Going Mobile

The reading this week discusses some of the developments in this increasingly mobile era. Apparently I’m not the only one glued to my iPhone either. According this Cisco article, by 2016 the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population in 2012. WOW. Of course, the article also stated that the number of Android users exceeded the number of iPhone users, which I’m still a little bitter about being the Apple snob that I am. Sigh.

QR codes are a hotly debated issue on the topic. Although I’m likely to go a little softer on the issue after reading this article on how they are being used for charities, I just don’t like QR codes. The cause laid out in the article is, of course, a good one, but I don’t think as many people use QR codes as some marketers would like to think. It might just be me, but I am far more likely to Google something than go through the effort of getting out the QR scanner app. The only time I have ever scanned a QR code? When I’m testing the ones my students put on marketing materials. Sure, they are free, so putting them on your marketing materials isn’t going to cause harm, but I personally wouldn’t put them at the core of my strategy. Plus, they just kill a good design.

Do you scan QR codes? Have you ever had successful results from using them in a marketing strategy?

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Starting Second Life

So, I’ll be honest. Second Life has always kind of weirded me out. I mean that in no disrespect to people that use, it’s just not my thing. That being said, I went into the experience with as much of an open mind as possible seeing as it was for research and not for personal use.

From an ethnographic standpoint, Second Life is actually very interesting to me. I have to say, the whole concept of it is pretty fascinating. Although I chose an avatar pretty similar to me, you can really live a whole separate “life” as whoever you want to be. People go shopping, get married, have kids. Everything you can do in the real world. Everything. There are even tons of different subcultures (some of those I discovered pretty quickly as I went into an entire spanish speaking area). The reading even referenced $1,000,000 of economic activity everyday.. What I was perhaps most interested to learn is that Linden Lab does nothing more than provide the basic elements- land, sky, and a few building blocks. Everything else is built by the people that use it. Similar to the real world (although humans can’t fly… dang it). So in essence Linden Lab plays a bit of a God-like role, no?

While I found it interesting that the author addressed the term “real life” and “virtual world” as implying technology makes life less real, I still am concerned with where the lines blur. My interest lies in how those using this program are impacted in what I consider the “real world.” For example, are you cheating on your husband if you marry someone in Second Life? How does that impact your relationship? And what is the appeal is. Although I’m sure it varies from person to person, is this to be used as an escape from a (perhaps troubling) real life?

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Meet your online customer

Getting customers engaged in their company is something most businesses are striving for in this social media era. We all want to put information out there that people will “like”and then it will increase sales. If only it were that easy. In order to effectively run social media, or any online marketing really, it’s important to get into the minds of your customers. I’ve managed a few social media accounts now and in the past. One of the biggest things I have to constantly remind myself is that our followers are not like me. When I first starting running SM accounts, my friends that liked or followed the company always told me things like “Oh did you write that post today? I could totally tell it was you.” While I haven’t completely put myself aside yet, I have tried to become more aware that beside a few commonalities with fans, we generally do not have the same interests, likes etc. When you start to figure out who your customers are, it completely changes your voice when acting as the company.

The big question is, how can you determine what exactly your customers DO like. Well, it mostly comes down to analytics. I have yet to venture into tracking consumers online behavior like this Acer example, but I have utilized the vast amount of analytics that Facebook provides on it’s platform. Looking at the information, the SM accounts I run currently have (admittedly) decreased in engagement the past few weeks after the initial rush of the Fall semester starting. For some reason though when I posted that the movie Brave was playing in the auditorium, it saw much higher results. Wouldn’t have predicted that. So my question is why? And how do I use this to gain deeper information about our fans? Was it the type of day that I posted it or that our fans just like animated movies?

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Using Online Surveys

The study I found utilizing online survey research was The Impact of Perceived Channel Utilities, Shopping Orientations, and Demographics on the Consumer’s Online Buying Behavior in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. The study looked at the consumer learning curve for making online purchases as well as the consumer’s demographics- age, education, income etc. It sought to determine what factors made some people prone to purchasing things online. The study was conducted on a private website via online survey. While I do think this method is somewhat appropriate given the topic, I wonder if the findings were skewed toward people who already use the internet frequently. If someone is likely to take a survey online, wouldn’t they also be more likely to shop online? Even in the few surveys I have conducted, I know the importance of getting a good population sample. For the same reason, I’m not convinced that online surveys are always the best option since they leave out people who may not have a computer or access to the internet. I have used both Survey Monkey and Qualtrics when I was an undergrad at UF. I can attest to the price and convenience factors of these two programs, some great perks. However, and maybe this was just because of the way we handled it, I’m not sure our research had the best population sample. It was predominately just emailed out to friends, posted on Facebook etc. So, the people it reached, we already had a connection with. This would be a similar problem if you posted it on a business website, a person would already have to be using the website to access the survey. Has anyone done it a different way that produced better results?

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Taking the first steps into web analytics

Tacking onto last week’s SEO discussion, this week’s reading dives deeper into how google actually searches web pages. From my limited experience, the gist of it is this: google uses what’s called a googlebot to crawl webpages (sort of like how a spider crawls around it’s web), and then uses that information to index websites based on all the information it found. When a user goes to do an online search, google’s machines search these indexes to return results. According to google, relevancy is determined by over 200 factors (this is when your SEO comes in handy).

Understanding this information is a crucial first step in using web analytics, a topic I am very excited to learn more about this week. Whether we are running an online portfolio, a large e-commerce site or a simple informational page about the local veterinarian; it is important to know where your website traffic is coming from. Why you ask? Well, for one it gives you some concrete data about whether your sales tactic is working. With web analytics on a retail site, you are better able to see what content drives the most sales rather than simply guessing what works best for your client. Also, you are able to see which population you are reaching. Are you getting a lot of hits from your local audience or people in Russia? If it’s the latter, you may want to know why!

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Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Despite working in marketing for a few years now, there is one very important thing that I know shockingly little about: Search Engine Optimization. Yeah, I reap the benefits of it everyday. I can’t remember the last time I went to a website without Googling it first. I just have somehow skated past it in my professional life. I’ve done the occasional meta tag here and there, but that doesn’t really count does it? It’s almost intimidating for me at this point.  So tonight when I sat down to the reading, it was a little bit daunting at first. I thought, oh no, I’m finally gonna have to learn SEO. Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised however by how ‘beginner friendly’ some of it was.

I started out by looking at the glossary of terms, I figured that would be the best bet to ease myself into it. Some of the things, I am happy to report I already knew- social media, viral marketing etc. And the ones I didn’t know? Easily laid out and explained for me. Phew, not so bad. I actually was really interested in some of the concepts like conversion funnel and attention profile. What really caught my eye though was the information multivariate testing. I love the idea of having an A and B site, and determining which is more effective. I’m a daughter of a psychologist, so I’m usually pretty intrigued by human behavior. This is no different, it’s just on the web. Frankly, I would be fascinated to discover the results of that on one of my own sites.

So, somewhere between reading that and Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, it kind of hit me that SEO might not be this big scary monster after all. It’s not just about getting your page up on Google. It helps design by seeing where your users are drawn to and what pages they click on. It gets you in their mind a bit.

Sure, everyone has probably been saying all this for years now, but no one ever said I was quick 🙂 And, I am happy to report, I am no longer afraid of SEO!

… All that being said, my questions tonight are fairly simple. What are your experiences with SEO? Who has used some of these tactics and what were the results?

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August 27 Reading

For the purposes of this post, I chose to predominately focus on comScore whitepaper report on Next-Generation Strategies for Advertising to Millennials. The report indicated that Millennials are hard to reach through advertising, particularly on television. This is a result of the well-known idea that this generation prone to multi-tasking (as a result of social media, texting etc.) 

What the study did find, is that this group reacts better to digital advertising, and those that were more creative had higher success rates. I think a primary example of this is the success of companies like Apple among millennials. (Separate to the digital world, I think this has also led to the trend in more creative display advertising). Reportedly this is because it is harder to grab the attention of millenials because of their highly active lifestyles, so it takes more creative and differentiated ads to get them to pay attention.  

The study continued to state that although it is harder to get millenials to focus on ads, when they do, they become more highly engaged. Personally I find this to be best shown in the success of YouTube. While it is not always specifically advertising related, we can clearly see the impact of something going “viral” in today’s world. After all, that’s why we’ve all seen a thousand different takes on Call Me Maybe

Some questions that arose for me after reading this:

1. Does the need for constant interaction (aka social media) arise from the “active lifestyle” that helicopter parents engraved in us?

2. Do millennials respond less well to television advertising simply because they are not watching television, or are tv ads truly less effective on that generation?

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