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Tim Peter Thinks

Tim Peter

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October 14, 2019

For Marketers, It’s Not a Mobile Phone. It’s a Window (Thinks Out Loud Episode 262)

October 14, 2019 | By | No Comments

For Marketers, It's Not a Mobile Phone. It's a Window: Customers looking at mobile devicesLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


For Marketers, It’s Not a Mobile Phone. It’s a Window (Thinks Out Loud Episode 262) — Headlines and Show Notes

Data and mobile go hand-in-hand for marketers. That's not a secret. But have you thought about what that really means for your business? We live in a time of radical transparency. Because the radically transparent information that customers can gain about your business tells them everything they could want to know about your products, services, quality, and prices — whether you want them to or not.

But their mobile phone isn't really a mobile phone. It's a window. And just as they can see into your business, you can see into their lives. Savvy marketers understand this. They also understand what's appropriate to look at… and what ought to be off limits. Savvy marketers know how to ask permission… and know what they maybe shouldn't ask for at all. And savvy marketers know how to put that data to work for their business… and for the benefit of their customers.

The latest episode of Thinks Out Loud looks at why it's not a mobile, and why it's a window. And we also take a look at you can succeed in a world where both you and your customer can see everything about one another without being creepy.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you:

For Marketers, It’s Not a Mobile Phone. It’s a Window (Thinks Out Loud Episode 262) — Relevant Links:

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 PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Mic and a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen) USB Audio Interface into Logic Pro X for the Mac.

Running time: 14m 32s

You can subscribe to Thinks Out Loud in iTunes, 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.

For Marketers, It's Not a Mobile Phone. It's a Window (Thinks Out Loud Episode 262) – 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, and this is episode 262 of the big show. Thank you so much for tuning in. I really, really appreciate it.

I think we have a really cool show for you today, and I want to talk a bit about mobile and data and your customers, and how all of those tie together in a way that means a lot for your business. Now, it's really clear that mobile changes behaviors tremendously. We know this. I mean, this is something I've talked about in show after show after show, and I'm not going to rehash all of those, though I will link to many of those episodes in the show notes, but I want to point out that your customers now live in a world of radical transparency, of a world where all of the information that matters to customers about your company is available to them anywhere and anytime. They use that data to make decisions. They use that information to make decisions about whether or not you're the right product or service for their needs in a given time.

They have more information about your products, your services, your prices, your benefits, your weaknesses than any of your employees do. Actually, than all of your employees do. Obviously, any of your employees can access the same information and the like, but most of the time they don't because your customers have greater incentive to ask those questions and to seek out that information. They're the ones who have the need. They're the ones who have a problem. And so they're using mobile wherever they happen to be and whenever it matters to them to look up the information that answers their question.

You know, there's an old joke, I've told it many times on this show, in marketing that nobody looks to buy a drill. They look to buy a hole. The drill is just a way of making that happen. And so what your customers are doing is saying, "Well, I have this problem. I need something, a hole. I need a hotel room. I need a place to stay. I need financial advice. I need the coolest new gadget," whatever it happens to be, and they're asking the questions of, "What product, what service, and that what price can I get that thing that serves my purpose, that fills this need for me?"

Clay Christensen, Clayton Christensen, the guy who wrote The Innovator's Dilemma and other books that basically lay out the idea of disruption always refers to the job to be done. What is the job to be done that your customers are hiring your product or service for? And mobile answers all their questions about whether or not your product or service is the right solution to hire for what their need is.

But here's the crazy thing, right? Radical transparency works both ways. It cuts in both directions. Your customers aren't carrying a phone, they're carrying a window. It's not a one-way piece of glass. They can see into your business. They can see deeply into your business. But you can see into their world too. In some ways, and I'm not the first person to say this, but the mobile phone is sort of the TV that watches you if you're a customer. If you think about all of the sensors that exist in a mobile phone, we've got accelerometers, we've got gyroscopes, we've got proximity sensors, we've got digital compasses, we've got barometers and biometrics and all sorts of other things. We get a sense of all of the massive amounts of data that customers share with us, whether they intend to or not, or at least share with the manufacturer of the phone and the manufacturer of the operating system, so Apple and Google, and sometimes Facebook and sometimes Instagram and sometimes whomever else.

I always think about it as, you go back to the inventors of some of the greatest technologies that ever existed, Gutenberg and Daguerre and Marconi and Bell and Farnsworth, right? Your customers have a printing press and a camera and a radio and a telephone and a television studio with them everywhere they go, and all of it is at their fingertips. So when I talk about data, see, and this is where we come round to the data side, but when I talk about data, I'm talking about all of the things that your customers' behaviors and their posts and their sharing tell us about what matters to them.

Think about the technologies that you use regularly today. You know, you use things like social media monitoring. You use things like search analytics. You use things like web analytics or mobile analytics to tell you how your customers behave. That was the kind of data people would have given their right arms for a decade ago or two decades ago, and today it exists everywhere. So we live in a world of sheer radical transparency. There's nothing that you can know, that you could want to know, that's not available to you, at least from a technical perspective. And this is where things start to get really interesting and really important for us to think about as marketing professionals and as business professionals.

You know, let me ask you a question. There are biometric sensors… So I'm wearing an Apple watch right now, and it has biometric sensors that measure my heart rate, so it can tell a lot about my heart rate. Right now, I assume my heart rate is pretty normal, pretty standard, but is that data something that my insurance company should have access to? If I didn't own my own business, is that something that my employer should have access to? If you're the insurance company, is that something that you should have access to without your customer's permission? We don't like it when customers look deeply inside our business and look at details that we really wish weren't public. Is it fair of us to expect customers to give over that data to us about themselves that they might wish weren't public? And I think there's some very real questions we need to ask about what kinds of data should we access and what kinds of data should we never access. And this is a really big debate and a really important debate.

You know, I've said many times, quoting the philosopher Paul DeLillo, "When you build a ship, you build a shipwreck." And the question for savvy marketers is, are the shipwrecks that could potentially begin to exist worth the risk compared to the benefits we might get from the ship?

I don't think there's any one definitive answer to that question.

You know, maybe it makes a lot of sense for an insurance company to have access to my heart rate. Maybe it makes better for everybody, including me, if they do, because maybe I'll get a better rate. Maybe my risk of heart attack will be reduced. Maybe they can provide me customized information to help me manage my heart rate and manage my health and manage my stress levels or all of the various things that could in fact make my heart rate accelerated and put me at greater risk of dying. But that's the argument we should be making as a business.

We should be saying, "Here's the benefit you get when you provide this data to us." If you the customer say, "Okay, I understand the benefit, but I'm not comfortable providing that information," then we also have to say, "Then that's okay," and we can use combinations of carrots and sticks to say, "Okay, you don't want to give us the information. Maybe you pay a higher rate because we don't know. We don't know how to assess your risk." So all of these are things that are worth asking about and worth thinking about.

I have mentioned before that regulations like GDPR and CCPA have come in … the California Consumer Privacy Act … have come into effect because we as marketers maybe didn't do a good enough job of protecting customer information. And so I think we have to remember that it's not a phone, it's a window. And yes, customers can use it to see inside our business and we can use it to see inside their lives. What we need to do is also ensure that when we're doing that, we're doing it with permission, we're doing it in a way that's transparent, no pun intended in this case. You know that they're very aware of the kinds of information we access and why. That we maybe give them the right to opt out, or at help them understand why the various carrots and sticks exist, because people who look through windows without permission, it used to be they were called "peeping Toms," but today they're just called creeps.

So don't be a creep. Use the window for what it's designed to be. Use the window in cooperation with your customers and understand that sometimes they may want to draw the shades or draw the blinds and keep us from seeing certain stuff, and that's okay, but we also have to understand that if we're going to look deeply into the lives of our customers, they're also going to look deeply into the lives of our businesses, and we need to make sure each of us on both side of the glass are comfortable with what we're letting others see.

Now, looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week, but I would want to remind you that you can find the show notes for today's episode, as well as an archive of all our past episodes, by going to timpeter.com/podcast. Again, that's timpeter.com/podcast. Just look for episode 262. While you're there, you can click on the subscribe link in any of the episodes you find to have Thinks Out Loud delivered to your favorite podcatcher every single episode. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts or Stitcher Radio or whatever your favorite podcatcher happens to be. You can find us on all the finest podcast services anywhere in the world. Just do a search for Tim Peter Thinks, Tim Peter Thinks Out Loud, or Thinks Out Loud. We should show up for any of those.

While you're there, I'd also very much appreciate it if you could provide us a positive rating and review. That provides other listeners a window into the show and helps them understand whether or not it's something they would like to listen to too. It makes it easier for people to find us, and it would mean a ton to me.

You can also find Thinks Out Loud on Facebook by going to facebook.com/timpeterassociates. You can find me on Twitter using the Twitter handle @tcpeter, or of course you can email me by sending an email to podcast@timpeter.com. Again, that's podcast@timpeter.com.

As ever, I'd like to thank our sponsor. Thinks Out Loud is brought to you by SoloSegment. SoloSegment focuses on AI-driven content discovery and site search analytics to unlock revenue for your business. You can learn more about how to improve your content, increase your customer satisfaction, and make your search smarter by going to solosegment.com.

With that, I want to say thanks so much for tuning in. I very much appreciate it. I hope you have a great rest of the week, a wonderful weekend, and I'll look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, as ever, please be well, be safe, and take care, everybody.

Tim Peter

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June 11, 2019

Hey, Hotel Marketers: What’s Holding Mobile Bookings Back?

June 11, 2019 | By | No Comments

What's holding mobile bookings back? Guest shopping for reservations on mobileLooking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


If anyone you're talking with describes 2019 as "the year of mobile," or some other such similar statement, I'd like you to smile at them, nod your head politely, and casually walk away. Why? Because that individual has no idea what they're talking about. 2019 is decidedly not the year of mobile. Not even close. The "year of mobile" has already passed us by.

In reality, we're not in the year of mobile; we're in an era of mobile, of shifting behaviors and business models alike. Uber and Airbnb and Venmo and Instagram all grew up in a world where mobile is the norm, not the new. And if you're genuinely committed to driving direct reservations for your hotels, you must accept mobile as the norm too. Whether you work for a property owner, management company, or brand, you must focus on providing an outstanding experience to guests – current and potential – on mobile all throughout their journey.

In case you missed it, a key data point underscores this reality. Mobile internet activity exceeded desktop internet use in October…2016, over two full years(!) ago. In fact, according to Stone Temple Consulting, mobile traffic now accounts for roughly 63% of all internet use, which is truly astonishing. Most hotels are seeing mobile traffic represent at least 35% of their total traffic and my own experience shows mobile traffic accounting for well over 40% of all sessions. And this shift creates significant opportunities for hotel marketers. Because one area where mobile has not bypassed desktop is its success — or more properly, its lack thereof — in delivering reservations.

Data from SmartInsights suggests that mobile conversion rates average only around 0.7%, compared with well over 2% on desktop. That's a significant decline relative to desktop with real-world consequences for reservations and revenue.

Consider a hypothetical hotel company that receives 12,000 site visitors per period (that period could encompass an entire year for a small hotel or a single day for a decent-sized hotel group; you can choose whichever is appropriate to your situation). If this hotel received only 40% of its traffic from mobile, it would potentially give away 62 reservations each and every single period (for you math wizards in the room, 96 desktop reservations from a 2% conversion rate minus 34 mobile reservations from a 0.7% conversion rate equals 62 "lost" reservations to mobile behaviors). Obviously, these numbers would be higher if your share of mobile traffic is higher. Given an average reservation value of $200, that's the equivalent of $12,400 in lost top-line revenue every period. Even if, by some miracle, 100% of those guests end up picking up the phone or booking your property via an OTA — which would be amazing…and unlikely — you're increasing your cost for those reservations by either the cost of the call or the OTA margin. That's not good. Like, seriously, not good. And that also ignores the fact that you already paid for the performance media or SEO efforts necessary to get that traffic to your website in the first place.

So, why are we losing bookings on mobile relative to desktop? What's holding mobile bookings back? Several reasons come immediately to mind.

Ineffective Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Even with increasing competition from hotels and OTA's, organic search typically represents a significant driver of traffic for most hotel websites. But beginning in March, 2018, Google began splitting its search index into separate versions for desktop and mobile, favoring sites for mobile searchers that specifically take mobile usage into account and penalizing those that work poorly in a mobile context. In fact, mobile-first is now the default for new sites Google finds.

While this change doesn’t directly affect conversion rate, it impacts your business all the same. Google's split of its index has left hotels providing a subpar mobile experience in a sad state, losing traffic and, of course, reservations.

Slow Web Performance
Your website's overall speed also plays a significant role both in SEO rankings and in your guests' website experience. Research from Akamai shows that "…fifty-three percent (53%) of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load" and that "…bounce rates were highest for mobile phone shoppers." And Google has publicly acknowledged that they now use site speed as part of their mobile search ranking algorithm. The search giant offers more favorable placement in mobile search results to hotels featuring websites that load speedily and help guests find the answers they need quickly and conveniently.

Poor Mobile Web Usability and Design
Of course, poor mobile experience isn't a negative solely from Google's point of view; it's bad for guests and bad for your business too. Many hotels are seeing significantly higher bounce and exit rates from guests visiting their site on mobile devices. Wonder where your low conversion rates come from? It should be apparent that guests bouncing off your site aren't converting. Again, speed plays a crucial role. But the need to improve usability and decrease bounce rate overall should be equally apparent.

Lack of Trust
As has been true for the better part of two decades, trust continues to play a key role in influencing conversion online. Slow, insecure websites with limited or outdated content – or most any subset of these issues — frequently fail to convert visitors to bookers. Screen real estate on mobile is limited and valuable. It must be used wisely to assure guests that you are the right choice for their stay and a trustworthy partner who will protect their information and payment details. Along with other elements, Google has also announced that trust plays a significant role in driving SEO ranking. OTA's invest heavily in content designed to reassure guests at each stage of their journey, but especially during the booking decision. Clear rates, quality content, and high-resolution images focused on answering guest questions represent key components in helping site visitors choose your property. Great hoteliers make guests feel comfortable no matter the situation. Helping guests feel comfortable that you represent a reputable option for their next stay is key to providing hospitality online. It deserves your full attention.

Complicated Checkout and Few Payment Options
Even given the current woeful state of mobile usability, checkout and payments present a particularly vexing challenge for users. The checkout process on mobile for many hotel websites remains far too difficult. A recent review of mobile booking engines showed that hotel websites typically require guests to fill in no fewer ten to fifteen form fields across three or four separate screens while completing a reservation. Given that the average guest must manage this while holding their credit card in one hand, a several-hundred-dollar piece of aluminum and glass in another, and type in these fields with, I don't know, a third hand, that's hardly the height of positive user experiences. Why are we making it so hard to do the one thing we most want guests to do?

Further, Booking.com's head of product marketing Morten Larsen recently wrote that "…one in five Booking.com customers don’t complete a reservation due to unavailability of their payment method of choice." Mobile wallets, such as those from Apple Pay, Google, Pay, PayPal and others can streamline the checkout process and can increase the options available for your guests. So, why are these so infrequently offered?

Improperly Configured Analytics
A fair percentage of guests visiting your site on mobile are likely to book via voice since, after all, they are holding a phone in their hands. But are your analytics properly configured to track clicks-to-call? For that matter, is your site properly configured to support click-to-call at all? Now, in fairness, this is less about improving conversion rate and more about measuring alternative reservations channels. But experience suggests that you may be receiving more reservations on mobile than you know, which can be skewing not only your metrics, but also any decisions you're making based on those skewed metrics about media spend or marketing efforts.

How to Make Mobile Drive Bookings for Your Hotel

Once you've identified the issues limiting your mobile website's effectiveness at driving direct reservations, you must establish an appropriate plan to correct these limitations.

First, focus on three key areas:

  • Site speed
  • Quality content
  • Rate parity

Why these three? Well, as discussed, site speed helps with both Google's mobile search index and improves overall usability — or at least perceived usability — by helping guests find the answers they need quickly. This often helps improve your search rankings and traffic, as well as helps lower bounce rate, retaining more of the traffic your site receives and lowering your costs for guest acquisition.

Quality content, both text and visuals, further enhances the guest experience. Content provides answers to the questions your potential guests may have and helps demonstrate the quality of your product. Clear, relevant content also builds trust among site visitors by addressing concerns they may have about your property and its fit for their individual stay. Content also plays an important role in overall search engine optimization and, if properly targeted and authored, may help your site rank better for specific guest queries.

Rate parity delivers multiple benefits for both you and your guests. The diffusion of disparate rates has taught guests that, if they keep looking, they're likely to find a better deal. Offering varying rates across OTA's, metasearch, and hotel websites damages trust in your direct channels by reinforcing the benefits for guests of continuing to shop around. And, when guests continue to shop around, you not only increase the likelihood that they'll book your hotel on a higher-cost channel, you also increase the risk that they'll book a different hotel altogether.

At the same time, make sure that your mobile site displays your reservations phone number prominently and that your phone number works correctly when a guest attempts to click-to-call. While many web browsers automatically convert phone numbers to clickable links, not all do. Automatically converted phone numbers may also fail to match your site's style and typically lack any tracking that shows whether they're being used. Work with your website developer and booking engine provider to put the proper code in place for your guests and for your business benefit.

Finally, work with your IBE providers to incorporate mobile payments and seamless checkout from digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, and the like. Experience shows not only a better mobile experience overall, but also conversion rate increases for each new payment option added.

What's Holding Mobile Bookings Back? Conclusion

We've clearly entered "the Era of Mobile." Mobile represents a large and growing segment of your site visitors. And guests expect a quality, seamless, and, yes, hospitable experience when researching on mobile. They're not going to book your property directly on mobile until and unless you can satisfy their needs there. Google recognizes this fact and actively penalizes poor mobile experience. And OTA's have invested heavily to provide guests with the information and experience they demand. Your mobile web experience — in terms of site speed, quality content, trust, and usability — must meet or exceed their expectations. Or you can continue to muddle along and keep losing traffic and transactions to OTA's and others who do take mobile seriously.

Hotel owners, management companies, and brands alike have a vested interest in addressing these concerns if they're legitimately concerned with increasing direct bookings for their properties.

Mobile bookings aren't "next year's problem." They're not a trend you can afford to ignore. Lost mobile bookings dramatically influence your business right now, pushing guests towards OTA's as their first, last, and only choice for bookings, and driving up the cost of guest acquisitions both in the near-term and down the road. Fixing the problems takes work. But it's work that's well within your capabilities. Plenty of effective solutions exist in the marketplace to help you address these needs. But you've got to begin. Right now. Because if you continue to ignore the importance of improving your guests' experience on mobile, the thing holding back mobile bookings might just be you.

Past Insights from Tim Peter Thinks

If you’re looking to learn even more about how changing customer behavior will shape your marketing going forward, be sure an 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 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:

A version of this article originally appeared on Hotel News Now as "The Distribution Trend You Care About Most in 2019"

Tim Peter

By

January 18, 2018

5 Top Digital Trends for 2018 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 210)

January 18, 2018 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


5 Top Digital Trends for 2018 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 210): Company employees reviewing top digital trends

5 Top Digital Trends for 2018 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 210) – 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:

You might also enjoy these past posts:

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 38s

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.

Carolyn Boring

By

September 27, 2017

Notre Dame Digital Marketing Program (Mobile)

September 27, 2017 | By | No Comments

 

Mobile & Marketing Innovation:

In a world that will shortly have more mobile devices than people — who download 56 billion apps annually, send 350 billion text messages monthly, and as individuals check their mobile phones 150 times daily and access the Internet more through their smartphones than through their PCs — mobile is, irrefutably, the largest technology platform in all of human history. It’s also the most opportunity-rich medium for reaching and engaging the customers of today, and tomorrow.For marketers, mobile gives them the capabilities that they have long sought, and are now possible: anytime-anywhere

 

Tim Peter

By

August 11, 2017

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

August 11, 2017 | By | No Comments

Looking to drive results for your business? Click here to learn more.


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

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.