Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

By

September 10, 2014

The Game Changer for Mobile Commerce – Thinks Out Loud Episode 89

September 10, 2014 | By | No Comments

Mobile commerce game changer

The Game Changer for Mobile Commerce Headlines and Show Notes

As a reminder, you can participate in my next webinar, called Digital Marketing Directions: Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year, on Tuesday, September 16, 2014. You can read all the details here. And you can view the slides from my most recent talk here:


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

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: 15m 43s

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

By

February 24, 2014

Is Responsive Web Design Right for Your Brand?

February 24, 2014 | By | One Comment

Man using smartphoneSomeone asked me the other day whether they should build a standalone mobile site for their brand or whether they ought to use responsive development (i.e., a site that responds and works across a range of devices, including desktop, tablet, and mobile).

There’s no one perfect answer. I usually recommend going with a responsive design (Google does too), but they’re not perfect for every situation.

The pros are generally straightforward:

  • Responsive sites generally rank better for SEO. Responsive designs usually have more content and more pages, which Google tends to like. And they’re easier to update since they’re not managed separately, which increases the likelihood you will update the content. Google likes that, too.
  • Responsive sites generally cost less in the longer term. Every time you update content on your main site, you also need to update it on the standalone site (unless of course, it was something no mobile user would ever care about). Maintaining two separate sets of content: Ugh. It’s inefficient, time-consuming, costly, and not terribly SEO-friendly. Again, ugh. That said, standalone sites can often be had relatively cheaply, so think about how long your site will live before deciding (FYI… it’s almost always longer than you think/want).
  • Responsive sites generally work across devices more readily. This one’s not a lock, but many development shops handle different devices/screen sizes more effectively with responsive designs than on standalone sites (the very nature of responsive requires it). Again, this one’s a little more sketchy, so make sure you know how your web development team, whether in-house or outsourced, handles varying devices and screen sizes for both options.

So, how can you decide? Here’s what I consider:

  • How often do you update your content? Maintaining content on two separate sites sucks (sorry, it’s a technical term). The more often you update your content, the better responsive looks.
  • Do you have a specific goal for mobile users that’s different from your regular website? Few companies offer goals targeted only at mobile users, but give it some thought. If you’re one of those companies, a standalone site could be an acceptable option.
  • How long do you plan to keep your current site? If you’re planning to redesign or relaunch in 6-12 months, go ahead and put up a quick standalone site for now. But if expect your site to stick around for a while, responsive probably makes more sense.
  • Finally, compare prices. While responsive sites can be a fair bit more upfront, the difference is often manageable enough to make them a good choice.

For me, the evidence is pretty clear. Responsive is usually the right choice. In fact, I’d recommend you assume you’re going to use responsive design, then only choose standalone when its benefits far outweigh the benefits of a responsive site for you and for your customers.

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

By

December 11, 2013

2014 Internet Marketing Trends Worth Watching – Thinks Out Loud Episode 54

December 11, 2013 | By | No Comments

Road to improvement

2014 Internet Marketing Trends Worth Watching Headlines and Show Notes

It’s All E-commerce, Revisited

Cognitive Computing, Deep Learning, Machine Learning

Putting it All Together

And, as promised, here are the slides I presented yesterday:


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

You can also register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 17m 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

By

December 6, 2013

It's All E-commerce Goes to the Mall

December 6, 2013 | By | No Comments

Mobile shopping coupleApple announced today that it’s enabling “location-aware” iBeacons in all its stores today. The big idea here is that these beacons can guide you — or better yet, your customers — and provide alerts in-store based on your precisely where you are.

In theory, this is a pretty big deal.

Most smartphones today are pretty capable, but don’t know much about the world immediately around you. Sure, you’ve got maps and Foursquare and Yelp and all that, which give you a rough idea of where you are and what’s around you. But, they don’t show you which aisle you’re in or which floor you’re on when you’re standing in a store. And now that’s changing.

iBeacon, and competing technologies like NFC, can locate precisely where you are. Can’t find a sales associate? That’s OK. These beacons can point you in the right direction to find what you’re looking for.

Even better, both technologies make it easy for you to pay with your mobile phone. For instance, check out PayPal’s coming PayPal Beacon payment system:

Apple’s already embraced these types of friction-free transactions with its EasyPay system and I’d expect them to move further down the road here using iBeacon, too.

Now, I don’t know which technology (iBeacon or NFC) will win. But one potential advantage for retailers is that iBeacon has a range of 50 meters (roughly 164 feet), while NFC has a range of only 8 inches according to Pocket-lint. Obviously, that allows retailers to provide greater in-store coverage with fewer sensors — and lower cost.

In any case, your customers’ phone has just gotten a lot smarter and a lot more capable when in-store. So, remind me again where retail ends and e-commerce begins? As I like to say, it’s all e-commerce.

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

By

September 23, 2013

Mobile Makes E-commerce Even More "Frictionless"

September 23, 2013 | By | No Comments

E-commerce on smartphones is frictionlessI’ve been playing with Apple’s new iOS 7 the last few days and it got me thinking about how frictionless e-commerce already is on mobile. Consider these customer experiences:

  • Apple’s new iTunes Radio allows for song purchases directly from within the player, as have Pandora and others.
  • Apple’s flagship iPhone 5s can use its TouchID fingerprint reader to authorize purchases in iTunes for music, apps, and movies.
  • Amazon’s Kindle line enables consumers simple access to buy both digital and physical inventory.
  • UK retail giant Tesco has introduced a new device, the Hudl, largely to achieve benefits similar to the Kindle’s.
  • Google offers its Wallet payment platform on both Android devices and, as of last week, iOS, streamlining purchases and money transfers.
  • eBay offers a variety of apps providing instant access to commerce activities for its users across mobile platforms.

And, of course, all of these ignore the myriad in-app purchase capabilities among numerous games and productivity apps, whether offered as add-on’s to an existing paid product or as part of a “free-mium” business model (providing a free basic version and selling premium features for power users).

The Value of “Frictionless” E-commerce

Now, streamlining purchase activity has long been a central tenet of e-commerce. Amazon and eBay have built their businesses primarily on moving the barriers between consumers and commerce (for example with tools like this, this, this, and this).

But mobile destroys those barriers.

While many mobile e-commerce applications have lots of room to improve, the integration available across mobile platforms, including shopping/browsing history and payment information, combine to produce the “slickest” (in terms of friction) commerce capabilities we’ve ever seen. Facebook already has gotten in the game, partnering with a number of payment providers and e-commerce shops to facilitate streamlined payment.

AGFAM and Frictionless E-commerce

Among the AGFAM players, Facebook and Google may face a slight disadvantage here (and, really, I can’t emphasize slight enough — after all, check out what Facebook’s doing with payment integration as mentioned earlier). But with their long-term focus on growing advertising revenue, they’re simply less accustomed to monetizing the transaction, typically preferring to monetize the traffic, visit, visitor, or “eyeball” instead. That’s not necessarily a weakness; it could well be a strength. It’s simply that their (relative) inexperience facilitating transactions may provide Amazon, Apple, eBay, and even Yahoo openings to dominate the space over time.

Mobile Drives “Big Data,” Improves Context and Conversions

And, of course, none of this takes into account the consumer data available from the mobile experience itself, including location, motion, and more advanced data coming in next generation devices. The trend is clear: “content + context” data will continue to drive conversions, both in 2013 and beyond.

Conclusion

Mobile brings e-commerce into the retail environment to the point where “it’s just shopping.”

The key is how quickly you embrace that reality to decrease friction for your customers—and conversions for yourself.

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

By

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

By

August 15, 2013

Why E-commerce Keeps Growing. And Why it Still Will. Thinks Out Loud Episode 39

August 15, 2013 | By | No Comments

Why e-commere keeps growing. And why it will.

Why E-commerce Keeps Growing and Why it Still Will Headlines

And here’s the presentation I talk about:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 37s

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

By

August 8, 2013

E-commerce? Retail? It's Just Shopping: Thinks Out Loud Episode 38

August 8, 2013 | By | No Comments

E-commerce is just shopping

E-commerce? Retail? It’s Just Shopping Headlines

As promised in the podcast, you can register to receive a free copy of my special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals.

And, here are the webinar slides from a few months back:

As well as the video:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Technical details: Recorded using a Shure SM57 microphone
through a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 26s

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

By

June 11, 2013

4 Reasons Why Google Metasearch in Maps Matters (Travel Tuesday)

June 11, 2013 | By | 9 Comments

Google maps flight search small For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been talking about how search is changing and how those changes will change your customers’ behavior. And there’s no doubt that Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft (or AGFAM) continue to craft their products and services around your customers’ needs in this changing social, local, mobile context.

So, what has that got to do with travel?

A lot, actually.

One of the biggest shifts in travel marketing over the last handful of years has been the rise of metasearch companies, folks like Kayak (now owned by Priceline), Trivago (now owned by Expedia), Hipmunk, and TripAdvisor searching the various online travel agencies (OTA’s) and supplier sites to find consumers the best deal.

Well, Google dropped a big bomb on the world of metasearch today. Not that we haven’t known it was coming, but, it’s still impressive to see in the real world.

What is this change? Google Maps has introduced its own “metasearch” capabilities and now displays prices for flights on various routes. Check out the following to get a sense of what it looks like in practice:

This is, as Alex Kremer notes on Tnooz, a very big deal. It is, in fact, a game-changer.

Now, some very thoughtful commenters on Kremer’s article (notably Evan Konwiser and John Pope) explain why this may not be as big a deal as Kremer and I think it is. I just happen to respectfully disagree with them.

Why? Here are 4 reasons why Google could win this one:

1. Metasearch Isn’t (Yet) Mainstream

Let’s get the most obvious argument out of the way right up front. With all due respect to Kayak, Hipmunk, and others, metasearch (as we’ve known it to date) still represents a modest proportion of search traffic for most travel companies. According to the New York Times, Kayak’s ranked as the eighth most popular travel site prior to its acquisition, receiving less than half the traffic of the top players (Trivago and Hipmunk are considerably smaller).

While metasearch continues to grow in popularity, adding flight search (and, I suspect over time), Hotel Finder into Google Maps will increase consumers’ exposure to metasearch as a concept. Dramatically.

For instance, according to MarketingLand and comScore, Google Maps’ mobile app alone gets 2-3 times the traffic of the biggest travel sites, without including desktop traffic (though, to be fair, some of that would likely be duplicated across desktop and mobile). Add improved exposure for Kayak and Trivago through their new parent sites, plus TripAdvisor’s move towards metasearch and the category as a whole stands to gain. Including, of course, Google Maps. But Maps starts from a much larger base.

Advantage: Google.

2. The “People Don’t Search for Travel on Maps” Argument

Define “travel.” I think it’s certainly true that people don’t search for flights on Google Maps. At least prior to today, why would they?

But once early adopters begin to gain the advantages metasearch has long promised, why wouldn’t savvy travelers search for flights on Google Maps? Don’t forget, not all that long ago AltaVista and Overture represented a significantly more popular search engine and paid ad network, respectively (ironically, both services now belong to Yahoo). Yet somehow, Larry, Sergey, and company managed to become the dominant player in both spaces. Not that long ago, Expedia was the dominant online travel agency. But both Booking.com and TripAdvisor have made serious inroads into their position.

And while Google itself is equally subject to disruption, the whole point of disruptive technologies is that they upend the status quo. Right now, the status quo in metasearch (and travel shopping generally), belongs in part to sites other than Google. This move by Big G simply positions them more effectively as part of the conversation.

Finally, I think the real metasearch opportunity will come once Google includes hotel data into Maps. It would be tough to argue that anyone owns the drive market online and even tougher to argue that segment doesn’t use Maps. While it’s too soon to say the advantage falls completely Google’s way, I don’t see an argument that excludes them from the conversation either.

3. The “Google Isn’t Innovative Enough” Argument

Hat tip to John Pope for suggesting this one, noting Google,

“…may evolve, they may acquire additional companies or talent, and will likely continue to create evolutionary innovation. But — and it’s a big ol’ but(t) — they have very limited opportunity to create radical, disruptive or revolutionary innovation — that scenario (revolutionary innovation), in travel, would be quashed for so many reasons.”

I’ll come back to one of the “many reasons” in just a moment (it’s the next entry in this piece). And let’s ignore whether Google is innovative (I think that’s both self-evident and, as I’m about to argue, largely irrelevant). Alex Kremer points to Google’s 20 billion page views and that’s surely something worth noting. But, let’s focus in particular on something arguably more important than any of those: execution.

A moment ago, I pointed out Overture, Google’s long-ago, mostly dead rival in paid advertising. Overture argued that Google’s AdWords infringed Overture patents and the companies settled the dispute. Without arguing the merits of the suit, let’s use that settlement as an acknowledgement that Overture was more innovative. If that’s the case, why didn’t they win? Why didn’t innovation carry the day?

Well, according to the write-up at the time (and my own memory), “In turning a blind eye to Web search during the Internet heyday and by licensing and promoting Google’s technology, Yahoo inadvertently helped the company become the No. 1 search provider.”

Yes, it’s a gross simplification, but let’s face facts: Google executed. Yahoo didn’t. End of story.

Google may fail to execute. Or its metasearch competitors may execute more effectively. But travel is a mature enough market that success comes as much from solid execution as pure innovation. For instance, Skift recently highlighted Hipmunk, noting:

“Hipmunk has garnered stellar reviews from the tech press and users for its attractive UI, ease of use, and its iOS and Android apps from their beginnings.

Recent initiatives include a revamp of Hipmunk’s mobile apps, and the option to book on Hipmunk (via Expedia in the background) instead of having to navigate away from Hipmunk and over to hotel and online travel agency sites. The mobile app for the first time features plenty of other online travel agency booking partners beyond Orbitz.

Almost everything Hipmunk does, from its flight and hotel search UIs, to its mobile apps, is pretty.”

I’m not saying “pretty” can’t be innovative (and, in fact, I’m a big fan of some of Hipmunk’s innovations). However, I am saying that “attractive UI, ease of use, and [mobile] apps” aren’t exactly bleeding edge concepts. Hipmunk’s doing well because they’re doing it right. Similarly, with $50 billion in cash on hand to buy (or settle with) any tech companies they want, Google doesn’t need to innovate in metasearch. They just need to execute.

4. The Antitrust Argument

The other area John Pope mentioned in his comment limiting Google’s effectiveness is antitrust. I don’t see it. While no one can adequately predict what any given government entity is going to do, here’s what we do know:

  1. Google has already settled with the US Federal Trade Commission. Google entered into an agreement this past January with the US, ending that investigation. Sure, they could misstep and invite further scrutiny. But if Flight Explorer didn’t raise the FTC’s ire, I doubt adding the same functionality to Maps will.
  2. Europe remains a wild card. But that looks to be winding down, too.
  3. How is adding metasearch results to Maps anti-competitive? At least on Flights (the new name for Flight Explorer), Google’s showing results from air suppliers. It’s not favoring any one supplier in particular. On Hotel Finder (which I think they will add to Maps), they’re showing prices from suppliers and intermediaries. I’m not a lawyer, but what am I missing here?

I’m no Google apologist on this one, having encouraged people to pay attention to Big G’s antitrust woes for years. But in this case, I simply don’t see an issue. (Obviously, I welcome contrary points of view in the comments).

Timing

Of course, just because I think Google benefits in many of these categories, I don’t know that this will change the game overnight. I’ve already argued that metasearch remains outside the mainstream of travel search, despite having been around for almost a decade. I do think the exposure Google provides for the category may change that reality, but it’s possible we’re still a few years from seeing any meaningful shift. I’d love your thoughts. Feel free to take my (decidedly unscientific) poll here and let me know what you think:

Conclusion

Whew, that was a lot to get through, eh? It’s pretty clear I think offering flight search (and, eventually hotel search) in Maps is a game-changer. No one dominates metasearch, consumers do search for travel on Maps (or at least will in the future assuming they’re offered good value), Google is plenty innovative and consistently executes, and, in all likelihood, isn’t worried about antitrust intervention. While it’s early days for this offering, I’d be very surprised if it didn’t represent just another step in Google’s journey as a travel company. And I don’t think they need a map to see where to go next.

Interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going — as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries? Register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” You can get your free copy of the report here or use the form below to receive yours today.


And you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes, including:

Tim Peter

By

June 10, 2013

7 Steps to E-Commerce Heaven

June 10, 2013 | By | 3 Comments

This one’s a work in progress, but I’d love your thoughts. As I see it, your customers no longer experience the traditional marketing funnel, traveling from awareness through desire to intent and, finally, action. Those days are gone.

Why? Well, the web, mostly. In its place, your customers experience many of those elements simultaneously as they browse, shop, and buy, using search, social, in-store, outdoor, print, broadcast, and on and on and on to come to a purchase decision — and, ultimately, satisfaction.

As a result, your customers cycle through a variety of phases while seeking the solution that will satisfy their needs, including:

  1. Dreaming
  2. Discovery
  3. Research
  4. Purchase
  5. Anticipation
  6. Consumption
  7. Remembering

Or, for those of you who prefer graphics:

Ecommerce satisfaction cycle

Now, I would suggest that you not look at this as a “cycle” in the sense that one phase leads to the next. While it looks like most customers go through each of these phases at some point in the process, they often experience more than one phase simultaneously based on the information they’re finding and absorbing.

So the question becomes one of how well you’re able to answer their questions at each point in the process and, ideally, move them towards the ultimate phase: satisfaction.

Unfortunately, many e-commerce experiences right now don’t do enough to help that along (and don’t get me started on mobile).

What do you think? Is e-commerce doing enough to help customers on their journey? Or is there still a long way to go?

Interested in learning more? Register to receive a free copy of my new special report, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World,” produced in conjunction with Vizergy, here. While it’s targeted to the hospitality industry specifically, most of the lessons apply across verticals. And, if that’s not enough, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of the social, local, mobile web, including: