Archive for the ‘Best Practices’ Category
Friday, May 17th, 2013
According to newly issued original research, Arnold Worldwidehas uncovered the emergence of what it calls “Sherpa Brands.” Brands that provide consumers with increased guidance while celebrating their successes and accomplishments, ultimately leading consumers to feel more empowered and satisfied.
In the same report, ArnoldOn: Sherpa Brands-Guiding Consumers to New Heights, the agency also revealed that 81 percent of consumers believe it’s important for a brand to guide them to better decisions.
Sherpa Brands make the decision-making process simpler, minimizing stress and providing tools, information and recommendations to help people navigate their personal journeys and make better decisions along the way.
“We call them Sherpa Brands because, like a Sherpa who helps climbers navigate the journey up a mountain with the right information and tools and then stands back so the climber can revel in his/her accomplishment, these brands provide both guidance and the ability for the consumer to celebrate his accomplishment,” said Neela Pal , Managing Partner, Global Director of Business & Brand Strategy at Arnold Worldwide.
Here at the TechJournal, we like this concept. When a brand makes us hunt for information (without guiding us to it) or raises questions without answering them, we often end up buying elsewhere. How about you?
This sharply aligns with the close to 90 percent of consumers who prefer brands that provide the right tools, information and recommendations:
- 87 percent of consumers want brands to provide helpful information
- 86 percent of consumers want brands to make things easier/less complex
- 85 percent of consumers want brands to help provide a solution to a problem
Lots of opportunity
“The ultimate goal of a Sherpa Brand is to guide people through a process, whether it’s a path to better health, financial freedom, or achieving a life goal. And importantly, once they’ve achieved that goal, celebrating and rewarding that achievement. Ultimately, this guidance and support leads to higher levels of trust and brand loyalty,” said Pal.
“Through our research we’ve found that while some brands may have some Sherpa attributes, there is a lot of opportunity for the majority of brands to enhance their marketing strategies to become true Sherpa Brands.”
We’d second that notion. Way too many brands are like celebrities hiding under hoodies and dark glasses instead of leading us where we want to go – or where they want us to go, for that matter.
The Shift to Sherpa Brands
Arnold’s research revealed that in a world of “too”—too fast, too many choices, too complex—people value having more control and being able to make decisions that better reflect their priorities and personal values. Sherpa Brands provide the guidance that enables smarter decision-making and opportunities to celebrate the result, which builds a stronger relationship.
- 65 percent of survey respondents agreed that they “Trust brands that help guide them to decisions that make the most of their daily life.”
- 48 percent of consumers agree that “A brand that helps guide them to the decisions that make the most of their daily life makes them more likely to purchase the brand.”
Sherpa Brands strike a balance between doing everything for the consumer and the consumer doing everything. These brands empower consumers by helping them be in control while rewarding them at milestones along the journey.
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Despite being far more tech-savvy than previous generations, Generation Y, the 80-million strong cohort of Americans between the ages of 18 and 35, has not forsaken shopping in stores for online purchasing – as long as retailers keep their offerings “fresh” and interesting, says a new report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI).
The report explores the shopping preferences of Gen Yers, who associate shopping with socializing, and who place a high value on living close to retail (another ULI report released this week found that 62 percent of Gen Yers prefer developments offering a mix of shopping, dining and office space).
They bore easily
It notes that while Gen Yers enjoy shopping and dining out, they tend to bore easily, compelling retailers to constantly update their merchandise and find new ways to engage these consumers.
The study found that 37 percent of Gen Yers love shopping and 48 percent enjoy it. Half of the men surveyed and 70 percent of the women consider shopping a form of entertainment and something to share with friends and family. The appeal of shopping is particularly strong among Gen Yers who are Hispanic and African American.
Gen Yers tend to spread their dollars around generously, the study found, with more than half visiting a variety of retail centers at least once a month, including discount department stores (the retail type most frequently visited by Gen Y), community shopping centers, enclosed malls, department stores, big-box power centers, chain apparel stores, and neighborhood business districts.
At the same time, 91 percent of respondents said that they had made online purchases over the previous six months, with 45 percent spending more than an hour a day looking at retail-oriented websites.
“Contrary to what some retailers have feared, we found that Gen Y still does most of its purchasing in stores,” said Lachman, president of real estate consulting firm Lachman Associates LLC and executive-in-residence at Columbia University’s Graduate Business School.
Definitely multi-channel shoppers
“Gen Yers use the Internet to research products, compare prices, envision how clothing or accessories might look on them, or respond to flash sales or coupon offers, as well as to purchase items; they are definitely multi-channel shoppers.”
“Gen Yers have grown up with information technology, and they are accustomed to stimulation in the form of music, light, color, and action,” commented ULI Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips . “Retailers need to continually change their looks, services, and merchandise offerings in order to keep up with this trend-oriented generation.”
One activity that keeps Gen Y on the move, according to the new ULI report, is dining out: 46 percent of the survey respondents said they dine out at least once a week with friends or family; one quarter do so several times each week. Many consider themselves to be serious “foodies.” When they do eat at home, 65 percent shop at least once a week for groceries.
Gen Y is strong not only in numbers but also in purchasing power. Survey respondents’ median income is over $47,000, even though many are in school and are working only part-time.
Over a third of Gen Yers receive financial assistance from their parents. Many grew up relatively wealthy, and less than nine percent have ongoing credit card debt exceeding $6,000.
The findings from the survey have numerous implications for today’s retail property owners, developers and managers, including the following:
- Restaurants at all price points are popular with Gen Y, but owners should be careful of providing tenants with generous improvement allowances to attract them. Young consumers tend to move from one “hot spot” to another; vacancies can result when a hot trend turns cold.
- Enclosed malls remain popular, but can face challenges to retain their appeal among fickle consumers. To keep shoppers visiting, mall owners should refresh interiors frequently, encourage social gatherings, incorporate movie theaters and renovate obsolete ones, add specialty food purveyors and grocery stores, serve as pick-up points for merchandise ordered online, and encourage pop-up stores.
- Malls are big contributors to the chronic inventory of excess retail space in the U.S.; many are ripe for redevelopment. Smaller formats are more suitable for time-conscious shoppers, many of whom may just be looking at goods that they will ultimately buy online.
- Gen Y strongly supports discount department stores and warehouse clubs – a format that could supplant aging malls and be suitable for infill sites. In contrast, power centers with single-focus “big box” stores are losing out to both warehouse clubs and online aggregators such as Amazon.
- Most lifestyle centers target older, affluent shoppers; to attract Gen Y, owners should focus on apparel brands favored by Gen Y, offer more choice in eateries and include specialties such as a gym, salon, “green” grocer, bike shop, pet store and/or dog run, and uniquely local offerings.
The big winners in Gen Y’s multi-channel purchasing patterns, the report concludes, are warehousing and logistics. E-commerce needs both distribution warehousing and “pick-and-pack” operations. Retailers will continue to experiment with different methods of online and in-store fulfillment in search of cost efficiencies and faster deliveries.
Generation Y: Shopping and Entertainment in the Digital Age, authored by ULI Trustee M. Leanne Lachman , president of real estate consulting firm Lachman Associates LLC; and Deborah L. Brett , founder of Deborah L. Brett & Associates, was released during ULI’s Spring Meeting this week in San Diego. It is based on an online survey of 1,251 Gen Yers conducted by ULI and Lachman Associates, a focus group conducted at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business, and a literature search.
Friday, May 17th, 2013
Regulatory pressure is consistently one of the biggest threats facing companies across industries, and the number one challenge facing financial services and energy and natural resources companies, says a new KPMG survey.
A full seventy percent of c-suite executives, across all industries, say that regulatory changes have caused either substantial or moderate changes in their risk management and reporting processes in the past two years.
- 59 percent of c-suite executives at financial services companies and 53 percent of c-suite energy and natural resources executives identified regulation as their top threat
- 50 percent of health care executives said government pressure to contain spending was their biggest threat
- 49 percent of executives in diversified industrials said an economic slowdown in OECD markets was their biggest risk
- 44 percent of executives in technology media and telecom said a slowdown in demand was their biggest threat.
Risk management not advancing fast enough
“We found that risk management is not advancing fast enough at most companies in the face of an array of threats in an increasingly complex global economy,” said Mike Nolan , KPMG International’s Global Leader for Risk Consulting.
“But companies can transform these challenges into a competitive advantage. All of their competitors are in the same boat, but very few are going to take advantage of the regulatory onslaught to become more competitive. The companies that do will be in a strong position to turn regulatory risk into an advantage.”
According to the KPMG report, in the financial services industry, banks and other financial institutions face a plethora of new regulations, especially in Europe and the United States, where international banks face at least 40 major sets of new regulations that affect everything from how retail customers are treated to the way derivatives are traded.
In addition, new global regulations for bank capital and liquidity, known as Basel 3, came into effect in January 2013.
The survey also revealed:
- Despite their awareness of the risk environment and devoting more resources to risk management, many companies struggle to communicate their risk program with stakeholders, link risk management with compensation and build an enterprise-wide view of threats.
- 86 percent of survey respondents said risk management is factored into strategic planning decisions
- Two thirds of respondents said they will invest more in risk management as a proportion of corporate revenue in the next three years than they did in the previous three
- Almost half profess difficulties in understanding their enterprise-wide risk exposure
- Less than one fifth have developed a formal risk appetite statement, yet this is an important step in risk management
- Less than half believe their organization is effective at developing stakeholder’s understanding of the risk program
- 43 percent said there was a weak link between risk management and compensation
“While the global financial crisis has created significant challenges for businesses, one positive outcome is boards’ desire for greater understanding of integrated risk management,” said Nolan.
“As trusted advisors, handling strategic risk is not about compliance and box-ticking, it is a critical investment companies make that can underpin an organization’s long–term growth, value and sustainability. It’s all about risk optimization and aligning an organizations’ risk appetite with desired returns.”
Within the key areas covered by the survey, KPMG has outlined opportunities for leaders to foster a risk-resilient culture within their organizations, including:
Define, operationalize and articulate risk appetite
With today’s complex and changing risk environment, it is essential that companies clearly define and articulate their appetite for risk. Only then, can they begin to integrate risk management into the overall corporate strategy, making it an essential part of collaborative decision making, discussion, debate and learning.
Improve communication across the enterprise
By clearly defining roles in the three lines of defense (.i.e. business units, risk management and compliance functions, and internal audit) companies can close gaps in managing priority risks and eliminate duplication of efforts.
Also, by improving the quality and visibility of risk information through greater sharing, companies can create a seamless flow of information that will benefit all lines. Effective communication with stakeholders will enhance their understanding of the risk program and positively impact value in the minds of the board, investors and regulators.
Develop and reward your people
Technology is an enabler of the convergence of risk and control functions, but human skills are essential if companies are going to manage the complexity of this kind of convergence.
The setting of common goals for risk and compliance can only be done with sufficient numbers of people with the right skills. Furthermore, by including risk management as an important attribute for leadership with the ability to manage risk as part of regular performance reviews, companies can reward employees for prudent decision making, not just for aggressively hitting financial targets.
Clearly define Return on Investment
One clear trend in the survey is that companies are spending more to strengthen risk management despite their struggle to estimate its ROI. By understanding the link between risk management and corporate strategy and how identified risks threaten the achievement of business objectives, executives can move risk management from a theoretical exercise to a business tool.
The KPMG Global Survey Expectations of Risk Management Outpacing Capabilities—It’s Time For Action, was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit and can be found here.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
A word of advice for workers considering wearing pajamas, a chicken suit or parachute pants to the office: Don’t. In a survey from OfficeTeam, eight in 10 (80 percent) executives interviewed said clothing choices affect an employee’s chances of earning a promotion, and respondents gave some pretty hilarious examples of outfits that missed the mark.
The good news for the wardrobe-challenged is that proper attire may carry less weight than it did six years ago: 93 percent of executives surveyed in 2007 tied professional wear to advancement prospects. Among those respondents, 33 percent said clothing significantly affects a person’s chances of moving up the ladder, versus just 8 percent who feel this way today.
Personally, attending some tech events that draw a large number of entrepreneurs, programmers, and younger startup workers, we’ve felt overdressed in a suit and tie. On the other hand, at TechMedia events that draw a large number of venture capitalists, the dress is distinctly upscale – although many entrepreneurs still forgo the tie even if wearing a sports shirt instead of a tee.
We suspect the rules are much more lax at most tech startups – although the chicken suit and the pajamas are still a bad idea – and unless you’re working for NASA and about to head for the moon, better leave your space suit in the closet.
The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in the placement of highly skilled administrative professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees.
Managers were asked, “To what extent does someone’s style of dress at work influence his or her chances of being promoted?” Their responses:
|Not at all
A space suit isn’t appropriate office wear unless you’re an astronaut.
Managers also were asked to recount the strangest outfits they have heard of or seen someone wearing to work, not in observance ofHalloween. Following are some examples:
- “A dinosaur costume”
- “Parachute pants”
- “A chicken suit”
- “A space suit”
- “Studs and motorcycle gear”
- “A wolf mask”
These professionals got creative with their clothing combinations:
- “A T-shirt, tie and flip-flops”
- “Short pants and a winter jacket”
- “One red sock and one white sock”
- “Tennis shoes and men’s knicker pants”
- “Shorts and house slippers”
- “A red suit with sporty footwear”
Others donned apparel that left little to the imagination:
- “A see-through dress”
- “Fishnet stockings and stilettos”
- “A bathing suit”
- “A tube top”
- “A backless shirt”
This gear was more appropriate for the gym than the workplace:
- “A muscle shirt”
- “A sweat suit”
- “Yoga pants”
- “Very tight bike shorts”
These outfits just didn’t make the “cut”:
- “Torn jeans”
- “A vest with a big hole in the back”
- “A T-shirt with cut-off sleeves”
And the following getups might be viewed as fashion faux pas both in and out of the office:
- “Saggy pants”
- “Sandals with socks”
- “Flood pants”
“Employees may be tempted to dress down in today’s workplace, especially during warmer months, but clothing that’s too casual or revealing can be frowned upon,” said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking . “Although a polished appearance alone won’t land you a promotion, it can help others envision you in a leadership role.”
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Despite an overwhelming effort by businesses to reduce unnecessary IT costs, many organizations miss out on big IT cost savings each year by prematurely upgrading networking infrastructure and insufficiently scrutinizing ongoing maintenance contracts.
A new commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Network Hardware Resale, revealed that although an overwhelming number (76 percent) of IT decision-makers are concerned about the pressures to reduce costs, many are unaware of the available options that exist for alternative maintenance contracts and are unduly influenced by vendors regarding hardware refresh cycles.
Once not too many years ago, we were responsible for overseeing the IT costs of a local organization and reviewing the very first cost sheet found half a dozen areas in which we could save. The first thing we had to do was challenge vendor agendas that didn’t match our needs.
You might want to do the same sort of scrutiny.
According to the study:
- Up to 79% of organizations refresh their wired networking infrastructure every one to five years guided by industry averages that originate from the vendors.
- Vendors set the end of life agenda resulting in the sometimes unnecessary and expensive replacement of IT equipment — that still carries market value and has 20 plus years mean time between failures.
“After surveying 304 IT decision-makers, Forrester found that even though IT budgets are under constant scrutiny, businesses have defaulted to vendor influence which has blinded them to the rewards of extending hardware lifecycles and third-party maintenance solutions,” according to the Forrester Consulting study.
Forrester study findings:
- End of Life (EoL) equipment is prematurely retired: 85 percent of respondents admitted that they would have kept their legacy networking equipment if the vendor continued to support it.
- OEM maintenance services have little return on investment: More than 80 percent of organizations buy maintenance contracts from their equipment manufacturer even though they see little value in what they are purchasing and express discontent over misrepresented cost savings, new fees, and inflexible pricing models.
- Third-party maintenance options are widely unknown: Only 21 percent report that they have leveraged competitor third-party bids when negotiating service and maintenance contracts, while 80 percent claim they would leverage third-party maintenance if they found it to be more affordable than their current contract [see Figure 1].
“Every CIO should make it a priority to read this report,” said Mike Sheldon , President and CEO of Network Hardware Resale.
“Businesses of all sizes need to know that there can be incredible value and cost savings with a reliable third-party maintenance service provider — helping to ease worries about tightening IT budgets without sacrificing quality.”
To achieve greater value and maximize the ROI of network infrastructure they have purchased, Forrester Consulting suggests organizations implement the following key recommendations:
Keep what’s working within an existing infrastructure to avoid premature and unnecessary upgrades.
- Don’t pay for software updates if there are none, or if they are available for free. Organizations should carefully scrutinize ongoing maintenance contracts in order to find valuable Operational Expenditure (OPEX) savings.
- Put maintenance contracts out for competitive bid, not just to different resellers, but also include third-party options.
- Put metrics in place to reward value, quality, and longevity, not just resiliency.
- The study and its findings are explored in further detail in the Forrester study, Challenging the Status Quo on Maintenance Contracts and Refresh Cycles to Lower Costs. Click to download PDF.
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Talented professionals who accept an initial job offer may be leaving money on the table, a new survey by The Creative Group suggests.
More than six in 10 (63 percent) advertising and marketing executives interviewed said they are at least somewhat willing to negotiate compensation when extending a job offer to a top candidate versus 28 percent of respondents who are not.
The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm.
Advertising and marketing executives were asked, “When extending a job offer to a top candidate, how willing are you to negotiate compensation?” Their responses:
|Not very willing
|Not at all willing
|Don’t know/no answer
View the research highlights.
More leverage than they realize
“Job seekers often have more leverage than they realize when negotiating a starting salary,” said Donna Farrugia , executive director of The Creative Group. “Businesses that have gone through the process of selecting a top candidate are motivated to hire that person, even if they have to sweeten the deal.”
Farrugia warned, however, that salary negotiation isn’t without its perils. “These conversations are delicate and can easily go off track,” she said. “Applicants who thoroughly prepare are more likely to have positive outcomes.”
The Creative Group offers five common salary negotiation mistakes and how to avoid them:
- Showing up unprepared. Enter negotiations with a solid understanding of current salary trends for your position and location. Review compensation sources, such as The Creative Group 2013 Salary Guide, to ensure you have realistic expectations.
- Playing games. Tactics like misleading a prospective employer about your current salary or other job offers in an effort to obtain higher pay almost always backfire. It’s better to be honest about your situation.
- Making it all about you. Don’t base your request for a larger starting salary on the fact that you want a new car or bigger down payment for a home. You’ll make a much more compelling argument by talking about the value you can bring to the organization.
- Viewing money as the only object. Salary is just one part of the equation; a generous benefits package or opportunities to learn and grow with the company may compensate for a lower starting salary. Remember to look at the full picture when evaluating a job offer.
- Drawing a line in the sand. Giving ultimatums too early in the process may cause negotiations to fall apart. Instead, look for common ground and avoid taking an adversarial stance. How you conduct yourself during the negotiation process sets the tone for employment with the firm, and you want to start on the right foot.
Monday, May 13th, 2013
The hottest book publishing trend today: less is the new more.
“The first time I saw a 73-page ‘book’ offered on Amazon, I was outraged,” says New York Times best selling author Michael Levin. “But I thought about how shredded the American attention span is. And I felt like Cortez staring at the Pacific.”
The trend in books today, Harry Potter notwithstanding, is toward books so short that in the past no self-respecting publisher—or author—would even have called them books. But today, shortened attention spans call for shorter books.
Levin blames smartphones and social media for what he calls “a worldwide adult epidemic of ADH…ooh, shiny!”
Brain chemistry has been transformed
“Brain scientists tell us our brain chemistry has been transformed by short-burst communication such as texting, Tweeting, and Facebook posts,” Levin adds. “Long magazine articles have given way to 600-word blog posts. And doorstop-size books have been replaced by minibooks.”
This sudden change in attention spans changed the way Levin approaches ghostwriting. “Even five years ago, we aimed for 250-page books. Today we advise our business clients to do 50-page minibooks to meet impatient readers’ expectations for speedy delivery of information.”
Levin, who runs the ghostwriting firm BusinessGhost.com and was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, says that people are looking for leadership disguised as a book.
Get buy-in with 50 pages
“Today,” he asserts, “people don’t want you to prove your assertions. They just want to know that you have legitimate answers to their questions and that they can trust you. If you can’t get buy-in with 50 pages today, you won’t get it in 250.”
The trend toward shorter books caused Levin to offer what he calls the “Book-Of-The-Quarter Club,” which creates four 50-page hardcover minibooks a year for BusinessGhost’s clients. “This allows them to address four different major issues, or four different sets of prospects, and provides quarterly opportunities for marketing events,” Levin says.
How short will books eventually run?
“Can you say ‘haiku’?” Levin asks. “We’re waiting for a three-line, 17 syllable book. It could happen.”
Michael Levin, founder and CEO of BusinessGhost, Inc., has written more than 100 books, including eight national best-sellers; five that have been optioned for film or TV by Steven Soderbergh/Paramount, HBO, Disney, ABC, and others; and one that became “Model Behavior,” an ABC Sunday night Disney movie of the week. His new minibook, “The Financial Advisor’s Dilemma,” teaches how to create trust and distinctiveness in the highly competitive marketplace.
Friday, May 10th, 2013
Reports of high profile cyber security breaches at major companies have become almost routine despite studies showing that they are extremely costly to the firms invovled.
In a recent survey, the majority of corporate risk managers and senior executives expressed concern about cyber risks. Yet many U.S. companies do not have a network security or privacy liability insurance program to protect themselves.
In other words, they feel vulnerable but aren’t sure what to do about it. A new report by Lockton illuminates the issue, along with the solution to managing cybersecurity in a world where business often depends on technology.
The report, co-authored by Lockton’s Michael Schmitt and Lisa Phillips , is entitled “Cybersecurity: Most Companies Know Enough to Worry, But Not Enough to Take Action.”
“How an organization responds to a data breach can either cause or prevent lost customers, regulatory fines and investigations,” Schmitt said.
Preparation and testing essential
Phillips added that preparation and testing are essential for any responsible organization. She writes that it starts with an assessment of the type of data held, including where it is stored, who has access to it and whether there are proper security measures in place to protect it.
After analyzing risk and implementing security measures, the next step is to create and test a data breach response plan with participation from IT, Legal, HR, Risk Management, Finance and Customer Service. Lockton also suggests involving data breach experts outside the company who can provide insight and guidance.
If a breach does occur, the data breach response team must be ready to move quickly to verify, investigate and communicate internally – and with customers, as appropriate.
The Lockton experts also recommend speaking with an insurance professional about what may be covered and what breach response services may be available through an insurance policy.
Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
By Allan Maurer
Mike Perla will discuss how to show ROI from usability testing at the upcoming Digital Summit in Atlanta.
If you want to show a return on investment from user testing your digital marketing, you need to get your client involved and on board from the beginning. So says Mike Perla, director of conversion optimization and creative at Fathom.
Perla knows his stuff.
He joined Fathom in 2006 and has over 10 years of experience as a designer, developer and marketer. He regularly presents on the topics of CRO and UX for organization like the Conversion Conference and UXPA. He also frequently hosts webinars with an international cast of CRO experts through the Conversion Rate Optimization Professional Association (CROPA).
His testing case studies are often published by WhichTestWon (WTW), and in early 2013, he won a gold ribbon in the WTW 2013 Online Testing Awards, where his case study was inducted into the WTW Hall of Fame.
He’ll refer to some of those case studies when discussing how to show ROI from usability testing at the Digital Summit in Atlanta next week (May 14-15) where he’ll join more than 100 other digital thought-leaders from brands that include Google, Twitter, AOL, Adobe, the Wall Street Journal and many others.
Usability testing a difficult sell
Usability testing can be “a difficult sell,” Perla notes. “Even if your marketing budget increases, you also always see an increase in the digital channels you can spend the money on. To show ROI, you need, first, to make sure the client believes in the numbers you’re showing him.”
To do that, he suggests, do your user testing on your payment process, implement fixes based on the results, then split traffic between the original process and the new one to see which performs better.
With something like the payment process, “You can tie it right into revenue,” Perla says.
With lead generation clients, you need to develop a simple calculation to get a basic lead value, he adds.
Userlytics tool recommended
He also says that unless you have a background in user testing, you should “Start out small. No one will hand you a bunch of money to do user testing if you haven’t done it in the past.” Since user testing can be fairly expensive, he recommends trying a tool such as Userlytics. It lets you show a video of a user trying your product or process so you can see any place the consumer has trouble.
“You can jump to sections of the annotated video and say, “Hey, here’s someone frustrated with the process. They’ll see that. Once you get the main stakeholder on board by showing them the results of user testing, others will fall in line.”
“Do a test and show it to the client,” he says. “Get them involved so they feel ownership of the project and they’re more likely to participate and help you overcome any hurdles that happen. You might also want to get the IT department, designers and developers of the existing site on board.”
Even if they’re initially reluctant, once you get that, says Perla, “you’re in a much better position.”
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Fewer than 100 seats remain for the Digital Summit in Atlanta which is only a week away. One of the largest digital marketing events in the Southeast, the Digital Summit features more than 80 presentations from marketing and technology thought-leaders.
Speakers from brands including Twitter, Google, Mashable, Porsche, Reddit, Adobe, TMZ, Bing, Nascar, Coca-Cola, Salesforce, AOL and many more will discuss the latest trends and insights into all things digital.
More than 1,500 are expected to attend.
Hours of networking
People networking at a previous TechMedia event.
In addition to learning the latest digital trends and best practices with actionable takeaways from over 100 world class speakers, you’ll get hours of networking opportunities at two open bar receptions, day one’s gala reception with heavy appetizers, breakfast & lunch on day two, cool giveaways, opportunities to check out the latest digital technologies and startups, a concert from a grammy nominated artist and a lasting experience.
Digital Summit will take place at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta. The conference is readily accessible with a direct flight from most major US cities. The World Congress Center is a just short hop on Atlanta’s mass transit system from the airport.
Chaitanya ‘Chet’ Kanojia, CEO, founder of AEReO, will participate in the upcoming Digital Summit in Atlanta.
AEREO CEO participating
Among other top speakers, the CEO and found of AEREO, which has been much in the news lately with its technology for capturing over-the-air broadcasts and delivering them to customers via Internet connected devices, will be on hand.
For more about the event and links to interviews the TechJournal has done with a number of participating speakers, see: More than 100 digital thought-leaders headed to Atlanta.
Confirmed speakers include:
- Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder, reddit
- Baratunde Thurston, Technology-Loving Comedian
- Frederick Townes, Sr Technical Advisor, Mashable
- Matt Wallaert, Behavioral Scientist, Bing/Microsoft
- Brent Herd, Dir Southeast, Twitter
- Brian Wong, CEO, Kiip
- Joshua Fruhlinger, Head of Digital, TMZ
- Kelly Deen, Dir Consumer Marketing, Turner/Cartoon Network
- Lizzy Nephew, Social Media & Emerging Technology Specialist, Porsche
- Tom Daly, Group Director, Global Connections, Coca-Cola
- Maureen Schumacher Cole, Head of Financial Services, Google
- Steven Tedjamulia, Dir of Digital Strategy & Innovation, Dell
- Michael Tippett, Dir of New Products, HootSuite
- Steve Robinson, Dir of Online Analytics & Business Intel, The Home Depot
- Michael Rodriguez, Product Manager of Digital News, The Weather Channel
- Scott Carlis, VP Digital & Social, AEG Digital
- Chet Kanojia, CEO & Founder, Aereo
- Bert DuMars, VP & Principle Analyst, Forrester
- Randall Lloyd, Dir of Social Ad Sales, Salesforce
- Mallory Colliflower, Community Manager, HGTV
- Tim Clark, Dir of Optimization, NASCAR
- Mandar Shinde, Sr Dir Mobile Monetization, AOL
- Jeff Siegel, SVP Worldwide Advertising, Rovi
- Loni Stark, Director of Product Solution & Industry Marketing, Adobe
- Lance Broumand, CEO, UrbanDaddy
- Anthony Napalitano, Dir Global Partnerships, StumbleUpon
- Brian D’Amato, SVP Analytics, Moxie
- Matt Kaplan, VP Sales, Mail Online
- Jason Hartley, Group Media Dir, 360i
- Jeff Dennes, SVP – Head of Digital, SunTrust
- Nick Ayers, Mgr, Social Marketing, Intercontinental Hotel Group
- David Favero, Southeast Sales Dir, Shoutlet
- Justin Carll, Digital Strategist, PureRED
- Rory Felton, VP of Business Development, Music & Entertainment, Chirpify
- Brian Ford, Sr Dir of NA Sales & Service, 3DSystems
- Gretchen Fox, Social Architect, grtchnfx
- Bob Gilbreath, CEO, Pingage
- Laurie Hood, VP of Product Marketing, Silverpop
- Kami Huyse, CEO, Zoetica Media
- Simms Jenkins, CEO, BrightWave
- Manny Ju, Dir of Product Management, Blue Hornet
- Lawrence Kimmel, Executive Director, Hawekeye
- Mike King, Dir of Inbound Marketing, iAcquire
- Topher Kohan, Assc Dir of Search Strategy, Rockfish
- Chris Korbey, Creative Director, Emma
- Yoel Leinwand, Account Executive, YouTube
- Rebecca Lieb, Industry Analyst, Altimeter Group
- Michael Marshall, CEO, Internet Marketing Analysts
- Erica McClenny, SVP Client Services, Expion
- Josh McCoy, Lead Strategist, Vizion Interactive
- Mark Miller, SVP/CRM Practice Lead, Digitas
- Howard Morton, CEO & Managing Partner, Boardwalk International Advisors
- Erik Muendel, CEO, Brightline
- Dave Mundo, VP, Analytics Director, BKV
- Stephen Pair, CTO & Co-Founder, BitPay
- Jacques Panis, Dir of Strategic Partnerships, Shinola
- Mike Pearla, Dir of Conversion Optimization, Fathom
- Claudia Perlich, Chief Scientist, Media6Degrees
- Steven Roe, Dir of Business Development & Marketing, Response Media
- Lindy Roux, Principal Content Strategist, Siteworx
- Nigel Sanctuary, VP Cloud Propositions, Kognitio
- Joey Sargent, Principle, Brandsprout
- Becky Scheel, Graphics/Website/Exhibit Designer, ZooAtlanta
- Aaron Schildkrout, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, How About We
- Jenny Schmidt, Principle, CloudSpark
- Jeff Sheehan, CEO, Sheehan Marketing Strategies
- Rob Sanders, Founder, RSO Consulting
- Patrick Toland, CRO, Optimal Social
- Stefan Tornquist, VP Research (US), Econsultancy
- Chad White, Principle of Marketing Research, ExactTarget
- Scott Williford, Fouder & CEO, vLink Solutions
- Luke Barton, Technical Director, Siteworx
- Trevor Sumner, President, LocalVox
- Yakka Murphy, Art Director, Digital Experience, The Weather Channel
- Cara Citino, Dir of Digital Services, R2integrated
- Jeff Ferguson, CEO, Fang Digital Marketing
- Victor Wong, CEO, PaperG
- Ade Adeosun, Sr Dir Digital Business Analytic, comScore
- Kelley Mitchell Price, Chief Experince Officer, PocketFirm
- Annalise Kaylor, Dir of Social Media, Intrapromote
- Trish Nettleship, Dir of Social Media & Influence, UCB
- Danny Davis, CEO & Founder, Proving Ground
- Thomas Cornelius, President of Adility, InComm
- Adam Harrell, President, Nebo Agency
- Nikhi Deshpande, Director, GeorgiaGov Interactive
- Peter Lee, Editorial Director, GeorgiaGov Interactive
- Alankar Tayal, Optimization, Usability, Testing & Analytic Expert
Monday, May 6th, 2013
The U.S. Small Business Administration and the W20 Group, an entrepreneurial ecosystem of digital communications companies, will presentBlogging 101, the second topic in the five-topic social media webinar series that will run through June.
The webinar will help small business owners create content to connect with their customers and market their products.
Blogging is a beneficial tool for small business owners because it is a cost-effective way to communicate their expertise and message directly to a larger audience, expand the company’s web presence and build their brand.
Blogging can be a powerful tool for establishing you as a thought-leader in your business, as a way to engage with partners and customers, and as a way to introduce products and ideas.
While today’s technology options make blogging easier than ever before, knowing what you’re doing makes a big difference in what ever success you’ll achieve.
The Blogging 101 social media webinar for small businesses will be held on May 8, 2013, at 1 p.m. EDT. To register for the webinar, visit: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8214259306487899136. The webinar will highlight topics such as:
- What blogging can do for your business;
- What to blog about;
- What blogging tools are available to you;
- Managing your time; and
- Other best practices.
Topics for future webinars in the social media webinar series include: Creating Content for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, Identifying and Connecting with your Influencers and Getting Started with Mobile and Location-based Marketing.
WHAT: “Blogging 101“
WHEN: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT
HOW: Space is limited. Register at: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8214259306487899136.
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
Banking convenience dominates all options amongst reasons to stay with banks, according to a new study conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Yodlee Interactive.
With the convenience of online and mobile banking, more customers are utilizing these services, while banks are responding by reducing the number of physical branches. This survey was conducted among 2,219 Americans (ages 18+) between February 28 and March 4, 2013.
The study found that 63 percent of U.S. adults who have a bank account indicate they stay with their current bank because of convenience.
Customer service (48 percent) and the lack of/low account and ATM fees (42 percent) follow convenience as the other primary reasons. Interestingly enough, 1 in 3 of those who use mobile banking see their mobile banking experience as a reason why they stay with their banks (33 percent).
Mobile banking may keep customers loyal
Seventy-one percent of mobile bankers are either satisfied or very satisfied with their bank’s mobile and web offerings. This has led the report’s sponsor, Yodlee Interactive, to conclude that mobile banking may, in fact, keep loyalty high among bank customers as physical branches decline.
“Customer loyalty is a primary concern for banks,” says Yodlee Interactive General Manager, Joseph Polverari. “Our findings suggest a corollary between one of banks’ biggest priorities – customer loyalty – and consumers’ usage patterns for mobile banking.
With the anticipated growth of mobile banking in the next four years, banks that want to boost customer loyalty should strongly consider developing apps that increase the convenience of consumer banking.”
Overall, 31 percent of U.S. adults who have a bank account indicate that they use mobile banking (i.e., use a smartphone, tablet device, or some other mobile device to access their banking information). Close to half (49 percent) of smartphone owners who have a bank account access their banking information on their smartphones, compared to 36 percent of tablet owners who have a bank account.
Banking app development has yet to fully catch on with consumers on tablets. Most smartphone owners who have a bank account use their bank’s mobile app to access their banking information on their smartphone, while most tablet owners access their banking information on their tablet’s mobile web browser. This distinction is most evident among adults ages 18-44 (the largest demographic of mobile device users).
Tablet optimized apps needed
“Banks have focused on smartphone apps, but stretching the same app to work on a tablet seems to have backfired as consumers are opting for mobile web experiences on tablets,” continued Polverari. “We believe that tablet optimized banking apps represent a major opportunity to reach customers with a better and richer experience.”
Another interesting finding is that smartphone owners who use mobile banking indicate they deposit checks on their smartphone device more than tablet owners indicate they deposit checks on their tablet device (33 percent versus 22 percent).
Additionally, within this group of smartphone owners, those with a household income (HHI) of $75k+ are twice as likely to deposit checks to their bank account (44 percent) as those who make less than $35k (21 percent) and nearly twice as likely to do so as those with a HHI of $50-$74.9k (27 percent).
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
According to a new study announced today by TheLadders, job seekers spend less than 60 seconds reviewing a job posting before deciding to apply or pass. This quick decision process often leads to missed opportunities or wasted time for both job seekers and those seeking to fill them.
The online job-matching service conducted the study using “eye-tracking” technology to determine what information professionals deem important, how they read listings, and whether competitive information helps them make better choices when applying for jobs, diminishing the “black hole” of the job-search process.
Despite job seekers self-reporting that they spend up to 10 minutes reviewing a job description to determine whether they are a fit, the results revealed that they devote only 10 percent of that time assessing an opportunity.
Now we’re not promoting this service, but the company says the introduction TheLadders Scout, a competitive-analysis tool that provides job seekers with an anonymous overview of who else applied for that same role, job seekers were significantly better at determining if they were a good “fit.”
“Job seekers and hiring managers alike share a problem with job listings – job seekers apply for jobs they don’t fit, leaving hiring managers with applications that don’t fit the bill,” said Alex Douzet , CEO and co-founder of TheLadders.
“There is so much finger-pointing in the job search, mostly by job seekers who think that overwhelmed recruiters and faulty application software are the factors behind them never hearing back. However, our eye-tracking study shows that job seekers simply need to take a better look in the mirror – and better understand their competition – before they even think of applying to that next job.”
Study used eye-tracking tech
Using eye tracking, a scientific technique that implements technology to analyze where and how-long a person focuses when digesting information, TheLadders simulated the way that job seekers viewed free job listings, both with and without competitive data, and monitored their behavior. Highlights from the findings conclude that:
- When competitive analysis is offered (i.e., TheLadders Scout), job seekers are 35 percent better at determining a good “fit”
- When able to apply to any job at any level, job seekers choose ones well outside their range
In one part of the study, “gaze tracking” technology was used to create a heat map, which illustrated how much time job seekers spent looking at each section. With conventional job listings, participants spent the most time reviewing (in order):
- Job details (salary and recruiter information)
However, with the TheLadders Scout, job seekers looked at:
- Competitive analysis
- Job details (salary and recruiter information)
Deeper knowledge about your competition
“Being at the forefront of the job search for almost a decade, I constantly hear job seekers complain about the ‘black hole’ of the application process, causing them frustration from feeling overlooked by employers,” said TheLadders Job Search Expert Amanda Augustine.
“Having deeper knowledge about the competition is essential to identifying the best matches that truly match your experience, salary, and pedigree, enabling job seekers to focus on only the right jobs.”
Using sophisticated eye-tracking technology, TheLadders analyzed professionals during a week-long period in March 2013. The quantitative study of job-seeker behavior, including eye-tracking and heat-map images, is available for download at TheLadders Blog.
On an ongoing basis, TheLadders conducts primary user-experience research and analyzes quantitative data provided by its nearly 6 million members to educate the company about current behavioral trends in the job-search process. TheLadders uses this research to improve the customer experience and provide expert advice to the marketplace.
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
A smart phone can contain a lot of information that its owner would rather keep private. But 39 percent of the more than 100 million American adult smart phone owners fail to take even minimal security measures, such as using a screen-lock, backing up data, or installing an app to locate a missing phone or remotely wipe its data, according to Consumer Reports’ Annual State of the Net survey.
At least 7.1 million smart phones were irreparably damaged, lost, or stolen and not recovered last year, Consumer Reports projects. Yet 69 percent of smart phone users hadn’t backed up their data, including photos and contacts. Just 22 percent had installed software that could locate their lost phone.
“When you take your smart phone into your confidence, so to speak, you’re also taking in a host of parties, including app developers, your wireless carrier and phone manufacturer, mobile advertisers, and the maker of your phone’s operating system,” said Jeff Fox , Technology Editor, Consumer Reports.
Take basic precautions
“We recommend that all smart phone users take the basic precautions we outline in this report to ensure that their phones are secure from wireless threats.”
The full report can be found in the June 2013 issue of Consumer Reports and online at ConsumerReports.org.
The report revealed that though most smart-phone users haven’t suffered serious losses because of their phone, there are wireless threats that merit concern.
Among them: malicious software. Last year, 5.6 million smart-phone users experienced undesired behavior on their phones such as the sending of unauthorized text messages or the accessing of accounts without their permission, CR projects. Those symptoms are indicative of the presence of malicious software.
Location tracking can lead to trouble
The location tracking feature that all smart phones have can also leave users vulnerable to wireless threats. One percent of smart phone users told Consumer Reports that they or a person in their household had been harassed or harmed after someone used such location tracking to pinpoint their phone.
CR also projects that at least 5.1 million preteens use their own smart phones. In doing so, they may unwittingly disclose personal information or risk their safety.
A smart phone can be quite secure if users take a few basic precautions, Consumer Reports found. Those precautions include:
- Using a strong pass code. A four-digit one, which 23 percent of users told CR that they used, is better than nothing. But on Android phones and iPhones earlier than the iPhone 5, a thief using the right software can crack such a code in 20 minutes, according to Charlie Miller , security engineer for Twitter. A longer code that includes letters and symbols is far stronger.
- Install apps cautiously. Malicious apps may not lurk around every corner, but they’re out there and can be tricky to spot. For example, CR projects that 1.6 million users had been fooled into installing what seemed to be a well-known brand-name app but was actually a malicious imposter.
- Turn off location tracking. Disable it except when it’s needed, such as for driving directions. Only one in three smart phone owners surveyed by CR had turned it off at times during the previous year.
Wednesday, May 1st, 2013
Two of today’s most talked about brand advertising categories are mobile and online video. Until now, however, brands have struggled with accurately and definitively measuring the return they are getting on their video and mobile ad spending, and deciding how to best allocate their limited marketing and advertising dollars.
MarketShare, which sells predictive analytics for marketers, has just completed one of the first in-depth analyses of video and mobile ad effectiveness as part of the larger marketing mix.
The study, sponsored by Google, quantifies the relative impact of these digital media across several major industries, including autos (entry level luxury segment), credit cards, cosmetics, auto insurance and smartphones, with implications for many others.
How marketing drives consumers
MarketShare analyzed vast amounts of data from Google, YouTube, and other syndicated data sources to establish how, at a category level, marketing drives consumers to engage with search, display, video and mobile channels, ultimately influencing their purchasing decisions.
“Through this analysis, MarketShare and Google are helping marketers better understand how search, online video, and other paid, owned, and earned marketing tactics influence consumer behavior and drive demand,” says Wes Nichols , Co-Founder and CEO at MarketShare.
“At the same time, we’ve uncovered new insights about video and mobile advertising effectiveness that many marketers haven’t seen or been able to quantify before.”
A Marketing Efficiency Index developed by MarketShare compares ad spending on different online and offline channels to actual results (sales or applications). Looking at the overall average for the industries analyzed, findings show that online marketing offers greater efficiency per dollar of marketing spend than offline.
Reallocating marketing dollars lifts sales
By reallocating marketing dollars, marketers with spending levels similar to the category averages studied could expect to generate an incremental 1% to 4% lift in sales. Since the total marketing spend analyzed across all five categories totals more than $8 billion, the stakes are significant.
“Through our efforts with MarketShare, we were able to develop unique category-level models for analyzing digital and traditional marketing channels more holistically, helping us better understand the full value of marketing investments,” says Gunnard Johnson , Advertising Research Director at Google.
MarketShare’s analysis of category-level marketing activity sought to measure how consumers are influenced throughout their “purchasing journey.”
By including not only paid marketing investments, but also other intermediate outcomes in the purchase journey such as a consumer’s Google queries and content views on YouTube related to a brand (both brand-uploaded and content related to a brand), this analysis went deeper into drivers of brand performance than traditional marketing allocation efforts.
A few key takeaways for marketers include:
- While offline marketing and other environmental factors continue to play a substantial role in driving demand in the categories modeled, digital spending appears to have substantial upside for greater marketing efficiency, particularly for smartphones and auto insurance.
- Desktop search continues to warrant a significant percentage of marketing allocations. In addition, mobile search is an aspect of marketing investment that this study has identified as important, especially in larger categories such as Cosmetics, Credit Cards and Auto Insurance.
- Online video investments via YouTube in the range of 1%-4% of total media budget seem appropriate for high-spend categories, with more considered purchases (e.g. luxury autos or handsets) perhaps even higher. All in all, the model suggests that current levels of brand spend in YouTube appear to be consistently underinvested.
- Quantifying the impact of other consumer touchpoints highlights the importance and potential for paid advertising to influence owned and earned contributions. In particular, the analysis was able to determine the value YouTube “owned” and “earned” content views represent, highlighting their significant overall sales contribution.
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
A survey of 318 C-level executives by Wipro finds that while all companies are collecting more data than ever before, those from companies where average EBITDA growth over the past three financial years has exceeded 10% are more likely than their less rapidly growing peers to analyse various data sources they collect (eg 58% vs 43%, with reference to third-party data) and to consider themselves effective at extracting useful insights from this analysis (81% vs 57%).
Furthermore, they are also far more likely to have to have changed the way they handle strategic decisions as a result of having more data (50% vs 36%), and to have seen improved strategic decision-making as a result of better data analysis (60% vs 38%).
These are among the major findings of The data directive: How data is driving corporate strategy-and what still lies ahead, a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, commissioned by Wipro.
“This research is a reflection of how organizations are leveraging data to sustain its competitive advantage for its products/services and be relevant in future. Leveraging the power of analytics, organizations can from prop up their key performance indicators -drive growth, enhance cost management and strengthen risk management,” said K R Sanjiv, Senior Vice President and Global Head, Analytics and Information Management Services, Wipro Ltd.
Key findings of the main report include:
- Data has proved most valuable so far for marketing leaders. From better ways to segment the customer base, to rethinking the ideal product mix in a retail store, marketing leaders are finding wide-ranging uses for their data to help improve how they market their company’s wares. Already, 50% of chief marketing officers say they have tried and found a clear, positive difference in using data to improve their understanding of customers, as just one of a range of successful applications. This is a markedly higher proportion than their C-suite peers.
- The financial services sector, technology companies, and professional services firms are most prepared for the data age. Three sectors stand out as being most prepared for the data age: the financial services sector (where 22% have a well-defined data management strategy in place); the technology industry (30%); and the professional services sector (40%). By contrast, such data management strategies are least often found amongst manufacturers (16%) and retailers (13%).
- Businesses are stockpiling an ever-growing range of data and expect data gathering to continue to expand rapidly. Whether social media sentiment, machine-generated data via sensors, staff emails, market data or otherwise, firms of all shapes and sizes are now collecting more information than ever before.
- At least seven in ten companies collect syndicated third-party data, such as weather information (72%), or government data (70%), while many gather anything from internal staff data (66%) to some kind of location-based information (41%), among many other types. Two-thirds of business leaders say the range and types of data have expanded in the past two years, while about three-quarters expect this data stockpiling to expand yet further in the coming two years.
- Working out which data matters most is the top challenge for firms. For companies seeking to gain more strategic insights from their data, many hurdles await. Whether organisational silos, a lack of skills, the usual disconnect between IT and the business, or worries over data quality, few consider the challenges and gaps easy to bridge. But clarity on which data matters most, amidst the data stockpiling now under way, is what tops the list of barriers, according to 40% of respondents. Furthermore, 34% of executives worry that the quality of their decisions is actually being impaired by data overload.
- Many companies are unsure about the extent of data-fuelled strategic transformation within their business. While 68% of respondents think their strategy has improved in the past two years as a result of having more data, only 18% see a significant improvement in strategy, and few have found ways to use data to make a genuinely transformational shift in the business. Some 35% of executives agree that data has been more useful with operational choices and actions, rather than strategic ones. Just 22% disagree, while 41% are unsure.
A supplement to this report, The data directive: Focus on the CFO, is also released today. This paper drills down into the 62 responses to the survey by chief financial officers. The key findings of this supplement include:
- CFOs identify improved scenario planning and forecasting as the key area where having more data has made the biggest positive difference to their role, identified by 40%. Furthermore, 34% have improved financial close management, and 32% have used data to bolster profitability.
- CFOs are more cautious than their C-suite peers about the strategic insights data has delivered: just 24% believe that their company’s strategic planning is highly data-driven compared to 35% of CEOs and 43% of CMOs. Similarly, whereas relatively high proportions of CEOs (48%), CIOs (40%) and CMOs (33%) believe that their company has changed the way they tackle strategic business decisions as a result of having more data, fewer CFOs (24%) believe this is the case.
- CFOs are more likely than their C-suite peers to see themselves as leaders of data initiatives. When asked who currently takes the lead on data-related initiatives within the business, an equal proportion of CFOs (27%) flagged both themselves and their CIO. Their C-suite peers are more likely to cite the CIO as the natural point person on such initiatives, followed by a range of other corporate officers.
The data directive: How data is driving corporate strategy-and what still lies ahead, and The data directive: Focus on the CFO are available free of charge at: