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April 13, 2018

11 Extraordinary Insights Into AI and E-commerce from the Past Week: E-commerce Link Digest

April 13, 2018 | By | No Comments

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11 Extraordinary Insights Into AI and E-commerce from the Past Week: Woman using AI to connect with customers

Hey, Big Thinkers! We’re finally getting some spring weather here at Thinks Central, so hope you don’t mind if we skip the setup this week and jump straight into this list of 11 extraordinary insights into AI and e-commerce from the past week. Enjoy:

  1. So, don’t know if you saw, but our old friend Mark Zuckerberg spent a couple of days explaining Facebook and privacy to a group of clueless old men Congress this past week. Clearly, the markets don’t seem to think the, ahem, brain trust on Capitol Hill has any chance of successfully reining in the social media giant, leading the company’s stock price to rise 4% in the last week. And, as TechCrunch points out, regulation could ultimately protect Facebook, not punish it. Obviously, we’ll keep watching this one for a bit, but until customers or a more technically-competent Congress acts decisively, Facebook’s probably going to weather this storm.
  2. That said, the role of data, tracking, and privacy clearly are getting a lot more play in the media than they were just a few months back. Which is why maybe Facebook's data problem will end up as your data problem. And that’s definitely something worth thinking about for your brand/business.
  3. All of this has much larger implications for your business than may appear at first glance. For instance, we’ve long talked about the fact that AI makes big data little. And Harvard Business Review rightfully explains that if your data is bad, your machine learning tools are useless. Expect a lot more talk around this topic over the next few months.
  4. While we’re on the topic of AI, you won’t want to miss these 8 exceptional insights into voice and AI and their effects on digital marketing from the E-commerce Link Digest series.
  5. Business Insider has a great look atAI in marketing and how brands can “leverage artificial intelligence to improve personalization, enhance ad targeting, and make marketing teams more agile.” Wow, that’s quite a mouthful. But it’s also quite true.
  6. Want to know more about the effect of AI on marketing? Well, check out these recent episodes of Thinks Out Loud, our e-commerce and digital strategy podcast. The first looked at where AI will affect sales and marketing first, and most while the second outlined 7 ways you can use AI in B2B sales and marketing. Good stuff all around.
  7. For one real-world example, Digiday put together a great case study of how Tumi is using AI in marketing campaigns, online and in stores that’s well worth checking out.
  8. That Tumi story is a great example of what marketing at the speed of digital looks like in practice.
  9. It’s fair to ask, of course, whether with the rise of the machine: “Will your job become obsolete?” as Rita Shapiro-Das does over on The Future of Commerce blog. And, given that reality, R. Edward Freeman and James R. Freeland argue over at MIT Sloan Management Review argue that the time for retraining is now.
  10. You don’t need to wait for your company to make that a priority (in fact, we’d argue that it’s probably a mistake to wait around for that to happen). We’d recommend you check out our quick and dirty guide for how to keep up with technology as a marketer instead.
  11. Finally, let’s wrap-up this week’s look at 11 extraordinary insights into AI and e-commerce from the past week — and bring all these stories together – with this set of 6 quick content marketing and AI insights and these 6 proven digital marketing trends.

Have a fantastic weekend, Big Thinkers. Catch you back here next week!

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

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April 6, 2018

Disruption? 5 Digital Trends Show Why You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet (Thinks Out Loud Episode 216)

April 6, 2018 | By | No Comments

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Disruption? 5 Digital Trends Show Why You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet

Disruption? 5 Digital Trends Show Why You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet (Thinks Out Loud Episode 216) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 15m 55s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Tim Peter

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March 30, 2018

6 Quick Content Marketing And AI Insights: E-commerce Link Digest

March 30, 2018 | By | No Comments

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6 Quick Content Marketing And AI Insights: E-commerce Link Digest

Howdy, Big Thinkers! No setup today. Just a list of 6 quick content marketing and AI insights to carry you through to next week. Enjoy:

  1. Mark Schaefer asks ”is social media marketing still a thing?” And provides a great answer to the question, too.
  2. CMO.com offers up a walk into the future of content with The Mill’s Boo Wong that’s well worth your time.
  3. Our own Tim Peter interviewed Mike Moran on the future of content marketing, search, and digital.
  4. We also rounded up a great set of 8 exceptional insights into voice and AI and their effects on digital marketing for the E-commerce Link Digest series.
  5. Speaking of AI, the Forbes Technology Council says to decide if your company is ready for AI, ask yourself these nine questions
  6. You also will want to check out these 6 proven digital marketing trends (the best of Thinks Out Loud and this great post that asks, how can you succeed at digital marketing next year? 17 great posts offer answers

Have a fantastic weekend, Big Thinkers. Catch you back here next week!

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

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March 28, 2018

How Will Facebook’s Data Scandal Impact Hotel Marketers?

March 28, 2018 | By | No Comments

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What Facebook's Data Scandal Means for Hotel Marketers

I’ve long been an advocate of the hotel marketers using social media to benefit their properties. In a post that asked, “Is Social a Waste of Time for Hotel Marketers?” I wrote:

“…booking provider eviivo… offers independent hotels and B&B’s pretty terrible advice. Their claim? Quoting Travolution here, “social media has negligible impact on hotel bookings.” And someone’s done the research, so it must be true, right?

Wrong. Dead wrong in fact…

Social media marketing is not a waste of time for hotel marketers when you do it correctly. Neither are OTA’s. Or search. Or email. Or… well, you get the point. They each play a role to help your guest choose your property when they’re ready to book. When you choose your channels appropriately and manage your resources effectively you’ll find that you rarely waste time. And that your business performs well, too.

I doubled down on that sentiment when making the case for social as your hotel’s “secret sales force,” noting the powerful role that social plays when guests tell a positive story about your brand to their friends, family, fans, and followers on social. As that column noted,

According to Nielsen, most people trust the recommendations they receive from their friends and family on social. And on average each of your guests connects with roughly 200 friends and family on Facebook and other social media. Your existing guests offer you a trusted connection with these potential customers.

Just consider the math for a moment. Let’s say you’re responsible for a 100 room hotel, that runs at 60% occupancy and hosts 1.4 guests per room each night. That’s almost 31,000 guests per year that you can put to work telling your brand story. Which, y’know, is a lot of people. And, even using conservative numbers about how many friends each has on social media, those 31,000 guests can reach millions of other potential guests on your behalf …”

Of course, all that was before Facebook’s disastrous week. Two separate scandals in the last week — so far — about the consumer data that the social media giant captured, used, and shared with marketing partners have suddenly led to campaigns encouraging users to #DeleteFacebook.

Folks like Elon Musk took this message to heart, deleting his company’s Facebook pages between the announcement of the first and second Facebook scandals. And that’s in addition to the 2.8 million young users who beat #DeleteFacebook to the punch by abandoning the platform last year.

So, what does this mean for hotel marketers? Should you #DeleteFacebook too?

Will Facebook’s problems change how hotels use social media?

As much fun as it might be to join the chorus calling for Facebook’s demise, the question isn’t “Will Facebook’s problems change how hotels use social media?” The bigger, more important question is, “Will Facebook’s problems change how guests use social media?”

If the answer to that is “yes,” then the decision of what you should do as a marketer is straightforward.

Except for exceedingly rare cases, you probably didn’t start using Facebook while it was restricted to college campuses — not just because because you couldn’t, but because there was no good reason why you would. Your customers simply weren’t there then.

And, as ever, you must watch where your customers go on this one, too. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t take a principled stand. If you genuinely believe Facebook hurts society — that they’re the only bad actor here — then I certainly won’t criticize you for following your conscience and deleting your hotel’s Facebook presence.

I suspect the reality is a trifle more complicated though. Yes, Facebook definitely used consumer data in ways that customers didn’t understand, sometimes because Facebook made it difficult to understand — and sometimes because they made it difficult to choose a better option to protect your data if you did understand it. That’s… not good. They should be held to account for these actions and offer — ideally on their own, but by regulatory oversight if necessary — better controls and protections for consumers.

They’ve also executed — and, frankly, continue to execute — one of the worst public relations responses to a crisis of this magnitude I’ve seen in a while. For a company that facilitates communication, they’re remarkably bad at communicating. They keep trying to frame the problem as one where a few bad guys broke the rules instead of acknowledging the fundamental breach of trust between the company and its customers. Plenty of lessons there worth learning.

It’s also true that Facebook is hardly the only guilty party here. Their practice of collecting call data on Android phones worked because Android’s parent Google allowed it to work. Do we know who else captured similar data and for what purposes? Has Google acknowledged how many consumers have had their data exposed? Or what happened to all the data after Google changed its policy? I’m not aware of any public answers to those questions. And yet I haven’t run across a #DeleteGoogle campaign so far. And, if I had, would you be willing to dump the search giant from your hotel marketing plan? Could you if you wanted to?

Worse, these scandals are likely far from over. I’d expect at least a few more shoes to drop before we find our way to a “new normal” — at this point I’ll be more surprised if another scandal doesn’t emerge.

So, what should you do in the meantime?

How should hotel marketers respond to Facebook’s troubles?

Best practices suggest taking a measured response that minimizes risk to you, and more importantly your guests, while not giving up on what’s working today. Review the following points as you plan your response to the situation:

  • Avoid collecting any data on Facebook that you’re not already gathering. It’s possible this drags on for months or years, complete with congressional committees subjecting Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandburg, and other Facebook functionaries to public confessions and the floggings that follow. It’s also entirely possible this blows over in a couple months as some new, more juicy scandal attracts media and mainstream attention. I mean, it’s not like there’s some crazy story coming out every day that distracts people from the crazy story that happened the day before. But when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. Facebook is in a hole; there’s no need to grab a shovel and jump in with them. More plainly, don’t give their critics a reason to come looking for you too. We’ll have a much better sense of where things stand soon. This is a time for patience.
  • Don’t automatically stop what you’re doing today. All that said, unless you have reason to believe you’re doing something customers will hate, you’re likely fine with keeping your current activities in place. Again, this is a time for patience.
  • Keep an eye on your Facebook presence’s performance. Let’s assume the #DeleteFacebook campaign steamrolls towards success and consumers start abandoning the social network en masse. Should you immediately cut your losses and jump ship too? Probably… not. It doesn’t matter how many users Facebook has. It matters who those users are. If your guests continue to use Facebook, you probably need to continue to engage with them there. By the same token, keep a close eye on what’s happening with the reach and engagement your hotel’s posts receive. Look for signs that show how your customers are reacting — or not — to Facebook’s struggles. And, just like you should do with any channel, react accordingly to the reality, not the rumor.
  • While you’re at it, examine your own data practices. Facebook’s day of reckoning offers a warning to all marketers about the dangers of data collection. Consumers clearly care more about the risks in “free” services like Facebook than they did just a few weeks ago. Yes, this could blow over. But the more likely outcome is that they approach all marketers with a greater degree of skepticism about what data gets collected, by whom, and how it gets used. So be upfront with your customers about the data you collect and how you use it. The coming GDPR regulations require this, by the way, so you may as well get on board before regulators everywhere require it. Conduct a serious data audit and ask yourself whether you even need all the data you collect. Ultimately, you want to demonstrate to your guests you’re a trusted partner looking out for their best interests, ideally by being a trusted partner looking out for their best interests.

Conclusion

Clearly, Facebook is taking its lumps right now, both for its actions and for its woeful response to the situation. But despite the best efforts of the #DeleteFacebook campaign, nothing suggests that guests are abandoning the platform in large numbers. That could change at any time.

Your best bet is to ensure you’re doing right by your customers and their data. Ensure you’re acting in an ethical manner and, as is often the case for hoteliers, acting in the best interests of your guests. Make it easy for customers to understand the data you use and what you use it for. Keep track of how your customers are responding to the Facebook scandal to see if the social platform continues to provide value for your hotels — or if it’s time to find a better option.

And, as ever, continue to dig past the headlines of these stories. We’re undoubtedly going to see more of these issues in the weeks and months ahead. Knowing how to respond today is useful; knowing how to respond in the future is vital.

Social media likely will continue in a key role for hotel marketers, Facebook’s missteps notwithstanding. The key for you is how continue you make it work as you — and your customers — move into a new normal. Because failing to listen to customer concerns and respond to those appropriately — regardless of whether Facebook is involved or not — would be the real scandal.

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

By

March 16, 2018

8 Exceptional Insights Into Voice and AI and Their Effects on Digital Marketing: E-commerce Link Digest

March 16, 2018 | By | No Comments

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8 exceptional insights into voice and AI and their effects on digital marketing: Customer searching on mobile through voiceHowdy, Big Thinkers! Hope you’ve had an amazing week, filled with all sorts of greatness (traffic, revenue, a bit of laughter, love, and joy…) It’s been awesome around here (landed a couple of remarkable new clients, kicked off an incredibly fun project, shared a bit of laughter, love, and joy…) Clearly, we’re in a great mood. How about we put a bow on this extraordinary week by sharing this set of 8 exceptional insights into voice and AI and their effects on digital marketing. Maybe they’ll make a great week even better for you. Enjoy:

  1. Greg Zakowicz at Multichannel Merchant looked at the threat of disappearing brands in the age of voice assistants that’s well worth your time.
  2. Greg’s post makes an excellent complement to our look at the truth about voice as a powerful trend and whether voice, VR, AR, and AI represent hype or hope for marketers.
  3. In highly related news, our founder and president Tim Peter recently had a fantastic conversation with author, speaker, and digital strategist Mike Moran on content marketing, site search, and AI in an episode of Thinks Out Loud, our e-commerce and digital strategy podcast. Be sure to give it a listen when you get a moment.
  4. While we’re on the topic of AI, McKinsey put together a fantastic white paper ”Artificial Intelligence: The Next Digital Frontier?” [Heads-up, it’s a PDF link, not a regular webpage]
  5. Chris Abraham has an excellent piece over on Biznology that looks at how to embrace AI and robots as a PR and marketing professional that’s worth a look.
  6. Also on Biznology, Tim offers this warning that you’re ignoring your company’s best salesperson — and it just might be killing your business. Good stuff.
  7. Shifting gears, Bloomberg explains how Amazon became corporate America’s nightmare. Really fascinating insights into how digital changes customer expectations.
  8. Finally, we’ll wrap-up our look at |???| with two recent episodes of Thinks Out Loud. The first looks at marketing at the speed of digital while the second outlines 6 proven digital marketing trends.

Have a great weekend, everyone. We’ll catch you back here next week!

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success: