On Idiot Humans and Puppy Love

Who doesn’t like dogs? They give off a sense of warmth and happiness that makes you want to get on the floor with them and roll around and hug them and just feel loved. You can’t beat that unconditional love they are so eager to give. Unfortunately, in today’s society, there are many people who think that dogs feel no pain or have no emotions. Luckily, organizations like Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue help save dogs from, as they put it, idiot humans.

I learned about Badass Brooklyn when I came across this Facebook share by HONY today.

source: HONY Facebook

source: HONY Facebook

The post featured a picture of a dog, named Brandon Stanton, who was rescued by Badass. Now, for those of you who didn’t catch that: the dog is named Brandon Stanton – after the guy who started HONY. For those of you who are unfamiliar with HONY, here is a quick recap courtesy of Wikipedia:

“HONY, which stands for Humans of New York, is a photoblog that was started by photographer Brandon Stanton in 2010. The tumblr blog, which has since also become a bestselling  book, features portraits and interviews of people in New York City.”

As of today, HONY’s Facebook page has more than 2.3 million likes and countless more on other social sharing sites like Instagram. Yes, you read that right…2.3 million likes. That means that Brandon (the human) shared the Badass Brooklyn post on HONY to all of his blog’s followers. Which means that the chances of this adorable dog finding a loving home just increased exponentially. And not just for Brandon (the dog), but for all other dogs rescued by Badass Brooklyn.

Badass Brooklyn did a bad ass (pun intended) thing and named a dog after someone with millions of followers knowing that he would likely share it to all of his followers given the nature of his blog. For a non-profit like Badass, which relies on limited funding and donations, it was a brilliant move and something all companies big or small should consider when thinking about inexpensive ways to maximize their reach!

Original Content

I went on a week-long vacation last month. My main goal was to get away, enjoy the outdoors, spend time with my boyfriend and generally “disconnect” from the real world. My days were spent outdoors attempting to be “one with nature” but, that idea of disconnecting didn’t happen as well as I’d hoped. While I did manage to keep my everyday life at bay (i.e. work, school, routine), I managed to somehow discover a new show on Netflix called “Orange is the New Black.” I spent evenings back at the hotel watching all 13 episodes of the first season.

I had heard about “Orange is the New Black” from a few friends and had read about it online. But I didn’t quite get what all the hype was about. And then I watched it. And now I am hooked.

But this post isn’t about the show. It’s about the bigger idea here. It’s about innovation.

Prior to watching the show, I had thought of Netflix simply as a streaming service that provided previously aired tv content and movies at my convenience. While that alone is a novel idea, it just didn’t draw me in much. I mean…Blockbuster was cool, but their lack of innovation led to their demise. And after the Netflix snafu a few years back, my perception of the company wasn’t exactly pristine.

Fast forward to my vacation, and I am now officially a Netflix subscriber. What took me so long, right? But really, “What took Netflix so long!?”

I subscribed to Netflix because now I have a show to look forward to. One that isn’t offered anywhere else. It has an amazing storyline and most importantly: it is original content. This isn’t the company’s first foray into original content; recently they also aired a U.S. version of House of Cards. And that target audience ate it up.

Why does this matter, you ask?

Well, Netflix just blew past its competitors (namely, Hulu) and has begun competing with the likes of HBO. This Forbes article sums it up pretty well. While Netflix will continue to provide various titles (albeit curated) for its subscribers, it now offers something for that other group (like me) who doesn’t necessarily see an added benefit to paying for shows that don’t interest them much. By focusing on innovation and making their way into original content, they have grown their consumer base and really proven that a company can cater to a variety of customer segments. They got me, didn’t they?

What are your thoughts on the Netflix strategy? Do you see any areas for improvement?

Digital Marketing 101

When I first started this blog, I was determined to make something of it. But I was unsure about where I wanted it to go. Thanks to my digital marketing class this past semester, I have had the chance to share my thoughts on topics relating to what I work on and what I am studying. As our last assignment this semester, we were asked to list the top five key points that would help a person who is not so well-versed in digital marketing. While there are many intricacies to digital marketing, the following five points provide a good big picture.

1. Know your audience. Knowing who your audience is and what they like helps guide the direction of your digital marketing plan or campaign. Ask yourself who is buying your? Why are they buying it? What websites do they frequent? The more insights you can get, the better picture you can paint of your consumer.

2. Have a strategy. Just like you would with traditional marketing, you need to have a strategy. You can just start using social media willy-nilly or advertising all over the internet. Know what the plan is and use it as the guiding force for your campaign or overall digital branding endeavor.

3. Set goals. Measure. Think about what you are looking to get out of your digital marketing strategy. Do you want to increase overall brand awareness or number of shares for a specific campaign? In marketing, we call these key performance indicators (KPIs). Having these in mind, you can measure your progress and identify areas for improvement, which can lead to better planning for future goals.

4. Make it relevant. This goes back to knowing your audience. Don’t talk about things that wouldn’t interest your audience. Also, don’t start a conversation or advertise about a topic if it doesn’t somehow tie back to your product or service.

5. Social media and digital marketing are not synonymous. This is where people get thrown off. Yes, social media is a part of digital marketing, but digital marketing is not just knowing how to use social media. Digital marketing includes online advertising  (i.e. Adwords and AdSense), website optimization, and email marketing among others. Use the array of tools available to you and don’t just think you’re covered with social media.

What are some key takeaways you recommend? Is there anything you have come across that works or doesn’t work for you?

The Human Touch

I recently, I read a Forbes article about Publix.  The article discussed the Publix business model and, to put it in layman’s terms, why it is such an awesome company. The key point the article makes is that Publix’s success can be attributed to it’s culture of putting “people-first”. By “people” I don’t just mean customers. They also have put their employees first, which makes them happy, and ultimately makes for happy customers.

You may recall from one of my earlier posts that I briefly mentioned missing Publix. Well, I meant it. So when I saw this article, I couldn’t help but share it with the world and let others know how much I love and miss Publix. One of the first places I shared it was as a status update on Facebook. This led me to the Publix Facebook page (because I wanted to see their latest posts) where I shared the link.  Almost immediately, Publix commented on the shared link. What I loved most about the comment is that it was personalized. It read: Thanks, Alejandra! We miss you. 🙂 Hope you can come back and visit soon. ~ Abby

From here.

From here.

They ACTUALLY read what I posted, and cared enough to comment on it. And just like that, I love Publix even more. How is that possible?

Social media is such a large component of marketing these days, and it’s nice to see that some companies are using it correctly. Many companies use automatic replies or autobots, as I call them, to respond to their online followers. They forget that social media is a way of directly communicating with customers. Using robots can really fray relationships you may be trying to build or maintain.  One company recently made headlines for its insensitive automatic responses to its twitter followers. By automating its tweets, the company validated exactly what it has been trying to negate: the perception that it is “too big” and doesn’t care about its customers. Even without automated responses, companies tend to fall into the trap of assigning one person to reply with generic messages rather than with ones that will make the customer feel unique or cared for.

In today’s digital world of dog eat dog, it’s important for companies to keep strong ties to their customers and potential customers. What easier and cheaper way to do this than through social media?

The Mother of all Data

Do you remember those analog radios that required precise tuning to get the right station? You needed a certain finesse of the fingers – turning the dial one way and then another. The key piece to getting the right station was your ability to listen and weed out the noise from all the other sound waves coming through the speakers until you finally had the right station and you could dance to your favorite tunes.

I recently read two articles (here and here) on Big Data, which made me think of this radio analogy. The point these two articles drive home is that Big Data is just Big Data; it’s what you do with it that matters. In the world of marketing, this couldn’t be truer.

Now granted, the thought of endless spreadsheets filled with numbers may sound intimidating, but just like the analog radio, it requires “listening” to the numbers to find the information you are looking for while weeding out the unnecessary information.

I think Big Data is a very useful tool that can lead to great ROI for a company. But companies need to look at data as a tool to help drive decision-making and really learn to dig deeper.  As marketers, it is our job to ask the “why”,  the “how”, the “where” – the questions that help drive the analysis and result in key insights for companies. Without it, the data (big or not) would be useless.

Much like the radio, we need to know what we are looking for and where we want the dial to turn before we can get anywhere.

Shock Top and the User Experience

The summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I did a study abroad in Freiburg, Germany. I lived with a host family, attended language courses and learned all about the German culture. I particularly enjoyed the family dinners with my host parents and fellow housemates. In Germany, it is legal to drink beer and wine at age 16. So, many of our dinners included beer (we were in Germany after all!) and my host father taught us all about beer and the beer-making process.

And thus, my love for beer was born.

One brewery I came across about a year ago is Shock Top. I tried their Belgian White at a bar when I was out with some friends and really enjoyed the taste of it. And then a few months ago, I had some friends over and one of them brought over a Shock Top 12-pck with three of their beer flavors. So when we were assigned to research beers for my Digital Marketing class, I naturally zeroed in on Shock Top.

As with all beer and wine/liquor websites, the Shock Top website prompts you to verify that you are over 21. Once that is completed, you are taken to a very easy-to-navigate website. I am a very visual person and this website does a great job of using minimal words and lots of pictures to get their point across. As soon as I saw the website, I wanted to keep browsing through it. The sites provides information about all the Shock Top beer flavors, upcoming events, and locations where you can purchase/drink the beer. It also provides information about food pairings and recipes and does a good job of advertising the company’s Facebook page, their blog and newsletter, and the fact that they have a mobile app.

photo credit: Shock Top mobile app screenshot

photo credit: Shock Top mobile app screenshot

Of course I had to try the mobile app. The app was very user friendly and provided all the same information as the website. I also checked out the actual website on my phone. When I typed in the hyperlink, I was directed to a mobile phone landing page which offered the option of downloading the mobile app or going directly to the website.  Since I already have the app, I launched the full website and found that it was very responsive on my phone. I was able to navigate through it very easily and didn’t find myself scrolling through the site at all.

I have found that some websites haven’t caught on to the fact that many people rely heavily on their phone for information. And not providing a mobile app, or at least a responsive design to their website, may lead to more customer churn than they realize.

I think Shock Top has done a great job at integrating all its systems to provide a seamless user experience for its followers. They clearly get it.

So for all you beer companies out there (and any company for that matter), I suggest you follow Shock Top’s lead and get yourself into the 21st century if you haven’t yet done so.

The World at Your Fingertips

Not many things are available online. At least that’s what I used to think. And then I discovered Amazon.

With the exception of produce, I have purchased everything from food, to furniture, to clothes, to toiletries, to jewelry, to books, and cleaning supplies from Amazon. The convenience factor Amazon provides is worth every penny I have spent on the site. And speaking of pennies, Amazon’s prices are really reasonable, at times even lower than brick and mortar stores.

AmazonAmazon’s strategy is simple. They provide everything (or almost everything) a person can possibly need to purchase in one convenient location. Even their logo says it all. The arrow goes from the ‘A’ to the ‘Z’ and serves as a smiley face in the process. Hadn’t noticed? Check out the logo for yourself on the left!

Not only is their product availability really broad, but their customer service is equally as accessible. I have had a couple of issues with the delivery of some items, and Amazon’s customer service department has provided me with excellent service every time.

I really feel that Amazon has made itself a part of its customer’s lives without them really realizing it. I first started using Amazon for school books. And then I decided to use it for other miscellaneous items. When my friend gave me the Kindle Fire for Christmas a few years ago, I started using it for movies and apps. And then, suddenly I was buying everything from their site. When I moved to New York, I really found it extra helpful given I didn’t have a car and having bulkier items delivered to my place made things really simple.

I have thought long and hard about where Amazon might fall short. They have customer reviews, easy returns, prime membership perks, etc. But e-commerce is still fairly new, so I would imagine that Amazon’s consumer base tends to skew on the younger end. According to Quantcast, Amazon’s largest consumer base is between 25-34, followed by the 35-44. The lowest groups are under 18 (that’s a given) and those who are 65+. I really don’t think this has much to do with Amazon so much as the 65+ group not being accustomed to shopping for their things online. However, as Gen X-ers and Gen Y-ers get older and fill that category, I am sure Amazon’s demographics will be more evenly spread out.

What do you think about buying things online? Is there a specific item you purchase online all the time?