Putting It All In Perspective

Now that I’ve had a few days to recover after seven straight days at SXSW, I’m finding that in a weird sort of way I’m already missing it. I realize that probably sounds a little odd, but it’s true. Granted, I don’t miss having incredibly sore feet or falling asleep while standing up (true story–one night last week I was so tired I literally fell asleep while standing up) or fighting downtown Austin congestion, but I do miss meeting new people and learning.

I learned a lot from the sessions I went to, and yet I don’t feel like I learned enough. I wanted to go to more sessions, and there were so many that were scheduled at conflicting times that I had to miss, so I feel like I could have learned more. Should have learned more. I’m one of those weird, geeky people who loves learning, and who learns best when there’s an open discussion and exchange of ideas, which is at the heart of what SXSW Interactive is. Instead of focusing on all of the great things I didn’t get to learn, though, I’m going to focus on what I DID get to learn.

What I learned from SXSW 

Rappers are excellent marketers. Seriously.

I’m not really into rap, and am more of a country, folk, adult contemporary, hair metal, classic rock sort of girl. But I know who most of the big name rappers are. How can you not? I’m pretty sure most people in America have heard of Kanye, P Diddy, Jay Z, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Master P and Eminem, and it isn’t necessarily because all of America is listening to their music. Instead, people know who those rappers are because those rappers have all worked very hard to create their own personal brand and name recognition. A lot of big companies struggle with that every single day, and yet rappers seem to do it with ease. Part of that is because rappers don’t really care about the rules, and in fact go out of their way to break the rules.

Lots of marketers are struggling with Pinterest.

pinterest logoIn one of the sessions I went to, part of the conversation turned to Pinterest and how frustrated marketers are with CEOs and CMOs who are demanding they be on Pinterest RIGHT NOW when marketers still haven’t quite developed a strategy for how to best use Pinterest. Joe with Eloqua really summed up the whole social media marketing thing quite well when he said this: I would rather be really good at one or two social media platforms than be on all of them and suck at all of them (paraphrased). Pinterest really is a tricky medium for marketers. It isn’t “right” for all industries, and shameless self-promotion is a bit frowned upon. Instead, it’s a community built upon sharing, and one that happens to attract a primarily female demographic. How DO marketers harness that and use it to their advantage without intruding upon the “homey” feel that Pinterest has? It will continue to be a challenge, I think, but one that marketers are up for.

Privacy is really important.

cookie from sessionThere were a lot of panels on privacy at SXSW this year, and most of them were pretty well-attended from what I saw. In fact, privacy is such an important issue that there was a session on creating a Digital Privacy Bill of Rights. As a marketer, privacy is something I struggle with every day. I’m aware that every time I fill out a form that I’m going to be added to someone’s email database, possibly direct mail database, and that there’s a decent chance I’ll get a phone call that I let go directly to voice mail. I’m aware that I’m always being cookied, and that odds are I’ll see relevant ads on just about any website I go to. I have my Facebook privacy settings set as high as they can go, but my Twitter account is completely public. Anyone browsing LinkedIn can see my work history, and if you look at my Goodreads account you’ll see that I have a deep love for romance novels. Any company or person researching me can find out so many little and important things within ten minutes that it’s sometimes scary to think about. So yes, privacy is important. On the flip side of that, all of that data is so very important to marketers. Having all of that information at our fingertips makes our jobs easier–we’re better able to target our marketing and tailor it to meet the individual rather than the whole. From a marketing perspective, that’s a pretty good return on investment, and is simply a more effective way of marketing to your audience.

The future of marketing and science is…interesting.

Another big topic this year was what I can only describe as the convergence of science and marketing. Marketers have long known and admitted that a huge chunk of marketing is psychological. All good marketers are familiar with psychology basics, personality types and communication methods. We tailor our messages in order to have the most psychological impact with the sole purpose of evoking emotion. Advances in marketing analytics, though, are opening up brand new doors for marketers. As we learn more about consumer habits, we’re able to project more about certain groups and subsets. Target is the very obvious and recent case in point–the fact that any company can predict pregnancy depending upon what items you look at on their website is not only brilliant but creepy. Credit card companies can predict when a couple will get a divorce, and Facebook can figure out when you’ll change your relationship status. Throw in some good old fashioned science, and marketing has suddenly leaped ahead by a few years (if not decades) and straight into something out of a science fiction novel. That being said, though, we’re also highly predictable creatures, us humans, so in a weird sort of way marketers are also anthropologists. To say the least, I’m interested to see where the combination of marketing and science go, and how many cans of worms are opened as a result.

If there was one theme regarding marketing sessions at SXSW, it would be that marketing is changing, and doing so rapidly. Technology is giving us more tools than ever, but our customers (and potential customers) are also becoming more aware of those tools (like retargeting). We’re going to have to find creative ways to address privacy and respect our audience’s wishes while still getting the information we need in order to effectively do our jobs. We definitely live in interesting times, and marketing is rapidly changing with those times.

SXSW Interactive Flash – The F Bomb Or Da Bomb

Today I went to a presentation featuring Aubrey Gross, David Greene, Kristine Schachinger, and Phillip Gross entitled “Flash: The F Bomb or Da Bomb?”. I liked the title and I know everyone is buzzing around wondering “What’s going to happen with Flash?”, so I checked it out and ended up learning something things that I didn’t know. During the session the panel mainly talked about the use of Flash and accessibility. They also touched on the future of Flash, well rather if there is a future for Flash.

Flash – F Bomb or Da Bomb?

Flash – F Bomb or Da Bomb? – Session Panel

In the discussion, they started off talking about how Flash isn’t easily accessible for anyone who needs the aid of a screen reader and also that Google can’t see flash. For example, if you have a website made completely of Flash, no matter if it’s 10 pages or 100 pages Google will see your website as 1 page, which is pretty bad from an SEO standpoint. The panel did add though that Flash is great to use as visual enhancement, but it’s not ideal or smart to build whole websites using Flash. It should be placed within the website strategically.

Then we they started to touch on why businesses need to or should think about and care about accessibility. Implementing accessibility into your code not only helps everyone be able to use your site but it’s also a smart business decision.  Accessibility opens to the door to:

Reach a bigger audience. You open yourself up to a whole different market of people who no one else is marketing to Accessibility means that your website pretty much has a universal design, which makes your website do better in search engines – Google LOVES accessibility! Will work on every device Makes it easy to change designs in and out Makes your site easier to maintain One thing that really surprised me is that a lot of businesses that want websites built don’t even care to think about accessibility and if they do it’s after the website has been completed.

Next we moved on to discussing the future of Flash. In recent time, I’ve heard that Flash is going to completely die, but apparently that might not be the case. Flash is a utility tool that is so vast that there is nothing to replace it … yet. Flash is becoming useful in a lot of other areas though. So it’s not necessarily dying but rather being reborn.

I’m interested to see what will happen to Flash and if accessibility will become more common with big companies that now think that accessibility is not something they should care about or even small companies that don’t think about it. I really enjoyed the session. I thought it was insightful and very informative

SXSW Interactive: App Empire

Today is the last day of SXSW Interactive and the crowd in the Austin Convention Center has dwindled considerably. I guess everyone is just tired at this point. Anyway, the first session I attended was called “App Empire” which was being presented by Chad Mureta who is the founder of Empire Apps and co-founder of T3 Apps and Best Apps. He is also the author of “App Empire: Make Money, Have a Life, and Let Technology Work for You”. In the book he lays out everything he did to enter the app world in hopes of helping other people achieve the type of success he has. So I went into the Ogilvy Day stage and for the first time, I actually got a seat.

App Empire

Chad started out the presentation with a mini-movie about what led him to be an “Apprenuer”. In the mini-movie he told us about a car crash he had after a really long stressful day at work that left his left arm completely crushed. It was crushed to the point where doctors said he would never be able to use it again (P.S. his arm is now fully functioning). One day while he was sitting in the hospital not being able to do anything but mess around with his iPhone, his friend came in and gave him a magazine and told him to read an article about some guys who were getting rich from creating apps.

Chad wasn’t a technological guy and still doesn’t know how to develop an app. At the time he couldn’t even use a computer and in his own words he was “computer illiterate” anyway. That didn’t stop him though. He got really interested in the app world and wanted to create his own app and try and make some money. So he thought of a concept and outsourced the development and launched his first app.

Now fast forward a few years, in 2011 Chad cleared $3 Million from iPhone apps alone and he works only an hour a day. Chad said that apps are not only important for making money but they help to aid businesses. Also that in 3 years 80% of people will be browsing the Internet from their phone.

At the end of the presentation he gave us a few very useful tips:

When marketing apps, build an app network of free apps to drive traffic to your paid app. To build that network of free apps find what people want by looking at the top free, paid, and grossing charts and fill in the gap. Using tactics like press releases and SEM don’t help with promoting new apps.

Always use keywords in your app titles

If you are just starting out, you might want to use Apple because its simple, streamlined, has the best distribution, and there is already a huge following. Desk and Elancer are great sites to find developers to help build your apps – and be sure to sign an NDA to protect your ideas Build similar apps that relate to each other in order to build up your app network.

The key is to take existing apps to the next level. You don’t need an amazing original idea you can just improve on something already out by filling the gap. Test your app. Roll it out. Don’t fire all your bullets at once. I think Chad Mureta’s session was really interesting and that his story is pretty amazing. Also I never knew that the world of apps could be so lucrative.

The First Mobility Christmas

Christmas is months away. My Twitter feed, dominated by digital marketing, communications and technology people has seen plenty of disbelief. Why do shops have Christmas messaging up already? Why?

Despite the apparent outrage, I suspect most of the people pointing at the incipient decorations and sale offers know why retailers are already preparing for Christmas. It matters. Christmas is a hugely important shopping season.

I might be guilty of this myself. I don’t want to see reminders that the end of the year is sneaking up. I don’t. I’m exactly the type to roll my eyes at tinsel decorated posters that make it to the shop front before Halloween.

Like the digital marketing geek I am; I am excited by what Christmas means to the industry. We should see even more people going online for their Christmas shopping. After all, each year produces another credit card wielding generation who are eager and able to buy from the web or ROPO (research online, purchase offline).

I ran a quick, 100 person, limited to the UK, survey to get a baseline of intent. The question I asked was “Which site do you think will be most helpful to you this Christmas?” I didn’t explicitly mention shopping, although that’s what I imagine most of the respondents had in mind as I’m curious about the impact and influence of digital entertainment this Christmas.

I picked two champion retailers; Amazon and eBay and put them up against some social and some search channels. They won. In this initial, very small, study it seems UK shoppers have the plan to target ecommerce sites directly. There’s certainly no indication that many people will be turning to the wisdom of the crowds for shopping ideas of Christmas distractions.

Despite the economic climate it is likely that some forms of electronics will do well this year. Windows 8 may influence laptop sales, smartphones will sell and gadgets like the new Kindle series, Google’s Nexus 7 and the new iPad are likely to be common Christmas presents.

Last year we saw a surge in mobile traffic over Christmas; actually, especially just after Christmas as people got to grips with their new toys – sorry, I mean, practical and necessary work aids.This year, I think we’ll see another surge.

We won’t just have a fresh influx of tablets and other devices. This Christmas will be the first Christmas were a good chunk of the UK population already have devices that allow internet mobility.

This year, even as the Christmas holidays start, and the kids grab the remote control for the TV there will be parents who turn, in greater numbers, to the tablets and experience the web from their sofas.

During the holidays people will not just be shopping online they will be being entertained online. Tablets will stream movies, eReaders will provide books, smartphones will provide social network distraction while the wrong TV show in on and provide social TV commentary when the right program starts.

This year the UK public are more willing and more able to dip into the internet from more devices than ever before. This is why I think this may be the first mobility Christmas. If Apple manage to release their iPad Mini it may even be a white Christmas

What Does The New iPhone Launch Mean To Your Business

The FT reports that consumer electronics Goliath, Apple, is set to reveal a new range of iPhones this September. As the rumour mill goes into overdrive there is one common theme, and interestingly it’s that the range will include a more affordable device, dubbed the ‘iPhone 5C’.

Apple’s iPhone essentially created the smartphone market, and in doing so, became Apple’s flagship product, propelling it into the commercial stratosphere as one of the most successful consumer brands on the planet. Yet despite the tens of millions iPhones sold, Apple still has to keep a close eye on Google’s Android and devices such as the Galaxy series. So what is this ‘iPhone 5C’ and how will it affect consumers and businesses alike in the UK?

It is widely expected that the iPhone 5C device will be cheaper, more colourful and designed for success at the lower end of the market and particularly in China. It is a shift to a lower spec device that is accessible to more people, and ultimately, will make the premium Apple brand more attainable. Despite this positioning, the 5C is still expected to compete with mid-range devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Mini or HTC’s One Mini, not truly cheap handsets.

A lower priced iPhone which matches Android handset prices will continue the acceleration of smartphone uptake. The recent Deloitte Consumer Review revealed the number of UK consumers with a smartphone has increased to 72%, compared to 58% just ten months ago and according to Gartner, mobile traffic currently makes up 10% of global internet traffic, and next year more people will use mobile phones more than PCs to get online. Expect these numbers to increase as the new iPhone range lands.

So how can businesses tap into this expected increased access to mobile internet by consumers? There are two key areas to consider:

1. Mobile web: many businesses have not yet optimised their websites for mobile, frustrating visitors with tricky navigation and slow loading times. The fact is, mobile sites lead to mobile purchases because it’s another outlet to buy. If your site isn’t optimised for mobile, shoppers will go elsewhere. Also, a bad mobile experience can damage a company’s brand. Half of participants in a recent Google survey said they feel frustrated and annoyed when they happen across a site that’s not mobile-friendly, and that it makes them feel like a company doesn’t care about their business.

 2.QR codes: a recent survey shows that 31% of consumers are aware of QR codes and how they work and 19% of UK consumers have scanned a QR code. This is an emerging trend as 32% of 18 to 34 year olds had scanned a QR code, suggesting a propensity for the tactic in the younger age groups. There are numerous examples of QR campaigns being a success, which are listed here. So as smartphones become a feature of everyone’s pocket, and also access to 4G and superfast internet increases, this marketing technique will become of particular value to businesses.

Mobile is only getting bigger, fuelled by the likes of the upcoming Apple launch, and these two simple marketing tactics will help your business tap in to the mobile boom. Should you need support in making it work for your business, you can find products to help at