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February 16, 2015

20 Terrific E-commerce Insights for a Long Winter’s Nap

February 16, 2015 | By | No Comments

terrific e-commerce posts for a long winter's napIn honor of President’s Day here in the States, the blogging team has the day off. I sure hope they’re someplace toasty warm. To hold you over until our next post—which we’ll have ready tomorrow, by the way—feel free to check out this round-up of some of the best content we’ve featured here on Thinks in the past few months. These 20 terrific e-commerce insights will help carry you through today’s long winter’s nap. Enjoy!

Top Thinks Posts

First up, we’ve got 9 great e-commerce, digital, and mobile marketing posts from our daily Thinks blog posts.

  1. 4+ Outstanding E-commerce Insights to Kick Off Your Week
  2. The Shocking Truth About Millennials and Digital Media
  3. 14 Key Concepts for Next Year: The Top Posts of 2014
  4. 11 Exceptional Reads about E-commerce and Mobile: E-commerce Link Digest
  5. How to Use Emotion and Storytelling in Digital Marketing
  6. 14+ Fantastic Reads for a Long Holiday Weekend
  7. Search, Mobile, and Responsive Design: MediaShower Interviews Tim Peter
  8. 7 Magical Mobile Marketing and E-commerce Picks: E-commerce Link Digest
  9. Is Your Industry Immune to E-commerce Disruption? Um… No.

Top Thinks Out Loud Podcast Episodes

If your tastes run more towards podcasts, you might prefer these 5 fantastic episodes from Thinks Out Loud, our weekly digital marketing and e-commerce podcast:

  1. Mobile, Millennials and More: E-commerce Trends 2015: Thinks Out Loud Episode 99
  2. Why Mobile Commerce Will Win – Thinks Out Loud Episode 102
  3. It’s All M-Commerce – Thinks Out Loud Episode 101
  4. The Future of Mobile Commerce Starts Now – Thinks Out Loud Episode 105
  5. The State of E-commerce 2015 – Thinks Out Loud Episode 107

Top Travel Tuesday Posts

And for all our travel industry friends, here are a handful of top Travel Tuesday posts to get you through the day. Enjoy!

  1. Digital Marketing Directions 2015: 3 Key Trends for Hotel Marketing
  2. 4 Signs that Hotel Marketing’s Future is Mobile
  3. What Are Google’s Plans for Hotel Distribution?
  4. 5 Hotel Marketing Trends for 2015: Tim Peter in Hotel News Now
  5. The Top 14 Hotel Marketing Posts of 2014
  6. 3 Mobile Milestones for Travel Marketing

Here’s to a productive, successful week, Big Thinkers! Check back tomorrow for more e-commerce and digital marketing goodness from Thinks.

If you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Tim Peter

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February 15, 2015

7 Hot Hotel Marketing Insights: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

February 15, 2015 | By | No Comments

Hot hotel marketing insightsGood golly, Big Thinkers; it is seriously cold out there this weekend. I don’t know about where you are, but as I type this, the wind chill around here is -6°F/-21°C (!), and the forecast calls for it to get colder still. Um… brrr. How ’bout we all stay inside bask in the warmth of these 7 hot hotel marketing insights instead? Enjoy:

  1. It’s been quite the week for our friends at Expedia. First, they reported in their latest earnings call that they spent $2.8 billion on marketing in 2014—four times its investment in technology. Then, they turned right around and bought Orbitz for $1.6 billion. Think about it: Expedia bought Orbitz for just over half of what they spent in marketing last year. Crazy. I’m going to have a lot more to say on what this says about the state of distribution, and what it means for your hotel, in this week’s Travel Tuesday post. Stay tuned for more.
  2. Sticking with travel distribution for a moment, Tnooz reports that IBM is suing Priceline Group for alleged patent infringement. I’m honestly not 100% sure what to make of this one, but it’s probably worth keeping an eye on as things move forward.
  3. In more Priceline news, this past week’s Travel Tuesday post offers insight from Priceline CEO Darren Huston on why driving brand value matters. Really good stuff.
  4. In last week’s Hospitality Marketing link digest, I’d made mention of the importance of net neutrality. This look at the simple truth about net neutrality for your brand and business explains why it’s such a big deal. Be sure to check it out.
  5. As part of its ongoing look at 2015 trends, Skift details why the real and literal disruption of travel is a threat. Interesting insights throughout. If you’re interested in more trends, you should also check out “The Top 14 Hotel Marketing Posts of 2014″ and this interview I gave Hotel News Now about 5 hotel marketing trends for 2015.
  6. Switching gears, Leonardo has a good piece on how to target travel shoppers using special offers on social media that’s well worth a look.
  7. Finally, Skift asks “When Did Big Hotel Brands Fall in Love With User Reviews?” It’s no secret that I think managing your ratings and reviews represents the single most effective way to improve your brand’s digital marketing so you probably should check out both reads about this important topic when you get a moment.

Looking for even more of the best hospitality marketing advice and insights? Be sure to check out my round-up of these “6 Superb Hotel Marketing Insights,” these “6 Totally Brilliant Travel Marketing Posts,” and these “5 Outstanding Posts to Kick-off a Successful Hotel Marketing Week,” from our hospitality marketing link digests (part of the ongoing E-commerce Link Digest series).

If you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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.

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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February 13, 2015

Freezing? 8 Fabulous Marketing and E-commerce Posts to Warm You Up: E-commerce Link Digest

February 13, 2015 | By | No Comments

Fabulous marketing posts for a freezing weekend

I don’t know about you, Big Thinkers, but in my neck of the woods, we’ve reached “Hell Freezes Over” temperatures this weekend. The forecast for today has a high of 14 degrees Fahrenheit—that’s -10 C for all you metric-minded Big Thinkers out there—with wind chills taking the lows this weekend down to -15 degrees (roughly -25 C). Ugh. I plan to hibernate, with a roaring fire, a big bowl of chili, and these 8 fabulous marketing and e-commerce posts to keep me warm. Enjoy:

  1. Leading off, Marketing Charts shows how smartphone-owning millennials expect brands to use technology. Thinks follows that up with an excellent post that shows we’ve reached another mobile and millennial milestone. And finally, we also highlight how mobile will disrupt your industry and offer 3 ways to protect your business. All very much worth the read.
  2. The Future of Commerce blog shows that email remarketing and retargeted ads offer the highest ROI in e-commerce. eMarketer builds on this, asking a couple of questions that underscore the continued importance of building your data and using the right technology to enable the retargeting process. The first, “Are You Happy with Your Email List Size?” looks at the most effective tactics for growing your list. The second post, “What Are the Benefits of Marketing Automation?” does exactly what it says on tin, explaining why marketing automation makes sense for brands and businesses. Great stuff all around.
  3. Speaking of personalization and retargeting, the Future of Commerce blog asks “Should you optimize and personalize web experiences for B2B customers?” The answer: Of course you should. You might also want to take a look at this comparison of B2B and B2C digital marketing tactics. B2B and B2C aren’t as different as you might think, and the two disciplines can learn a lot more from what each other do. Well worth a moment of your time.
  4. All this talk about marketing automation, retargeting, and the more technical side of digital underscores why my most recent post for the Rutgers Business School Executive Education blog looks at “Marketing vs Math.” I’ve recently been doing a lot of teaching for Rutgers Business School’s Mini-MBA programs in digital marketing and social media marketing and highly recommend the programs for anyone looking to learn more about these incredibly important fields.
  5. Shifting gears to the mobile payments front, eMarketer suggests retailers aren’t prepared for the move to EMV, which could explain why Mobile Commerce Daily thinks 2015 will not be the tipping point for mobile payments. For the record, I think we’ve already passed the tipping point on digital wallets. Why? Well, as the Mobile Commerce Daily post itself notes, “A recent report from 451 Research found that the number of consumers likely to make mobile payments has increased just 2 points in the past year for a total of 24 percent.” When 1 in 4 customers is already likely to use the technology, that’s hardly “fringe.” And, particularly once EMV starts holding retailers, restaurants, and hospitality locations liable for fraudulent purchases this coming October, there’s going to be lots of incentive to move to new, mobile-ready readers. Expect big movement towards mobile payments then, too, once there’s more widespread retail adoption of the necessary tech. Remember that e-commerce is a lot more than just one channel and customers are going to demand this support, too.
  6. The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud asks “Is Customer Experience the Future of E-commerce?” The answer is undoubtedly “yes.” But check out the entire episode to see why as well as how you can turn that trend to your advantage.
  7. I’d mentioned GetElastic’s terrific post explaining why, for online commerce, net neutrality is about speed last week. Well, I’ve finally posted my big follow up on this important topic that examines the simple truth about net neutrality for your brand and business. It’s lengthy, but well worth the read when you get a moment.
  8. And finally, there are a couple of big search stories from the past week worth checking out. The first is the long-overdue news that Twitter will give Google access to “firehose” of Tweets once again. It’s about time. The second asks, a Apple-Google deal expires, who will win the Safari default search business? My money’s on Google winning the business again—I just don’t see a realistic alternative. The real question is what Apple’s going to require of Google to keep this lucrative business —and, given the competitive pressure from mobile giving Google such recent trouble, how far they’ll be willing to go to keep it.

Stay warm this weekend, Big Thinkers, wherever you may be. And if you need even more to carry you through to next week, check out this round-up of 8 Great Mobile Marketing and E-commerce Reads for a Snowy Weekend, these 7+ Super E-commerce and Mobile Must-Reads to Enjoy Before the Big Game: E-commerce Link Digest, these 7+ Marvelous Mobile E-commerce Posts: E-commerce Link Digest, and the rest of our E-commerce Link Digest series.

If you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Tim Peter

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February 12, 2015

The Simple Truth About Net Neutrality for Your Brand and Business

February 12, 2015 | By | No Comments

The simple truth about net neutrality for your brand and business.

I don’t know about you, but I grew up in an era when we were taught to avoid talking about religion, sex, and politics in business contexts—never mind that these seem to be three of the biggest ways to drive clicks to content on the web. And I still believe, as much as possible, that it’s best to steer clear of these topics.

So, why am I wading into the fight around net neutrality? And, more importantly, why am I encouraging you to do the same?

Simple. A failure by government—whether the FCC or Congress—to establish clear rules for what cable companies and Internet service providers (ISP’s) may and may not do with your business’s web traffic remains critical to keeping a level playing field online for businesses large and small.

The simple truth of net neutrality is that, unfortunately, a couple of large ISP’s have actively worked to limit consumers’ access to specific content and services, hurting both consumers and the businesses working to meet market demand. Plain and simple, that’s bad for those businesses, bad for consumers, and, ultimately, bad for you.

Let’s be clear. In no way do I welcome excessive government regulation when it comes to the Internet. In my professional life, an excess of regulation has caused as many problems as it’s solved. And, as anyone who has read this blog in the past knows, we here at Tim Peter & Associates work extremely hard to help our clients increase sales, revenues, and profits. I can’t imagine a scenario where we’d be viewed as anti-capitalist. In a perfect world, I’d love to see the market decide this one. But, it’s not a perfect world; for reasons I’ll get to in a bit, a market-driven solution simply isn’t an option right now.

I’ve made some of these arguments before, but it’s worth noting that—despite some expected and understandable disagreement on specific implementations of the rules—this whole net neutrality debate is not a partisan issue. It is about the ability of businesses large and small to compete effectively in the global marketplace. Right now, the FCC’s proposal is the only legitimate way to ensure continued open competition and access to consumers for every business. Congress can certainly act to come up with a better solution, but who are we kidding? At least at present, that doesn’t seem too likely.

If you want some simple background on the history of all this and what’s under consideration, The Oatmeal has a sarcastic, but kind of funny and very informative overview of the issue as does Economix Comix. Both are worth your time.

That said, let’s talk about why you want the FCC to take action and maintain a fair, open Internet for your customers and your business.

The (Real-World) Nightmare Scenario

Imagine that, like most businesses in your competitive set, you’ve built a website to market your products and services. Then imagine that, one day, you start hearing customer complaints about your website being really slow, especially compared with your largest competitor. You invest in improved servers or a faster Internet connection or both to improve your customers’ experience, only to find that it has no effect. Which would be a real problem, since it’s well established that faster websites rank better in search engines and enjoy higher conversion rates than slower sites. While all this is going on, you’re losing traffic, sales, and loyalty to your largest competitor—and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Finally, after weeks of frustration and plummeting sales, you find out that one of the largest ISP’s in the country—a major cable company serving a large chunk of the country—is actively slowing down traffic from your site to its customers, but has let your competitor buy improved access to the folks on its network. They’ll improve your speed, but only after you pay a substantial fee.

That would suck, wouldn’t it?

I know, you’re thinking, “Yeah, but that would/could never happen in the real world.” Unfortunately, it already has:

That’s a huge problem. Imagine if your retail store, hotel, or restaurant had to pay the same market rates as Amazon, Booking.com, or OpenTable just to continue appearing in search engines, achieve target conversion rates, and reach customers generally. If that’s not a nightmare scenario, I don’t know what is.

What About Letting the Free Market Decide?

As I’ve already said, I’m in favor of free market solutions. I think they’re undoubtedly the right answer in many cases. Unfortunately, when it comes to broadband access for consumers, the simple truth is that no free market exists.

As this incredible graphic originally posted on Ars Technica points out, about 5 out of 6 consumers in the United States only have a single option to choose from if they want to subscribe to the current state of the art in broadband service:

Broadband availability by speed across the United States

Another 39 million Americans only have one broadband Internet provider to choose from—period—regardless of the speed of access they want to buy. Compounding the problem, some ISP’s have even gone so far as to lobby state lawmakers to block communities from providing alternative Internet access in underserved markets.

Clearly, you can’t rely on the free market for a solution if there’s no free market. Your customers can’t choose to move from, for example, Comcast to Verizon or Cox because, in most markets, only one of those providers exists. If all the big ISP’s had to compete with one another by providing the best service to their customers, this kind of thing simply wouldn’t be a problem. And, again, you care because those individual providers, if allowed to operate as they’d like, have demonstrated they’re ready, willing, and able to act as gate-keepers, potentially preventing you from reaching your customers and driving up your costs.

Won’t “Regulation” Hurt Innovation and Competition?

I’m no fan of excessive regulation. In many cases, the market can solve any number of problems. Won’t net neutrality regulation hurt innovation and competition? Not even a little. Actually, the FCC proposal is designed to keep the big ISP’s playing by the same rules they’ve lived with for the last 20 years.

The simple truth is that these really aren’t new rules. The large ISP’s have lived with rules designed to maintain an open, fair Internet ever since the Internet first emerged. What’s changed is that several of the large ISP’s sued the FCC over the last few years, stating that existing FCC regulations—the ones that ISP’s, cable companies, and wireless companies had lived with for the first 20 years of Internet innovation—shouldn’t really apply now that they want to start limiting customer access to content and services. The court agreed that the current rules didn’t apply, though went out of their way to explain that the law permitted regulation only under a different format (what’s called “Title II”).

The new rules that the FCC is planning to vote on come on the heels of that loss and reflect the change the court recommended. Ironically, the very thing the ISP’s now are desperately fighting to prevent only exists because they didn’t want to play by the earlier rules. Be careful what you wish for, indeed.

Even better, though, is that the new rules really don’t hurt the ISP’s either. In a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, Sprint’s chief technologist, Stephen Bye wrote:

“When first launched, the mobile market was a licensed duopoly. This system was a failure, resulting in slow deployment, high prices and little innovation… It is absolutely true that this explosion of growth [in the mobile marketplace] occurred under a light touch regulatory regime. Some net neutrality debaters appear to have forgotten, however, that this light touch regulatory regime emanated from Title II common carriage regulation”

Verizon’s CFO Francis Shammo essentially confirmed this view when he told investors recently:

“…we’re going to continue to invest in our networks and our platforms, both in Wireless and Wireline FiOS and where we need to. So nothing will influence that. I mean if you think about it, look, I mean we were born out of a highly regulated company, so we know how this operates.”

In other words, all the growth and innovation and competition that’s existed in the mobile phone space for the last decade-plus occurred under precisely the same rules that the FCC wants to apply to ISP’s for broadband access.

And, the only reason the FCC wants to implement those rules is because those ISP’s want to make it tougher for you to put your content, products, and services in front of customers.

Shouldn’t an ISP Be Allowed to Set Its Own Prices?

One of the more complicated bits about this whole debate revolves around pricing. ISP’s should definitely be able to set their own prices. But the simple truth is that this current discussion doesn’t change that at all. Unless you’re curious about the really icky bit here—and, as marketers and strategists, I can sympathize if you’re not—feel free to skip to the next section.

Still here? OK. Here’s what’s going on: Today, you pay a hosting company to host your site or have your own datacenter where your site lives. One of the costs associated with running a hosting company or datacenter is gaining access to the Internet, typically through what’s called a backbone provider. Those backbone providers set their prices basically by usage and the FCC’s proposal doesn’t really change that (some regulations already exist here and aren’t affected by the current debate).

Similarly, your customers pay their local ISP (a cable company or telecom provider), for their Internet access. Again, those companies often charge varying prices depending on how much data those consumers use. Again, that won’t change under Title II[1].

Instead, what’s really happening revolves around the connection between the company on one side of the backbone (someone like, for example, you) and the ISP delivering traffic to consumers (a telecom provider or cable company). The ISP’s want to charge companies an additional amount—much like Comcast did with Netflix—to carry traffic through to its customers. In effect, they want to get paid twice: Once by the consumer and then again by the company providing information, products, and services to that consumer. That’s the big problem, because, as it currently stands following the various lawsuits I mentioned earlier, nothing prevents those ISP’s from limiting the quality and speed of sites that don’t pay the ISP for access. That’s precisely what Comcast did with Netflix. And without the right protections, the same could happen to you.

The biggest players on the Internet—Amazon, Google, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Walmart, Expedia, and others—might be able to afford those fees. Could you?, MOre to the point, you’re already paying your freight for the bandwidth you use. Why should you, or anyone else, have to pay twice?

The Bottom Line

Again, despite what a handful of politicians are claiming, this isn’t a partisan issue, nor should it be. We’ve got a handful of ISP’s lobbying actively to change the rules of the game and the terms of the debate so they can restrict and/or profit directly from the sites your customers want to visit, quite possibly including yours. It’s only logical that intermediaries who own the roads will eventually charge you tolls to use them.

The public overwhelmingly supports net neutrality. The FCC received a record 3.7 million-plus comments on its last proposal—the overwhelming majority in favor of maintaining net neutrality. Several polls have found that greater than 80% of consumers support net neutrality, regardless of political party (given who’s leading the protests against net neutrality in Congress it’s ironic that a slightly greater share of Republicans in the survey supported net neutrality than Democrats).

Ultimately, this is an argument about maintaining an open and fair Internet—a level playing field for businesses large and small. It will never be easy to compete against the biggest players in retail, hospitality, e-commerce, technology, or any other industry. But the simple truth about net neutrality is that is without it, you won’t be able to compete at all. Don’t let a small number of ISP’s change the game.

What can you do to prevent that? Well, Tumblr offers a great tool to help you contact your local representatives and make your voice heard on keeping the Internet as open and fair as it’s always been. I still plan to avoid talking about sex and religion ’round these parts. But I strongly encourage you to take a stand and tell them to support the FCC’s action.


If you want to learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Note: Title II usage fees. This one gets a little more complicated because subsection 202 of Title II would prevent ISP’s from making “…any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services” [emphasis mine]. In theory, the FCC could regulate prices if they determined those prices were “unreasonable.” While the ISP’s have a legitimate reason to worry about this in theory, in practice, the FCC’s enforcement actions on “unreasonable” pricing under Title II have been, well, both pretty reasonable and largely uncontested in the mobile space. If the big telco’s haven’t griped overly much about it in the one area, I really can’t see where this would be an issue on the Internet access side.

Tim Peter

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February 11, 2015

Is Customer Experience the Future of E-commerce? – Thinks Out Loud Episode 110

February 11, 2015 | By | No Comments

Is customer experience the future of e-commerce?

Is Customer Experience the Future of E-commerce? Thinks Out Loud Episode 110 – Headlines and Show Notes

You might also enjoy the slides from my recent webinar, Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year,:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using an Audio-Technica AT2035 studio condenser microphone through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 16m 02s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], subscribe via our dedicated podcast RSS feed (or better yet, given that Google has now killed Reader, sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player below:

Tim Peter

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February 10, 2015

CEO Darren Huston from Priceline Explains Why Driving Brand Value Matters (Travel Tuesday)

February 10, 2015 | By | No Comments

CEO Darren Huston from Priceline explains why driving brand value mattersSkift has a fascinating interview with Darren Huston that covers a range of topics. But the one that really got my attention revolved around his views of metasearch. It’s not every day that Priceline explains why driving brand value matters and it’s well worth your time. Here’s the first quote that leapt off the screen:

“Huston is fairly dismissive of price-driven metasearch in general and the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t pricing games that are endemic to lot of metasearch sites.”

He continues:

“We’d like to win not through constantly buying customers, but more creating experiences that customers want to have. That’s been the belief. I think that across the [Priceline] Group we believe in creating great products that people actually want to use and great customer experiences. That will, at the end of the day, carry the day. That’s a more valuable way to create a long term sustainable business than being in the market every year having to re-buy your customers.”

And, just to underscore that point, he adds:

“We like selling experience versus selling things. We also believe there’s a large body of customers who are looking for value more than just saving a dollar on a hotel room.”

Now, remember, this is Priceline, a company originally founded on the idea of travelers naming their own price, a company that owns Booking.com. And here’s the CEO suggesting that the real opportunity isn’t in competing on price; it’s about competing on value. Funny, I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before. Oh… right. That was me. As noted recently:

“The simple reality is that “beating” the OTA’s isn’t about fancy booking engines, clever marketing campaigns, or shrewd distribution agreements. It’s about meeting and exceeding guest expectations, using technology to forge meaningful relationships, and enlisting guests in the process of telling your brand story to their friends and family.

In other words, it’s about hospitality.”

You really should check out the whole interview when you get a chance (for instance, his responses about OpenTable were really interesting, too). And you might also want to check out the both the 6 winning travel marketing posts: the top hospitality marketing posts from January and the top 14 hotel marketing posts of 2014, for more insights into how to build and promote your hotel’s value to guests.

Interested in learning even more about the future of hospitality e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web? You should register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” Developed specifically for hotel and resort marketers, the lessons can help your business adapt to the changing guest environment. You can get your free copy of the report here.

And take a moment to review the slides from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2015: Three Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:


(And, yes… you can hire me to speak at your next event, too).

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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February 9, 2015

We’ve Reached Another Mobile and Millennial Milestone

February 9, 2015 | By | No Comments

Mobile and millennial milestoneInteresting data from Marketing Charts about another mobile and millennial milestone that shows “Smartphone-owning Millennials (19-33) are more likely to expect brands to have a mobile-friendly website or app (55%) than they are to expect brands to have a social media presence (39%).”

This shouldn’t be news.

This isn’t to diss social. But, your website must represent the hub of your online marketing activities. This remains true even in a world where mobile changes everything (and changes nothing at all):

“Specifically, it all comes down to how your customers use mobile. It’s pretty clear that mobile changes customer behavior pretty radically. Yet, at the same time, mobile doesn’t change customer behavior at all.

Your customers’ new behavior is fairly straightforward. Mobile provides customers access to all the information they need to make an informed purchase, wherever, whenever, and however they want. That’s very new. What’s also new is the speed with which they’ve adopted these behaviors. Responsive design and in-app advertising can help ensure you appear whenever customers go looking for a solution, wherever they happen to be.”

As I’ve mentioned before, “Mobile isn’t a separate channel; it connects all channels.”

Millennials live their lives with their mobile close at-hand —and, increasingly, so does everyone else. You ignore that reality at your own peril.

So, sure, use Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn and Google+ and Tumblr and whatever else comes down the pike, where they help your brand and your business. Just make sure you’re also ready to drive the folks you find there back to your own site, regardless of the device they use. Or risk losing those folks to those competitors that do.

If you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Tim Peter

By

February 8, 2015

6 Superb Hotel Marketing Insights: The Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

February 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

A woman reads 6 superb hotel marketing insightsNot a lot of setup this week, Big Thinkers. Instead, let’s just get right to this list of 6 superb hotel marketing insights: the hospitality marketing link digest. Enjoy:

  1. First up, TravelClick takes a look at the TripAdvisor effect, a review of how much the review site matters to your hotel’s revenues. And, for the record, it really does matter. In fact, managing your hotel’s ratings and reviews represents the single most effective way to to improve your brand’s digital marketing.
  2. nSight offers up its top trends in leisure travel. Good stuff.
  3. I outlined 3 keys to compete with OTA’s in 2015 and beyond that you really need to read.
  4. Want another great way to compete with OTA’s? Hotel News Now reports on a big one: hoteliers adopting storytelling as marketing tool. This is a really big deal. So big a deal, in fact, that you should check out this post that asks ‘what is a “brand story” anyway?’, these tips for building your brand story, and this look at how to use emotion and storytelling in digital marketing.
  5. Another huge topic that you must know about—and one I’ve talked about before here and here—is net neutrality. Tnooz has an excellent piece that asks “what are the implications of Open Internet for the travel industry?” Great stuff and well worth a few moments of your time.
  6. Finally, this list would be incomplete without a reminder to check out the “6 Winning Travel Marketing Posts: The Top Hospitality Marketing Posts from January.” Good reads, all.

Looking for even more of the best hospitality marketing advice and insights? Be sure to check out my round-up of these “6 Totally Brilliant Travel Marketing Posts,” these “5 Outstanding Posts to Kick-off a Successful Hotel Marketing Week,” and these “7 Remarkable Posts about Mobile Marketing in Travel” from our hospitality marketing link digests (part of the ongoing E-commerce Link Digest series).

And if you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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.

Plus, don’t miss these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

Finally, you might also want to check out some of our past coverage of the mobile, local, social web and how to make it work for your business, including:

Tim Peter

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February 6, 2015

8 Great Mobile Marketing and E-Commerce Must-Reads for a Snowy Weekend

February 6, 2015 | By | No Comments

8 great mobile marketing and e-commerce must-readsBrr… I don’t know about where you are, but it’s stupid cold here in my neck of the woods. We’ve hit that part of the year again when it seems like you spend every weekend digging out from the latest round of Snow-pocalypse 2015™. So, when you’re ready to warm up after an afternoon of shoveling snow, be sure to curl up in front of the fire and thaw yourself out with a lovely glass of Malbec and this list of 8 great mobile marketing and e-commerce must-reads.

Or, even better, do all that and pay someone else to shovel the snow. Enjoy:

  1. Marketing Charts offers a click-bait headline that says “marketers’ most exciting opportunity in 2015 is…” I’ll spoil the surprise and let you know that it’s “customer experience.” But check out the whole chart for more detail.
  2. Search Engine Land offers a big digital marketing resolutions for 2016. Yes, 2016. But I say, be a rebel; do them now. Great stuff.
  3. Net neutrality remains a critically important topic—one I’ve talked about before both here and here—and an issue that’s near the top of headlines recently. It’s so important, in fact, that I’ll have a full-length post highlighting the issues, why you should care, and what you can do about it next week. In the meantime, though, be sure to check out this outstanding post from our friends at GetElastic explaining why, for online commerce, net neutrality is about speed. Hugely important and well-worth a few minutes of your time.
  4. Shifting gears entirely, Marketing Charts shines a light on B2B marketers’ budget allocations in 2015. One big area requiring further investment is website personalization and optimization. The Future of Commerce blog follows up that point, asking “should you optimize and personalize web experiences for B2B customers?” Spoiler alert: The answer is “yes.”
  5. The rise of mobile continues to yield changes on the local marketing front, as highlighted by these next two stories. First, eMarketer asks “Has Growth in Local Mobile Ad Spend Helped Yelp?” The answer is a qualified “yes,” by the way. Building on that notion, Venture Beat reports that Facebook invades Yelp and Foursquare territory with geo-specific Place Tips for iPhone. Expect a lot more activity in this area over the next few years as Google, Apple, Uber and others look to make inroads on the local front, too.
  6. Mobile Commerce Daily reports that 55% of retailers say mobile’s purpose is to drive in-store sales. I more or less agree, though question the heavy emphasis on “in-store.” For instance, The Future of Commerce blog outlines the [growing and important] role of voice in the omnichannel journey. I explored this topic in more detail in this week’s episode of our e-commerce and digital marketing podcast, Thinks Out Loud, “E-commerce is More Than Just One Channel.” Definitely worth a listen when you get a moment.
  7. New research from Forrester—and reported by Mobile Marketer—says that 80% of time spent in just five apps. Given that 4 of those 5 are owned by Google, Apple, or Facebook, it’s probably a good time to check out what Apple, Google, and Facebook’s earnings can teach us about mobile marketing and e-commerce again.
  8. Finally, let’s wrap up this round-up by reminding you to review the 10 Must-Read Marketing and E-Commerce Missives: The Top Posts from January and these 14 Key Concepts for Next Year: The Top Posts of 2014 to see what trends and topics are most important to your fellow Big Thinkers.

Stay warm this weekend, Big Thinkers. And if you need even more to carry you through to next week, check out this round-up of 7+ Super E-commerce and Mobile Must-Reads to Enjoy Before the Big Game: E-commerce Link Digest, these 7+ Marvelous Mobile E-commerce Posts: E-commerce Link Digest, and the rest of our E-commerce Link Digest series.

If you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Tim Peter

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February 5, 2015

Mobile Will Disrupt Your Industry: 3 Ways to Protect Your Business

February 5, 2015 | By | No Comments

Mobile will disrupt your industry. Will it disrupt your business?How important is mobile for marketing your business in 2015? If you’ve read any of my past posts, you should know the answer is “extremely important.”

According to the Economist, when asked if they’d give up mobile internet for a week, EU consumers said they’d rather skip fast food, newspapers, chocolate, alcohol, and books. Even coffee only got support from just over half the respondents. Heck, 14% would rather skip sex for a week than give up their mobile internet access. (Of course, you could argue that mobile internet access provides a handy replacement for newspapers and books—I’ll leave the “replacement for sex” jokes to the more sophomoric among you).

Growth in mobile access is accelerating at a staggering pace. Bruce Sterling notes that, by year’s end, something like 60%-65% of the world’s population will have a smartphone. That means some 4 to 4.5 billion people worldwide can access all the world’s information where, when, and how they want.

Mobile is huge—and getting, um… huge-r.

Bad grammar aside, it’s worth taking a moment to note exactly how mobile will disrupt your industry, as well as three ways to protect yourself.

While you’re no doubt aware of the showrooming phenomenon, where consumers check prices on their phones while cruising local shops and big-box retailers’ aisles—which, to be fair, may provide greater benefits than threats—mobile enables disruption across a whole array of industries.

Take, for instance, the intersection of hospitality and restaurants. To pick one example, online travel reservations company Priceline not only sells reservations through its signature brand and its subsidiary Booking.com, it provides hotel management and reservations technology directly to a number of individual hotels, and also owns OpenTable, the restaurant reservations service. Using mobile data about which guests have arrived at their hotel, Priceline could in theory provide restaurants a mobile marketing platform to market to guests staying in local hotels and then arrange their dinner reservation or, perhaps in the future, delivery of the order. Cool, right?

But what happens to those hotels offering room service or an on-site restaurant of their own? Imagine hotel marketing managers having to spend money to market to guests already staying in their hotel simply to remain competitive. That’s far from an ideal scenario. It’s also one facing many industries moving forward. Anyone carrying and using a mobile phone creates a stream of data about their likes and their locations that many innovators plan to leverage for delivering improved products and services.

Google gets it. The search giant is now sending messages to webmasters whose sites aren’t mobile-friendly alerting them to the problem—which Search Engine Land predicts is a likely precursor to removing those sites from mobile search results altogether.

Now, what should you do?

  • First, make sure your site works on mobile. Providing customers a modern, mobile-friendly site will ensure you won’t fall out of Google’s results even if they make a massive move there—to say nothing of helping your customers accomplish their goals on mobile.
  • Second, start building out or beefing up your customer database. Google, Apple, Facebook, and countless others represent gatekeepers between your customers and your business. If they’re not already charging you for the “right” to talk with your own customers, they undoubtedly will. Use your customer data to ensure you remain in contact with those customers and continue to do so in the future.
  • Finally, begin planning how to make your brand’s mobile experience essential to your customers daily life. If your mobile site or app is a “only once-in-a-while” experience for your customers, you risk some more vital service taking your place altogether. Mobile browsing, shopping, and buying go hand-in-hand. Work to ensure you’re your customers first choice when they reach for their phone.

Mobile isn’t going away. If anything, its growth will only accelerate over the next handful of years. We’re well past the point where you can take a “wait and see” approach. If you plan to be in business for more than a couple of years, it’s time to focus first, last, and always on how your customers use mobile—and how, when they reach for their mobile, you can ensure they’re really reaching for you.

If you want to learn even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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 can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Biznology, where Tim Peter writes a monthly post.