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February 25, 2014

10 Essential Lessons Learned From HSMAI’s Digital Marketing Strategy Conference (Travel Tuesday)

February 25, 2014 | By | No Comments

Tim Peter on stageI had the pleasure of moderating a panel, “Is Search Still Search as We Know It?” which featured a wonderful collection of search marketers from the industry and from Google earlier today as part of HSMAI’s 2014 Digital Marketing Strategy Conference, an annual event here in New York City.

In addition to my panel, I learned loads of useful information from the panelists and speakers at the event. Here were my favorites:

  1. Mobile’s bigger than you thought. I’ve said this before, but mobile is huge. some 97% of all Americans have a cell phone within three feet of them at any given time. Jeez.
  2. The growth of “PR engineers.” A number of brands have begun hiring digital analysts solely to measure the effectiveness of PR activities. Not a shock, really, but the first time I’d run into the term. Definitely worth watching.
  3. Customers remember how you made them feel, not what you said. I’ve talked before about how reputation management matters to improve your marketing, but this is such a brilliant, succinct way to underscore the point. Emotion powers memories. People will remember the feeling of a great experience — or a poor one — far longer than they’ll remember anything else. Emotion sells. Use it to your advantage.
  4. Responsive and adaptive design are increasingly important. As one panelist noted, responsive design (which I talked about yesterday), is more about reorganizing what you see, while adaptive design uses personalization to show different content to different people. Both bring value.
  5. Your company’s data represents a strategic competitive advantage. Internal data will always be more important than 3rd-party data, since your competitors use that data to.
  6. Big Data works well for actionable, real-time e-commerce decisions. Great examples of companies using big data to analyze e-commerce transactions and react in real-time to outliers (i.e., increased or falling demand to adjust prices in real-time).
  7. Mobile doesn’t have a conversion problem, it has a tracking problem. Maybe my favorite line of the conference. So, so true. I’ve already noted the growth in mobile but it’s not always possible to see the results. The problem isn’t with mobile. It’s with your attribution models.
  8. Use Foursquare tips in website content. Another great idea. I’ve used TripAdvisor content on sites plenty of times, but never thought about Foursquare tips. Great idea.
  9. Images sell. Again, not a new learning, but so worth noting. What’s interesting is the move towards “Retina-ready” images, high-resolution images optimized for high-resolution displays now offered by Apple and Google on their mobile devices and high-end computers. And, they’ll prep you we’ll as consumers move towards larger, 4K displays. Good thinking.
  10. Stories are vehicles for values. Again, not a new lesson, but incredibly valuable to say again. As Josh Johnson says, “No one wants to share your data. They want to share your story.” Great insights into the importance of brand story.

Speaking of storytelling, you may also enjoy these slides from another recent speaking engagement “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results” here:

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of 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.” 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 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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January 28, 2014

What's the State of Hotel Reputation Management? (Travel Tuesday)

January 28, 2014 | By | No Comments

The State of Reputation ManagementMost of you know that I recommend focusing on your hotels’ ratings and reviews, and think reputation management represents the single most effective way to improve your digital marketing. Well, now travel reputation management firm TrustYou has some great data about the state of the reputation management landscape that’s well worth checking out.

In particular, three findings really jumped out at me:

  1. Review volumes are up — way up. Across the three market regions TrustYou studied (North America, EMEA, and APAC), guests are writing reviews at much higher rates. Given the number of people traveling with one or more devices and how easily travelers can post reviews from mobile devices these days (remember, there’s no such thing as an offline traveler), it’s no surprise that guests increasingly want to tell their friends, family, fans, and followers about their experience.
  2. Management responses have increased, but… This one’s a bit more complicated. The good news is that management responses to guest reviews has increased. The less good news is that management responses haven’t increased at the same rate. Now, to be fair, since overall satisfaction is up, it’s entirely possible most of the increased reviews don’t require a response. But, I’d still recommend most hoteliers continue to watch their reviews and respond where appropriate (Contact me if you’re interested in receiving my “Fast FAQ: Responding to Online Reviews.”
  3. Guest satisfaction is slightly higher, but Internet and price/value continue to lag. Again, this is a “good news/bad news” situation. The good: Guest satisfaction has improved. The bad: Guests complaints about the cost and/or quality of Internet, and of the overall price/value proposition continue to increase. The first step to improving the quality of your guest reviews is to address guests’ underlying concerns. Now, in no way am I suggesting that “addressing concerns” means simply making Internet access free or lowering your prices. (In fact, I wrote a whole white paper last year explaining how to increase revenues per guest). But it does mean working to demonstrate the value guests receive for the price they’re paying.

As I’ve said many times, the web provides complete transparency into your business. I’d argue many guests know as much about your hotel as some employees do. I’ve given a number of talks on this topic (see my slides below) and don’t see this reality changing anytime soon. If anything, I expect things to get more transparent, not less.

Given this reality, the right response is to understand what drives positive guest reviews, how to address negative/constructive reviews, and how to increase the frequency with which guests tell your brand story on your behalf.

Happily, TrustYou’s reports offer you some transparency into that process. I’d recommend downloading the report for your region directly from TrustYou here.

If you’re interested in learning even more about the future of 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.” 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 also might 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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January 13, 2014

The Minimalist Guide to E-commerce Strategy

January 13, 2014 | By | No Comments

E-commerce strategySomeone asked me the other day to explain what “e-commerce strategy consulting” really means in a hundred words or less. Here’s what I came up with:

“E-commerce strategy consulting is all about helping businesses answer 3 questions:

  1. Where does your traffic come from?
  2. Where do your sales come from?
  3. How can you increase sales/traffic, lower costs, or, ideally, do both at the same time?

Boom. And I’ve got like 60-plus words to spare.

So here’s a quick look at how we answer those questions.

Where Does Traffic Come From?

In an incredibly simple model, you can look at all traffic originating from 3 places:

  • Direct navigation. This can include returning customers who know your brand, those who type your URL directly, and, at least in my models, customers from your email list.
  • Referred. This represents both paid and earned media and includes the sites linking to you (including both paid advertising and plain ol’ earned links) as well as social media. Link-building campaigns for SEO often contribute valuable traffic in addition to any search engine optimization benefit.
  • Search. Like referred traffic, this includes both paid (PPC) and earned (SEO) traffic. You may have heard me talk about this a time or two.

Now, search is also kind of referred, but is important enough to get its own bucket. But you probably knew that already. Also, most traffic usually touches more than one of these before becoming a sale. That’s where more sophisticated attribution modeling comes into play. But for the moment anyway, let’s stick with the simple model.

Of course, traffic in an e-commerce context is useful only if it eventually turns into a sale[1] (a topic I’ve touched on once or twice in the past, too). So let’s look at what matters there.

Where Do E-commerce Sales Come From?

As with traffic, you can divide your sales into a few categories. Most of these are the same as traffic, but there’s one important addition:

  • Direct. Again, these are the people who came directly to your site.
  • Referred. See the traffic section above, same rules apply.
  • Search. Ditto.
  • 3rd-party sites. Ah… something new. Many of the businesses I work with don’t just sell through their own sites; they also use third-parties such as Amazon, Google, eBay, Expedia, Booking.com, and others as distribution channels for their offerings. Figuring out the right mix of sales is a big part of where we spend our time.

Since most customers visit 7-10 sites (or more) prior to purchasing, it’s impossible to accurately reflect the real source of these sales without some attribution modeling (which is way beyond the scope of this post). We spend a lot of time figuring out the right model to understand what’s actually driving purchase across channels, including things like loyalty programs and other offline promotion efforts that are harder to account for.

How Can You Increase Sales/Traffic, Lower Costs, or Both?

This last question is really where the magic happens. And there’s no one simple answer that applies in every case. There are, however, some proven methods to work towards one:

  1. Start with your customer. Your customers don’t go online; they are online. And if they can’t accomplish their goals, you’ll never accomplish yours. Your e-commerce efforts should seek to help your customers accomplish their goals. Otherwise, they’ll find someone else who will help them.
  2. Develop a data-driven culture. No one, no matter how experienced, absolutely knows the right answer every time. I’ve been doing this for more than 15 years and still get surprised as customer behaviors shift over time. Instead, use data to inform your decisions. While it may surprise you, it will generally point you in the right direction. And don’t worry about “big data;” focus on “better data” (yet another topic I’ve addressed a time or two here).
  3. Test, test, and test some more. You think you’ve got the right solution? Great. Conduct A/B tests, multivariate tests, holdout tests, and other e-commerce testing techniques to validate what you think you know.
  4. Apply what you learn. E-commerce has been around for roughly 20 years, which, big picture, is still not very long. Your customers continue to adapt and change as they get more comfortable living their lives online. Take what you learn from your tests and use it to improve your customers’ online (and offline) experience with your brand.
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Admittedly, that’s a pretty high-level look. But it also reflects a huge part of where we spend our time every day.

What About Mobile?

I know, I know. All this talk about e-commerce and not a word about mobile. That’s pretty unusual. Why didn’t I include it?

Simple. Mobile is incredibly important and it definitely influences the sales process. A lot. But, realistically, customers can only buy most products and services via a handful of channels:

  • In-store.
  • Online.[2]
  • Over the phone.
  • Sales rep (usually in-person or over the phone following lead generation activities).
  • Third-party channels.

Your e-commerce strategy must think about how mobile supports, influences, and enhances your customers’ experience during each of these activities. In fact, I’d argue that any strategy that doesn’t include mobile will leave a bunch of money on the table.

The actual sales channel though still falls into one of those buckets above. An app is just another form of online purchase. Someone calling from their mobile phone is still handled by your call center.

Conclusion

E-commerce is a broad, broad topic, covering a range of traffic and revenue generation tactics and techniques. Hopefully, this helps clear some of the clutter and makes a complicated topic more digestible. Because, as customers continue to increase their use of the Internet, everywhere, e-commerce isn’t a separate thing. It’s just shopping.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of 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.” 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 enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web and what it means for your business, including:

[1]. Businesses that make their revenues on selling advertising focus heavily on traffic, since more traffic equals more revenue. Also, many businesses that care about conversions also sell advertising, so this isn’t always an either/or situation. but for purposes of this post, let’s pretend it is.

[2]. This includes websites, apps, and, in most cases, affiliate partners.

Tim Peter

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December 9, 2013

How to Use Data for Marketing (Even if You Can't Do Big Data Yet)

December 9, 2013 | By | No Comments

Building on your dataRichi Jennings of NetApp has (@richi on Twitter) a great look about the role of Big Data for retail over on Forbes today, stating the future of retail is all in Big Data.

I agree. Well mostly, anyway.

Big Data will play an enormous role in how companies across an array of industries help their customers — and help their businesses.

However, while speaking at a conference last week, I talked with a number of business executives and thought leaders struggling to make Big Data work for their companies. And part way through these conversations, it hit me why so many struggle with putting Big Data to work: They’re trying to boil the ocean. The challenges present by Big Data have, in a few cases, stopped them cold.

Why? Well, Big Data creates a number of difficult questions for marketers and their businesses, such as:

  • How can we collect the information we’re looking for?
  • How do we store this much information?
  • How do we provide access to the information to the right people and avoid exposing customers’ private information to the wrong people?
  • Where do we get sufficient computing power to crunch the data (without violating customer privacy or proprietary information)?
  • How do we interpret what the information tells us? Are we really able to understand what the data says?
  • How can we communicate what we’re learning in an effective enough way across the organization?

All of these questions represent valid concerns and relatively thorny problems. Many companies lack the people, processes, knowledge, and infrastructure to address these in a significant way without equally significant (read: unwelcome or unavailable) investment. The common assumption suggests the only way forward is to dive in head-first, with multi-year, multi-million dollar commitments.

That commitment may well be necessary.

However, the scale of those efforts shouldn’t stop you from using the data you already have to improve what you already know about your customers. A number of businesses I’m working with have seen dramatic improvement in their business results by conducting smaller, more targeted experiments using existing tools in parallel with their Big Data investment.

These insights have been used to lower customer acquisition costs, increase conversion rates across channels, and improve product development for businesses across a variety of industries. Techniques like A/B testing, web analytics modeling, and holdout tests use existing data to suggest answers to key questions. None replace necessary investment in the deep strategic insights these clients expect Big Data to deliver.

But they produce results in the near-term while brands work towards their long-term solution.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of 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.” 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 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 25, 2013

Retailers and Consumer Tracking: One Fatal Mistake to Avoid

October 25, 2013 | By | No Comments

E commerce tipsFurther blurring the lines between e-commerce and “just plain ol’ shopping,” The Wall Street Journal’s Digits blog today highlights how tracking companies plan to notify in-store shoppers about tracking activities.

Or rather, they will if the retailers agree. As Digits notes:

“Notably, no major retailers or the industry group that represents them signed the code of of conduct. The tracking companies are asking their retail clients to do this, but retailers themselves haven’t publicly agreed to post signs in their stores.”

Um… yeah. That seems super smart. Or, not, really.

To be fair, the National Retail Foundation apparently wasn’t invited to the table (or chose not to attend — the article is unclear on that point):

“Very few [retail] companies have had any involvement with this process,” said Mallory Duncan, Senior Vice President and General Counsel. ”Our members are still examining it.”

Now, I have no idea right now the right mechanism to alert shoppers about tracking activity. But, I do know that alerting customers is the right thing to do.

Period.

Online marketers have dealt with this problem for years. And if we’ve learned one thing, it’s that customers don’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. Retailers face increasing challenges from e-tailers due to advancements like same-day shipping from Fancy and the rest of the AGFAME cohort (Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, plus eBay, Walmart, and others). Don’t make it any harder on yourself by ignoring your customers’ privacy concerns.

Ultimately, customers will buy from businesses that offer good value and treat them with respect. You absolutely can do both and succeed. And, more to the point, your success depends on offering both.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of 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.” 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 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 15, 2013

How Do You Know Your Social or Mobile Marketing is Working? (Travel Tuesday)

October 15, 2013 | By | No Comments

Watching customers not analyticsI’m amazed when businesses tell me their social or mobile marketing activities aren’t generating any value for their business. In an era when guests read and post reviews or compare prices from their mobile phones while in your hotel, restaurant, or store, doesn’t it seem odd that more businesses are unable to engage with these guests in a meaningful way? (And by meaningful, I mean revenue-generating).

Maybe the problem isn’t that your social and mobile marketing isn’t working. Instead, is it possible you’re not asking the right questions?

For instance, Smart Insights profiles a number of service companies using mobile and social effectively, highlighting the following case:

“Using Google Analytics, Thompson Hotels found that guests who were also ‘fans’ on social media spend about 35% more during their stays than guests who were not.  These visitors also booked directly through the hotel website, circumventing fees charged by 3rd party booking companies.”

That sounds an awful lot like a win, no?

Frequently when I talk to hotels, restaurants and retail locations, they’ve got plenty of good ideas for driving business and engaging customers. What they often lack is a clear picture of what’s working. Sure, you’ve got Google Analytics (or Adobe Site Catalyst, Coremetrics, KISSmetrics, etc.). But do you have the people and processes to get real value out of it? Are your analytics tools helping you answer your business questions?

Figuring out where to spend your time and money isn’t that difficult if you can clearly see what produces results. Are you putting enough energy into solving that problem?

As you put your marketing budget together for next year, make sure that you’re not just budgeting for social and mobile tactics, but also planning for how you’ll measure success in those areas, the questions you’ll ask about your customers, and the resources necessary to find the answers.

And if you’re interested in learning more about the future of 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.” 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 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 7, 2013

Solving for "Why": The Myth of More

October 7, 2013 | By | No Comments

E-commerce strategy developmentBusiness, and marketing specifically, often focuses on “more.” But here’s a question for you: Is more always better?

I’d argue that cases exist where “more” isn’t always a good thing, at least not in itself. Let me give you an example.

A company I worked with recently (they’ve given me permission to share this), called me in because they’d launched a promotion designed to bring in more traffic and, they hoped, more sales.

They’d achieved the first goal; traffic to their site skyrocketed. But… something went wrong. Their revenues didn’t increase. In fact, they fell.

What went wrong?

Hang with me for a second and I’ll explain.

First, there’s a fairly simple model I’ve used for years for evaluating e-commerce strategies and tactics that looks like this:

Revenue ( R ) = Visitors ( V ) times Frequency ( F ) times Conversion ( C ) times Purchase Value ( P )

Or, more simply:

Revenue = V * F * C * P

If you want to increase your revenues, you can increase:

  1. The number of visitors your site gets
  2. The frequency those visitors come to your site
  3. The conversion rate among those visitors (you can bone up on what conversion rate is here)
  4. The value of the transaction from those visitors who convert
  5. Some combination of the above (there are 11 possible combinations, in case you’re curious)

Increase one or more of these numbers and you can expect your revenue to grow. And the more of these four variables your chosen initiative affects, the more likely you are to increase revenues. Which, you know, is kind of the point. This model also works for ad-supported businesses with just a little finessing.

Too often, businesses look to grow one of these numbers in isolation from the others (a problem I’ve discussed at length here and here). Occasionally, this isolated focus occurs because companies “silo “teams, for instance making one group responsible for promotional tactics and another responsible for improving site functionality.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case here. Unfortunately, the tactic the company had chosen—creating so-called “link-bait” content designed to increase the number of sites linking in, improve their search engine ranking, and grow traffic—did increase their traffic, but it didn’t consider any other component of the model. And ignoring the other elements caused the overall decline they experienced.

So what went wrong?

Well, a few things:

  1. The content wasn’t particularly relevant to their business. While the content was well written, eye-catching and increased their traffic, almost none of the new traffic converted.
  2. The new visitors rarely returned to the site. The client’s frequency metrics fell pretty sharply as the “new” visitors almost never came back to the site a second time.
  3. The new content distracted long-time customers. Not only did the new content not encourage repeat visits or purchases, it actually distracted the company’s existing site visitors from their initial purchase intent, hurting conversion rate.
  4. The additional traffic slowed their site response. A couple of their pieces got picked up by larger content aggregators and the added volume hurt site stability, which impacted sales during peak periods. Worse, their operating expenses increased because of the need to improve server capacity (while the cost of a single additional visitor is essentially free—low marginal cost, in economic terms—the cost of a 2.5x volume increase was not).

Fortunately, none of these were long-term problems. By shifting focus from “more traffic” to “more qualified traffic,” we were able to re-engage existing customers, improve conversion rates, and drive higher purchase values from visitors to the site (visit frequency returned roughly to pre-link bait campaign levels). Result: happy customers and happy business owners.

Now, does that mean “more traffic” is a bad goal? Or “more” anything, for that matter?

Not at all.

But you’ve also got to consider what you want those visitors (or what-have-you) to do when they arrive at your site and whether they’re drawn from new visitors or people you’ve already engaged with—or, of course, both.

So when you’re thinking about “more,” think also why you want more. Then align your objectives, strategies, and tactics with solving for “why.”

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of 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.” 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 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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August 16, 2013

Facebook Isn't Offering a Mobile Payments Platform. But What They Are Offering is Far More Interesting.

August 16, 2013 | By | No Comments

Facebook moving into commerceOn yesterday’s podcast, I mentioned that Facebook was launching a PayPal competitor as reported by AllThingsD. Turns out, not so much.

But, what they are doing is really interesting all the same.

TechCrunch clears up the confusion noting Facebook’s payments test is a companion that fills in billing info. Key story highlight:

” The feature pre-fills credit card and billing info for making easier purchases through PayPal, Stripe, Braintree or other payment processors in third-party mobile apps. It’s not a payment processor itself, but could help Facebook prove the ROI of its ads.” [Emphasis mine]

Now, clearly there’s a need for this kind of app. I’ve mentioned before how poor usability hurts the growth of mobile.

But the bigger trend, one I’ve mentioned in the past is that “he who owns the data, owns the customer.” (You can read more about that in my presentation on where marketing and online distribution are headed below):

Companies like Facebook, and its AGFAM brethren—Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, plus eBay who deserves an honorable mention—recognize the value of customer data.

You’d think Facebook would love to get a piece of the highly profitable payments pie. But this move shows where they believe the real value lies.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of marketing on 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.” 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 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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March 20, 2013

What Happens in an Internet Minute? (Cool Infographic)

March 20, 2013 | By | One Comment

If you haven’t seen it, you’ve got to check out this infographic from Intel detailing what happens in an Internet minute:


(Click to embiggen)

Clearly, these are some staggering stats. And they illustrate many of the types of trends I’ve talked about before, such as the growth of mobile use, what mobile will do to your sales in 2013, why e-commerce still has lots of room to grow, and why it’s destined to win in the long run.

But, by any measure, the data Intel provides speaks volumes. Check out the whole thing if you have a minute to spare. And see what happens on the Internet in that same amount of time.

Interested in more? Sign up for our free newsletter and get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy.

Tim Peter

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January 28, 2013

Finding and Following Your Customer's Digital Footprint

January 28, 2013 | By | 3 Comments

4 ps of marketingI had the great privilege to guest host @IBMBigData’s weekly CXO Chat on Twitter focused on Customer Experience Optimization. The session was called Finding & Tracking Your Customer’s Digital Footprint and looked at your customers’ digital footprint and how you can leverage consumer behavior in your marketing and customer service efforts. It was an incredibly lively discussion and I learned as much as I shared.

Since it was on Twitter, my answers were limited to 140 characters or fewer. But I think that really focused the discussion clearly on the best things you can do to improve your customers’ experience using the data available to you. In the sections below, I’ve tried to capture the spirit of the session while adding some context (e.g., tweets/questions/etc. from other participants) where appropriate.

Anyway, check out the Q&A for yourself:

Can you follow your customers’ digital footprint?

  • It is possible. But first think about what you’re collecting and why.
  • Customer relationships depend on trust. Make sure you have treat customer data with care.
  • Have a clear sense of what’s your data (aggregate usage information, opens, clicks, shares, retweets, etc). vs. customers’.
  • All personally identifiable information (PII) belongs to customers, always. Handle with care.
  • If you’re uncomfortable telling customers how you plan to use their data, ask yourself whether you should collect it at all.
  • RT @IBMbigdata @Marco_Saito “Capture” probably wrong verb. “Access” better. Footprint doesn’t need to be in your database…
  • Finally, remember you don’t need to know everything to know enough to help customers achieve their goals.

How can businesses track the digital footprints to profile their customer base?

  • Don’t be afraid to start small. Gather the data that will help you help your customer.
  • Exactly: RT @DnBUS: Businesses need to rethink marketing segmentation. It’s more dynamic & individualized than trad. demos.
  • Focus on your customers’ behaviors first. They’re a better predictor of future behavior than anything else.
  • Great point. RT @Marcio_Saito Most times, more important to know which venues customer are (context) than what they said (data).
  • Ask customers permission and to volunteer additional information in exchange for content, services, utility.
  • Then (where appropriate) join those disparate data together to create a clearer picture of customers wants, needs, dreams
  • RT @ValaAfshar: Mature service orgs are using prior contact history and predictive analytics to deliver proactive services.
  • One participant on Twitter (@marksalke) asked: “But do customers/consumers care to be ‘analyzed’?”
  • My reply: @marksalke It’s an important question. Depends on how you’re going to use it. Customers want help. If if helps, then yes. If not…
  • But don’t ask customers for the things you should already know (past contact, repeated discussions, etc.)

How far back should we trace the digital footprint? Why?

  • Only go back as far as necessary to help your customers accomplish their goals. Remember trust matters more than anything.
  • Exactly right: RT @stevemassi: customer will ID themselves when theres value in it for them
  • Whenever you’re gathering customer information, ask “how does my having this help my customer?”
  • It’s very easy to slip past “helpful” and towards “creepy.” Don’t go looking for data you can’t use to help your customer.
  • @SJAbbott Seeing those trends is fine. Data in the aggregate is cool if you exclude PII. Just don’t try to mine individuals that way.

How do you use the digital footprint to personalize the customer experience?

  • Focus on behaviors first. What do your customers do? How can you enhance the experience based on what you already know.
  • Tough to give examples in 140 chars, but consider the following scenarios…
  • We already know so much that we could use better. On website, what browser, referrer, geolocation, search query, etc.
  • How can you use that data to offer more relevant responses, content, experiences?
  • On social channels, activity, friends, followers, fans, etc. What do these tell us about customer wants, needs, dreams?
  • @tmustacchio It’s one approach. Though instead of “all available” data, focus on most meaningful data first.
  • Definitely. RT @IBMbigdata Use digital insight to fill in gaps in customer story to then personalize the exp
  • Great! RT @adamtoporek Blend internal data with social/public footprint for total picture. Then take WIIFM approach to cust

How do you bridge the gap between digital and physical footprints?

  • Carefully. ;) Again easy to slip into “creepy” territory. Instead ask, “How do my customers use these channels together?”
  • Pay attention to transitions. Are customers shifting between physical/digital based on choice or frustration?
  • For many businesses mobile will be key. RT @DnBUS A5: One way to integrate physical & digital footprints: mobile.
  • Keep messages consistent across channels as people move. Help keep them from getting lost.
  • 60% of consumers between 18-34 sleep with their phone due to FOMO (fear of missing out). Offline no longer exists.
  • @SMSJOE That’s right. Customers don’t think “channel.” They think “company.” If you do it bad in one channel, it can follow you.
  • Mobile will drive much of the transition between offline and online. See here: http://ow.ly/hch4Q
  • RT DnBUS @stevemassi Good point. We must also get permission to observe mobile use & offer guidance. Understand context of use 1st
  • @marksalke @stevemassi Many already are today. Mobile doesn’t just mean your app. It’s a truly “personal” computer now.

How can businesses take advantage of digital footprints to innovate, differentiate and grow?

  • Again, think first about how it helps your customer. Use data to improve service.
  • With rise of consumer review, photo and social sharing sites, your brand is what your customer says it is.
  • Exactly! RT DnBUS A6: Digital footprints can fuel innovation by revealing what customers need & want & what they expect from you.
  • Customers who have great experiences tell their friends. Customers with bad experience tell everyone they know.
  • Listening to what your customers real needs then applying those lessons will help you improve products and quality of service.
  • Yep. RT @ValaAfshar The art of building trust is to use the information *not* to manipulate, but rather to personalize and inspire.

What best practices should companies employ in leveraging and cross pollinating digital footprints?

  • Protect your customers’ private data first, last, and always. You don’t own it but it’s entrusted to your care.
  • @OBI_Creative I basically agree. But remember you have to listen deeply for what they really want, not just what they say they want.
  • @OBI_Creative Think Henry Ford’s (apocryphal) “faster horse” quote: http://ow.ly/hciUm
  • Establish and maintain cross-functional teams representing different aspects of customer journey. Avoid silos at all costs.
  • Each member of team needs to reflect context as well as content of digital footprint. How/why it matters to customer interaction.
  • @thecxguy asked: “but the question remains. What is “private”?”
  • I responded: Tricky question. Consumers will differ on where the line is, but I still believe PII is (mostly) private.
  • RT @DnBUS: Remember that each “touch”/interaction–regardless of communicating team–is a brand experience.

Should customers disguise their digital prints from businesses? Why or why not?

  • Whether they should or not, they will. Especially from companies that haven’t earned their trust.
  • Customers will increasingly protect their footprint when companies misstep. Don’t misuse what isn’t yours.
  • Customers should share their footprint but only if they receive value in exchange. Data is currency.
  • RT @thecxguy exactly. progressive biz will show their cust what data they collect, what they use it for and give option 2 opt out

It was a great session and I look forward to continuing the dialogue with this group. You should check them out, too.

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