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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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April 10, 2014

Should Your Mobile Marketing Strategy Focus on Apps or the Mobile Web? Thinks Out Loud Episode 69

April 10, 2014 | By | No Comments

Should Your Mobile Marketing Strategy Focus on Apps or the Mobile Web?

Man using smartphone

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.

If you’re looking for more e-commerce tips, check out my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results as well:

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 12s

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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April 3, 2014

For Millennials and Gen X, There’s No Such Thing as Offline

April 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

Fascinating chart from Deloitte and Marketing Charts today, showing that fully half of all millennials own a laptop, smartphone, and tablet. The graying Gen X demographic lags only slightly, at 46%. Here’s the full chart (and link to the data) for you to look at.

I know I say it again and again, but this data underscores the point that your customers no longer go online, they are online. They’re carrying the Internet with them all day, every day, no matter where they go.

One of the real keys to responsive design is reacting appropriately not to your customers’ screen, but to their context. A potential customer who’s browsing the web or an app while sitting on her couch has very different needs than one checking for information while hustling through an airport, riding in a taxi, or waiting to pick up her kids from school. Your digital strategy needs to start with an understanding of where your customers are, what they need, and how to help them address those needs in each context.

For more thoughts on helping your customers via social, mobile and search, check out “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results,” a talk I recently gave:

Finally, 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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April 2, 2014

Why Your Customers’ Privacy Matters to Your Marketing – Thinks Out Loud Episode 68

April 2, 2014 | By | No Comments

Why Your Customers’ Privacy Matters to Your Marketing Headlines and Show Notes

IStock 000008378947XSmall

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.

If you’re looking for more e-commerce tips, check out my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results as well:

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 52s

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

March 26, 2014

How Big is E-commerce Anyway? Thinks Out Loud Episode 67

March 26, 2014 | By | No Comments

Shopping cart image small

How Big is E-commerce Anyway? Headlines and Show Notes

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.

If you’re looking for more e-commerce tips, check out my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results as well:

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

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

Running time: 16m 25s

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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March 25, 2014

A Fair and Balanced Look at Balancing Direct and OTA Business (Travel Tuesday)

March 25, 2014 | By | No Comments

Hotel metasearch marketing exampleHow’s business these days? If you’re like many hoteliers, things are starting to get pretty good. Hoteliers I talk with are enjoying higher rates and occupancies, along with an overall improved business climate and increased optimism about the coming year. 

As tends to happen during good times, many of these hoteliers are taking this opportunity to evaluate their relationship with OTA partners — and to explore ways to drive more business through direct channels. 

While it’s popular these days to grab the torches and the pitchforks to “storm the castle,” that seems short-sighted to me. Instead, I prefer this balanced, measured approach. Yes, with increasing competition for high-performing search terms from OTA’s and metasearch, hoteliers are seeing their costs to acquire guests continue to rise. But the current business environment provides a perfect opportunity to evaluate each of your distribution options for its fit into your overall approach. 

Instead of assuming that this all about “good guys” and “bad guys,” take a new look at each of your channel partners with a clear eye and ask these questions: 

  • Can this OTA reach a guest you can’t? While the answer to this question is often yes, don’t assume OTA’s always reach new business. Look for channels that deliver first-time bookers and look for opportunities to convert these to loyal guests. 
  • Are the guests they reach the guests you want? One general manager I know once told me about his “cooler index.” He could accurately predict which booking channel his guests used by the number of beer coolers they dragged through the lobby at check-in; the more coolers, the lower rated the business – and the greater the effort needed to convert them into longer-term, higher-value customers.  
  • How much are you willing to pay to reach those guests? In other words, can the OTA reach those guests at a reasonable cost? Analyze your business to ensure an appropriate return on your cost of acquisition, whether paid as commission or as net rate margin.   

Of course, OTA’s represent only part of your overall distribution strategy. A balanced approach to distribution also puts significant focus on direct business, too. Research shows that guests spend significant time before booking, looking to answer two questions:

  1. Why should I choose your hotel for my next stay?
  2. Why should I book that stay through this channel?

Savvy hoteliers ensure guests can answer the first question across all channels — web, mobile, voice, metasearch, and OTA — while focusing their efforts and investments in answering the second question only on those channels delivering high-value guests.

Look to improve your guests’ shopping and booking experience on your own website, and in particular, pay attention to mobile. Many forward-looking hoteliers enjoy significant benefits from mobile, with Starwood, for example, noting that it’s seeing mobile booking growth five times greater than Internet booking in the Web’s early days. Mobile’s staggering growth rates continue to boggle the mind and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

The distribution landscape continues to evolve, but also continues to represent a crucial element of a successful hospitality business. When managed well, OTA’s, Web, voice, mobile, and metasearch work together to deliver increased room nights and improved revenues. And when not managed well, you risk leaving money on the table.

Take advantage of the improving economy to think about the role you want OTA’s to play in helping you find and acquire the right guests for your property. Pay only for those guests you can’t reach yourself, then work to migrate those guests to higher-value channels. Invest in your direct presence, particularly for the increasing number of guests choosing mobile. 

Taking a balanced approach to your hotel’s overall distribution enables you to achieve the results you want from the channels you choose. And provides you a great answer for when you’re next asked, “how’s business these days?”

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 may also want to review the tips in my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results:

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

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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March 24, 2014

The 7 Fastest Ways to Improve Your E-commerce Effectiveness

March 24, 2014 | By | No Comments

Happy family shopping on tabletIf you could do just one thing this year to grow your business, what should it be? Think about it for a minute. I’ll give you a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Redesign your existing website to improve SEO ranking and conversion rates.
  2. Develop a mobile website to support mobile commerce.
  3. Increase your content marketing to attract new customers.
  4. Grow your email list to increase repeat business.
  5. Improve your social media marketing to drive engagement.

Do any of these leap out at you? Long-time readers of this blog have heard me argue in favor of each of these, but if you can only do one, what should it be?

The answer is: None of the above. Not because these aren’t important. Every single initiative I just listed can help you improve your customers’ experience and increase traffic and revenues.

However, there’s a more fundamental opportunity for your business and that’s to develop a clear picture of who your customers really are and what they really want. Your customers have lots of things on their mind, and ultimately, care more about their needs than they care about you.

If you want to make sure you connect with customers through your mobile, social, web, email . and content marketing efforts — and drive sales through those channels — consider these 7 ways to measure what matters to your customers:

  1. Review your web analytics. It doesn’t matter if you use Google Analytics, Omniture, Webtrends, Analog, AWStats, or something else. What does matter is whether you review your data to see where your customers spend their time, where they bounce, and where they convert. Need help? We’ve got a whole series of posts on how to make analytics work for you.
  2. Conduct an A/B test. Pick one of your top pages and set up an A/B test to see if you can improve your customers’ experience. Not sure where to begin? We’ve got a whole series on A/B testing, too.
  3. Conduct a user test. Sites like UserTesting.com make it easy to see how customers interact with content and functionality on your site. Which goes a long way towards showing you how to make that content and functionality more useful for your customers.
  4. Try heat mapping. Another useful tool for seeing what actions your customers take on your site is heat mapping, which lets you see where consumers look, scroll and click on your site’s pages. Tools like CrazyEgg and ClickTale can show you where your customers spend their time — and where they struggle.
  5. Read customer reviews on social sites. For years, I’ve heard marketers say, “If only we could really know what our customers thought of us…” Now, with sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, TripAdvisor, and plenty more, you can. Spend time with your customer reviews, looking for common threads and themes your customers care about. Then use that information to shape — or shape up — your products and services.
  6. Launch a survey. Here’s an idea: When in doubt, ask your customers what they think. You can use tools like Survey Monkey or just set up a simple Google Drive form to capture customer information and get direct input on what your customers think about you.
  7. Talk to your customers. Finally, don’t forget to listen to what customers tell you in your offline interactions, too. Whether you ghost your call center reps to hear what customers call about or visit with your in-store employees, take the time to really listen to what your customers have to say.

The information you’ll glean from these efforts will help you ensure that all your marketing and e-commerce actions actually help your customers — and drive more business.

And that will ensure that your site redesign aligns with customer goals, that your mobile website meets customer needs, that your content marketing answers customer questions, that your email messages tell the right brand story, and that your social marketing connects with customers on a human level.

Still want to do more for your customers? Then you may also enjoy these slides from another recent speaking engagement “Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results” here:

And, 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

By

March 12, 2014

Internet Marketing to Millennials (Gen X and Boomers Too) – Thinks Out Loud Episode 65

March 12, 2014 | By | No Comments

Millennial couple shopping on tablet

Internet Marketing to Millennials (Gen X and Boomers Too) Headlines and Show Notes

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.

And the tips in my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results, may come help you out as well:

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 36s

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

March 5, 2014

Internet Marketing to Make You Happy – Thinks Out Loud Episode 64

March 5, 2014 | By | No Comments

Happy marketing tips

Internet Marketing to Make You Happy Headlines and Show Notes

And, as promised, here are the slides from my presentation that talks about “All Marketing is Social.” Enjoy:

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 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 14s

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

March 3, 2014

6 Simple Subject Line Tips for Boosting Email Open Rates by Megan Totka

March 3, 2014 | By | No Comments

Email marketing open ratesYour email marketing messages have a lot to compete with. Some estimates state there are more than 144 billion emails sent every day—and while your subscribers aren’t receiving all of them, just about everyone with an email address suffers from information overload. The right response isn’t for you to stop sending emails. Far from it (In fact, some tests indicate a possible response is to send more emails).

No, what really matters is this: How do you get your email marketing message to stand out?

It turns out that one of the simplest and most effective ways to increase your email open rates is to write better subject lines. They’re the first things your subscribers see, and if you can grab their attention while they’re scanning their inboxes, you’ll get more eyes on your actual content—and ultimately, more conversions.

These simple tips will help you craft subject lines that snag more clicks.

Short and Sweet

Long subject lines tell subscribers more than they need to know about the contents of the email. Usually it’s enough to suggest that they ignore the message, or just delete it unread. A short, snappy subject line stands out better and heightens interest.

Another advantage to short subject lines: More people are reading email on mobile devices. If you can keep your subject to one line on a smaller screen, your click rate will improve.

Avoid Waste Words

You don’t have a lot of room in a subject line. This is premium screen real estate, so every word should count. This means avoiding words that don’t add value to your message—they’re just taking up vital character space.

Skip greeting words like “hello,” and empty descriptors like “amazing” (these can also land your messages in spam folders).

Pinpoint Your Message

A great subject line is both short and specific. Cramming every detail into a subject line results in subjects that are too long and not compelling—but going too far in the opposite direction is also no good.

Teasers and mystery subject lines won’t engage readers, who are pressed for time and don’t want to guess at what might be in your email. They want to know what to expect inside, so they can decide whether or not to keep reading.

Make the Subject Searchable

Even with a compelling email subject line, your subscribers may not be able to open your message right away. They might want to read it later—but with high volumes of email coming in, your message could get buried.

Make it easy for readers to find your emails by including memorable, searchable terms in the subject line.

Anxiety-Free Calls to Action

Your subject line should let readers know what they can do to receive a benefit from your message, in a way that doesn’t demand their attention.

Including a brief call to action—visit our site, contact us, or read this message—tells readers how they’ll be able to take advantage of your offering. However, using urgent language like “immediate response needed,” signals that you don’t respect the reader’s time, and won’t get your message viewed.

The Bottom Line: Write a Subject You’d Open

Email is a primary form of business communication, and it can be a powerfully effective marketing tool when used correctly. Your subscribers don’t want to stop reading email completely—they just want to be able to sort the intriguing from the annoying.

Writing subject lines that would make you as a consumer want to read the contents will help you improve your email marketing open rates, and run more effective email campaigns.

How do you write your email subject lines? Let us know in the comments!

Interested in more? Register to receive a free copy of Tim’s 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.

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

About the Author:
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Image Credit: Darrel Rader on Flickr

Tim Peter

By

February 26, 2014

How Mobile Changes E-commerce – Thinks Out Loud Episode 63

February 26, 2014 | By | No Comments

Woman shopping mobile customer

How Mobile Changes E-commerce Headlines and Show Notes

You may also want to review the lessons in my recent presentation Elements of E-commerce: How Digital Storytelling Drives Revenue and Results:

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

Running time: 19m 12s

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: