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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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November 10, 2014

Is Your Industry Immune to E-commerce Disruption? Um… No.

November 10, 2014 | By | No Comments

mobile e-commerce disruptionWhile giving a talk last week about the key trends driving e-commerce and marketing in 2015, an executive challenged me with a series of reasons why her business has nothing to fear.

Generally, she was right. Her business indeed has nothing to fear. But only because she and her leadership team have started getting ahead of these trends, not because of any systemic immunity.

In fact, I’d argue that no business is immune to the trends of mobile, Millennials, and payments that will shape e-commerce — and most businesses generally — over the coming few years.

Here’s why.

Business Insider posted a deck looking at the coming disruption of the “old school” grocery industry by e-commerce challengers. In a separate conversation last week, I talked with a long-time grocery executive last week who both explained why the grocery industry is immune, and also detailed the significant growth in frozen foods as a percentage of grocery store floor space, revenues, and profits. Now, call me crazy, but if frozen foods don’t have the same constraints as fresh food, coupled with the growth of “same-day delivery” whether from AGFAM players like Google and Amazon, or even newer entrants like Uber, groceries are no more immune to the kinds of disruption that other retailers face. E-commerce innovation is alive and well, thank you very much, and it’s coming for your business too.

Now, that doesn’t mean you’re screwed or doomed or whatever other nightmare scenario you — or others — can envision. It only means that, like my retail executive friend from last week, you’ve got to prepare. You’ve got to get on the front-side of these trends. And, yes, you’ve got to strategically invest.

Those that do, will be just fine. Those that assume that everything will continue the way things have always been, though, face a rude awakening as Millennials, mobile, same-day delivery, and mobile payments enter the marketplace in significant numbers in 2015 and beyond. Here’s hoping you’re the former.

If you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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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November 7, 2014

9 Mobile Marketing and E-commerce Must-Reads for This Week (E-commerce Link Digest)

November 7, 2014 | By | No Comments

Shopping on mobile Happy Friday, Big Thinkers! No big setup this week, just plenty of juicy link goodness. Without further ado, here’s the list. Enjoy:

  1. Emarketer notes that agency planners find room for digital place-based media
  2. Linda Bustos at GetElastic highlights a cool infographic featuring the top 9 website redesign nightmares.
  3. Mobile Commerce Daily explains how retailers’ promotional strategies get mobile makeover with bigger lifecycle focus.
  4. Marketing Charts shows how search results can drive in-store visits.
  5. Chris Marentis on Search Engine Land looks at marketing in transit and selling to mobile searchers.
  6. The last couple episodes of Thinks Out Loud look at the scary changes coming to marketing and asks whether e-commerce innovation is over.
  7. Mobile Commerce Daily reports that one-third interested in paying for restaurant meals via mobile.
  8. More Makreting Charts data uncovers US omni-channel shopping behavior, by category.
  9. Big data isn’t perfect. But does that mean data-driven marketing won’t work for you?

Want more good stuff to get you through this Halloween weekend? Well then check out these 11 must-read trends and tips, 6 great weekend reads, 8 potentially game-changing trends, and the rest of the weekly E-commerce Link Digest series here.

And, if you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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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November 5, 2014

Is E-commerce Innovation Over? Thinks Out Loud Episode 97

November 5, 2014 | By | No Comments

Couple shopping on tablet

Is E-commerce Innovation Over? 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: 17m 30s

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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November 4, 2014

7 Key Travel Marketing Posts from October (Travel Tuesday)

November 4, 2014 | By | No Comments

Mobile travel marketingWelcome to November, everybody. Before we get too far into the month, what do you say we take a moment to review the most popular travel marketing posts from last month? Without further ado, here are 7 key travel marketing posts from October. Enjoy:

  1. The biggest post last month was this Travel Tuesday entry that examined “Why Attribution Modeling Matters in 2015.” This is an incredibly important topic for travel marketers going into next year and a source of much success for a number of OTA’s. If you haven’t checked it out yet, take a moment to be sure that you do.
  2. The Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series continues its successful run, led by this entry that details “Hotel Marketing Trends for the Year Ahead.” A worthwhile round-up, well worth your time.
  3. Another Travel Tuesday post outlined “4 Tips to Build Your 2015 E-commerce and Distribution Plans.” Given that there’s not much time left to finalize your 2015 plans, you really ought to take a look.
  4. Mobile undoubtedly will play a significant role in your travel marketing plans next year. As mentioned in “Mobile Marketing Matters for Hotels in 2015,” it’s not as hard as it might seem. Take a look and see for yourself.
  5. Another Hospitality Marketing Link Digest enters the list at number 5, this time a round-up of “6 Amazing Travel Marketing Posts.” Great stuff.
  6. Although it only came out the other day, this look at “How To Use Your Hotel Data to Drive Growth” rocketed up the list. Your guest data provides a key, strategic, and defensible differentiator for your business in 2015. Check out the whole post and don’t let that advantage go to waste.
  7. Finally, this interview with FitSmallBusiness on “How To Market A Hotel” closes out the list for October. You might find it a useful read when you have a minute.

If you’re looking for more great travel marketing content, take a look at last month’s list, “7 Top Travel Marketing Posts for September” as well as these href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/09/02/6-crucial-hotel-marketing-posts-for-august-travel-tuesday/">“6 Crucial Hotel Marketing Posts for August.” Plenty of good stuff to help you prepare for the rest of this year and set you up right for 2015.

And if you want to learn even more about the future of hospitality e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, href="http://eepurl.com/zbvH5">“Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” Developed specifically at 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 href="http://eepurl.com/zbvH5">here.

You may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing. I’ve presented this talk to a number of hospitality and travel-related organizations and you might find it valuable for your business, too:

align="center"> src="http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/29087029?rel=0" width="427" height="356" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" style="border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px 1px 0; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;" allowfullscreen> style="margin-bottom:5px"> href="https://www.slideshare.net/tcpeter/digital-marketing-directions-2014-internet-marketing" title="Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing " target="_blank">Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing from href="http://www.slideshare.net/tcpeter" target="_blank">Tim Peter />(And, yes… you can href="http://www.timpeter.com/find-the-best-speaker-for-your-event.html">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:

  • href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/02/18/holy-crap-mobiles-even-bigger-than-you-thought-travel-tuesday/">Holy Crap! Mobile’s Even Bigger Than You Thought
  • href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/03/05/how-to-use-emotion-and-storytelling-in-digital-marketing-travel-tuesday/">How to Use Emotion and Storytelling in Digital Marketing
  • href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/01/21/4-lessons-you-need-to-know-from-googles-affluent-traveler-report-travel-tuesday/">4 Lessons You Need to Know from Google’s Affluent Traveler Report
  • href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/01/28/whats-the-state-of-hotel-reputation-management-travel-tuesday/">What’s the State of Hotel Reputation Management?
  • href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/02/25/10-essential-lessons-learned-from-hsmais-digital-marketing-strategy-conference-travel-tuesday/">10 Essential Lessons Learned From HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference
  • href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/06/17/what-in-the-world-are-priceline-and-tripadvisor-up-to-travel-tuesday/">What in the World are Priceline and TripAdvisor Up To?
  • href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/02/04/time-take-mobile-seriously-heres-travel-tuesday/">It’s Time You Take Mobile Seriously. Here’s Why
  • href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/05/27/what-expedias-leaders-can-teach-you-about-digital-strategy-travel-tuesday/">What Expedia’s Leaders Can Teach You About Digital Strategy
  • href="http://www.timpeter.com/2014/03/18/the-4-rules-of-social-marketing-for-hotel-marketers-travel-tuesday/">The 4 Rules of Social Marketing for Hotel Marketers
Tim Peter

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November 3, 2014

9 Must-Read Marketing and E-commerce Gems: The Top Posts from October

November 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

Looking back at the top postsWell, it’s that time again, Big Thinkers, to round up the top posts from last month based on what you read and shared the most. Without any further ado, be sure to check out these 9 must-read marketing and e-commerce gems, the top posts from October:

  1. Leading off is the most popular post from October, which asks “Will E-commerce Kill Retail?” Spoiler alert: No… but it’s complicated. Check out the whole post to find out why.
  2. The next post on the list uncovers “The Little-Known Factors Behind E-commerce Growth in 2015.” Millennials, mobile, and payments all play pretty key roles in driving e-commerce forward next year. Happily, the post goes into some detail around what you can do about these trends.
  3. Episode 95 of Thinks Out Loud, our weekly podcast asks a very important question: “What the Hell Just Happened to Google?” If you plan to market your business using search, mobile, or the Internet at all in the next few years — and you do — you really need to understand what’s happening here.
  4. Another post that uncovers the trends connecting e-commerce, mobile, and Millennials for the coming year is “The Demographic Realities Driving Mobile Commerce.” Good stuff and highly popular among your fellow Thinks readers.
  5. Next up, we’ve got a handful of posts from the E-commerce Link Digest series, all of which ranked in the Top 10 by themselves. These include a set of “11 Must-Read Trends and Tips,” these “6-Plus Incredible E-Commerce, Mobile, and Marketing Posts,” and “8 Potentially Game-Changing Trends,” all of which ranked well in the top posts for last month.
  6. Thinks Out Loud returns to the list at number 6, this time with Episode 92, “Setting Next Year’s Digital Strategy.” With just a couple months left before the end of the year, you’ll want to check it out when you get a moment.
  7. Email continues to play a huge role in marketing and e-commerce. And that fact likely plays a huge role in the popularity of these “7 Key Tips for More Effective Email Marketing.”
  8. Continuing the strong run for Thinks Out Loud in this month’s list is “When It’s All E-commerce Goes Wrong,” episode 94 of the weekly podcast.
  9. Finally, another email-related posts rounds out this past month’s top posts, this one that says, “Want Better Email Marketing Results? Think Mobile.” Really good read.

If you’re curious what else is popular on the blog over the last couple of months, check out this list of “8 Crucial Marketing and E-commerce Posts: The Top Posts from September” and “In Case You Missed It: 10 Posts from the Archives.” Both were highly popular in their own right and well worth catching up with.

Plus, you won’t want miss the slides (and video) from my latest webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year” for your reference:

align="center"> src="//www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/39155458" width="427" height="356" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no" style="border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;" allowfullscreen> style="margin-bottom:5px"> href="https://www.slideshare.net/tcpeter/digital-marketing-directions-three-key-trends-driving-your-marketing-next-year" title="Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year" target="_blank">Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year from href="http://www.slideshare.net/tcpeter" target="_blank">Tim Peter />(And, yes… you can href="http://www.timpeter.com/find-the-best-speaker-for-your-event.html">hire me to speak at your next event, too).

If you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, href="http://timpeter.us6.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=08abec360512767ec0bd046e5&id=65ff500dbc&group[12309][1]=true">“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 href="http://timpeter.us6.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=08abec360512767ec0bd046e5&id=65ff500dbc&group[12309][1]=true">here.

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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November 2, 2014

6 Awesome Travel Marketing Headlines You Might Have Missed: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

November 2, 2014 | By | No Comments

Travel marketing you might have missedWelcome to November, Big Thinkers. Just a couple of months to go before 2015 arrives. As you gear up for the week ahead and the impending holidays, check out these 6 awesome travel marketing headlines you might have missed this week:

  1. Tnooz reports that TripAdvisor’s launch of personalized recommendations with its “Just For You” hotel product, which is a pretty good example of using hotel data to drive growth. Clearly, they’ve got a ton of data. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use the same ideas on-property and online to support your guests, too.
  2. A new study from Expedia/Egencia reveals global differences in mobile behavior. Interestingly, three-quarters of travelers “…say that their smartphones are ‘very important/critical’ to their daily lives,” more than for their laptops or tablets. Further proof that smartphones represent the most personal of “personal computers” for your guests.
  3. To help drive mobile use, Expedia is now buying “sponsored content” for users, allowing travelers to access its content without incurring data charges. Smart move.
  4. These trends aren’t unique to North America, by the way. eMarketer has data that shows UK Millennial travelers are more mobile and more social. I recently mentioned that mobile, mobile payments, and Millennials represent three key factors driving e-commerce growth in 2015 and that the shift between Millennials and Boomers in the marketplace is a huge demographic reality shaping e-commerce in the future. Good reading overall.
  5. While we’re on the topic of mobile’s importance, you might want to check out Reve News’ look at mobile marketing trends brands need to be aware of and Marketing Land’s look at the shifting landscape of mobile. Tnooz also offers a solid recap of how Accor is responding to those trends that’s worth checking out.
  6. Hipmunk made news recently by partnering with Yelp for hotel bookings (an item covered in last week’s Hospitality Marketing Link Digest). Now this week, Hipmunk upped the ante by integrating with Yahoo Travel. Google has been losing market share to apps (Yelp, in particular has been a big winner in terms of local search). It appears Hipmunk is making some savvy moves here to position itself as the big travel player in local, mobile search. Very, very interesting and worth keeping an eye on in the coming months.

Hope you have a great week everyone. You might also want to check out past posts from the E-commerce Link Digest series, including these 6 amazing travel marketing posts and these hotel marketing trends for the year ahead.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of hospitality e-commerce and marketing via the social, local, mobile web, 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 at 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, why not take a minute to review the tips from my recent presentation Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing? I’ve presented this talk to a number of hospitality and travel-related organizations and you might find it valuable for your business, too:

Digital Marketing Directions: Three Trends Shaping 2014 Hospitality Internet Marketing from Tim Peter
(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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October 31, 2014

8 Scary Good Reads: E-commerce Link Digest

October 31, 2014 | By | No Comments

Scary good reads for a Happy HalloweenHappy Halloween, Big Thinkers! Hope you’re having a spook-tacular holiday, wherever you might be. Now what’s say we get on with the links? Here you go:

  1. Scary stuff: Forrester reports that most marketers’ use of mobile technologies does not match customer behaviors. It’s not just scary, though. It’s downright silly. And it’s something to pay attention to as you finalize your holiday season and 2015 marketing and e-commerce plans.
  2. Speaking of scary stuff, Marketing Charts looks at how mobile owners respond to difficulties when using apps to shop. More than half abandon their cart and close the app. How’s that for scary?
  3. One last “scary” item: this week’s podcast continued the Halloween theme, looking at some scary changes coming to marketing in 2015 and beyond. Spooky good, if I do say so myself.
  4. Marketing Charts also reports that mobile now accounts for two-thirds of Facebook’s ad revenues, while Mobile Marketer suggests that Facebook’s mobile ad prowess may be matched only by Google. Actually, I suspect that should be the other way ’round (Google may only be matched by Facebook). As we talked about in last week’s podcast episode, “What the Hell Just Happened to Google?”, Big G hasn’t quite figured out how to make the most of mobile. Facebook definitely has. Don’t be surprised if you start to see increased growth from your social marketing activities relative to Google in the coming months.
  5. Google clearly isn’t standing still in the race to gain more mobile ad revenue, though. Search Engine Land reports that Google is testing a new mobile friendly design using its material design format from Android. Mobile, of course, is just one of the the little-known factors behind e-commerce growth in 2015. What are the others? Read on and see…
  6. Among the biggest factors, eMarketer discovers that smartphone-toting Millennials are fueling Demand for mobile-optimized sites. The growth of Millennials in the marketplace is another key factor behind e-commerce growth and is a key demographic realities driving mobile commerce.
  7. Speaking of Millennials, eMarketer also uncovers that Millennials’ social shares don’t stop with the post. Important observation as you think about your content marketing in 2015.
  8. And speaking of content marketing, our old friend Linda Bustos at GetElastic has great tips on closing the gaps in the content + commerce trend. Great read.

Want more good stuff to get you through this Halloween weekend? Well then check out these 11 must-read trends and tips, 6 great weekend reads, 8 potentially game-changing trends, and the rest of the weekly E-commerce Link Digest series here.

And, if you’re interested in learning even more about how customers changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing, 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”:

Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year from Tim Peter
(And, yes… you can hire me to speak at your next event, too).

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:

Image credit: User Bubarama from Wikipedia’s Happy Halloween! image page using the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license..
Tim Peter

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October 29, 2014

Scary Changes Coming to Marketing – Thinks Out Loud Episode 96

October 29, 2014 | By | No Comments


Scary Changes Coming to Marketing Headlines and Show Notes

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

Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year from Tim Peter
(And, yes… you can hire me to speak at your next event, too).
Image credit: Wikipedia’s Horror Films article and believed to be in the public domain.

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: 14m 18s

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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October 28, 2014

How To Use Your Hotel Data to Drive Growth (Travel Tuesday)

October 28, 2014 | By | No Comments

Use your hotel data to drive growthAs you put together your hotel marketing and business plans for 2015, here are a couple of questions to keep in mind: What’s a guest really worth to you? And how much do search, metasearch, mobile, social, OTA’s, TripAdvisor, and all the other digital and traditional travel marketing tactics contribute to that total? What’s really driving your guests to find and book your hotels?

As you think about that, here’s one more question: Do you really think the OTA’s can’t answer these questions?

OTA’s don’t just outspend hotels on marketing because they have more to spend — though that’s unquestionably true. They also spend smarter. Most major online travel agencies have invested heavily in recent years building strong “data sciences” teams, statisticians and database wizards well-equipped to unravel the tangled web of modern marketing. Those investments have paid off, helping OTA’s achieve a dominant role in travel marketing, and resulting in higher distribution costs for hotels.

While Big Data has been, to this point, more hype and hope than help for most hotel marketers, the fact remains that your ability to compete effectively with OTA’s — and with the other hotels in your market — depends on gaining a deeper understanding of your guests. And gaining that deeper understanding depends on having and using the right data to drive your marketing decisions.

Even though it’s unlikely you’ll be able to compete head-to-head with the OTA’s from a technology and data sciences perspective, you can use the data you do have to improve your guests’ experiences before, during, and after their stays. And improving guest experience remains the one key area where hotel operators can always outperform the competition, whether from online travel agents, fellow hoteliers, or new entrants like Airbnb. Few things reinforce your brand value proposition as much as your guest’s overall experience when dealing with your hotel. The data you have available to you provides you a strategic differentiator – your competitors simply don’t know everything you do about the guests who research, book, and stay with you. Why not use that to your advantage?

Start small

For all the promises of “big data,” sometimes just knowing more than you do today represents a huge step in the right direction. How many times has your office curmudgeon (not that your company has one of those), stated “There’s no possible way we could know that” when assessing the impact of your marketing or promotions on “intangibles” such as voice reservations, walk-ins, or guest loyalty? When the alternative is “no possible way to know,” any information is literally infinitely better than where you’re starting from. Which would you rather have: No insight at all into your guests’ wants, needs, and desires? Or even a little bit of insight? Each improvement, no matter how incremental, positions you more effectively against your competition, and positions you for greater success down the road.

One best practice that’s emerged from digital marketing is the use of a “test and learn” approach, where savvy marketers analyze the data from each new initiative to figure out what’s working, then continue to “fish where the fishing’s good,” building on successes, and learning from less successful efforts. Apply a similar approach to building your measurements and increase investments on those efforts demonstrating positive results.

Focus your team and your talents

In most businesses, culture trumps strategy. “The way we’ve always done things” creates a powerful barrier to change, no matter how necessary. If you’ve long relied on anecdotes and opinions to shape your marketing strategy, it’s time to supplement your (usually quite valuable) implicit knowledge with some cold, hard facts. Don’t just look at “ROI” for your marketing initiatives; evaluate the number of profitable guests each produces, and the lifetime value of customers gained from each of your channels.

Assign someone within your marketing, distribution, or e-commerce group to coordinate your team’s efforts and align data collection, analysis, and reporting best practices and lessons learned across your organization. And make sure they have support among your executive team, too. Focus on long-term opportunities, while helping your team find short-term wins to apply better business intelligence in marketing, revenue management, and operations. Use technology to streamline and automate your analytics process; but, even more importantly, train your team members in how to apply the learnings new metrics and measures reveal. A big stack of reports piling up in your marketing team’s inboxes because no one knows how to interpret and act on the results represents wasted effort, and wasted opportunity.

Protect the “crown jewels”

It’s almost cliche to say that “content is king” when it comes to digital. It’s also true. And in a world where mobile plays a huge role defining your guests’ experience, the context in which your guests enjoy that content is “queen.” If content is king and context is queen, data represents the “crown jewels” of your kingdom. And just like any valuable treasure, that data demands protection. Assign someone from your technology team to ensure you’re following appropriate best practices for data protection. As we’ve seen recently with retailers such as Home Depot and Target, privacy matters. Ultimately, any data about your guests belongs to the guest, not to you. Protect their private information as though your business depends on it. Because it does.

I’ve said before that OTA’s aren’t evil; they’re just doing their jobs. When used properly, they remain a key component of your overall distribution strategy. That doesn’t mean you should just outsource your entire hotel to them. You have the information you need to find, attract, and convert the guests you want available to you, as long as you invest the time and effort to make that information work for you. It’s time you get that information to do its job, too.

Tim Peter helps companies put the Web to work to grow their business. Since 1995, he has developed innovative e-commerce and digital marketing programs across multiple industries. An expert in e-commerce and digital marketing strategy, Tim focuses on the growth of the social, local, mobile web and its impact on both consumer behavior and business results.

Note: A version of this post originally appeared on Hotel News Now, where Tim Peter writes a quarterly column for the magazine’s Digital Tech Impact Report.
Tim Peter

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October 27, 2014

The Little-Known Factors Behind E-commerce Growth in 2015

October 27, 2014 | By | No Comments

Mobile payments image courtesy of HLundgaard on WikipediaE-commerce growth is going to be spectacular for the next few years. In combination with the demographic realities driving mobile commerce, shifts in customer behavior will push overall e-commerce numbers way, way up. Business Insider estimates retailers will see $100 billion in online sales during this year’s fourth quarter, and that’s pretty good. But, as the saying goes, you ain’t seen nothing yet. This overall shift will make that $100 billion seem tiny by comparison.

Millennials and Mobile Meet the Payment Industry

The huge shift in e-commerce will come from Millennials, mobile, and in particular, mobile payments. According to their 2013 annual reports, Visa [PDF link] and Mastercard [link] handled 58.5 billion and 38.6 billion transactions, respectively, worth a combined $11 trillion. That’s 11,000 billion dollars. Which, in case you’re not a fan of math, is just a shade more than the $100 billion in online sales Business Insider projects for this coming holiday season.

Today, your customers use credit cards to make their purchases because they’re the simplest, most cost-effective options available. But recent moves like the introduction of Apple Pay — combined with the recent card hacks suffered by merchants like Target and Home Depot — are starting to change the game for mobile commerce specifically, as well as for e-commerce overall.

Why?

Because, these new products are safer, more secure, and, when done right, easier than swiping a card. The essentially required shift away from “swipe and sign” cards coming next year will only accelerate the trend. I don’t think this is all about Apple, mind you. I expect Google to improve its Wallet app’s usability in the coming months to more effectively compete with Apple Pay, along with any number of competitors to emerge.

For instance, one group of retailers have joined together to create their own payment app, CurrentC. These merchants have even started blocking Apple Pay in favor of their own system which John Gruber thinks is a sign Apple Pay is beginning to succeed. The consensus suggests that Apple Pay is the better system right now, and will likely gain more market traction in the near-term, but that it’s really too soon to tell who wins in the long run. In any case, as it stands today, CurrentC is unlikely to shape customer behavior due to its poor usability. But it could certainly work to improve.

Long-Term Mobile Commerce Trends

The longer-term trend you need to pay attention to is as follows:

  1. Consumers begin to adopt mobile payments. Regardless of the system, the increased usability and security of mobile payments will drive increased use. Mobile payments already account for almost 1 in 4 online payment transactions, and research shows “…transactional services and activities are also gaining… [and that] …iPhone users in Europe are more likely to use mobile services regularly, [for] financial and transactional activities.” The the demographic trends I talked about the other day will play a role, too, as Millennials demand more mobile-optimized services.
  2. Consumer demand drives product innovation. Merchants, card issuers, and technology firms alike are scrambling right now to create the killer payments app.
  3. More payment options lead to higher m-commerce conversion rates. This is long-since proven in “traditional” e-commerce. Want to get more people to buy? Make it easy for them to buy however they prefer. Providing additional payment options reduces friction and increases confidence that you’re a trusted — and trustworthy — partner.
  4. Increased confidence will drive significantly higher volumes of mobile browsing and shopping. We’re already starting to see this, with mobile shopping beginning to outstrip desktop. Just remember that we’re still in the early days. Smartphone penetration in the US has now reached over 70%, but customers are still learning how they’ll use those devices in everyday life.
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat. As these activities become more commonplace, they’ll draw in additional sets of later adopters, fueling rising growth for some time to come.

Anyone who lived through the last big shift in e-commerce — which started in 1995 or 1996 and continued uninterrupted until 2001 — should recognize this pattern. I strongly suspect we’re entering a four- or five-year period where growth will resemble the S-curve pretty closely, with significant growth in consumer adoption and increasing revenues until the inevitable, predictable, and unfortunately, unknowable speed bump slows us down sometime late in this decade (which itself is usually followed by a decade-plus of slower, more stable growth — look at your own results and see what’s happened in e-commerce overall since 2002-2003 for one example).

Conclusion

I’ve stated many times before that mobile and commerce go hand-in-hand, particularly among Millennials. Gen X and Boomers are somewhat slower to adopt, but a gaping chasm exists between “are somewhat slower” and “won’t adopt.” The reality is all your customers will get there, given enough time.

The key thing for you to do is recognize these coming trends and to get in front of them for the benefit of your customers — and for your business.

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

Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year from Tim Peter
(And, yes… you can hire me to speak at your next event, too).

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:

Image credit: HLundgaard via Wikipedia’s mobile payments article using a Creative Commons
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