specific audience in profitable activity.  In short, content marketing is the practice of using information to gain customers.

    Consider the first time homeowner who has a small hole in her drywall.  Puzzled by how to fix it, she doesn’t even think of looking for a solution in the phone book.  Instead she reflexively enters ‘fix a hole in my drywall’ in Google.  If you are a marketer selling spackling paste, drywall saws, or home repair services, this represents a critical moment–an inflection point.  The goal of your content marketing strategy should be to gain exposure to this consumer at this moment.

    Content can take many forms.  It can be anything from an article or blog post to a podcast or e-book.  Content marketing can be facilitated on company websites, blogs, social networks, and user-generated sites like YouTube.  Naturally, the specific vehicles chosen for a content strategy should be selected according to the audience itself.  And similar to the tenets of search engine marketing, solid keyword research should drive the strategy.

    Getting back to our example about the role of a hole in the drywall, marketers have many many ways in which to capitalize on content marketing opportunities.  Brands like Home Depot or Lowe’s might create home improvement videos containing these search terms.  Makers of spackling paste like DAP might create instructional guides or blog posts about how to fix these holes.  Sears/Craftsman tools might create a home improvement podcast and feature this as a topic.  And all of this content can be shared and referred by customers on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

    Scenarios like these are real examples of actual opportunities that marketers have to use content to sell products.  If marketers take a concerted approach to content marketing, they have the potential to not only acknowledge the big shifts in consumer behavior, but be well-positioned in the eyes of the consumer at the exact moment when they are needed.

  10. Facebook: Not Just for College Kids (and Young Adults) Anymore

    There was a time that Facebook was just for college kids.  Then, a few years ago (think 2007), the big story was that Facebook was experiencing its most rapid growth among those in their 30s and 40s.  This week, though, the Pew Research Center has released a report which suggests that Facebook is seeing its user base nearly double in those over the age of 50.

    This is an interesting shift seemingly driven by the idea that older adults desire a way to stay in touch with their adult children and grandchildren.  The San Jose Mercury News has an insightful analysis of the Pew report which should certainly be on the radar of those marketers seeking to reach this audience.

  11. Three Steps Toward a Mobile Web Site

    In our recent post, Going Mobile: What it Means for Your Web Site, we discussed the reasons for needing a mobile Web site. If you’re thinking about mobilizing your Web site, you may wonder what goes into making its content readily available on mobile devices.  In all likelihood, the user experience that someone has sitting in front of a flatscreen monitor will differ greatly from that of a BlackBerry or iPhone user.  The following are three simple steps involved in serving your mobile audience.

    1. Understand the needs of your mobile visitors

    Mobile browsers have fewer capabilities than desktop computer browsers.  As such, it’s a good idea to create a slimmer version of your site specifically for the less-capable browser (see example below).  Before you build this mobile version,  be sure to identify specific objectives for your mobile users and how they differ from users sitting at their computers. This will most often involve making telephone numbers, driving directions, and hours of operation more readily available.  In turn, your mobile Web site probably does not need to include the more content-heavy portions of your site.  Naturally, this will vary by industry; mobile users looking for restaurants and hotels, for example, will require very different information than those who focus on business-to-business interaction.

    2.  Design a mobile-ready layout for mobile browsers

    Once you have decided on how to best serve your mobile audience, it’s time to contemplate a layout. You’ll want to be sure to keep the use of images to a minimum.  To eliminate the need for images, you can also take advantage of some of the newer features in CSS3 and HTML5, available on most smart phones. Be sure that links and buttons are big enough to be touched; users with touch screen devices need larger and well-spaced buttons to avoid touching the wrong button. Touch target sizes will vary depending upon the platform(s) you are targeting.  Other than those considerations, the process of creating mobile Web pages is very similar to “standard” Web pages.

    iPhone and Desktop Browsers

    Two versions of the Orlando Sentinel Web site captured at the same moment in time.

    3. Configure a special script to direct browsers to the appropriate location

    Once the design is finalized and loaded on a server, the final step is to install and configure a script to properly direct user traffic.  This piece of code simply detects a user’s browser type (determining whether they are sitting at a computer or using a Blackberry) and re-directs them to the right page.

    After the site has launched you will want to make sure you continue to listen to any feedback so you can keep improving and meeting your users mobile needs.

  12. Social Media: A Waste of Your Organization’s Time?

    The rise of MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and others is not foreign to most.  Unless you’ve been asleep for the past few years, you know that social networks exist and that people use them.  Heavily.  It hasn’t taken long for public relations professionals to put their arms around the medium (playing both offense and defense) and for marketers to see it as a “free” pipeline to new customers.

    But not all managers and business owners have been so quick to embrace social networking.  Research reports from around the Web reveal that many leaders have yet to jump in with both feet.  And while surveys and data tell the story, it is in conversations with professionals that the story comes alive.  In talking with business owners about using Twitter, some of the reflexive comments they convey include:

    • Twitter is for a younger audience, not me.
    • My daughter is on Facebook, not me.
    • Twitter is a place for celebrities to talk about their day.
    • I don’t care what someone had for breakfast.

    You can’t blame people for reacting to social media opportunities this way.  We typically hear about Twitter in the mass media when, for example, a professional athlete says something he shouldn’t or a celebrity couple breaks up because of it.  It’s hard to get a serious person to take something seriously when it is associated with things that aren’t, well, serious.  As a cumulative result, social media tools get dissed and dismissed.

    But there is a real danger in this for corporations and leaders.  While people are indeed talking about things that do not matter to you, they are also talking (every once in a while) about things that matter to them.  And they’re talking to each other.  Along the way, they are mentioning brands.  They’re mentioning the nice barista at Starbucks, the on-time departure with Jet Blue, and the deal they just scored at the Volkswagen dealership.  And while it might not be your brand today, it might be tomorrow.  And that should matter to you.

    Learning about social media doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to start broadcasting whether you like Cheerios or Wheaties in the morning.  Lifecasting may not be for you.  But it is a big deal to some.

    In the end, there is a spectrum of social media users.  At one end of the spectrum might be the life-casters:  they use Twitter, Facebook, and others several times a day to communicate with friends, post pictures, and, yes, follow celebrities.  On the other end of the spectrum are the real nay-sayers.  Not only do they not participate in social networking, they may even poke fun at those who do.  In the middle of the spectrum might be those that dabble from time-to-time.  Maybe they update their status every once in a while, but mostly they lurk–simply monitoring their friends’ activities for fun or entertainment.

    No matter where you fall on this spectrum, it’s our assertion that no place is the “right” place to be.  You’re not necessarily missing the boat if you’re not a life-caster.  In our view, the only danger is in not acknowledging the spectrum itself.  Dismissing it altogether may result in lost opportunities for you and your organization.

  13. Vroom, Vroom… Increasing Traffic Online

    In the spirit of my post-Super Bowl glow (yay Colts!), I came across this blog about Toyota Tundra’s commercials’ “actual demonstration” disclaimer.
    Now, I usually don’t pay too much attention to the ads unless they’re pretty funny but I did in fact see one and thought something along the lines of “Actual demonstration? That’s weird they’d put that there since that would take a lot of work.”
    Turns out I was wrong as well. More interesting to me now is that the end of the video had no compelling call to action to go to toyota.com to see the behind-the-scenes video.
    Well, I went to the site today and the video — although shorter than I expected — is surprisingly interesting. Even though it’s a great idea, I just can’t help but feel that if you were going to spend money on an ad during the pricey Super Bowl timeslots, then there should have been a call to action to push viewers to go online for the video. By using a cross-media reference, the web site’s traffic would have increased as well as audience exposure (to more than just the one truck) without costing any more.
    Though I’m now promoting the video myself, I would be curious to see the ad campaign results in relation to the behind-the-scenes page views and compare the ad’s success vs. how many people will “happen across” this page. It’s not likely I’ll find out, but I’m still curious.

  14. The Web is a Serial Killer

    Laurence Haughton points us to an article from The Economist in which the Web’s industry changing nature is very candidly characterized:

    “The web takes its victims one at a time. First, in the mid-1990s, print media started to feel the terrifying effect of losing their monopoly on publication…in the early 2000s, the same thing happened to music…Now it’s television’s turn. In 2007 TV will have its first “music moment”—the realisation that a core audience (the 18-34-year-old male) has moved online, possibly for good.”

  15. One HUNDRED MILLion Web Sites (ah-ha)

    Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox email came in and the “100 Million Websites” title caught my attention (as well as started me quoting Austin Powers / Dr. Evil lines in my head). Those who use the web always talk about the internet in terms of “large” and “vast” and that weird cloud image but probably never really think about what those words really mean when it comes to numbers. The article quotes “even if only half the sites are maintained, there are still more than 100 M sites that people pay to keep running” — that’s a lot of information out there… 101,435,253 million and growing to be exact.
    Nielsen, one of the founders and advocates of web page usability (read his bio), further goes into a little bit of the history of web sites, the growth stages, web usability changes, and future predictions. Ultimately it’s just a teaser for an upcoming seminar on web usability but I thought this information was interesting in showing how many people currently use the internet and not just for searching.
    So… 200 million by 2010? I agree with Nielsen, I think we’ll surpass that as more and more companies recognize the benefits of having a presence online (not to mention the personal sites, blogs, etc.).

  16. The Customer Speaks

    Someone parked their mobile opinion today in our parking lot. This particular individual seems pretty upset at T-Mobile! Goes to show that consumers do have a limit…and a will to get even when they’re not happy!

    On the flip side, I’m a T-Mobile customer–and a pretty happy one at that…

  17. Google dominates Yahoo and MSN for market share

    Google has done something that has to have Steve Balmer and Bill Gates of Microsoft along with David Filo and Jerry Yang of Yahoo very frustrated. As of April 2006, Google accounts for 1 of every 2 searches performed in the United States according to Nielsen/Netratings. I have Google set as my default search engine at home and here in the office. The other interesting nugget Nielsen/Netratings shows is how frequently people are searching for major department stores through searches as opposed to just typing in the name in the address bar of their browser. Hopefully with Home Depot receiving more searches than Wal-Mart, it means people in the Gulf States are getting ready for today’s official start of Hurricane season.

  18. Shooting for… Reality

    Almost everyone looking for a new Web site wants it to be the latest and greatest, to be better than the competition. But more often than not, the wow factor is not practical and you have to bring them back to reality gently in order to achieve a successful online presence while remaining practical.
    MSN has a great example of a wow factor that is not realistic for this type of media: high-definition videos online.
    Things like bandwidth and filesize are constant concerns for those involved with online media. In this case, high definition filesizes almost triple the standard filesize – resulting in enormous delays during download, a much slower internet speed, and poor quality of video… It would be hard to find a practical reason for using that level of clarity online for most Web sites out there.
    One part of the article that stuck out in my mind was a comment by Josh Martin, an analyst for IDC:

    “Is that story less compelling because it’s not high definition?” Martin said. “I don’t think so.”

    When it comes to the Web, the ability to browse through sites quickly is one of the most compelling reasons to go online. While you should always want to shoot for greatness, it’s more important to accomplish your users’ goals successfully than to overshoot your own.

  19. Connecting with the fans

    Last year I became addicted to The Ultimate Fighter and by association, Ultimate Fighting Championship. I cannot get enough of this competition. The UFC has really turned around from what I remember watching in the late 90’s with Ken Shamrock and Dan “The Beast” Severn. Recently I was trying to get the latest news on the 3rd season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and noticed that the UFC has created individual blogs for many fighters. This is amazing to see. How many NFL teams have created this feature? None that I am aware of. The UFC has always been a grassroots organization with a rabid fan-base and having blogs for fans and fanatics to get the latest news straight from their favorite fighter really brings everything together and creates more excitement.

  20. Get paid by Bill Gates

    It seems Bill has an issue with other companies hording their income selfishly so he is proposing something to change that. In his campaign to prove MSN search as the superior search engine, Bill said Microsoft may kick start a new program where you, the user, is paid to use MSN Search. In the current business model, Bill argues, Google keeps a large chunk of its revenues from advertisements. To my knowledge, Google does not publish an exact figure of how much they distribute to publishers of adSense. So would either a check or free software entice you to change your homepage from Google.com or Yahoo.com to MSN.com or Search.MSN.com?