November 6th, 2014 by Maria Minsker

Halloween is behind us, which means it’s basically time for Christmas, right? At least that’s how seeing Macy’s in Herald Square makes me feel every time I walk by it on my way to work. The decorations are going up, and consumers from all around the United States are getting started on their holiday shopping. Black Friday, a beloved shopping tradition for many, is just around the corner, but this year might be the start of something new.

According to IBM, for the first time ever, more than half of all online shopping traffic this Thanksgiving–53 percent–will come from a mobile device, an increase of 23 percent year-over-year. And really, I’m not surprised.

I’ve always been a fan of Black Friday deals, so when they started spilling over into Thursday night, I was almost temped to engage. But no, I thought to myself, I couldn’t break with family tradition and leave the table before the fifth course. It would be blasphemous, and my mother would probably disown me. And yet, the temptation overtook me, and I went to Macy’s last Thanksgiving. Suffice it to say, I’m not going back.

While the typical Black Friday crowd is determined, focused and prepared with pre-printed coupons and lists, the Thanksgiving night crowd is rowdy, grumpy, and unstructured. At one point, I was waiting in an unbelievably long line (I’m talking like 50 people) and asked the woman in front of me what the line was for. She had no idea, and neither did I. Yet we kept waiting. Turns out, Macy’s was selling Ugg-like boots at a 40 percent discount. When I realized I wasn’t in the market for those, I tried to leave the line, but it was impossible. People were squeezed in from all directions, and once the sales reps started tossing pairs of boots to people (albeit, gently), I knew I was out of my league. Eventually, I just gave up. The things I liked weren’t really on sale, and I ended up just sitting around waiting for my friend to purchase her perfume set, which came with a free umbrella.

As I waited, I started browsing on my phone to see if there were any good deals online. There were dozens of coupons and special offers in my inbox, many personalized based on my purchase history, so I started shopping. An item here, an item there, and I was finding great deals without all the shoving and yelling. This isn’t groundbreaking stuff, I know. In fact, this is why mobile retail is growing as quickly as it is. It’s convenient, it’s more personalized, and it’s just better.

Long story short, this holiday season, retailers are going to have to try harder to get shoppers into stores, and I’m eager to see what how they’re going to accomplish this. In the meantime, here are a couple of other interesting sales trends to expect this holiday season, courtesy of IBM.

More Digital Coupons, Greater Savings for Consumers:  As consumers become more comfortable with digital couponing, IBM expects shoppers to cash in this holiday. Consumers will spend on average $123.28 per online order over the five-day holiday period, a decrease of 2.9 percent over 2013.  At the same time, however, shoppers will buy an average of 4.4 items per online order, an increase of 17 percent year-over-year.  

Retailers Give the Gift of Less Spam: As retailers use analytics to deliver much more personalized customer promotions, IBM predicts they will be rewarded with a 10 percent higher click-through rate for emails sent during the five-day shopping period.  The company also estimates that 35 percent of all click-throughs will happen on a mobile device.  The highest volume of emails is expected on Cyber Monday.

Smartphones Browse, Tablets Buy:  Smartphones will continue to lead in mobile browsing over the five-day shopping period, accounting for 29 percent of all online traffic versus 15 percent for tablets.  However, IBM predicts tablets will account for twice as many mobile purchases than smartphones thanks to the larger screen size.

In-store Growth Led by Health and Beauty Gifts:  While online sales come of age, IBM also predicts strong offline performance with in-store sales growing four percent across November and December.  Health and Beauty products are expected to lead with 4.2 percent and 4.7 percent growth, followed by women’s clothing at 2.61 percent.

October 31st, 2014 by Maria Minsker

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A basketball legend, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Magic Johnson knows a thing or two about marketing, and happily shared his insight at the DMA conference earlier this week. After a successful NBA career, Johnson was “looking for something meaningful to do with the money he had saved up while playing,” he said. Soon, he realized that blacks and Latinos in the U.S. had roughly 13 trillion dollars in disposable income, and yet “no one was going after that market.” These groups were, for example, avid movie theatergoers, but there were few movie theaters where they lived, according to Johnson. So, he worked to open theaters in urban areas and experienced massive returns, he recalled.

Johnson also discussed how he convinced Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to allow him to franchise several Starbucks locations and open them in urban areas. “I’m the only person in North America besides [Schultz] to have owned Starbucks locations,” he said. Eventually, he built 125 Starbucks locations and earned $4.59 per capita in urban America, while Schultz earned only $4.51 in suburban America. Long story short, the guys knows what he’s talking about. Here are 5 more nuggets of marketing wisdom from Magic.

1. “Know your customers and treat them well. That’s how they become brand advocates.”

2. “Nobody knows your brand better than you. Use that knowledge.”

3. “Don’t let anybody every tell you that you can’t sell this or your can’t sell that. They told me I couldn’t be a point guard at 6’9”. Look what happened.”

4. “Believe in the product you’re selling. If you don’t, why should anyone else?”

5. “Your competition can make you stronger. When Larry Bird was working hard, I knew I had to work even harder.”

October 24th, 2014 by Maria Minsker

Over the past three years, more than 53 percent of of U.S. marketers have increased their marketing technology investments, but as technology continues to improve and advance, investing in outdated technology could be a waste of resources. In honor of Halloween, sales enablement software provider SAVO has put together a list of the sales and marketing technology relics–a fun look at some solutions that were once of the cutting edge but are now more antique than innovation. Here are a few, courtesy of SAVO, along with one that I think belongs on the list as well.

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Over half of American adults own smartphones, rendering these devices outdated.

On-Premise Software

SaaS applications have become the norm, and their rapid growth puts the market on track to be valued at $32.2 billion in 2016.

Contact Management Solutions

The CRM market grew 17 percent to the value of $20.4 billion in 2013, helping retire these solutions.

Fax Machines

The fastest way to communicate 50 years ago, these relics are now mostly found in closets and museums

Palm Pilot

The value for the global smartphone market is estimated to reach $140.3 billion this year, overshadowing its predecessor and putting it in its grave.

Rolodex

A recent survey found that more than 50 percent of people believe that the rolodex is the next business tool to go extinct.

And here’s one of mine: Blackberry

Even though Blackberry has announced that it would soon unveil the BlackBerry Classic Q20, a device with a larger screen, larger battery and larger SD card, the company is now a dinosaur in the smartphone space. Unless of course you count the select few members of our society that still cannot use a touch screen. The new Blackberry is bringing back the trackpad, so touch screen haters, rejoice!

October 17th, 2014 by Leonard Klie

As Marc Benioff and the rest of the thousands of Salesforce.com employees close the book on another hugely successful DreamForce user conference, the event was eye-catching for a number of reasons. First and foremost, one couldn’t help but being overwhelmed by the sheer size of the event: More than 145,000 attendees on site at the Moscone Center and other venues nearby and more than 5 million online viewers; more than 1,400 sessions, and keynote addresses by the likes of Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Tony Robbins.

Then there was the technology, and Salesforce has a lot of it. Product launches, like the  Wave Analytics Cloud, and new versions of many long-standing products, are a staple at events like this. And then there were the customer case stories, and there were lots of those as well. And then, let’s not forget the social events. This year’s event featured concerts from Bruno Mars and Cake.

And that’s just the beginning. On Wednesday night, Black-Eyed-Peas frontman Will.i.am introduced his Puls smartwatch to the DreamForce crowd.speaker-william-250

pulsThe music icon-turned entrepreneur, though, was quick to point out that his new wearable device is not a smartwatch. “This is not a watch, by any means. Watches don’t have SIM cards. This is a new type of communication.”

The Puls, which has been backed by Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, will be able to make phone calls without being tethered to a smartphone. It even has its own personal, voice-enabled assistant called AneedA, which will allow you to text, search online, get directions, and more, using simple voice commands. Nuance Communications is providing the speech technologies that power the device.

Other technology built into the Puls includes 16 gigabytes of memory, 3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity, a pedometer, accelerometer, and a full QWERTY keyboard. It also comes with a number of apps pre-installed, such as Facebook, Twitter, maps, music, and fitness tracking, and with an open API, developers can add their own apps to the device or make them available for download through an integrated apps store.

On Thursday, it was aging rocker Neil Young’s turn. The 68-year-old musician officially introduced his Pono music system to a much smaller crowd of about 14,000 Salesforce.com die-hards who stayed till the very end of the four-day user conference.speaker-neil_y-250pono

Pono is a triangle-shaped music player that comes with 64 gigabytes of storage, a microSD card that can store an additional 64 gigabytes of data, a 2.5-inch touchscreen, and two external speaker jacks.

Young will support the device with a music store that, when opened in December, will provide access to more than 600,000 songs that are expected to cost about $1.50 each.

So what’s Niel Young’s connection to Salesforce.com. He’s been coming to DreamForce events for several years now, and in 2008 used the conference as the launching pad for the Lin zero-emissions car that he was hoping to get off the ground. (Apparently, he’s still waiting for that to happen).

Young’s connection to Benioff’s baby goes even deeper, though. The Pono site is built on top of Salesforce.com cloud apps, and Young uses Salesforce.com’s Chatter app to collaborate with others involved on his projects.

So a word of advice to all the future techies out there: Instead of calling InventHelp, just come to the next DreamForce in 2015, which will be held at the Moscone Center Sept. 15-18.

October 16th, 2014 by Maria Minsker

It’s been a busy week for TV streaming. HBO announced that in 2015, the company would be offering its HBO Go as a standalone option to users that don’t have a cable subscription, and earlier today, CBS introduced its own Video On Demand site called CBS All Access. Apparently, CBS is trying to beat HBO to the punch because their service is available immediately, and allows viewers to stream full seasons of current and some past CBS shows, as well as stream local programming live. (I wonder where they got this idea. Cough, Aereo, cough.)  Though there are limitations to the service–you can’t watch past episodes of ALL shows and the live streaming doesn’t apply to football–this is a pretty exciting move for CBS.

Maybe it’s just the timing of these announcements that makes it feel like there’s a lot of momentum behind the trend, but it seems to me like it’s only a matter of time before experts are going to start proclaiming that TV is basically dead. And there are some pretty compelling arguments out there to support that. For example, there’s cost. Gizmodo’s Leslie Horn does some enlightening calculations in an effort to determine how much cheaper it would be for consumers to “cut the cord.” Even if viewers were to sign up for HBO Go, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon prime, it would total out at about $40, which is “more affordable than your $70/month (or more) cable bill,” she says. She also points out that with streaming services, there’s the strongly frowned-upon option of sharing a log-in with friends or family. That can save money, too.

Despite the cost saving opportunity, TV isn’t dying. Yet. In terms of advertising, marketers still see it as the most effective way to reach consumers. “During the first three quarters of 2013, global advertisers spent more money on television ads than any other media type by far–even despite massive growth in Internet ad spending, according to Nielsen’s quarterly report,” Inc.com’s Abigail Tracy writes. And there’s a good reason for all that spending–live TV is still big! Just this week, the season premiere of The Walking Dead broke the U.S. cable viewing recording with over 17.3 million viewers.

Still, this doesn’t mean that TV isn’t changing, or that TV programming and advertising models don’t have to change. For one thing, the introduction of standalone network subscriptions means that the move towards customer experience personalization is finally reaching the television industry. Increasingly, legacy providers like Time Warner are going to have to develop more personalization-friendly packages that give their customers the freedom to choose what networks they want to pay for in order to compete with standalone subscriptions. Eventually, cable packages are going to have to “unbundle.”

And advertisers will have to change their approach too. As devices, including televisions, become more connected, advertisers will have to approach TV advertising as precisely as they approach online advertising. Targeting viewers and personalizing ads based on viewing preferences will eventually become possible and necessary. For now, though marketers/advertisers continue to invest in TV spots, there’s no denying that Internet video advertising is the future. But what worked on television isn’t necessarily going to work on the Web. Interactive online video advertising, which we discuss at length in one of our October features, is a more effective strategy than traditional linear advertising when it comes to reaching the online consumer. Banner ads, too, are on the decline.

Long story short, it’s an interesting time for television. Stay tuned, as they say.



 
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