In January of 2013 I attended New Media Expo for the first time. I have been to many conferences and this one was much better than most. I bought the content creator pass, went to tons of sessions, all of the keynotes and walked the trade show many times. I even bought the virtual sessions on-site so that I could watch the ones I missed when I got home. It was an engaging conference and I came away a satisfied customer who immediately blocked off the time to return to Vegas for NMX in 2014.
To put things in perspective, here is a little background about me. This blog is a side project for me and I don’t derive any significant income from it. I don’t drink or gamble and I am a big-time introvert. So going to conferences like this, especially in Vegas, are not my natural tendency and I end up footing the bill out of my own pocket. With conference fees, airfare, hotel & food I figure I spent about $2,000 to go to New Media Expo in 2013.
Fast forward to NMX 2014. I put in for my vacation time from work, bought my plane ticket, had the hotel and rental car all setup. Last time the sessions were a little overwhelming for me, so this time I just booked the trade show ticket with plans to again purchase the virtual ticket on-site. This way I could force myself to network more, not a natural thing being an introvert, and try to pace myself.
I was supposed to fly out on Friday night after work but mother nature had other plans. The weather in the mid-west, where I live, was cold but clear. However, the weather out east was another story as they were getting hammered with snow & ice. Long story short, after a six hour delay at the airport my flight got cancelled due to shortage of pilots. I stood in line for an hour to get re-booked only to find out that the earliest they could get me out to Vegas was Sunday night.
Since the conference last day of the conference would be Monday, I had to make the tough decision to cancel my trip. The airline refunded my money no problem. The hotel was very helpful and cancelled my reservation without penalty even though it was way past the cutoff time for that day. The car rental was no problem either after a quick call to India.
I sent an inquiry to NMX registration asking if they were going to make some accommodations for refunds due to the problems with the weather. On twitter it was very obvious that I was not the only one with this problem.
About a week later, when I still had not gotten a response I followed up with another e-mail, this time copying another contact at NMX from their contact us page. My expectations were that I would not receive a refund, but I just wanted a response. Any response.
After another two weeks of radio silence, I sent a third e-mail, this time to a completely different contact. I know there is someone working because their social media accounts keep churning out posts. However, I did not want to post anything publicly at that point, preferring to try to keep the dialog private.
It has now been six weeks and I feel like someone with one walkie-talkie. This type of response, or lack thereof, is very counter-intuitive for a brand that is built on engagement. And there is the point of this post, all of the brand equity that NMX had built up with me is now gone. Poof.
I believe when you except money from someone, they become a customer. And I believe that all customers deserve the respect of professional communication. Even if the news is not the answer they are looking for. As for me, I will likely not be going back to NMX. Clearly, I am nobody to them and that is fine. I don’t have a big audience, and I don’t have deep pockets. You see, in my day job I am responsible for a couple of small brands and we would never damage our brand by ignoring a customer. Then again, maybe I am doing it wrong.
The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the previous year and try to build on your successes. In this video I give my thoughts on how to approach goal-planning and discuss some of the techniques that have worked for me.
I would love to know your thoughts on goal planning. Please leave a comment below and let me know your tips.
The gravitation towards eCommerce has increased with the rapid and continuing evolution that taking place on the internet. Almost on a daily basis, new enterprises emerge, leveraging on existing or novel technologies and ideas to operate. In many instances, these new enterprises have grown to become successes although many eCommerce enterprises have folded up. We will take a close look at some eCommerce enterprises that were able to design and execute a plan that ensured success.
i. Carl Stuart: UK based company; Carl Stuart is in the business of supplying laboratory and field equipment, process filtration technologies as well as full technical support services to their clients. The company’s client base comprises Governmental organizations, institutions as well as companies in diverse industries across the UK and Ireland. Seeing the opportunities that the internet and eCommerce offered them, the company decided to leverage on that in order to make sales online through B2B trade accounts with manageable credit limits. They also needed integrate their offline sales and procurement efforts with the eCommerce software while reducing the cost per transaction and raising turnover through customer accounts automation. Using a platform designed by an eCommerce provider, the company was able to integrate trade account functionality with their website thus allowing customers set up and manage their own accounts online. This ensured that the company’s sales team became free to focus on business development. The benefits that immediately accrued to the company included opening of new streams of revenue and cost reduction per sale while increasing efficiency and providing up to date customer information. Customer experience also became significantly enhanced resulting in a better relationship with the company.
ii. Dell: This was one of the earliest success stories in eCommerce. Launching its eCommerce model about 1994, Dell excluded retail outlets and middlemen while selling directly to customers over the internet. The company took little time to register its mark as the first company to record a million dollars in sales online. Dell’s success in due in large part to the model that it adopted in making the customers a part of the purchase process in terms of choice and control. The company’s website allowed buyers to click through and make their own choices of the components of the computer thus virtually assembling the computer on their own. By the last quarter of 2002, Dell had logged a billion page views on its website. This choice and control given to the buyers also made it possible for Dell to feel the pulse of its customers regarding the functionality of the site as well as what exactly the customers wanted. The company does not build a computer until the buyer has ordered so it did not have to own a central warehousing facility rather it ships the computer directly to the customers depending on the geographical origin of the order from its plants in Ireland, Tennessee, Brazil, China, Malaysia or Texas. Dell also ensured that their B2B customers had a special interface that allowed them to customize the computers ordered to suit their company’s needs. By 2002, about half of Dell’s revenues were derived from their website and this amounted to about $16 billion.
E-Business is a natural extension of the internet. The concept refers to the transaction of business via an electronic means, usually the internet or any of its mediums. E-business has certain characteristics and these include the following:
i. The use of the internet for the full transaction of its business.
ii. The combination of traditional model of running an enterprise with actionable business information obtained via the internet.
iii. Combination of traditional means of running an enterprise with an online selling platform.
iv. Business models that work to compile data on various customer and market segments and then make this information available to third parties for a fee.
v. The use of technological devices to facilitate financial exchanges or other kinds of exchanges.
vi. The adaptation and modification of traditional models with IT facilities.
E-marketing is a subset of e-business. It is the means through which a business promotes the products or services that it is offering on the internet. The practice of running an enterprise on the internet and promoting its services or products using e-marketing tools or resources presents that enterprise with distinct advantages. These include:
i. Reduction of overheads as the enterprise does not have to invest huge funds in warehousing or high office rents.
ii. Potential increase in sales
iii. Access to global markets and presenting the firm’s products and services to the market across the clock
iv. Opportunity to carry out market segmentation
v. Provision of convenience for customers and seller alike
We will take a close look at a few businesses that have successfully implemented e-marketing.
1. Anthony Nicholas Group: This company deals in jewels and having discovered that the internet presents a veritable means for showing its products to its target audience, the company decided to invest in the necessary infrastructure to make this possible. The challenge was in providing a reliable full back office system to replace the existing one. Two websites also had to be designed to cater separately for the Irish customers and the American customers. A web-based interface for customer interaction had to be developed and then supported with an accounting system that replaced the existing one, all technology based. The websites were also built to serve as marketing tools for the promotion of the products of the firm.
2. Dubarry:This company specializes in footwear designed for sailing. It decided to delve into the e-business world in order to leverage on the opportunities provided by the internet to bond with its customers. The company succeeded in its objectives as a result of three factors; a critical assessment of its internal operations and how it can work as a an e-business model, the possible challenges it will face as it alters its traditional business model to suit the internet and then how it can harness the opportunities therein. The website it built and uses as a platform to reach out and interact with its customers and target market has now served to reduce the administrative load involved in dealing with its various distributors. Customer interaction and also been an advantage of this switch to the new model as well as streamlining the process of ordering products from the company.
A strategy lays the foundation for the success of any enterprise and the internet is no exception. The fact is that on the internet, given that the rules are quite different, there is a more pressing need for a marketing strategy and an accompanying plan to execute it. In all, a great strategy and the ability to execute it will guarantee success in the contentious scene of internet marketing.
In order to have a great strategy, it is imperative that a great product or service be in place. The strategy is after all, built around the need to successfully promote such a product or service. The product or service ought to be available on the internet and delivery via same ideally should be made possible. The uniqueness of the product or service is a very critical factor in its success. This is because of the need to reduce competition for customers.
In practical terms, when you have ensured that the product or service to be promoted meet high standards, you have to take some steps: (more…)
Online customer service has become very popular these days with the emphasis on internet enabled services. Enterprises are trying to ensure that they can attend more to their customers without having to go through the normal channels. However, even with this migration to the internet, a lot of challenges are still presented that pose bigger problems for businesses. Generally, customers tend to rate their experience in terms of the following:
i.The ease with which they get through their experience on the website
ii.The extent to which the site was able to satisfy their queries
iii.The ability of the site to provide the expected experience.
There are some basic solutions that online customer services make use of in order to deliver excellent customer service via the internet. These include the following: (more…)
Marketing is quite easily one of the most dynamic professional practices. This is based on the fact that human behavior changes with time and with the advancement in technology, marketers struggle to adapt their messages to a demographic that is changing rapidly in order to remain relevant. The internet of course, has had a huge impact on the way marketing messages are crafted and then put across to the consumers. However, in using the medium provided by the internet, marketers also face a big challenge because there are some issues that crop up. These issues are serious as they affect the lives of the consumers so much so that governments have been compelled to legislate on them to eradicate or at the very least, mitigate their effects. These issues include the following: (more…)
The term ‘web analytics’ refers to the collation, measurement, analysis and reporting of internet data. The objective of web analytics is to understand and optimize the usage of the web. Its use is not restricted to the measurement of internet traffic to a website but can also be used to carry out market and business research. Additionally, it can be integrated with a marketing campaign so as to understand the effects of the traditional means of advertising on the traffic to the company’s website. The fact however is that web analytics have become an imperative for the success of any online enterprise especially a small business as it gives the small business owner the opportunity to determine the response rates to the website’s online investments.
In carrying out web analytics, there are certain terms that are used widely, representing specific metrics. These include among others:
Hit: This refers to a request made on a web server for a file
Page View: A request made on a web server for a particular file representing a page on the site.
Visit/Session: While a visit is defined as a number of requests from a unique visitor for a page with a time lapse between each request of not more than 30 minutes, a session takes place when the unique visitor does not depart from that site to another within that same time frame of 30 minutes.
First Visit/First Session: This occurs when a website has a visit from a visitor who has not been to that site before.
In carrying out web analytics for your small business, it is important to take the following steps:
Collate Data: The first thing that you must do is to collect sufficient data and you can easily do this using any of the web analytics tools like Google Analytics. These data include among others, web logs, form to email requests and CGI requests.
Convert the Data: You will also have to convert the data generated by the web analytics tool to a format that you can easily work with. Luckily, most web analytics tools do most of the work for you.
Data Analysis: Bearing in mind that web analytics helps you discover trends, you need to analyze your data by looking for the following:
If there is a specific timeframe for some visits
The most popular pages on the site
Whether visitors browse more than a page before departing the site
The average time used by your visitors on the site
The source of traffic, if they come from search engines
The primary exit pages for your site
The sites linking to yours.
Integrate The Insights Obtained: Now that you have gotten answers to these questions, you have to integrate the answers into your efforts by remedying any deficiencies.
Watch The Difference: The purpose of the changes you are making is to create a better impression with your visitors. See how that works.
Re-evaluation: Web analytics is not a one-off activity. Once you have implemented the necessary changes, you need to embark on re-evaluation to ensure that all is right.
Adeptly address today’s business challenges with this powerful new book from web analytics thought leader Avinash Kaushik. Web Analytics 2.0 presents a new framework that will permanently change how you think about analytics. It provides specific recommendations for creating an actionable strategy, applying analytical techniques correctly, solving challenges such as measuring social media and multichannel campaigns, achieving optimal success by leveraging experimentation, and employing tactics
Ecommerce is the trend in the world today as enterprises try to make forays into domains that were hitherto inaccessible except with the huge financial investments. Today, small enterprises, even home based businesses have the opportunity to compete with other business on a global level via the platform provided by the internet. The statistics for ecommerce is certainly encouraging and as the evolution of the internet continues, the opportunities also improve. The retail holiday sales in the US were estimated at $39 billion as at 2007 while 70% of leisure travelers made some of their personal travel booking online. The figures for car shoppers online that started the process online stood at 53% while about 42% of the online shoppers said they use comparison engines online before making a purchase decision. The foregoing statistics go a long way in showing that ecommerce is growing and the competition will be won largely by businesses that take a lot of technical and business details into consideration. In all, there are a number of mistakes that must be avoided if you are to succeed in your ecommerce efforts. (more…)
As ecommerce continues to grow exponentially, more people are getting involved in it especially one of its facets; affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is simply the practice of promoting and selling the products or services of a merchant for a percentage of the profit accruing from the sale. As ecommerce grows in popularity and enterprises try to sell their products and services on the internet, many are turning to affiliate marketing to help them get an online salesforce to promote and sell their products. The field gets more crowded daily as more people join the affiliate marketing profession and as this happens, there is the need to strategize properly in order to succeed.
There are various techniques that can be applied in affiliate marketing to enhance the efforts as well as boost the chances of making actually sales. We will look at five of such techniques: (more…)
The concept of marketing goods/services using articles is not unique to the internet although its popularity is attributable to the internet. Hitherto, people hired Public Relations professionals to create buzz for their business and in the course of generating the desired publicity, they wrote press releases and articles about the business for publication in various print media. This enabled people to get a perspective on the business being marketed. One of the commonest objectives of writing such articles was positioning the business as experts in their market or field of operations. Article writing using the print media however has its attendant problems or disadvantages. It was a bit restrictive in that it was read only by people within its geographical reach particularly if it happened to be a local paper.
The internet has changed the way articles are published and propagated. Today, anyone can who can write can get an article published. There are however attendants issues as well and these include: (more…)
The practice of ensuring that websites are made accessible to all people having all abilities as well as those having disabilities is what is known as Web Accessibility. The emphasis however is more often than not, on people with disabilities. Equality in the acquisition of the information or knowledge contained on a web page irrespective of the age and physical conditions such as blindness is the thrust of this practice. The concept of web accessibility is founded on the need to address certain challenges generally facing web users as well as some facing some categories of web users. Some of these challenges include the following: (more…)
The success of an enterprise’ efforts in keeping its customer base satisfied and continually selling to them is ever reliant on good customer relationship management today. The growth in the awareness and regard for customer relationship management from just a kind of computer based program to a strategic and focused concept affecting overall business success is not surprising. This is because businesses have gradually come to realize that understanding and keeping their customer bases is key to key objectives as well as the business bottom-line. This realization has resulted in the evolution of a market segment for the practice, one which is projected to attract a spending of above $11 billion by companies by 2010 according to a research conducted by Forrester Research. (more…)