Monthly Archives: November 2008

Mobile Madness

It’s almost 1:00 AM, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and it is quiet enough now to sit down and blog.  I hope everyone had a great holiday and had time to spend with loved ones.

My colleague, JoAnna, called me late Wednesday to inform me that her Blackberry Storm had just hit her doorstep.   Though she was excited to finally have the opportunity to start using the Blackberry, she had to tend to cranberries, casseroles and a Thanksgiving feast for her family.   The Blackberry Storm would just have to be a quiet storm for a couple of days.

So what is all the fuss about these mobile devices anyway?   We have been waiting for the right mobile phone to come along that will support Flash.   No, not flash memory or flash cameras, we have been waiting to see Adobe Flash running on a mobile phone.  I have tested the iPhone, the G1 (Google phone) and now JoAnna has the newest player on the field, the Blackberry Storm.  Sooner or later one of these mobile units is going to support Flash and the ability to run Brainshark presentations.

So why is that so important you may ask?    Flash will change how mobile content is delivered.   You will basically be able to email movie clips in Flash format to mobile phones.   The fastest way to generate and deliver Flash content is through a Webinar for ONE presentation using the Brainshark presentation platform.   A Webinar for ONE is an interactive presentation that can be tracked and personalized for the recipient.   Viewer behavior can be tracked with reporting on slide duration and number of slides viewed.  With additional viewing parameters, we can actually personalize the content to the recipient’s preferences.

The Blackberry Storm could be the blast of technology that enables Flash and new demand generation marketing techniques for reaching millions of mobile users with customized content.  So I am patiently waiting for JoAnna to get up the learning curve and make a splash with Flash when she runs the first Webinar for ONE on the Blackberry Storm.   Put away the leftovers JoAnna and cook up some history.  We are all waiting.

Social Media in Business – Part of 4 of 4: Provide the same level of respect online as you would in a on-site meeting

by Carolyn Hasenfratz

It all adds up to: let your "Subscribers Rule" and let your customers communicate with you the way THEY like to communicate with you, which these days is very likely to include Social Media. I am a recent and enthusiastic convert, but I am trying very hard to be careful and not offend anyone with my Social Media experiments. I know what it’s like to get unwanted commercial messages, just as you do. For example, I’ve taken the rather drastic step of having the text messaging function on my cell phone disabled because I resented having to pay to receive spam messages. This past June I saw the rock band Rush in concert for the 15th or 16th time and would have loved to have been able to text message something like "Geddy Lee Rules!" and have it show up on the big screens during intermission (as if people didn’t know that already), but that’s one of the small pleasures of life I was deprived of when I gave up on text messaging with my phone!

People can get resentful toward you for much less egregious cyber-offenses than that. One reason for the popularity of Social Media is that users feel it’s something they can control better than their email inbox, so please keep that in mind when you are thinking about how to use Social Media for business lead generation. If you take the time and learn the technology and the culture by using the media for more casual, personal purposes first, you should get a feel for what is acceptable behavior and what is not, and then get ideas for how it can help with customer acquisition.

If you want to learn more about the kinds of concepts that were discussed at Connections ’08, which include the customer acquisition process, personalized marketing campaigns, and effective lead generation, try visiting the Subscribers Rule Blog.

Image Personalization Used to Help Launch New Product at Graph Expo

by Carolyn Hasenfratz

As you read in Mark’s recent blog post, Discovering the Discovery Light at Graph Expo, we attended Graph Expo in Chicago in October to promote Discovery LightTM, an interactive system for helping young children learn to read by using a special light that creates discovery through hidden messages.

Some of the hidden messages are revealed through a font that produces tiny printed text that can only be viewed with a magnifier.

Other hidden messages are revealed by shining a UV light source, the Discovery LightTM, on certain areas of the book. Below is a demonstration of the flourescent text in action.

Hidden Messasges Revealed by UV Light

We also put variable data into the books we were displaying at the show. To demonstrate that the books can be personalized for the child that will receive them, we put an assortment of different sample names in the giveaway copies of the book.

Kids aren’t the only ones who like personalization – adults take notice of it too. To emphasize the personalization theme, we personalized the emails that we sent out to invite customers to our booth at the show also.

Mark has written about embedding personalized images into the body of an email before in his blog post How to Acquire Customers and Influence People with Personalization. For the Discovery LightTM, we decided to go a step further and create personalized landing pages for each recipient, a feature available in the ExactTarget email software that we use, that the customers would reach if they clicked on a link in the email. The behavior of the individual customers who clicked on the link is trackable through the landing page.

Personalized Landing Pages

With these powerful tools we were able to generate interest in our exhibit at the show, the brand new Discovery LightTM web site, and the value of personalization all at the same time.

If you would like to see my photos from my short but interesting trip to the show, please click here – Graph Expo ’08.

Marketing for Mobile Messaging

While I refused to fight the crowds to be on of the first through the door to pick up a brand new Blackberry Storm, I will be going this afternoon to make my purchase.

My boss, Mark, and I have a very un-official, un-scientific experiment (aka competition) we’re conducting.  He has the new G1 (Google) phone from T-Mobile.  I’m getting the Blackberry Storm from Verizon Wireless.  We’re putting the networks aside, and comparing the phones for how well they enhance our ability to conduct business.

Mark got his G1 about a month ago, and has been bragging ever since.  He L-O-V-E-S it.  Just for fun on the weekend, he creates a brainshark presentation from his phone, records the voice, and then sends a vontoo message over to us just to gloat.

I’m hoping that I will be able to return the favor with the Blackberry storm.  I know I won’t have Windows mobile, but what will I be able to do?  At a minimum, I should be able to enjoy the latest and greatest in screen resolution and display options to view what our custoemrs view.  At most, will I be able to operate the Blackberry Storm as a miniature laptop, of sorts, the way that Mark has been able to do with his G1? 

Our whole business centers around effective lead generation and customer acquisition through managed services and internet marketing.  We drive personalized marketing campaigns through interactive technologies that may include any or all of the following:
  –Video Web Conferencing
  –Email Movie Clips
  –Variable Data embedded in html emails
  –Web Conferencing
  –On Demand Presentations

We are also heavy users of many interactive programs including but not limited to online calendars.

Over the next few weeks, we will be testing out these technologies with the G1 and Blackberry Storm.  Maybe we’ll even keep a scorecard.  For now, I have to sign off to go place my order.

Stay tuned, and if YOU have a G1 or a piping hot new Blackberry Storm–please post and tell us about the SMS feats you’ve conquered.

Social Media in Business – Part of 3 of 4: OFFERING A PREFERENCE OF AVAILABILITY

by Carolyn Hasenfratz

In my last post I talked about how social media gives your audience more ways to receive your content. They can choose many different ways to send you information as well. In addition to calling you or filling out a form on your web site, depending on what services you make available to them, they can for example leave a comment on your blog, or write on your wall in Facebook. Effective lead generation includes giving more choices to your audience so that they can have the kind of relationship with you that suits them.

Other than the natural instinct to make it as easy to contact you as possible, what other reasons might there be for making the effort to branch out into social media? At the Connections ’08 conference, I took lots of notes. Here are some excerpts from those notes:

  • “Relationships with customers are one thing that competitors can’t copy.”
  • “79% of customers buy from companies that they are in a relationship with, rather than just on price.”
  • “About 30% of email addresses go bad every year.”
  • “22% of Internet users are using social media instead of email.”
  • “Facebook – must be on it to understand what is going on.”

Those random notations lead me to some ideas about why businesses might want to have a social media presence to help with customer acquisition. If about 30% of email addresses go bad every year, then you can’t count on email alone to keep in touch with your customers. It makes sense to have other channels available.

Relationships with customers and personalized marketing campaigns are clearly important – how can social media help to build those relationships? Blogs can help a great deal by humanizing your company through informal communication that allows transparent feedback. Blogs are also a great way to possibly get on social networking and bookmarking sites without you having to do anything – for example on our Webinar Resources Blog, at the bottom of each post is a Share This chicklet. If you click it, you will see dozens of chicklets that a visitor to this blog can use to share our posts using the service of their choice. This is just one of many ways that the people who really like what you’re producing can do some of your marketing for you by their own free will.

If 22% of Internet users are using social media instead of email, as effective as email is, it’s clear you are going to have to reach those particular customers some other way. If your customers are looking for you, it’s important to be where they are. If you are using a social networking service, are fellow users on that service manifesting their relationships with different causes, organizations, brand names or products? Can you get any ideas from how they are doing it?

Social Media in Business – Part of 2 of 4: LEVELS OF AVAILABILITY

Believe it or not, there ARE still some business today that don’t have a web site or email yet, but these days there are even more communication choices. When doing a web marketing proposal now I would ask clients if they want, in addition to a web site, email marketing, possibly with personalized images or landing pages, a blog, interactive Brainshark presentations, and Vontoo voice messaging. I would ask them if they participate in services such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, or photo sharing sites and if so are they interested in those services playing a role in their overall customer acquisition strategy.

Mega Bytes Delicious Syndicated Candies

So now we have many more ways for people to contact each other, and yes it can be confusing. I’m still trying to sort out what all those little “chicklets” (a slang term for a button that users click on to save, catalog, and share information or to download something) you see all over the web mean. One thing I know they do mean is extra control for the consumer of your content. For example, on this Webinar Resources Blog, readers can come to this web page to read the content. Or, they can click the orange “chicklet” in the right-hand column to get the feed link to this blog, and paste that into the feed aggregator of their choice. I’m just beginning to learn myself all the things that can be done with feeds and it’s entirely possible people might be reading this blog post in ways I haven’t even heard of yet.

Social Media in Business – Part of 1 of 4: EMAIL

by Carolyn Hasenfratz

Why would a business want to get involved in social media? By nature, it is unpredictable as we human beings naturally are, and that can be scary.

At the Connections ’08 conference for users and agencies that I attended in September, ExactTarget selected “Subscribers Rule!” as the theme. What does that mean? You can read Exact Target’s exact definition here. ExactTarget is in the business of email marketing, so they want us to think about the needs of our email subscribers and how to keep them happy. You want to give them control, to let them “Rule” over how you communicate with them. For example, you allow subscribers to choose to get your emails instead of sending them unsolicited spam, and make sure to send them content that fits their interests.

In the early days of my web design and development career, which started 11 years ago, I encouraged clients to make it as easy as possible for customers to contact them by providing information about multiple means of doing so, such as telephone, fax, mailing address, and email. Different people have preferences for how they like to communicate. I for example, am very comfortable sending email but don’t enjoy talking on the phone. A company that provides an email contact is much more likely to get my business than one providing only a phone number.

According to the ExactTarget 2008 Channel Preference Survey, the trend is for younger consumers to place less importance on email as a communication channel than older consumers. This does not mean that email is going to go away any time soon however. Among the youngest age group in the survey, 15-17 year olds, email is still the second most favored channel. All of the other groups surveyed showed email either tied for first place or in first place. And since you need an email address to register for many services, people will still need to have an email address even if it isn’t used as the main form of written communication.