The Benefits of Reusable Grocery Bags

Want to go green and help the environment while helping yourself, your charity, school, or business?

I know I’m not the only person tired of those globs of one-use plastic grocery bags that accumulate in my house, stuffed into boxes, under beds, in closets, hidden evidence of my hurried shopping habits. Stores put my purchases in one-use plastic bags, and I take the bags home; there, or so I thought, they stayed, unwanted and forgotten.

Unfortunately, one-use plastic bags negatively impact marine ecosystems, solid waste management, and global resource consumption. As of 2014, ninety municipalities in California have banned single use plastic bags, including Los Angeles city and county. The entire state of Hawaii has banned plastic bags, North Carolina instituted a ban on the Outer Banks islands, and entire countries, including China and Bangladesh, have bans in place.

I got on the bandwagon after reading Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans, by Charles Moore and Cassandra Phillips (Penguin Group, 2011). Moore helped bring attention to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where plastic waste contaminates a huge area the size of Texas. This debris can end up being ingested by marine life, birds, fish, and mammals, who mistake it for food. Eventually, the ingested toxins make it up the food chain to humans.

In other words, it’s a big mess, and I was forced to realize that not all of those one-use plastic bags that I brought home in the past, remained stuffed in the space next to my refrigerator.

I decided to change my shopping habits, so I went green and requested a set of reusable grocery shopping bags as a holiday gift. Several types are available, made from natural fibers such as cotton, jute (burlap), or man-made materials like non-woven polypropylene, a plastic. Wait, I used bags made from plastic, to replace plastic bags? How does that make sense? Happily, utilizing green reusable grocery shopping bags only once a week will replace 520 one-use plastic bags per year. The key is to make use of them, as often as possible.

Getting adjusted to your reusable bags take patience: I forgot mine several times in the first few weeks I had them, but gradually, it became a habit to take them with me. I have one insulated freezer tote, and I put the small, compact grocery bags inside it, and hang the tote on my front door handle, the day I intend to go shopping. Even if I do forget to take my reusable bags, I know that, overall, I now use fewer one-use bags. When I collect a few of those, I put them back inside the tote, and return them to the store, where they are reused, or recycled.

You may not need to purchase a dedicated reusable grocery bag: look in your closet for those forgotten conference gift bags and totes that can be rededicated to saving the oceans and the environment. In addition, companies such as Target and CVS offer customers incentives for adopting reusable bags, and other, local retailers do as well. Look for coupons and special offers in your weekly mail.

Grocery clerks and baggers have been cooperative and positive about bagging my purchases in reusable bags. I just put them out on the conveyor belt along with my other items. I find the bags hold a lot of groceries, with the added benefit of being sturdy. They don’t rip and spill my groceries the way single-use bags can.

Finally, green reusable grocery shopping bags can become a fundraising and advertising item that will benefit your school, charity, or favorite cause. Sell reusable bags with custom logos to raise money for school field trips, or to advertise your small business. Each time the shopper uses the bag, your school, charity, or business gets a boost, and the planet benefits.

Remember to use your green reusable shopping bags safely, as part of a healthy life style:

Keep a separate insulated bag for eggs, seafood and meats.

Follow the instructions on your bag for cleaning after each use.

Store your bags in a cool dry place, not in the trunk of your car.

Use the bag only for groceries, not as a gym bag or beach bag as well!

I made the switch, and I am happier for it; I also know I am helping my neighbors, and the world we share together.

Why Do Social Media?

Over the last 6 months or so people keep asking me ‘what is social media’, ‘how are you using it’ ‘why do it, ‘what exactly is your job?’. I will (hopefully) try to give you a brief introduction to social media, some tips and why companies from big conglomerates right down to small businesses should use it.

Social media is online conversation. It’s the ‘new word of mouth’ – Conversations that were previously happening offline are now happening online in ‘viral ecosystem’ type communities. Viral is the keyword here as if a topic is provocative/ interesting enough it can spread online like gossip in a small town – this is what we call Digital Interaction. You’ve probably all heard of Twitter, Facebook, Linked IN, Flickr, YouTube etc right, and if not … WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN??? On social terms these communities allow us to interact with friends, catch up on the latest news, see whose flying high, who really isn’t and generally have fun interacting online. In marketing terms, these are all potential goldmines.

If you put it into perspective; Facebook for example now has a user base that if it were a country it would be the fourth most populated place in the world! Just this week it was announced that Facebook now has surpassed 300 million users across all demographics AND is now making enough money to cover its costs. These are stats that you can no longer choose to ignore. So what would I say to a company whose competitor is doing a lot of social media, but they see it as a waste of time as they are lucky enough in these times to have a huge budget for mainstream advertising?

I would say break away from the old-school advertising ‘shout our message the loudest’ model and do it. Consider that the average person is exposed to over 3000 advertising messages every day. 1. Consider that messaging and interaction is no longer one-way it is multi-directional amongst all stakeholders. So why invest all that surplus cash, when most people will ignore your message, your message will be too mainstream and you can reach a much more targeted audience DIRECTLY online through conversation at a much cheaper cost and at real-time? ROI is high with social media as the only cost is human capital.

Social Media has evolved marketing, with a new ‘communications model’. Today customers want more; they don’t just want an information feed, they want interaction and acknowledgement from brands. When they buy products they like to buy into the whole brand, this is particularly true amongst our future generations, the millennials, of which 96% have joined a social network.

2.Don’t ditch traditional methods completely as Social media is a compliment not a replacement and compliment really is the operative word here. There’s a need to use social media to support existing messaging not replace it completely.
Using it is about being clever. Once you join you have to realise that you are no longer in control – you have to relinquish control – now this is where people get scared, but it works. There tends to be a lot more respect for brands who are on social networks opposed to those who aren’t.

But first you need to listen, only then should you participate and interact and then engage your customers. You can’t just use social media to blast out your messages you have to talk to them about what they want to talk about and be honest. You can of course use social media to sway/influence conversation but you need to realize that honesty is the ONLY policy in social media and if you are too corporate or pushy you will put people off.
Some brands have official communities and accounts as this can be quite a good way to try and tie in all conversation, keeping it on track and preventing profanities.

“But how can it really benefit my business??” I hear you ask ….
o Facilitates conversations between all stakeholders – providing direct connections
o Targets those consumers who have moved away from traditional media
o Provides behavioural insight and innovation through connections
o Multiple profiles – leads to organic growth amongst search page rankings
o Increases brand profile / reach

How have we benefited from social media?

Social media has opened up many new opportunities for us that previously we wouldn’t have thought possible. We have had interest from new markets and started dialogues with people who are potential partners. We established our own Twitter page around five months ago and were amazed at the amount of interaction almost straightaway. Today Twitter is one of our top referral sites, not only to our own website, but also for campaigns we have worked on. By maintaining interaction levels you constantly keep your customers/target audience engaged, bringing you ever closer to your customers first hand.

It is early days however, and at the moment we are looking into ways to try and quantify social media into real ROI for our corporate clients as we’re constantly hearing ‘conversation is great but where’s the value?’ – this is where as professional marketers we need to see and tangibly demonstrate the grey – it isn’t just black and white anymore.
So … it is here to stay, it’s not a fad, it’s a fundamental and undeniable shift in the way we communicate with current customers and potential customers, so don’t get left behind! Even the Government are on Twitter and if Barack Obama used social media to get to the White House3, we can all use social media to reach out to customers.

Footnotes
1. Shenk, David. Data Smog – Surviving the Information Glut. HarperEdge, 1997.
2. The National School Boards Association. Simply-speaking.blogspot.com. http://simply-speaking.blogspot.com/2007/08/social-networking-in-education.html
3. Brooks, Rich. What Businesses Can Learn from Barack Obama’s Social Media Strategy. Jan. 30th, 2009. http://www.fastcompany.com/blog/rich-brooks/social-media-strategies-small-business/what-businesses-can-learn-barack-obamas-soci

Viral Marketing in Social Media

VIRAL MARKETING IN SOCIAL MEDIA FINAL

It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners.

Pre-Cable TV took 13 years to reach 50 million users..

The internet took four years to reach 50 million people…

In less than nine months Facebook added 100 million users.

For less than a $1,000 you can launch a viral marketing campaign with the potential to reach thousands of people, if not millions quickly and almost effortlessly.

Take for example the Blendtec Company, a maker of food processors and blenders, who placed a series of YouTube videos called “Will It Blend?” Arising our curiosity and sense of dark humor Blendtec blended golf balls, an iPhone, and even a bag of marbles. It was fascinating to watch a glowing iPhone being reduced to black powder and shredded plastic. In a short matter of time Blendtec logged 8 million visitors while sales increased over 800%. Don’t we just enjoy watching things being destroyed?

Burger King launched an interactive video on their micro website with a man dressed as a chicken. In the message bar you can insert a command and the chicken-man would jump, run, dance, and play dead. You get the picture. People loved the creativity, fun, and sense of control. Within 24 hours the site received 1 million hits and by the end of the week eight million. Not bad for a chicken man.

Down in Orlando Florida, Universal Studios launched a new attraction based on the Harry Potter series. Instead of deploying expensive advertising through mass media, Universal teamed up with the author J.K. Rowling, to give a special webinar to the top seven Harry Potter maven fans. Afterwards, the seven maven fans shared their news on blogs and forums with great energy and enthusiasm. The media picked it up and ran with the story. Meanwhile, Universal setup a micro site for bloggers and the media to ascertain more information on the park’s new attraction. In just a few weeks this viral marketing tactic spread the news from seven people to over 300 Million. Of course, it helps when you have an established base of loyal Harry Potter fans.

TRUST: Content Democratization: We are migrating from push advertising to pull; allowing users greater access, participation, and control based on trust.

In the last ten years both the media and information technology industries have been migrating from a traditional push advertising environment (TV & newspaper ads) to interactive (pull) advertising using interactive content. The days of advertiser content dominance is being transformed into a democratization process whereby quality content is interacted, shared, and rated. The democratization process allows the consumer greater control and influence to recommend products and services to their peers. In the end, it’s creating trust between the buyer and the seller. Trust builds loyalty and repeat business. Trust is the glue that will cement the relationship and it’s done by allowing an interactive participation in the communication and collaboration process. There’s nothing more powerful and trustworthy than when a good friend makes a recommendation.

Using a combination of our imagination and creativity one can use viral marketing tactics within social media channels to capture the attention of millions. Of course, getting their attention is only half the battle. The other half is harder. The real challenge is converting their attention into sales or a call-to-action, and to sustain that effort over a period of time. This is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. As my mom use to say to me, “You get what you pay for.”

SOCIAL MEDIA ECOSYSTEM

Social Media on Web 2.0 is simply the ability to have conversations with people through a variety of communication tools and communities. By nature people are tribal and we seek to converse and share with other like minded people.

According to the 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study, 62% of users polled believe they can influence business decisions by voicing opinions via new media channels. About a quarter have contributed their point-of-view on an issue (24%) or contacted a company directly (23%). 74% expect companies to join conversations about their corporate responsibility practices happening on new media. MediaPost January 22, 2010

Social media platforms can leverage the collective wisdom of the community to collaborate on a given objective, such as; to increase sales, create content, engage customer feedback, nurture a community, amplify your marketing message, and to develop peer relationships between manufacturer-distributor-retailer-partner-customer. Typically, the social media conversation is uncontrolled, unorganized, nor always on target with the message. Web 2.0 has become a democracy of information usage with a bit of anarchy thrown in.

The power of Web 2.0 allows the individual to spread their conversations or word-of-mouth in multiple formats; image, video, text, and audio. Individuals can leverage their social media communities, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, MetaCafe, SocialText and a host of others platforms. The most popular social media network activities ranged from posting messages, downloading and uploading music, videos and images. These communities and tools allow photo sharing, videos, communities, blogs, forums, articles, news, entertainment, news, and tutorials. They also allow individuals to use their collective intelligence to collaborate on online projects. The power of these tools is the ability share, create, and product from one-to-many quickly, effortlessly, and seamlessly. Good news can travel fast but with even greater trepidation; bad news can travel at light speed.

SCALING UP VIRAL MARKETING

Scaling up your viral marketing campaign requires an environment of easy access and collaboration. Ross Mayfield, founder of Socialtext, coined the concept of the, “Power Law of Participation.” In it, he describes that social media portals should make it easy to access, to read, and to share content. The intent is to accelerate productivity and creativity by engaging participants to use their collective wisdom in sharing their knowledge and intelligence. It’s a well known fact that the wisdom of the tribe will exceed the wisdom of the individual.

In James Surowiecki’s book, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few, the author explained that the collective decisions of the group far exceeds the individual and the added dimension of social internet sites offers a diversity of ideas. It can easily be said the world is our village. We see this today on Wikipedia where a community of people collaborates to create and share its knowledge base.

The new paradigm of Social Media marketing is to embrace the democracy of knowledge, respect the intelligence of your audience, and allow them the ability to participate and ideas going viral and establishing a collective intelligence to enrich creativity and productivity. Here are several suggestions to grease the skids for your viral campaign to generate a higher participation rate.

Make your content access free and easy to share

- Create multiple touch points for others to reach you: website, blog, Microsites, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, SharePoint, SocialText, and mobile applications.

- Engage and maintain the consumer’s conversations with the goal of closing the loop from the behavior to consider a purchase, to purchase, and finally, to encourage them to make recommendations.

- People want to be understood and recognize. Promote and encourage comments section and recommendations.

- Emotions move us to action. Make it personal. Stories paint pictures and have high retention and share rates.

- Building a community of like minded people can empower greater influence to change events politically, economically, or socially. For example, the Presidential election in 2008 was a milestone in using viral marketing in social media.

VIRAL MARKETING

It’s passion that motivates people to share something new. Think of your passions in politics, sports, religion, cooking, or movie stars. When something stirs your emotions you want to share it immediately.

Viral marketing offers a rapid and almost effortlessly dissemination of an idea (word-of-mouth) from one-to-many by leveraging both internet and communication tools from one person to millions. Think of tribal communication behavior, think of gossip, think of how people when empowered with special news want to share it with their friends and circles of influence. A viral message will spread rapidly when the idea is quickly understood and the person feels empowered to send it to other people. The best viral messages are emotionally charged stimulating the person’s desire of happiness, greed, anger, hatred, and other passionate emotions. Emotionally polarized messages moved quickly. Neutral emotions go nowhere.

To make viral marketing work you need the tools to spread it and the audience to receive it. As was previously mentioned the evolution of Web 2.0 offers great power, intelligence, services, word-of-mouth recommendations, and the delivery of relevant information in real time. Today, Web 2.0 can deliver multiple formats of content quickly, seamlessly, and effortlessly, which is; email, video, photographs, audio, and text messages.

EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIORAL DRIVERS

Excellent viral marketing will seek common emotional trigger points to motivate a person into action. People like the sense of exclusivity and the power to invite their friends into the club. It makes them feel cool as you were one of the inside people. Other common emotional trigger points can be happiness, humor, anger, envy, pride, or greed.

For example, when EA Games launched their next generation soccer game called FIFA Soccer in 2006, they used tricksters from Toronto’s Ryouko mixed martial arts team to create an amazing video display of stunts and acrobatic feats. Using a combination of traditional and viral marketing, EA leaked the video to selected fans in Europe reaching a peak hit rate of 1.5 million fans.

Social activity and the underlying emotions that drive it are a means to an end, the tools that execute the logic of survival. Status, leadership, power, affiliation, reciprocal altruism, cooperation, sharing of knowledge, trading of goods, pair-bonding, and even aggression are all part of the social environment that help a group work toward that same survival end game.

At the base of this is a powerful drive to connect what is felt. Humans feel a strong need to connect with others to make sense of their world, to not feel lost in a sea of infinite possibilities and to share in mutual benefit. Though the subconscious motivation is survival, the conscious emotions are social.

In trying to take the guess work of anticipating people’s emotion, today we can use behavioral targeting to understand and predict user behavior and purchasing patterns. One way is using Internet software cookies which are placed on the user’s computer to track their behavior on websites to identify their unique tastes and interests. Cookie placement is like giving someone a unique cell phone number. You can analyze where and to whom. You can track when an online advertisement is served, and improve it based on the feedback and relationship you already have. The gathered information is then used to create audience segments, which enable advertisers to make reasonable choices about where to buy advertising space. For example, AOL Advertising offers behavioral targeting plus a host of services that can effectively target your audience with precision and the methodology behind it. Another favorite is AudienceScience which has methodically divided the global audience into many types of segments.

What doesn’t work? Social media is similar to having coffee with a few of your friends in your kitchen. When a man intrudes and announces his big sale at the furniture store its invasive and annoying. No one likes it. Early in the history of Facebook this is what advertisers did, until they understood the nuances of their target audience. Advertisers discovered that Facebook users rarely click through ads, but happily participated in events, communities, and causes. Now it’s easy to become a fan of Coke or a gangster in Mafia Wars.

Unlike direct marketing where you can predict a given response rate of 1-3%, viral marketing can be hit or miss. On the positive side, a viral marketing campaign can be done inexpensively. On the negative side, you might have to deploy multiple types and levels in a campaign. You may also have to engage traditional media to seed the viral messages.

Common elements for making a viral marketing campaign to work are:

- Make the content seamless and easy to send or transfer

- The content uses existing internet and telecommunications infrastructure

- Products or services are given away for free

- The content is emotionally charged: Polarized messages will motivate action in people

- The content can easily scale from a few people to millions

BUILDING YOUR VIRAL MARKETING

To be successful in social media and using viral marketing tactics requires the same discipline as any other marketing endeavor.

- Good planning and goal setting

- A commitment for the long run and the patience for campaigns to gain traction

- Ample dedicated resources to sustain conversations and offer a quality level of service.

- Being authentic, transparent, and honest. The end goal is to develop ongoing trust and loyalty.

- Make your touch points intuitive, easy access, and minimal restrictions.

Building your social media viral marketing campaign requires four major segments.

1. Start with the proper planning, messaging, target, audience, and budgets.

2. Build a story with wings to fly.

3. Select the media channels to disseminate your story.

4. Measure and manage user attention and participation.

STEP 1 – PLANNING, GOALS, TARGET AUDIENCE

- Identify and understand the needs and wants of your target audience – put each individual into segments based on actual behavior across the web.

- If your product requires consideration to purchase, then determine the level of research your prospects are doing today on the internet.

- Identify your competition. Determine what websites your target audience has been visiting recently and what draws their interest.

- If you’re going to advertise on other websites, then determine which of those sites are already converting ads into leads in your category.

- Determine which social media sites are attracting your best prospects and understand their behavior.

- Determine the health and reputation of your brand by tuning into relevant blogs, microblogs, and forums.

- On your website run A/B tests to measure messaging and conversion ratio.

- Monitor and measure the prospect’s conversation along the entire communications chain; from emails, live chats, recommendations, and call center. You’ll need strong interactive marketing software tools such as Aprimo, Eloqua, HubSpot, and Omniture.

- Close the conversation loop with your visitors by encouraging them to complete a comments or product recommendation.

- What are your goals?

- Sell something

- Build awareness

- Capture their attention

- Engage them in a conversion

- Call to action

- Retain customers

STEP 2- BUILD A STORY WITH WINGS

Every good viral marketing campaign requires an emotional story that is original or sticky. Video by far is the fastest and easiest tool to spread a story that sticks. In addition, a sustainable campaign will need layers of various components to keep the momentum going. Using the billboard affect, users will give you three to five seconds to receive your message to take action. All the elements of your viral campaign should have these attributes.

- GOOD STORY – You’re a story teller. Stories paint pictures and evoke emotions. Good stories are remembered, original, and begged to be shared.

- When the story catches on be prepared for sequel stories, bloopers, and behind the scene blog. Keep putting the logs on the fire.

- Be sure to have a comments section. Observe it closely. Sharing emotions is acceptable but edit offensive language and insults.

- Your goal is to engage in conversations and eventually a call to action leading to the fulfillment of your goals.

- Keep the conversation personal, for example don’t place barriers between your stars and audience. People want to connect directly to the artist or rock musician.

- EMOTIONAL – It must offer an emotional appeal. The more polarizing the emotion then the greater chance of becoming viral.

- ORIGINAL-Do not be predictable. Be original and creative. Fascinate them. Make them laugh. Make them cry. Can you make them say – wow?

- RELEVANT-The story must be relevant to your target audience. Soccer fans are fascinated with advertisement demonstrating a trickster pro team.

- WINGS-give it the wings to fly whereby the message is designed to be portable, scalable, and shareable.

- DYNAMIC-You need to develop momentum and sustainability. This requires multiple entry points to experience your message such as (video, blogs, TV, print, quality content, and tie-ins). A well done story will demand a sequel, behind the scenes production, bloopers, and interviews.

- CATCHY-You must have a catch to it that hooks people in and there will be reward in the end. Ask yourself, what’s in it for me? Does it entertain? Does it provide great information?

And two don’ts

- Please don’t compel people to forward their emails for viral marketing

- Please don’t use obvious commercials unless they are especially clever, entertaining, or funny.

STEP 3 – DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS

A successful viral campaign will have multiple steps and components. In 2006-7 Microsoft launched a ten month five-step marketing campaign for Halo 3 for the purpose of gaining new gamers and building brand awareness. Step One was an advertisement played on a Monday night football game using an attention getting reenactment of the Halo game. The ad reached 8 million households and another 3.7 million viewers when placed on YouTube. The advertisement triggered Step Two inviting gamers to be beta testers; they acquired 850,000 users. Step Three was a scavenger hunt using a combination of online websites and traditional media channels. Step Four was co-sponsorships with major fast food and beverage companies. Finally, Step Five was an impressive back story reenactment of combat action scenes. Altogether the campaign sold 3 million copies in the first week.

For a viral campaign to be sustainable it will require multiple steps, components and channels to build awareness, capture, engage, and convert your target audience. Naturally, your channels of distribution will be determined by where your target audience shops, researches, and socializes. You can begin to research your target audience at Digital Scientists or Audience Science.

USING Facebook

Today, Facebook is the fastest growing social media platform and a great starting point to launch a viral marketing campaign. In 2010, Pepsi announced they will not advertise in the Super Bowl. Rather, they will invest their advertising using Social Media platforms. Unlike the one-way push of TV advertising communications, Facebook and other forms of social media allows you to capture your audience, engage them in a conversation, nurture the relationship, convert them into sales, retain their loyalty, monitor and shepherd their word-of-mouth recommendations, and scale peer approval ratings without restraint.

Facebook Statistics for early 2010

- There are now 350+ Million users

- 50% perform daily updates

- Less than 1/3 are college students

- 30% of users are just in the U.S.A.

- The fasting growing segment is greater than 35 years old

VIRAL MARKETING IN Facebook

The first place to start on Facebook is to build your own profile and company Facebook page. Naturally, you want to cross link all of your portals to one another; website, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Facebook has excellent tools to identify and target you audience down to the granular and local level. Use it. Similar to tribes, Facebook users with like minded interests will gravitate to stories and events. Always make your content with good quality. You want to be authentic and interactive.

Facebook requires dedication, creativity, and interactivity. To compete for attention you must constantly provide a steady stream of content, promotions, events, and communications.

As a company you’ll have to define who you are to the market. What’s your brand and personality? Your purpose is not to sell but to inform and share knowledge. Through tacit approval Facebook users will accept you and be your fan.

Engaging Facebook users requires a two way conversation or being interactive. Feed them a good story or video to determine if they will click the “LIKE” button. Encourage them to comment. As your level of trust increases with the users, seek to convert their actions using promotions and discounts into joining a website or making a purchase.

Get your Facebook fans involved in contests and promotions. Make them do things to share photographs or videos. Let them all share in the fun and discovery.

STEP 4 – MANAGE AND MEASURE USER ATTENTION

There’s a scarce commodity called the consumer’s attention. Some call it the “Attention Economy,” whereby a marketplace has developed such that consumers agree to receive services in exchange for their attention. If you want the attention of a consumer, just think of “what’s in it for me?” News feeds are a primary example where they provide a steady stream of current news in exchange that you look at their advertisements. The end game is to prompt a “call-to-action” from the consumer. Since you can never ask directly for a sale, you must provide a steady stream of relevant news, entertainment, knowledge, or tools. By using behavioral targeting tools you’ll be able to steer quality prospects to a call-to-action.

Gaining the attention of the consumer requires three important attributes:

- RELEVANCY – Your information is relevant to your target audience

- CHANNEL DISTRIBUTION – Channel the information through the appropriate social media channels where your target audience is available

- ENDORSEMENTS – Engage your consumers to be your trusted references through sneak preview webinars, product reviews, endorsements, and recommendations.

Once you gained the attention you need to manage, measure, and respond. Today there are many solutions to manage and measure your interactive marketing. These solutions will manage the entire life cycle of a customer engagement to determine both your campaign’s Return of Investment, and the life time value of your customer. You’re also looking to manage the Consideration Factor. Before a consumer makes a purchase they’ll seek peer reviews and product recommendations. After the consumer makes a purchase they will experience the product and form their own opinions upon which they will cycle back comments for new consumers to review. Some of these companies include Aprimo, Eloqua, HubSpot, Omniture, Based on the 80-20 rule your goal is to seek your most profitable customers and understand the process to achieve these results.

MEASURING CUSTOMER LIFE CYCLE

According to the 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study, consumers are most interested in information that will inform their purchasing decisions. Respondents said they want companies to tell them what is in products and how they are made (85%) and provide additional details about information, labels and claims shared offline (e.g., in the store, on the package, in an advertisement) (83%). MediaPost January 22, 2010

The life cycle of acquiring and retaining customer has a predictable flow. Phase 1 starts with generating Awareness of the product/service through the use of various marketing channels and campaigns. Phase-2 is consideration of the product based on peer evaluations, recommendations, and other social media tools. After the purchase of the product the real heavy lifting begins to ensure the customer’s expectations are met and they have a satisfactory experience. Phase-3 is the formation and sharing the consumer’s experience with the product. Typically there will be three types of customers. (1) Immensely satisfied and willing to share their experience, (2) Satisfied and complacent customers with no passion to share, and (3) the Dissatisfied customer who will tell the world of their terrible experience as they seek to restore their balance in life through retaliation.

As we can see from the illustration, word-of-mouth recommendations are cycled back to the consideration phase for the next customer. It therefore becomes important to manage these word-of-mouth recommendations by ensuring a good experience, observing the results, and responding immediately to damage control.

If we can measure it, then we can manage it. As your campaign reaches your audience you’re looking to measure some key variables to ensure your message is reaching the right target audience, you captured, their attention, engaged them in an interactive process for purchase consideration, convert them into a sale, and finally offer the experience to steer and share their positive opinion. As such you are looking to measure variables such as; Traffic Visits, Click through behavior patterns, Conversion rates, and Source of visitors.

CONCLUSION

As a general rule, we are fearful of things we do not understand. As marketing and advertising professionals, once we embrace the idea of democracy and participation in sharing content to our target audience, we can enjoy the immense surge of collective wisdom and the loyalty of our fans. In building a business it’s expensive to acquire new customers and pointless to have a hole in your bucket when they constantly drain out. Embracing the power of Web 2.0, deploying viral marketing, and using traditional media platforms can give you a full complement of tools to reach a vast audience who are most interested in having a relationship with your organization. By increasing the ease of customer access and participation you’ll be able to build a loyal fan base that can deliver a steady stream of profitable revenue. As many business leaders have discovered, by taking care of your customers first, your profits can be realized.

Hiring an iPhone Development Company? Here’s What You Need to Know About Developing for the iPhone

Making an iPhone app is different from developing for Android, and it’s not just because of the fact that it uses a different programming language. An iPhone development company may not recognize or appreciate all of the differences between them-and there are quite a few. Developing for iPhone isn’t necessarily better or worse than it is for any other platform, but there are some key facts that anyone who wants to make an iPhone app should know before getting started.

By the way, everything we discuss here will apply also to tablets, because iOS and Android are found on both tablets and phones. But we’ll mostly mention phones, because most people start out their development process thinking about a phone app.

1. iPhone customers are picky-but they spend more money

Users are the lifeblood of any successful app, especially if it isn’t free or includes in-app purchases. Compared to Android users, iPhone customers are more concerned about the overall design of an app than extra bells and whistles. But they’re also less likely to write reviews. Take Uber, for example. On the Google Play Store, there are 1.1 million reviews, averaging just over four stars. On the iTunes App Store, there are 32,694, again averaging about four stars. That’s a huge gap-more of a chasm, really-considering that there are a total of about 16 million monthly active users.

That’s both a positive and a negative for a new app; fewer reviews on average means that you are more likely to attract those who feel strongly one way or the other about your application. You may get some of those picky iPhone customers who are disappointed in some aspect of the design, but you’ll also get those who love what your app lets them do.

Aside from reviews, iOS users are more likely to spend money on an app-about 75% more, in fact. This is a big advantage over Android development. On Google Play, apps are usually cheaper or free and ad-supported, which sets a different expectation with users. If your app relies on consistent revenue, iPhone’s platform may be a better fit for you-as long as you meet the standards.

2. Apple’s approval policy is stricter

One of the reasons why iPhone customer expectations are higher is because of Apple’s approval policy, which applies to all iOS apps on both iPhone and iPad. They maintain rigid standards for any apps that are submitted to the AppStore, and reject any that don’t meet them. This can be frustrating, because not all of their restrictions are always clear. Here’s a line right from their approval guide: “We will reject apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line. What line, you ask? Well, as a Supreme Court Justice once said, ‘I’ll know it when I see it.’” They do follow up with a list of examples and specifics, but really, anything that is objectionable-which includes content that is either “insensitive” or “upsetting”-can be denied publication.

You may assume that this is kind of a backdoor for them to reject anything that they don’t want to be associated with, and you’d be right. Essentially, Apple reserves the right to deny publication of an app that might damage their brand, be it offensive or otherwise. This is becoming more popular with other content-driven companies, too-YouTube just updated their terms and conditions to allow them to de-monetize any videos that they find not “advertiser-friendly.”

Will this part affect a typical enterprise app? Probably not. But it does illustrate a stark contrast against Android’s far more forgiving and open submission guidelines.

Aside from content restrictions, Apple maintains standards on the performance and design of any app that is published on their platform. If it doesn’t look good enough, for example, they’ll reject it.

This is a barrier to entry, certainly, but it does maintain a higher level of quality in the iPhone ecosystem. In fact, these are barriers that any successful app has to pass anyway. Your app, regardless of platform, should look good and perform well before you even think about publishing.

3. Fragmentation isn’t an issue for iPhone development companies

In terms of actually producing the product, the greatest advantage to making an iPhone app is that there is hardly any fragmentation to worry about. Every iPhone from the iPhone 5 and up is running at least iOS 9, and will all soon be running iOS 10. There are only about six iPhone models available for new users, and many old customers upgrade to the newer versions as soon as they’re released-iOS has a much higher update rate than Android..

In other words, there are very few devices and software versions that an iPhone developer has to worry about.

Conversely, there are dozens of versions of Android available, each molded and reskinned to fit each individual device made by dozens of manufacturers. Something that runs just fine on a Samsung Galaxy S6 running Android version 5.1.1 may have issues on a Galaxy S5 running Android version 5.0. Differences in hardware span a huge range as well, even just counting the devices by one manufacturer. For example, the Galaxy Note product line has a much larger screen than the standard Galaxy S line does, with different power requirements and resource allocation.

When you develop for Android, there is a lot more testing that needs to be done, just by virtue of the differences in software versions and devices. With iPhone development, however, you only have to worry about a comparatively few variations, and testing is much simpler.

4. Security is tighter

I’ve always said that security must be integrated into the development of any application, mobile or otherwise. it’s one of the things we take most seriously-we even developed Code Dx, which helps us identify potential security risks at every stage of development.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t much matter how secure your app is if the underlying platform is vulnerable. The iPhone ecosystem has a huge advantage over Android’s: it’s managed entirely by Apple. Their control can, at times, feel stifling-and is one of the reasons why there are so many Android devotees-but it undeniably makes their entire platform more secure. Every app is rigorously vetted, as I mentioned earlier, by the same people who have tested every other app. By contrast, Android’s various app markets aren’t maintained by the same groups, and third-party software is common. This-along with the fact that Android itself is open source, whereas iOS is guarded closely-makes the Android platform significantly more vulnerable to security threats. While your app may be perfectly secure, it doesn’t help if cybercriminals can access it with false credentials provided by your customers.

This isn’t to say that the iPhone platform is free of any security threats-because, let’s face it, nothing is. But the extra controls in place over the ecosystem does make it more difficult to target iPhone customers specifically, and every layer of security helps.

As with all things in life, there are pros and cons to any software development strategy. These are only some of the things that you should consider before you decide to make an iPhone app or launch on a different platform. Ultimately, what’s best for your particular needs should be decided between you and your development company.