Kate Headen Waddell's Posts (10)

Amazon Brand Registry - It's Working

In our recent blog post, Amazon Brand Registry: What You Need to Know Right Now, we covered some of the advantages of signing up for the new Amazon Brand Registry. Of course the main benefit of the brand registry is that once you prove your brand belongs to you, Amazon will help you protect it against counterfeiters and unauthorized resellers. Well, it's working.
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Remember that good old, predictable Christmas sales curve you’ve built your forecasting around for the last five to ten years? Amazon has changed it for good. If you’re not on board by next Black Friday, you’re kissing a good portion of potential holiday sales good-bye.
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Nixie is the brain child of a Google Alumna and a PhD in experimental physics. This small camera-equipped drone is worn around your wrist, and can be quickly deployed to capture you and your besties at your best. When activated, Nixie unfolds into a quadcopter, that flies away from you (in one of its pre-programmed modes) to take photos or video and then returns to you when it's finished.

Even though this is a high-tech gizmo the likes of which neither Dick Tracy nor Jean-Luc Picard ever dreamed of, the company is going with a classic/throwback venture capital fundraising model to get it to market.

It will be interesting to see if they change it up and opt for a pre-order scheme to raise money when they are closer to launch.

If you were going to launch a new product, would you go for a kickstarter campaign or hit the fundraising trail? 

What do you think about pre-sales as a fundraising technique?

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What if, as a manufacturer, publisher or IT company, you could predict the future? You’d probably start off by predicting how much inventory you need to carry, followed closely by predicting the next products your customers are going to want to buy, so you can have them ready and waiting the next time they hit “search.”

 

Magic? Not really. Impossible? No. Mining the data you already have access to about your customers and web visitors can give you amazing insight into their future behavior and preferences – but only if you capture it and use it.

 

Case in point: Netflix cashes in on their own crystal ball

When Netflix went looking to produce its own TV show to compete with cable, they – like any other business – wanted to be as sure as possible it would be a big hit. But unlike a lot of other businesses, Netflix captures and mines enormously detailed data on their customers. That’s how they predicted that their new series “House of Cards” would be a huge success before they even taped one episode.

 

Specifically, Netflix data crunchers used 30 million data tags per day (tags generated by 60 million worldwide viewers) to predict the success of House of Cards. They basically took long tail search (the type most often used for automated recommendations like those on Amazon.com) and used it to predict what their next piece of original content should be. And it worked.

 

House of Cards is directed by David Fincher, a director many Netflix customers love, stars Kevin Spacey, an actor many Netflix customers love, and is based on a popular British series – and lots of Americans love to watch TV shows that were hits in Britain first (Downton Abbey anyone?).  This diagram from the article in the New York Times sums it up nicely:

The verdict: data mining works to predict the future

According to Netflix, within weeks of release, House of Cards was the most streamed piece of content in the United States and 40 other countries.

  

As a fairly typical Netflix viewer, I have to admit that I love political dramas, British shows that are remade for an American audience, and Kevin Spacey. I just never would have put it all together myself, until House of Cards came out, and now I can’t wait for Season 2. And, FYI, we were about to cancel our Netflix membership.

 

So what are YOU doing with your customer data? “Nothing” is no longer an acceptable answer. Get in touch to find out what we can do for your predictive abilities.

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When an App Catches Fire

If you make a better mousetrap, chances are good that folks will use it to trap mice. But sometimes what you think you're introducing to the market is actually a perfect fit for something you never dreamed of. Take FireChat. It was designed to improve texting between users with bad or non-existent cell phone reception by using your phone's blue-tooth or wi-fi to create an "improvised network among nearby devices without being 'on the grid.' The devices themselves become arrayed in a mesh, each talking to the other and passing along messages — a web, without the World Wide Web." (New York Times, "Hong Kong Protests Propel FireChat Phone-to-Phone App")

The founders called it FireChat because they envisioned folks using it at beach bonfires or at events like Burning Man, where people wanted to text and share pictures in remote areas without good reception. But what spiked downloads recently were the election protests in the heart of the major world city of Hong Kong.

In fear that cell phone service or internet would be disrupted by the government, hundreds of thousands of protestors downloaded the app, which enabled millions of chats between protesters. And even though the government did not shut down any services, the sheer number of users in a concentrated area strained cell service so that the app came in handy anyway.

This "off-label" use of the app points to future scenarios where it could be a critical aid in protests and emergency scenarios the word over-and will likely spur more interest and downloads than Burning Man.

Have you given any thought to off-label uses for your latest solution? Have you experienced any?

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Email is dead... long live email!  Here at Yeoman we handle quite a bit of email web operations for our clients as part of our Outsourced Web Operations services.  Part of that means applying our best practices to email newsletters and then tirelessly testing and tweaking our approach to maximize open rates and click-thrus.

That’s why I was tickled pink to find this infographic from Kissmetrics showing that industry research supports our key best practices for email marketing.  Some of the highlights include:

Format your emails for mobile. Not convinced you need to? Over 40% of consumers now open their emails on a device other than their desktop PC—a number that’s been skyrocketing in the last few years.

And if they can’t read it easily on their smart phone or tablet, 89% of them will just delete it, and 27% will unsubscribe from your list. With 39% of marketers saying they do not have a mobile marketing strategy, making a few tweaks to your email marketing plans could yield big competitive advantages.

Keep it simple. This point is key for every communication you send out – whether it gets opened on a mobile phone or a desktop PC. Go easy on design elements. Have a catchy subject line. Get to the point quickly. Have a clear CTA, and position it toward the top of the message. Respect your readers’ time, give them something worth reading and a compelling reason to take the next step and you will see open rates and other metrics increase.

Of course, every company has a unique set of customers with common behavioral characteristics. But don’t worry, the proof is in the numbers. If you need help figuring out who your audience is and the best way to get their attention, give us a call.

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So the other day I was alerted by a Facebook friend to one of the latest YouTube sensations - a video for a new product called Ultra Ever Dry. You can see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPM8OR6W6WE

My first thought was - "Wow! I could put that on my dinner plates and never have to do dishes again!"

My second thought was - "Hey, I bet they were caught by surprise with a viral mega hit on their hands - I wonder how they're doing with their online sales?"

Turns out, not so well.

A quick Google search for Ultra Ever Dry turned up the usual suspects: wildly divergent pricing, a sold out Amazon page, and (worst of all) a single user rating of 1 star. If I were the average consumer, I would probably  assume the whole thing was an over-hyped fake and go on with my life.

It's clear in this case that Ultra Ever Dry hoped for the best (putting out a really cool YouTube video showcasing their product), but didn't actually prepare for the best (nearly 5 MILLION views as of this writing.)

The Ultra Ever Dry launch is a classic example of an organization hyper-focusing on a single channel (in this case, YouTube for promotion) without understanding how YouTube views progress into purchases. And that even for an industrial product like Ultra Ever Dry, where a lot of purchases still happen via traditional (i.e. offline) sales channels, the web will still play a major role in purchase decisions.

So what's a manufacturer to do?

Yeoman understands that the Internet is a multi-channel environment with literally hundreds of thousands of ways to engage with customers and drive online sales. We help companies like Ultra Ever Dry figure out where potential customers are buying products online, and which systems and sites you need to be on to maximize the bump you get from a viral YouTube video.

If you want to find out more, you can read our Internet Sales Channel Review white paper or give us a call - we'd love to chat about your next product launch!

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Drive More Traffic to Your Main Site

Despite the appearance of a silver lining in the financial cloud, budgets are still tight and most companies still need to do more with less when it comes to getting the word out about their products. In our experience, one of the most overlooked sales assets at many companies is the email list.

Yeoman has found that in a surprising number of companies, this list is collected and compiled and then left in a dusty hard drive somewhere. No one seems to own it - and worse – no one seems to know what to do with it.

The bottom line is that this is a dirt cheap (we’re talking pennies per contact) way to drive tons of qualified traffic to your main website. So, what should you be doing with your list?

Newsletters – Keep these focused on your products. Make it brief and to the point with links to deeper information on your website. Avoid fancy graphics and pictures that slow downloads and shrink open rates.

Email blasts – Save these brief missives for a new product release, a breaking industry story, or a big promotion. Keep blasts to a minimum to decrease your unsubscribe rate.

Surveys – Surveys give you deep insight into customer preferences and also bring participants into your inner circle to help them feel more a part of the “family.” Offering a drawing for a gift certificate will help encourage folks to participate.

We recently came across a pretty cool app (called Glyder) that lets you send out slick-looking pre-designed blasts to your Constant Contact or Outlook contacts via Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and a number of other social media sites – all with a few taps of your finger. It looks like a great way to get started reaching out to your customers for those with smaller email lists and the discipline to follow through on an editorial email plan. Be warned, the free app does come with quite a flurry of emails designed to talk you into buying more services.

For those with bigger lists or in need of a more sophisticated outreach program, Yeoman can design a custom Web Ops engagement to start driving major traffic to your online sales outlets.

Do you have an email list languishing in a dark database somewhere? Give Yeoman call to discuss your best outreach strategy.

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For months, analysts and industry insiders have been griping that no one could monetize mobile. And in particular, that social media giant, Facebook, would HAVE TO monetize mobile in order to salvage its sinking stock price. Well the Q3 earning reports are out and - guess what? Facebook monetized mobile!

The Facebook mobile app serves up ads embedded into users' newsfeeds - and so far Facebookers have been biting. Will other retail companies be able to follow suit? That remains to be seen.

But for the moment, Facebook has managed to stop the deceleration of its revenue growth, thanks to mobile ads shoring up the company’s ad business, which is already accounting for 14 percent of total ad revenues.

Are mobile ads right for your business? What about Facebook mobile ads? For a nuanced answer to that million (or billion) dollar question, give Yeoman a shout, we'd be happy to discuss it with you.

This info graphic from Statista tells the story:

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