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September 20, 2017

Maybe Facebook’s Data Problem Is Your Data Problem (Thinks Out Loud Episode 203)

September 20, 2017 | By | No Comments

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Maybe Facebook's Data Problem Is Your Data Problem (Thinks Out Loud Episode 203)

Maybe Facebook’s Data Problem Is Your Data Problem (Thinks Out Loud Episode 203) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 12m 11s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Maybe Facebook's Data Problem Is Your Data Problem

Maybe Facebook's Data Problem Is Your Data Problem: Introduction

Well hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, today is Wednesday, September 20, 2017 and this is episode 203 of the big show. Thank you again for tuning in, I really do appreciate it and I think we’ve got a terrific show for you this week.

Maybe Facebook's Data Problem Is Your Data Problem: Situation Analysis

So, a couple week’s ago, I made a reasoned, rational argument for why Facebook’s data problem is their problem, not yours. I set up my thesis, I built some supporting arguments, and I think, I nailed it. Brilliantly. Well done me, right?

Well, wait for it.

Because later that same day, the day I posted that episode, news broke that alleges Facebook sold ads to Russians looking to influence the US presidential election.

Um… whoops.

That same day, ProPublica proved that you could target Facebook ads specifically to anti-Semites using some horrific language on the site.

Um… Bigger whoops.

And, then, to add insult to injury, two days later, the Equifax news hit.

Which is just like “whoops” times infinity.

Now, I’ve mentioned a few times that data represents the crown jewels for your business. Right? Content is king, customer experience is queen, and data is the crown jewels. And if you’re somebody like Facebook or Equifax (or for that matter, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple), that’s putting it mildly. These folks live for data. These are massive companies, with massive influence in our lives, who choose the news we read, the ads we see, our ability to get credit and buy things and a whole host of other behaviors we engage in and rely upon every single day. That’s not just the crown jewels. That’s the whole bloody treasury, palace, and kingdom.

And while I’m leery of excessive regulation, a number of influential thinkers all across the political spectrum have begun to ask, rightly, whether these folks have too much power in our lives — and more importantly, whether they’ve demonstrated the ability to wield that power wisely.

The biggest threat facing Facebook and Google and Equifax and all the rest right now isn’t from their traditional competitors. And it’s not from a stereotypical couple of brilliant kids in a garage. Their problem, their biggest threat, is much bigger than that.

Because the real threat that Facebook and Google face is from consumers turning on them, losing faith in their ability to keep our data safe, and driving regulators to, well, regulate. Equifax underscores these dangers. Big. Time. And if customers begin to see the tech giants in a similar light, watch out.

According to TechCrunch, Facebook had to give testimony to special investigator Robert Mueller. The Atlantic Magazine published a series of articles detailing how and why Facebook should be regulated. Pierre Omidyar, who founded eBay and is nobody’s idea of a luddite, has been ranting on Twitter for the last several weeks about why Facebook should be regulated.

And it’s not just Facebook. Google faces increasing scrutiny in Europe for alleged anticompetitive practices. The New York Times in an article this past April asked, “Is It Time to Break Up Google?” Fortune Magazine suggested in July that Google and Facebook may need antitrust regulation.

And don’t get me started on Equifax. In this specific case, I agree they deserve almost anything that’s coming to them. But I don’t take pleasure in any of this. Nor should you.

Yes, there are editorials online, in newspapers, and in magazines. Yes, there will be hearings in Congress. And, yes, there will be consequences, at least in terms of additional regulation. The industry has done a terrible job taking care of the crown jewels. Others are getting set to step in to say how it should be done.

But that’s why you can’t take pleasure in this. Because at that point Facebook’s data problem might be your problem. Because those regulations might fall squarely on your shoulders too. Talk to anyone who’s beginning to deal with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe (better known as GDPR) and they’ll tell you what I’m talking about. It’s an onerous, complex process. And that’s before any of this happened.

This is a big, honkin’ deal, one you’ll likely have to deal with too.

Now, let’s be fair, this is larger than a marketing problem. But that doesn’t mean marketing shouldn’t care about it. We collect an extraordinary amount of data about our customers. And I have and will argue in the future that we should. But only if we’re:

  1. Clear in our intentions for data use and retention.
  2. Upfront with our customers about how we’re going to use that data.
  3. Prepared to let them opt-out if they don’t want us to use that data that way, and
  4. Ready to protect that data from the thieves and hackers, amateur and professional, who are looking to get their hands on that same data, whether for profit or for the lulz.

If you can’t say, “Yes, I’m ready” to each of those four items, it’s probably worth asking yourself whether you ought to be collecting that data in the first place. In the immortal words of Ian Malcolm in the movie Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.” Don’t be that guy.

Maybe Facebook's Data Problem Is Your Data Problem: Antitrust

Now, before you say, “This couldn’t really happen, though,” remember that it already has. There was no antitrust regulation in the US until the late 19th century. But once Senator Sherman declared "If we will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life,” we ended up with the Sherman Act of 1890.

And just as Sherman thought it was a bad ides to have a king over “the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life,” some other enterprising politician could easily declare, “If our personal and private data about our lives and intentions truly represents the crown jewels, how can we entrust those jewels to any party unwilling to defend those jewels as if the very kingdom depends upon them?”

OK, so I’m not the orator John Sherman was. But you get the point.

Maybe Facebook's Data Problem Is Your Data Problem Summary

Equifax has shown just how dangerous it is to leave the crown jewels in the wrong hands. Facebook and Google have shown exactly how much the data they possess affects our day-to-day lives. And regulators have shown their willingness to act, at least when the public demands it.

You need to get ahead of the situation. You need to work with your IT team and your vendors to ensure that, just like I said before, you’re:

  1. Clear in your intentions for data use and retention. Why are you gathering that data? For what purpose?
  2. You need to be upfront with your customers about how we’re going to use that data. How’s it going to be stored? What’s it going to be used for? And ensure that they’re safe and secure
  3. Prepared to let your customers opt-out if they choose, and
  4. That you’re ready to protect that data from the folks who want to get their hands on those crown jewels for their own purposes.

Because, it’s a pretty safe bet that before too long, Facebook’s data problem — and Google’s data problem and Equifax’s data problem — are gonna turn out to be your data problem too.

Conclusion

Now looking at the clock on the wall we are out of time for this week. I do want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all episodes by going to Tim Peter.com/podcast. Again that's Tim Peter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 203. And while you're there you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find so you get us delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also subscribe in iTunes or the Google Play Music store or Stitcher Radio or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or plain old Thinks Out Loud, we should show up for any of those. And if you'd be willing to provide a rating on iTunes, the Google Play Store, or Stitcher Radio while you're there, I would really appreciate it. You can also contact me by going to Facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates, on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, or via email by emailing podcast@TimPeter.com again that's podcast@TimPeter.com. With that I want to say thanks again for tuning in, I really do appreciate it. I hope you have a fantastic weekend, a great week ahead, and I will look forward to talking with you back here on Thinks Out Loud again next week. Until then take care everybody.

Tim Peter

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September 15, 2017

6 Sensational Digital Strategy Insights: E-commerce Link Digest

September 15, 2017 | By | No Comments

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6 Sensational Digital Strategy Insights: E-commerce Link Digest

Hey, Big Thinkers! How’s your week been? Mine’s been amazing. For this week’s edition of the E-commerce Link Digest Series we’ve put together a great list of 6 sensational digital strategy insights for you. Be sure to check out the ones most appropriate to your situation. As always, enjoy:

  1. The New York Times says that, “As Amazon Pushes Forward With Robots, Workers Find New Roles.” Maybe. I certainly hope so. When people say that the machines will take all our jobs away, here’s thing I’ve never understood: The United States’ population in 1776 was 1/120th of today’s; there’s more tech now; but we “all” work. What’s changing? I suspect a bigger issue that technology taking away “our” jobs is technology taking away the jobs of those unwilling or unable to transition to the new norm, whatever it may be. And I don’t have a solution for that. But it’s definitely something we all need to give some thought to.
  2. Writing at Brand Quarterly, Mathew Sweezey and Tiffani Bova state that “Marketing Budgets Continue Pivoting To Technology And Customer Experience.” That shouldn’t surprise you. Technology will continue to play a key role in the way that we connect with our customers. As I’ve argued in the past, those who put technology to work to create richer customer experiences will win. Want to know more? See the next two items in this list for examples of how that will work.
  3. In our 200th episode of Thinks Out Loud, our e-commerce and digital strategy podcast — I outlined “6 Proven Digital Marketing Trends (The Best of Thinks Out Loud),” which include how to tie together customer experience, content, and technology. Give it a listen when you get a moment.
  4. I also discuss these trends in a recent presentation called “Digital Marketing Directions 2017: The Key Digital Marketing Trends Driving Your Business.” Be sure to check out the whole presentation. You’ll be glad you did.
  5. For a clear-cut example of what this trend of connecting customer experience, content and techology might look like, The Wall Street Journal reports “Nordstrom Tries On a New Look: Stores Without Merchandise.” They may be on to something.
  6. Shifting gears, I mentioned this in another recent episode of Thinks Out Loud called “Facebook’s Data Problem” Fortune Magazine’s report that “Facebook’s Ad Reach Claims Don’t Match Census Data, Pivotal Notes.” You can see why that’s a problem for Facebook, and for you, eh?
  7. Finally, let’s round out this list of 6 sensational digital strategy insights with this post that asks “How Can You Succeed at Digital Marketing Next Year? 17 Great Posts Offer Answers” and a pretty great round-up of “A Dozen Don’t-Miss Digital Strategy Posts.” That seems like a nice way to close out the list, don’t you think?

Have a fabulous weekend, Big Thinkers. Catch you back here next week!

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

By

September 8, 2017

8 Amazing E-commerce Insights You Simply Can’t Miss: E-commerce Link Digest

September 8, 2017 | By | No Comments

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8 amazing e-commerce insights you simply can't missHey, Big Thinkers! Hope you’ve had an amazing week. I also hope you’re looking forward to an even better week ahead. To get you ready to crush it as you move forward, here’s a set of 8 amazing e-commerce insights you simply can’t miss. Enjoy:

  1. Following up on all the Amazon news in last week's list of "5 Fast, Fascinating E-commerce insights to Help You Succeed," Kohl's has announced it will open in-store Amazon shopsselling Amazon's Kindle and Echo devices. That's a huge move. And while most people I've seen suggest it's a win-win, I'm not convinced it's a good move for Kohl's. It's one thing when your competitor creates a Trojan Horse. It's another entirely when you start selling that Trojan Horse to all your customers.
  2. In highly-related news, Retail Dive asks, "Is Nordstrom the Next Acquisition Target for Walmart or Amazon?" and offers insights into why the answer might be yes. Excellent point of view on the strategies Walmart and Amazon seem to be following.
  3. One of the biggest shifts still to come with regard to e-commerce comes from customers using digital to buy their groceries. With that in mind, Marketing Charts provides, well, a chart that uncovers "Here's Who's Shopping Online for Groceries." Good stuff.
  4. My friend Rob Petersen at BarnRaisers offers a list of "15 eCommerce Case Studies Show Big Results From Small Changes." Apart from the fact that I think it's spelled "e-commerce," it's well worth your time.
  5. To close out the e-commerce focused section of the update, take a few minutes to review this post that asks,"Will E-commerce Kill Retail?" The answer, essentially, is no, but it's complicated so you'll want to check this one out.
  6. I may have mentioned this in another Link Digest, but you owe to yourself to review Ross Quintana's post "Your Customer Is Your Business."
  7. I'm also a big fan of this piece from MarketingWeek that explains “Why the Future of Customer Experience Depends on Online Data.”
  8. Finally, to help you plan for the future and wrap up this week's list of 8 amazing e-commerce insights you simply can’t miss, be sure to spend some time with these "6 Proven Digital Marketing Trends (The Best of Thinks Out Loud)" and "How Can You Succeed at Digital Marketing in 2017? 17 Great Posts Offer Answers."

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

By

September 6, 2017

Facebook’s Data Problem (Thinks Out Loud Episode 202)

September 6, 2017 | By | No Comments

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Facebook's Data Problem: Screenshot of Facebook.com

Facebook’s Data Problem (Thinks Out Loud Episode 202) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 15m 32s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

Facebook’s Data Problem – Thinks Out Loud Episode 202 (September 6, 2017) Transcript

Introduction

Well hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, today is Wednesday, September 6, 2017 and this is episode 202 of the big show. Thank you once again for tuning in, I really do appreciate it. I’ve got a terrific show for you this week.

Now I have to do something a little unusual today and that is provide a disclosure: I’m going to be talking a lot about Facebook and I think it’s important to note that I own a small number of shares of Facebook, that represent about 0.7 percent of my portfolio. I don’t think that introduces any bias into the conversation, but, obviously, you should know that and judge accordingly. Also, of course, I think it’s really important to note that I’m about to look at the company from the point of view of marketing professionals, so please don’t take any of this as investment advice. This is all about what you do as a marketer, not as an investor.

Now with all that out of the way, it's really interesting what's happening with Facebook these days. They really represent a study in contrasts for marketers and customers alike and a lot of that contrast really has to do with their data problems. And they have a number of them.

Facebook’s Data Problem: Miscounting Subscribers

According to Fortune and Pivotal Research Group:

…Pivotal Research Group senior analyst Brian Wieser pointed out a large discrepancy between U.S. census data and the potential reach that the social network promises advertisers.

I’m still quoting the Fortune article here:

On Tuesday, Wieser issued a note pointing out that Facebook's Adverts Manager tool promises a potential reach of 41 million 18-24 year-olds in the U.S., while recent census data said there only 31 million people living in the U.S. within that age range.

For 25-34 year-olds, Facebook claims a potential reach of 60 million, versus the 45 million people counted in the census last year.

So to recap that, Facebook claims it’s reaching somewhere between 25 and 35% more 18 to 34-year-olds then the U.S. Census shows exist. That’s not great.

Now, there could be multiple causes for this:

  1. Some people have more than one account. Whether for legitimate reasons or less legitimate reasons (more on that in a moment), it’s entirely possible people have more than one account on Facebook and so the social network is double counting those people
  2. Older people (and, who are we kidding, it’s probably creepy old guys mostly) with only one account might be lying about their age for any number of reasons that I'm not getting into, right, or, most likely…
  3. Some combination of the first two

Still, that is an issue.

Additionally, a year ago, Facebook had to apologize for “artificially inflating” the number of video views on the site. Those are big deals, right? Those are really big deals. But they’re tough to reconcile with the fact that we also think that Facebook knows everything.

Facebook’s Data Problem: They Know Everything

At the same time, Facebook — with the possible exception of Google — has data about that’s second to none. Kashmir Hill wrote a piece on Gizmodo called “Facebook Figured Out My Family Secrets, And It Won’t Tell Me How.” It’s a crazy story, and I have to quote it at some length for you to get a sense of exactly how crazy. So, here’s the quote:

“And then there was Rebecca Porter. She showed up on the list after about a month: an older woman, living in Ohio, with whom I had no Facebook friends in common. I did not recognize her, but her last name was familiar. My biological grandfather is a man I’ve never met, with the last name Porter, who abandoned my father when he was a baby. My father was adopted by a man whose last name was Hill, and he didn’t find out about his biological father until adulthood.

The Porter family lived in Ohio. Growing up half a country away, in Florida, I’d known these blood relatives were out there, but there was no reason to think I would ever meet them.

I’m going to fast-forward through this…

I sent the woman a Facebook message explaining the situation and asking if she was related to my biological grandfather.

“Yes,” she wrote back.

Rebecca Porter, we discovered, is my great aunt, by marriage. She is married to my biological grandfather’s brother; she met him 35 years ago, the year after I was born.

Facebook knew my family tree better than I did.

Now that’s crazy. It's connecting people who, apart from this biological relationship several generations back, have nothing in common in the real world, and knew that these two people should know one another. I had a similar thing happen when Facebook recommended I add as a friend a contractor who’s done some regular work on my house, who I found online about 10 years ago, and have no connection to in any other way. Again, crazy how much they know about us.

Facebook’s Data Problem: Analysis

So, which is it? Is Facebook the panopticon, all-seeing, all-knowing, trapping us in its omniscient vision? Or is it a flawed system that defrauds advertisers and fleeces us using fake data?

The easy answer, of course, is “why not both?” But that’s not really fair to Facebook. And it’s not accurate.

I don’t think Facebook willfully lies to people. I strongly suspect, like many companies, they may view data through whatever prism is most aligned with their incentives. They clearly need to attract advertising dollars to drive their continued growth and where they have the greatest opportunities and incentives, they’re re going to position those numbers in whatever way makes those numbers most attractive to advertisers. Which might sound like they're lying, but I think it's more looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. They may not be saying things that are hundred percent accurate but I do think it is something that they’re incented to see most positively.

I also strongly suspect that they’re going to struggle to find those ad dollars in the future without seriously changing their product. Now they're doing some of this will already, which talk about in a moment, but I mentioned a few weeks ago that P&G cut $140 million from its digital advertising spend due to “brand safety concerns and ineffective ads.” P&G is the biggest advertiser in the world, spending $2.4 billion last year according to Advertising Week. Now, when Facebook cut its spend, the Wall Street Journal reported that “P&G indicated it wouldn’t pull back on overall Facebook spending.”

But, let’s be fair, they haven’t indicated whether they’re increasing that spend either. And this is where we get to the crux of the issue and how I would look at it if I were you.

Facebook’s Data Problem – Reach vs. Targeting

P&G has a very specific need: They want reach. That’s why TV advertising still works brilliantly for the company; they can put their message in front of more people on TV than just about anywhere else. And that’s why Facebook is itself getting heavily into the video space to compete not only with YouTube, but with traditional television as well. Its Facebook Watch offering is only the latest step in that direction.

But Facebook’s greatest strength right now — despite its 2 billion monthly active users — is not reach. It’s the ability to target those users individually. Even the “bogus” numbers of “how many 18-34 year olds are there on the site” aren’t terribly important in that context. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying it’s great that Facebook’s numbers are off. It’s just not as big a deal as the Fortune article would have you believe… unless you’re trying for the broadest possible reach.

If you’re looking to connect with a tightly-targeted audience, especially at the top of the funnel, nothing compares with Facebook. Facebook knows more about your customers than just about anyone, including, possibly, Google. And marketing on Facebook works brilliantly. According to recent research from CPC Strategy and available on eMarketer,

…over one-quarter of US internet users had made a purchase after clicking on an ad they came across on Facebook. Meanwhile, just 7% of those who didn’t click on an ad completed a purchase as well. The survey also found that those who did click on a Facebook ad were roughly 3.5 more times likely to buy a product than those who didn’t.

Those numbers were dramatically higher for Facebook than other social networks. The same eMarketer article shows that “…just 1% of respondents ages 13 and older said they made a purchase based on a Snapchat ad they saw, and only 4% said they bought anything based on an Instagram ad.” By contrast, 16% of Facebook users bought something based on an ad. Now that's different research in the same article but given that those numbers:

  1. Are self-reported, as opposed to behavioral, and,
  2. Include internet users who are not active social media users

It’s pretty safe to assume Facebook’s influence is much higher. My own research and research from friends of mine like Rob Petersen certainly suggest so.

Facebook’s Data Problem: Summary

So, yes, Facebook has a data problem. It’s likely miscounting people for any number of reasons, most of them likely innocent at least as far as Facebook’s behavior is concerned.

If you’re looking for reach, Facebook’s data problem is your problem too. They need to understand exactly how many unique individuals your advertising will reach. That’s going to be a problem for the company as they look to expand their video offering to compete with YouTube via Facebook Watch.

If on the other hand, you’re looking to connect with a richly targeted audience, don’t worry too much about the numbers Facebook reports. Instead, look at your own numbers. See whether Facebook is driving profitable traffic and conversions through your own channels. If they are, does it really matter whether how many people they’re reaching? In fact, their miscounting might actually make Facebook’s performance look worse than it is by artificially increasing your impressions, and undercounting clickthrough rates.

The point is, don’t believe the hype. I’ve mentioned many times content is King, customer experience is Queen, and data is the crown jewels. This is a perfect example of why you want to use your data to see if Facebook is producing the results you want. It’s not great that Facebook has a data problem. But that doesn’t mean you have to make it be your problem too.

Conclusion

Now looking at the clock on the wall we are out of time for this week. I do want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all episodes by going to Tim Peter.com/podcast. Again that's Tim Peter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 202. And while you're there you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there so you get us delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also subscribe in iTunes or the Google Play Music store or Stitcher Radio or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or plain old Thinks Out Loud, we should show up for any of those. And if you'd be willing to provide a rating on iTunes, the Google Play Store, or Stitcher Radio while you're there, I would really appreciate it. You can also contact me by going to Facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates, on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, or via email by emailing podcast@TimPeter.com again that's podcast@TimPeter.com. With that I want to say thanks again for tuning in, I really do appreciate it. I hope you have a fantastic weekend and I will look forward to talking with you back here on Thinks Out Loud again next week. Until then take care everybody.

Tim Peter

By

September 1, 2017

5 Fast, Fascinating E-commerce Insights to Help You Succeed: E-commerce Link Digest

September 1, 2017 | By | No Comments

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5 Fast, Fascinating E-commerce Insights to Help You Succeed: E-commerce Link Digest

Happy Labor Day weekend, Big Thinkers! I hope you have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday, no />matter where you may be. This week’s edition of the E-commerce Link Digest Series rounds-up 5 fast, fascinating e-commerce insights to help you succeed — and I hope they help you do just that. Enjoy:

  1. So, here we go. According to Recode, “Amazon Will Lower Whole Foods Prices Right Away and Prime Members Will Get Special Discounts.” This was announced on the day the deal closed, so Amazon clearly isn’t wasting any time with this one. The Atlantic has a fantastic piece that outlines “Why Amazon Is Such a Threat to the Grocery Industry” that you’ll really want to check out.
  2. Building on that theme, in two separate episodes of Thinks Out Loud, our weekly e-commerce and digital strategy podcast, our own Tim Peter took a look at why Amazon is such a threat to most other retail sectors to boot. The episodes, called
    “Amazon Goes Grocery Shopping” (Thinks Out Loud Episode 197) and “Amazon Go Shows How E-commerce Will Work in the Future,” are well worth your time.
  3. And in one of the most popular posts ever here at Thinks, we took a look at the question, “Will E-commerce Kill Retail?” Even better, we offered up some answers too.
  4. Meanwhile, the fine folks over on CMO.com talked with “Adobe’s Julie Hoffmann About Envisioning What Customers Can’t Imagine” in an outstanding episode of their marketing podcast.
  5. Finally, let’s finish off this list of 5 fast, fascinating e-commerce insights to help you succeed with two posts that deliver the goods. The first asks “How Can You Succeed at Digital Marketing Next Year? 17 Great Posts Offer Answers” and the second provides a fantastic roundup of “6 Proven Digital Marketing Trends (The Best of Thinks Out Loud).”

Have a fabulous weekend, Big Thinkers. Catch you back here next week!

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

By

August 30, 2017

The Truth About Voice as a Powerful Trend (Thinks Out Loud Episode 201)

August 30, 2017 | By | No Comments

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The Truth About Voice as a Powerful Trend (Thinks Out Loud Episode 201)

The Truth About Voice as a Powerful Trend (Thinks Out Loud Episode 201) – Headlines and Show Notes

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 55s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes [iTunes link], the Google Play Store, via our dedicated podcast RSS feed )(or sign up for our free newsletter). You can also download/listen to the podcast here on Thinks using the player at the top of this page.

The Truth about Voice as a Powerful Trend – Thinks Out Loud Episode 201 (August 30, 2017) Transcript

Well hello again everyone and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital marketing expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter, today is Wednesday, August 30, and this is episode 201 of the big show. Thank you once again for tuning in, I really do appreciate it. I’ve got a terrific show for you this week. A couple weeks ago, in our 200th episode, I talked about some key trends. I talked about mobile, and content being king, and customer experience being queen, and data being the crown jewels and how those all tied together to create the kind of experience and the kind of business performance that you are looking for. And I got a number of emails and some messages on Twitter and places like that asking about voice, why wasn't it in there.

Now I have talked about voice before; I brought it up in episode 199 talking about how millennials, mobile payments, and voice will serve as key drivers of mobile commerce as we go forward. But it is fair to ask why isn't it a bigger deal, why as I talked about some of these key trends you should be paying attention to, why isn't voice there?

Well, there's a few things we need to cover.

First, let's make a distinction between voice search like you would find with Google, voice search when you're just on your mobile phone and asking Google to find you something; and the kinds of voice applications or chatbots like you'd find with Apple Siri or Amazon's Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana, or Google's Assistant. They're really two different things for now; whether or not they will be two different things in time is another matter. But right now we need to treat them a little differently.

And when we talk about voice search it is big and getting bigger: about a fifth of all mobile searches are conducted using voice and that number continues to grow so we'll come back to that at the end of the episode and put that aside for the moment.

When we talk about voice-activated tools like Siri or Alexa or Cortana or Assistant, it gets a bit complicated. There was some huge news on this front today when it was announced that Amazon and Microsoft have agreed to connect their Alexa and Cortana voice-based assistants. Now if that seems like a big deal to you it should because it will certainly emerge as a really big deal and you really owe it to yourself to read Brian Roemmele's take on it, which I will of course link to in the show notes. But as big as this will be there's a few reasons you shouldn't be putting too much focus on this type of voice application for your business… at least not yet.

Low Market Penetration for Voice-Driven Personal Assistants

The first reason is that the penetration of these kinds of devices and these kinds of utilities is still relatively low. They’re growing like a weed, the growth is huge, but the actual penetration is still relatively low. Only about 7% of people have one of these devices according to data from Edison Research and that I first heard about my friend Mark Schaefer’s “The Marketing Companion” podcast. Now 7% up from zero in just a couple of years is amazing. It's also really just a fraction of your potential customers. Now these folks are interesting people in that 42% of them say that their device is essential to their everyday lives, while 65% either agree or strongly agree that they wouldn't go back want to go back to life without one. 42% of them owned more than one device and 45% plan to purchase another one.

So these are people really love these things. By the way, I fall into that category; I love it, wouldn't go back, and I own three of them. But we're still only talking about 7% of the population. And more importantly over 70% of those in the study either strongly agree or agree that they don't know enough about their device to use all of its features. And that really leads to the next issue…

No Standard Exists for Developing Chatbots

The next reason why I wouldn't put all my eggs in this basket right now is that chatbots are not standard; they differ by platform. Now the Amazon/Microsoft announcement might change that some, but you know…

If you want to think about it easily, chatbots are essentially just apps for voice; that’s the easiest way to think about it. And right now it's a fairly fragmented marketplace between Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Assistant — which itself can be used on Google Home or on Google Assistant on Android and the like.

Unlike mobile where you have pretty straightforward path to say “okay if I'm going after money I want iOS; if I’m going after scale I want Android,” but there's just not a really clear path forward on chatbots for the moment and building them is not the simplest thing in the world right now now. Those two facts will change but it's not true yet. So if you're thinking about moving forward with these, you have to think about where your customers are, which percentage of that 7% are on which of these things and do you have to create a chatbot for every single one of them. That's a big deal and I don't know that most brands and businesses are ready for that yet.

Content Matters More than Voice… At Least for Now

The third one, and this is where this gets really interesting: Voice depends on content. So this is something you can do today to be ready for chatbots and be ready for voice and it helps you with voice search, which as I said at the beginning is really, really important. So this is kind of key. When you're thinking about what you should do for voice, you really should be thinking about, “What should I be doing about my content? How can I get my content house in order?”

AI is going to do increasingly positive job of determining which content you, um, see, right? So if I ask a question of, “find me a great restaurant near here,: or if I say, “What book I should read?” or “What's the weather going to be?” or “Where should I go for my next trip?” or things along those lines, the AI’s in these devices will do a better job over time answering those questions.

They will also depend on content. There's a terrific article in The Verge today about how YouTube improved its content feed that shares content to keep you on the site. Which is a classic example of a case of AI making big data little, something I talked about in episode 196. But if you don't have good content and if that content isn't well structured for the needs of the chatbot, you never get the game.

Importance of Long-Tail Keywords to Chat and Voice

So if you want to do something for voice, you want to start thinking about content. And I mentioned customer experience being such a key trend, well, obviously context is a key component of that customer experience. Content depends upon that context. So if you're thinking about voice, first you need to think more about what's your searchers’ intent, what’s your customers’ intent when they're asking questions, what's the actual problem there trying to solve, and what are the conversational phrases that they’ll use to get the answer to the question? You want to ask yourself does your content answer your customer’s question, not In the figurative sense, but literally.

Think, “Hey Siri, what's a great Thai restaurant around here?” or “OK, Google, where should I buy a pair of pants?” Right? You’ve got to think about these longer-tail keywords and these sort of conversational elements that your customers are to use when they're looking for the products or services you offer. The search queries tend to be longer so what a focus on that and think longer tail. You also want to think about making sure that you've got sufficient content that answers any number of the questions that they will have. Where they will be in their journey will determine a big piece of that. Delivering a great chatbot experience, by the way, depends on the same reality, so you’ve really got to cover both bases. Or to put it another way around, if you don't cover these bases your chatbot and your voice search will both be terrible. So you’re going to have to think through that whole process:

  • What is the customer's journey?
  • What is their intent?
  • What are the conversational phrases that they’re going to care about and going to use?
  • How well does your content answer those questions?
  • And have you thought through the longer tail keywords that you will need to be able to address to do just that?

Now from a purely voice search perspective and as we get deeper into voice as a platform, you also should start really looking into using schema for your SEO. Now that's a bit technical for the podcast but look at the references that I’ve linked to in the show notes and talk about them with your developers. That’s something you should be doing today anyway and can really help you to go forward.

The Truth About Voice as a Powerful Trends

So, when we talk about the truth about voice, voice is not hype. Earlier this year I talked about whether voice, VR, AR, and AI represent hype or hope for marketers, and voice is definitely not hype. It will be huge. And there are activities you can start today. But voice in the sense of Echoes and Siri and Google Assistant and the like aren't critical to your growth right now.

Building the right kind of content that answers your customers questions whether they type it or whether they talk it is. Winning, when we talk about marketing, often depends not on chasing the latest and greatest, but on prioritization and execution. If you can do a good job of creating great content, if you can think through the customer's journey and answer their questions with intent at each stage, if you actually have the right keywords that match up — the longer tail keywords that match up with the problems they're trying to solve — you’re going to be in a much better position both for voice search now… and for voice as we get into more sophisticated chatbots later.

And I can tell you in all sincerity that's the truth about voice as a powerful trend.

Conclusion

Now looking at the clock on the wall we are out of time for this week. I do want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode as well as an archive of all episodes by going to Tim Peter.com/podcast. Again that's Tim Peter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 201. And while you're there you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find there so you get us delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single week. You can also subscribe in iTunes or the Google Play Music store or Stitcher Radio or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or plain old Thinks Out Loud, we should show up for any of those. And if you'd be willing to provide a rating on iTunes, the Google Play Store, or Stitcher Radio while you're there, I would really appreciate it. You can also contact me by going to Facebook.com/TimPeterAssociates, on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, or via email by emailing podcast@TimPeter.com again that's podcast@TimPeter.com. With that I want to say thanks again for tuning in, I really do appreciate it. I hope you have a fantastic weekend and I will look forward to talking with you back here on Thinks Out Loud again next week. Until then take care everybody.

Tim Peter

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August 27, 2017

9 Popular Hotel Marketing and Distribution Posts for You: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

August 27, 2017 | By | No Comments

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9 Popular Hotel Marketing and Distribution Posts for You: Hospitality Marketing Link Digest

Howdy, Big Thinkers! Hope you’ve had a delightful weekend. Let’s close out the weekend with a great set of 9 popular hotel marketing and distribution posts for you. Enjoy:

  1. Although it’s from a few months back, this list of 6 Quick Hotel Distribution and Digital Marketing Insights from the Hospitality Marketing Link Digest series seems like a good way to kick things off.
  2. Why kick off that way? Well, according to Skift, “Hilton’s CEO Looks to Airbnb as Hedge Against Power of Expedia and Booking.com,” which just illustrates how much change the entire hotel distribution and marketing landscape is going through right now.
  3. For even more evidence, Tnooz says that “Airbnb Wants to Reinvent Every Aspect of Travel.” And that evidence suggests that Airbnb might just succeed.
  4. Of course, it’s also fair to ask now, “What Business Is Airbnb In? Hotels? Or Hospitality?” Worth a read.
  5. Shifting gears, Travelution says that “Hotels Must Get Social Media Savvy to Tap Into Younger Customers.” That’s true. But age isn’t the only factor that matters there.
  6. If you’re unsure how to start, We Are Social UK explains “How Travel Brands Can Benefit from Social, AI and Chatbots” for you.
  7. And if you’re unsure why you should start, I asked “Is Social a Waste of Time for Hotel Marketers?” not too long ago. The answer, of course, is “no.” But check out the whole post for the details.
  8. Speaking of social, this list of “7 Sensational Posts for Hospitality Marketers” has been burning up Twitter for the last week or so. Take a look to see why for yourself.
  9. Finally, to wrap up this week’s list of 9 popular hotel marketing and distribution posts for you in a nice little package, don’t miss this post that looks at “Hospitality Digital Marketing and Distribution: Is it Time to Give Up?”

If you’re looking for even more hospitality marketing goodness, you might also want to take a moment to review the slides from Tim’s recent seminar, “Digital Marketing Directions 2016: The Key Trends Driving Your Hotel Marketing Next Year” here:

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

Tim Peter

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August 25, 2017

7 Expert CX, AI, and Digital Tips to Boost Your Bottom Line: E-commerce Link Digest

August 25, 2017 | By | No Comments

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7 expert CX, AI, and digital tips to boost your bottom line

Hei, hei, Big Thinkers! I just got back from Norway and that’s everyone says “hello” there. Hope you get to use that in all your travels. This week’s edition of the E-commerce Link Digest Series rounds-up 7 expert CX, AI, and digital tips to boost your bottom line — and I hope you get to do just that too. Enjoy:

  1. The fine folks over at Brand Quarterly have outlined “The Importance Of Consistency Within Omnichannel Marketing” for us all… and done a nice job of it to boot. Well worth your time to read.
  2. While thinking about getting things right, CMO.com has a terrific piece that asks “Do You View Your Customer As A Name Or A Number?” Guess which one works better.
  3. Sticking with our friends at CMO.com, here’s a fantastic round-up of “7 Digital Trends That Will Change Business Forever” for you. While I don’t know about the “forever” part, they’re all worth checking out.
  4. On a highly-related note, we rounded up “6 Proven Digital Marketing Trends in The Best of Thinks Out Loud recently. Give ’em all a listen when you get a moment, OK?
  5. Yet another outstanding CMO.com article connects two of my favorite topics with these “4 Ways Machine Learning Boosts The Customer Experience.” Much like the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercial claimed, these are two great tastes that taste great together.
  6. Since I may have mentioned before that “AI Makes Big Data Little” — and getting your “data house” in order represents a key first step for your AI strategy — you’ll probablby appreciate this quick refresher on “Finding and Following Your Customer’s Digital Footprint.”9 Great Posts Focused on Digital Transformation, Strategy, and AI: E-commerce Link Digest
  7. Finally, let’s close out this week’s look at 7 expert CX, AI, and digital tips to boost your bottom line with a post that asks — and answers — “How Can You Succeed at Digital Marketing Next Year? 17 Great Posts Offer Answers.”

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

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August 11, 2017

7 Great Digital Transformation, AI, and Strategy Posts You Won’t Want to Miss: E-commerce Link Digest

August 11, 2017 | By | No Comments

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7 Great Digital Transformation, AI, and Strategy Posts You Won't Want to Miss: E-commerce Link Digest

Hiya, Big Thinkers! Hope you’ve had another brilliant week, filled to the brim with success and fun. This week’s edition of the E-commerce Link Digest Series rounds-up 7 great digital transformation, AI, and strategy posts you won’t want to miss. Enjoy:

  1. My friend Mark Schaefer outlines a series of “Strategies To Deal With Losing Readers Through The Newsfeed Evolution” that you won’t want to miss.
  2. Vala Afshar has a fantastic piece in The Huffington Post all about how “AI-Powered Companies Combine Machine Intelligence And Human Ingenuity” that I know you’ll just love.
  3. While we’re on that topic, you’ll also want to check out this look at “Voice, VR, AR, and AI: Hype or Hope for Marketers?” from our e-commerce and digital strategy podcast, Thinks Out Loud.
  4. eMarketer has new data that takes a look at why “Digital Transformation Projects Rank High in Importance to Marketing Leaders” that’s well worth your time.
  5. And our past post collecting “9 Great Posts Focused on Digital Transformation, Strategy, and AI” makes a worthwhile companion piece.
  6. If you’re interested in “How Can You Succeed at Digital Marketing Next Year? These 17 Great Posts Offer Answers.”
  7. And finally, you won’t want to miss these “6 Proven Digital Marketing Trends” highlighted in the landmark 200th episode of Thinks Out Loud earlier this week.

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Finally, you might enjoy some of these past posts from Thinks to help you build your e-commerce strategy and your digital success:

Tim Peter

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August 11, 2017

6 Proven Digital Marketing Trends (The Best of Thinks Out Loud – Episode 200)

August 11, 2017 | By | No Comments

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6 Proven Digital Marketing Trends (The Best of Thinks Out Loud)

6 Proven Digital Marketing Trends (The Best of Thinks Out Loud – Episode 200) – Headlines and Show Notes

Digital Transformation

Mobile

Content

Customer Experience

Future Trends

You Can Do It

Subscribe to Thinks Out Loud

Contact information for the podcast: podcast@timpeter.com

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

You might also want to check out these slides I had the pleasure of presenting recently about the key trends shaping marketing in the next year. Here are the slides for your reference:

Technical Details for Thinks Out Loud

Recorded using a Heil Sound PR 30 Large Diaphragm Multipurpose Dynamic Microphone through a Cloud Microphones CL-1 Cloudlifter Mic Activator and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack USB recording interface into Logic Express 9 for the Mac.

Running time: 13m 44s

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