While I normally enjoy shopping online, for the mere convenience of it, I do make a point to go in-store and try on clothes to ensure the right fit. While shopping online is great, sometimes there’s no substitute for feeling the fabric in person and viewing how an item actually looks on – mainly because it may appear slightly different from how it looks on a 22-year-old model.
On one particular afternoon, I made a stop on my way home to do just that. I needed a new dress for an upcoming event and while I had browsed some options online ahead of time, I wanted to see what the dress actually looked like in person. Keep in mind, I live in New York and ‘shopping’ is more than just a casual experience. It can be brutal. Fighting through lines, tourists, and covering some serious mileage just to get from one store to another is enough to rethink any shopping outing. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Therefore, when I arrived at a particular retailers location one Thursday afternoon, I was on a mission. Like most consumers, I did some show rooming online and wanted to view and try on those items in person. I spotted an item I had eyed online and made my way to the dressing room. The fabric felt great, the dress looked good, but, alas, the dress in my size had a big makeup stain across the front if it. This just wouldn’t do and there were no other dresses in my size that I could find.
So, like the determined shopper that I am, I made my way to the checkout line. Which, I might add, was rather long. After waiting in line for over 20 minutes and slowly losing my patience, I finally reached the counter. I revealed the dress and explained the situation and asked if there were any other dresses in my size. The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Hi, I love this dress, but they don’t seem to have one in my size without a big makeup stain. Do you have anymore dresses in this size?”
Checkout associate: “Let me check.”
Off they disappeared for a good 10 minutes, I assume, searching for the dress. I began anxiously checking my watch. Finally, they reappeared.
Checkout associate: “No, we don’t have it, that’s the last one.””.
Me: “Ok, well can I still order it?”
Checkout associate: “I’m sure you could.”
Me: “Ok, well can I order it here and have you ship it to my place?”
Checkout associate: “You can’t do that here, you’d have to go online and do that from home.”
Really? Insert fashion rage here.
I was annoyed and frankly, surprised. How could such a larger retailer in the fashion capital of the world not accommodate such a simple request? Further more, I was irritated that I had already waited in line, then waited again at the checkout station for them to search through items in the backroom looking for the dress I wanted to purchase. After all of that effort and time wasted, I couldn’t even leave the store with the item I wanted to purchase.
Granted, could I easily shop this online? Sure, but it’s the principle of the thing. My time is valuable and now I feel inconvenienced by the retailer. Think of the cost. The retailer didn’t just risk the sale, but they risked losing a customer. The thing is, I’m not alone in this expectation.
Imagine how my shopping experience may have been different had mobility been in use:
1. I wouldn’t have had to wait in line to visit an associate. A mobile associate could assist me immediately.
2. I wouldn’t have to wait in line for an associate to check the backroom for the merchandise. They would be able to check inventory levels immediately on the store floor where I was standing.
3. With mPOS and omni-channel capabilities, I could have purchased the out-of-stock item immediately and had the item shipped directly to my home.
4. I would’ve completed the purchase on my mobile device and been a happy, satisfied customer.
These major differences would have unquestionably saved time, completed the sale, and left me satisfied and delighted with my shopping experience. These subtleties add up and retailers need to seriously think about what kind of impression they’re making with their customers and the long-term implications that their in-store experience creates.
In my current profession I study the use of mobile devices and how we can readily interact with one another to spread messages, incorporate branding and facilitate social change. As a result, I came across an article in CNN that really made me think. As a society, we are incredibly dependent on our mobile phones.
More than 88 percent of U.S. adults own cell phones and over half of all U.S. adults are smartphone owners. That means half of our society can pay their bills, check-in to locations, update their Facebook status, play with the stock market and more, directly from their mobile device 24/7. The result is making us an incredibly connected society and it’s changing everything from how we do business, how we make purchasing decisions and even how we date. In fact, 68 percent of us are so connected to our phones that we sleep with them at our bedside. With all of this hyper-connectivity at our finger tips, it sort of makes you wonder. How is this affecting our daily lives?
CNN is suggesting that the use of our smartphones is indeed making us smarter, more productive and what some would call even “superhuman”. This is the first time in history that we have been this connected and had everything we could ever imagine, accessible at our finger tips. With over 6 billion phones now on the planet, one for nearly every person on earth, in some third world countries people are more likely to have access to a mobile device than running water. So, in some ways, we have to wonder if there are negative consequences to such connectivity.
Of course, there is a downside. There is now a “phantom limb” association with cell phones. When you don’t have your phone around you, you’re constantly thinking about it and wanting to check your updates. Ironically as well, people may tend to hide behind their phone and not really be present and live in the moment. How many times have you been out to dinner with friends or at a sporting event and felt compelled to take a picture, instagram it and share it on Facebook with 500 of your closest friends. While you’re busy waiting for the spinning wheel of death to connect to your favorite social channel or determining if sepia is the best color for your latest photo, you may actually be missing the final score of the live match you paid tickets for or the punch line to your friends joke. So many of us are busy updating our status and sharing the interesting moments of our lives that we fail to be present and actually experience them. Ironically, our drive to be constantly connected can actually lead to more feelings of isolation.
Yes, whenever a new technology is introduced in society that disrupts our previous way of life, it does take some time to adjust and experience the downfalls. Yet, when used appropriately, it’s also a way to improve our daily lives and set forward into motion political and social movements. In fact, it was a mobile phone that recorded Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire, which initiated a wave of Arab Spring demonstrations. Being able to instantly record and share scenes around us has been able to bring awareness to issues that may have previously gone unnoticed. I relate it a lot to how the emergence of photography helped to spur the American Civil War. Yes, people had heard of slavery and knew of the mistreatment of other human beings, but when it became visible through photography, it somehow became more real. As a result, it helped to spur activism and a call for change.
So yes, at times, the mobile wave and revolution can seem scary in terms of all that it is uncovering. But I’m sure every age had its own concerns and fears for people living in them at the time, like the Industrial Revolution. The truth is there are positives and negatives that can be identified in each new age. The trick is to use this time to do more good with what we’ve been given and view the use of our constantly evolving mobile devices as more of a tool than a crutch. It’s helpful, yes, and it certainly makes us more productive. Yet it doesn’t mean we should shut off our brain or become disengaged with the world around us. It’s an enhancement to our daily lives, not a replacement.
Do you think we’re becoming too dependent on our mobile phones? I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at Elizabeth@ElizabethHoffman.org.
The call for cities to embrace open data is getting louder and louder. The recent White House Digital Strategy Initiative is proof of one such example in which they call for all Federal Agencies to be accessible via mobile and have information readily available to the public anytime from any device. Philosophically, we love talking about open data and the concept behind it.
Feeling a little warmer than usual? It’s not your imagination. This summer has already been a scorcher, with most of the country seeing temperatures of over 100 degrees and multiple states breaking several records. The NOAA also recently reported that the first 6 months of 2012 were the warmest months on record ever in the history of the United States. Whether you attribute that to climate change or just coincidence, the fact of the matter is several cities and regions throughout the United States and the World are seeing more extreme weather related events and as a result, are taking steps to plan accordingly.
The other day I was crafting a targeted advertising campaign to take place on Facebook. Just as I was adding the final touches, I saw a story come up in my newsfeed announcing that GM was pulling its ads from the platform stating that they were ‘ineffective’. Immediately the social sphere buzz ensued, questioning everything from the platforms advertising effectiveness to its seemingly overblown IPO offering.
This isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. Yes, the presence of Facebook and its popularity is undeniable, but traditional marketers have long questioned the value in actual advertising on the platform. Unsurprisingly, even now when Facebook boasts close to a billion users, it can’t touch Google’s popular advertising platform. When push comes to shove, companies still prefer Google to Facebook for digital advertising. Partially, it’s because companies better understand how to use it and the goals are more definitive and digestible.
Google’s adverting popularity is strongly linked to its ability to up your SEO factor, a very clear and tangible goal which is certainly important. However, in order to use Facebook advertising in a successful matter, you can’t let your SEO ranking be your determining factor or the idea that you want to just link someone to your website. Different digital platforms require a different approach in order for you to find success. You have to have clear goals and understand how the unique platforms you’re using can help you get there. I have to wonder if this is something GM thought through thoroughly.
Personally, I have found a lot of success in using Facebook advertising. Last month alone I doubled the fan base of a business page and increased their level of engagement (number of people talking about them) by 40 percent. So yes, I still find Facebook advertising to be effective and I’ll continue to use it in the future. Here’s a simple set of guidelines that I use and that you can follow to find similar success:
1. Define Your Goal.
Is your goal to just build awareness? Do you want people to link back to your page, buy a product or go straight to your website? For businesses just beginning to grow their Facebook presence, a clear goal can be to add new fans to your page.
2. Target Your Campaign.
The power of Facebook is in its targeting. No, you’re not putting in key words that people are searching for to grab their attention and introduce your product or service; you’re targeting your actual customer. So, to start, this means you need to TRULY know who your customers are. You can narrow down who you want your ad to target by their age, geographic region, gender, and education level. If you want to be even more targeted, you can list businesses they may work for, other products they like and other interests that they have keyed in as part of their profile information.
For example, if you are promoting an event that will feature rock music, you can target your ad to reach users that list that type of music as music they enjoy. You can also segment your reach to target fans, friends of current fans, and overall nonfans. This can further align with your overall goal to either reach new people with your ad, or reach people that are already connected to you in some way.
3. Define Your Call to Action.
I don’t like to put up ads just to say “hey, like my fan page” or “buy this product” with a bland logo. That’s boring and cements that no one will click on your ad. Make them WANT to click on the ad or like your page. What’s in it for them? Have a clear, enticing call to action. To do this, I like to conduct ads as part of another promotion.
For example, if I’m having an event, my call to action is to RSVP for the event and then I link them to our page where they can find out more details. Or, I tie in another promotion such as a Facebook poll or quiz where participants have a chance to win a prize (something tangible). But there’s a catch, to view or participate, you have to like the page first. There is a question if people will just like the page first to participate and then leave. Yes, that can happen, but it doesn’t have to. Given my specific customer targeting and my constant list of incentives to engage people in the page, over 99 percent of new fans acquired this way end up staying fans and continue to stay engaged. Which leads me to my next point…
4. Don’t Get To Comfortable – Keep Things Interesting!
Once you get people to like your page (if that’s part of your call to action), don’t just sit there! Keep things interesting. Post new content, photos, quizzes, and continue to engage with and respond to your fans. Make it worthwhile for people to continue to check back with you.
5. Try New Things
Facebook advertising is just like playing around with new key words on Google. You have to try some strategies and fail to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t be scared to try something new! You might be pleasantly surprised.
6. Understand Facebook Ads Don’t Work for Everything
There are cases where Facebook advertising may not make the most sense. Approaching Facebook like you would the classified section in a newspaper simply just isn’t effective. Think about it. When people scan the classifieds for a car, they are more than likely in the market for that item, so those ads speak to potential customers directly. That’s not the case with Facebook. People don’t go there to BUY stuff. People go on Facebook to engage, to communicate with their friends, to pass the time and much more. Therefore, you have to speak to someone who is already in that frame of mind. That’s why more calls to action for say quizzes and sharing stories and photos, are much more successful.
Facebook advertising goes along with your reason for having a Facebook page, it’s about brand building. You have to approach advertising on Facebook as you would a relationship. Many times, it’s your first introduction to your fans on the platform. One of my main goals for conducting Facebook ads is to connect with others that are on the platform and have them engage with our page, so that we can continue to build that relationship. Connectivity, sharing and relationship building is what Facebook is good at and where its success lies, which can be very powerful for brand building. If you’re using Facebook advertising with that focus and to build long lasting, meaningful relationships with your fans, you should find success with it as well.