Profiling the social customer (infographic)

If marketers are looking to understand the profile of a social consumers, they need to have deep insights into their souls and needs. Beyond Digital has asked 3,000 US and UK consumers about the two products and services they had most recently researched online and which steps take them through the purchase process.

Apart from showing gender differences, sharing becomes the main element of strategy. The social consumer is a two-faced personality: First, they can either be categorized as a high or low sharer. A human being that utilizes differtent digital channels in a different manner, depending on whether he or she is researching and interacting with high or low involvement products. Those with a high sharer profile are the most valuable for brands. They recommend products 3x more often and influence others’ purchases…

Study: Users „like“ brands for deals, discounts and coupons

Harald Wanetschka /

While Vitrue just found out how to get more “Likes” and engagement on mobiles, another new study by Nielsen/McKinsey’s NM Incite shows what the real value of “Likes” is. Although many brand marketers are working on the ROI, most companies still try to find some more value in the social engagement of consumers.

The Nielsen/McKinsey’s NM Incite global online consumers’ research states that the main reason for following or liking a brand or company on social networks is to receive discounts and special offers.
“While some may argue that consumers’ interest in discounts has faded, Nielsen data shows the desire for deals is still strong worldwide,” concluded NM Incite.

The results correspond with the study by ExactTarget and CoTweet from last year. The former study made clear that 40% of brand fans like a page predominantly for their doscounts and promotions.

The new NM Incite finds even higher figures. Almost 60% of US social media users visit social networks to receive coupons or promotions. And even more, 23% do this on a weekly basis. 45% of North American consumers had the strongest interest in using social media for deals, followed by consumers in Asia-Pacific (34%) and Latin America (33%).

Social deals hunters “Like” at home and at workplace
For most people it does not matter whether they are at home or at their workplace when using the benefits of the Social Web. A sample of ten major markets shows that nearly 40% of active Web users check coupons and rewards sites such as Groupon, and Living Social from home and work computers in September. However, there are respondents -under the age of 20 and 55- to-59-year-olds- who were less likely to follow brands for discounts. Here friends’ recommendations are the drivers for social engagement.

Spot On!
“Social deal hunters” are obviously also visitors of social networks and blogs. NM Incite found a strong overlap. In their test phase in September, 43% of visitors to social networks and blogs also visited a coupons or rewards site. And, 44% of Facebook’s audience and 63% of Twitter’s audience visited these deal sites. The study concludes that Facebook becomes a key source of traffic to Groupon and Living Social. Groupon’s and Living Social’s visitors came directly from Facebook. This also shows the link between deals and social networking sites, and how companies can motivate consumers to deals.

Offlinewelt 1.0: Die Wireless-Kampagne

Manchmal liebe ich die um die Ecke gedachte Welt der Kreativen. Und wer hat gesagt, dass Print nicht wirkt? Print wirkt. Wenn man die richtigen Ideen hat… Manche nutzen das sogar, um mal wieder Wireless zu arbeiten.

Studie: Bewertungen treiben Online-Shopping an

Die aktuelle Studie „netz98 fragt nach – Einfluss sozialer Elemente im E-Commerce auf das Kaufverhalten“ des Marktforschungsunternehmens eResult GmbH im Auftrag der Internetagentur netz98 new media GmbH besagt, daß für fast 50% der Internet-Kunden Bewertungen und Empfehlungen anderer Kunden ein wichtiges Argument sind, überhaupt online einzukaufen. Gegenüber dem traditionellen Shopping biete Online Shopping mit dem Zugriff auf die Meinungen unabhängiger Verbraucher einen klaren Mehrwert.

Bei aller Euphorie sind Bewertungsmöglichkeiten für die meisten User kein zwingendes Element, wenn auch ein wichtiger Baustein eines Online-Shops. 70% sehen es nicht negativ, wenn die Bewertungskriterien in einem Online-Shop fehlen. Man möchte anfügen, das die Gefahr auf ein anderes Portal zu wechseln, wo Bewertungskriterien angegeben werden, dennoch durchaus gegeben ist. Und von dort zum Kauf ist es dann nicht mehr weit… Die Frage wäre also, was ist entscheidender für den finalen Kauf. Die Bewertungen oder das Vertrauen in den Shop?

Die Frage beantwortet sich teilweise mit den Rezensions-Optionen, die für mehr als ein Viertel der Befragten wichtig sind. Diese Nutzer weichen im Zweifel auf andere Online-Angebote aus, die diese Funktionen bieten. Denn: Wenn 45% der Teilnehmer angeben, Produkte oder Dienstleistungen sogar regelmäßig zu kommentieren oder zu bewerten, dann sollten Shopbetreiber dies Ernst nehmen.

Der Sharing Trend ist hingegen verhalten. Nur von etwa 10% werden die Weiterleiten Funktionen wiederholt genutzt. Frauen (13%) nutzen sie mehr als Männer (9%).

„Wir halten es für sehr wichtig, uns auch wissenschaftlich und quantitativ mit dem E-Commerce zu beschäftigen. Viele aktuelle Fragestellungen können eben nur die Nutzer selbst beantworten. Davon profitieren nicht zuletzt unsere eigenen Kunden – denn die Ergebnisse der Studie fließen unmittelbar in unsere tägliche Arbeit ein.“ Tim Hahn, Geschäftsführer, netz98

Spot On!
Interessant ist aber auch ein weiteres Ergebnis. Nahezu 40% der Befragten können sich vorstellen, unmittelbar in einem sozialen Netzwerk über eine Shopping App einzukaufen. Mit einer Einschränkung… Der Shop, bei dem eingekauft wird, muss dem Käufer bekannt und vertraut sein. Wer also eine App baut, sollte bei der Konzeption mit Check-out sowohl vertrauensbildende Maßnahmen (z.B. Gütesiegel) als auch die transparente Darstellung des übergeordneten Shops klar kenntlich machen.

Are you selling via time or money argumentation?

It is always interesting to see how companies are trying to sell their products and services with advertisements referring to two essential factors: time and money. Most of their marketeers can imagine the impact and effect of them on customers. The proof was often missing (also for me). After some years of searching, I found a study that states a relevant difference in which way companies are persuading customers to buy their products and services using these arguments to explain them the benefitial features.

A team at Stanford Graduate School of Business did some experiments offering lemonade in a park. They advertised the lemonade with two different creatives and switched them every ten minutes. One ad mentioned the time benefit “Spend a little time and enjoy C & D’s lemonade” and the other the money benefit “Spend a little money and enjoy C & D’s lemonade”.

What happened? The time offer got twice as many people buying the lemonade with the time benefit compared to the money one. And there is even more impact in the time factor. All people were allowed to pay whatever they wanted for the drinks. It showed that people with the time benefit bought more drinks and paid 80 cents more for the lemonade.

In order to test whether this is just valid for cheap products like FMCG goods- another test was set up with the sample principle for iPads. And surprisingly enough, the results were largely similar. The customers felt more engaged with products offering positive time benefits than money features.

Spot On!
Mentioning time-positive features rather than money benefits in ad campaigns can make products more valuable and interesting to customers. And researchers claim that there is no difference whether you persuade your customers offline or online with these features. There is one exception when you are selling “prestigious” products. If people are materialistic, this theory does not work.

If there is some other proof, let us know…

Study: The importance of cross-channel sales

Most companies wonder how the purchase funnel looks like when consumers evaluate products they think about buying. A recent study from ATG helps: 30% of consumers reach out to more than three commerce channels to research a product and make a purchase. This shows that retailers and merchants need a broader cross-channel approach to boost sales and enhance customer purchase decisions.

The consumer study found that more than three-quarters of consumers use two or more channels and nearly one-third work with even three or more channels to research and purchase products. While we have all expect that mobile use and social media find their way into consumers’ online commerce activities, it is surprising that traditional catalog channels are still popular.

“Merchants have heard the call for a stronger cross-channel strategy for many years, but what has been lacking is a deeper explanation about why this is so important. We are seeing a multi-channel revolution now, with a vast majority of consumers using multiple channels and now almost one-third actually relying on three or more channels to complete transactions. Retailers must direct their energy toward fulfilling the unique role and sales potential of each channel. This research illuminates the expectations consumers have for the Web, call centers, the store, catalogs, and email.”
Nina McIntyre, Senior Vice President Marketing and CMO, ATG

The key findings of consumers’ cross channel experiences…

– 78% use two or more channels to browse, research and make purchases; 30% said they use three channels or more

– 78% of all consumers say they use catalogs to browse and research products or services at least four times a year BUT 40% of those consumers never purchase products or services through catalogs.

– 43% start their research online or with mobile devices. BUT They need to call customer service or call center representative to complete the transaction because the product or service information cannot be found online!

– 39% browse via the online or mobile channel and then make purchases in the store because they prefer to touch and feel the product – reason for 36% is product and brand comparison

Interesting findings on mobile commerce (emphasis on the 18-34 age)…

– 27% of all consumers 18 and older use their mobile devices to browse or research products and services at least four times a year, and that number jumps to 41% for the 18-34 year-old age group

– 13% of all consumers 18 and older and 23% of the 18-34 age purchasing at least four times a year via their mobile devices; 8% of the later are doing it weekly

Spot on!
The study highlights how important it is to link online and offline sales communication and give the customers the same purchase service in multiple channels. It will always be difficult to understand where customers make their final purchase decision and where they finally buy though. This additional study by Google underlines the trend for an offline and online purchase decision mix. One things is for sure again: The need for more awareness around the incorporation of commerce activities in social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter is gaining momentum.

Is Twitter a sales tool?

twitter-dollarIn a lot of talks and meetings with clients I am asked if Twitter is a sales tool. Now, what would you say? The university professor might answer with a Solomonic answer: “Well, it depends how you see it…”. Being a member of the Twitterati it is one of these questions where you have to hold on to your horses in order not to be too excited. The best answer is probably: “Yes, it is… and No, it is not!”…

The why for “Yes, it is”…
Looking at the latest development in the “Twittersphere” it can be said that the micro-blogging service can be used as a push tool for sales promotions meant to generate an upside in revenue. The best examples are accounts from companies like Dell (selling re-furbished IT for 3 mio. USD), Threadless (selling shirts – no numbers released yet) or Zappos (selling shoes – no numbers released yet).

Although we don’t know see any revenue figures of Threadless or Zappos, seeing the follower numbers alone offers the option to sell through the indirect way to this new “distribution list” by keeping up the conversation with new thoughts and ideas gathering engagement – or direct via ‘extraordinary’ offers. Just take a look at my sales statistic or metric, I summarized on the Dell Outlet account and you can evaluate your sales options.

Especially, the aviation industry has used the power of pushing their offers through this new media channel – thus uplifting their revenue figures. Some airlines like JetBlue (called “JetBlueCheeps“) and United Airlines (“twares”) offer cheap seats Twitter sales promotion programs (also for unsold tickets). The companies push their announcements via Twitter and the user -hopefully- listens to their Tweets and needs exactly the route offered.

In Germany Lufthansa has also started with sales promotions via Twitter – and obviously after this test the worldwide Twitter offering is “coming soon”.

The PRO view…
Yes, Twitter is a sales tool as there is no limit in terms of target-group, industry sector, the costs of the product or the product and service itself. Use it as a sales tool if you think your customers or your desired target-group is open-minded, loves last-minute offers or is ready to be engaged via social media.

The why for “No, it is.”
Nevertheless, the way how companies use Twitter to address their target-group with their sales promotions appears like some kind of old “watering can” marketing principle. Is this really time-to-market sales? Can this be called “targeting” which is the modern form of receiving sales promotions? One thing is for sure: Forecasting on such sales push activities is nearly impossible… the proof is in the test. But: once started, there is no way out. Sales promotions on Twitter are relying on the “hope” factor by offering an additional sales channel called “SomeTwitterAccountByOurCompany”.

And sales strategies go against the means of social media anyway. Sales philosophy is “We know what you want and here is your customized offer!” – social media is “We listen, learn and share what our customers want to buy from us!”.

From the airline examples we can learn that the offer is not just positive extra media promotion. It is limited in its sales power in a way that consumers need to be flexible and last-minute offer driven. Sounds a bit like the ebay way of selling…

So, Twitter sales promotions are relying on the “hope” factor by offering an additional sales channel called Twitter account. Some follow as they are just listening to the company or product development, some as they learn from the tweets and some as they want to share common knowledge. Not all followerrs really want to buy something. You are in good company when your company does not want to aggressively buy followers in order to go down the good old spam route.

The CON view…
No, Twitter is not a sales tool but more a customer service tool with the positive side-effect that you can sell indirect by giving good service, helping your customers and solving their problems in real-time. Don’t use it when you think your customers are bound to traditional cliches, rarely take the advantage of accepting fast shopping opportunities and don’t know what social media can do for them.

Spot On!
Generally speaking… – From a followers point of view (in this case meaning customers), there is a positive argument about Twitter sales promotions: Interested customers will follow (=read) the sales push tweet – uninterested won’t, they will ignore it. And customers don’t even have to delete the message like a spam mail. It is dying with the followers timelife stream…

The Critical question to ask are… Do we have a long-time social media strategy or do we just want to “drive” a short-time sales push? What have we done in the past to push our sales revenues? What worked out well? I am sure, if you ask yourself these questions, some more questions on your web strategy in terms of sales achievements will follow…

Am I right…?

How to attract more visitors – The 10 most important visitor resources for blogs

How can you find a lot of users for your business blog?

How can you find a lot of users for your business blog?

Is there a secret, why corporate blogs and business blogs have more success than traditional corporate websites? Is it the modern architecture of blogging systems? Is it the exiting and exhilarant spelling style of bloggers? Or is a conspiracy of the digital natives against the internet retirees?

Nothing of it! Blogs and bloggers are simply using some very effective methods to attract visitors.

The 10 most important visitor resources for blogs:

  1. Feeds – Blogs are read via feed reader predominantly, not via browsers any longer. Well-known blogs have more than 100.000 feed reader per day. On a normal day in Germany, there are some blogs with more than 10.000 feed reader.
    Highlight your RSS feed on your blog and take advantage of a feed service like Feedburner
  2. Google – Visitors through search engines are the second largest visitor group of blogs. Bloggers use always methods of search engine optimization (SEO) in order to achieve good rankings with important key words.
    Write in a search engine friendly way. Use Google’s Webmaster Tools and install a SEO plug-in like wpSEO!
  3. Pingbacks and Trackbacks – Links don’t just offer a value-add for your own users but also backlinks and numerous new users.
    Link all directions as often as possible and learn to use trackbacks in a proper way.
  4. Twitter – with the micro-blogging service you can approach users faster than with your blog. News with real add-on information are spread via Twitter the “viral” way very fast.
    Work on broadening your Twitter follower base. Promote your Twitter account on your blog and vice versa. Twitter your blog postings at the right time!
  5. Social Networks – Promote your important blog postings on XING, Facebook or LinkedIn.
  6. Forums – Are you an accredited expert, for example a wine blogger?
    If you see in a forum the question: What are the most expensive wines or the 10 most dry French ones? Write a posting on your blog and post only the link in the forum.
  7. Blog directors and RSS feed directories – Just some selected directories (Technorati, Blogoscoop, Bloggerei, Wikio) generate new visitors. Especially, if you are ranking well in these directories.
  8. Your comments on other blogs – Make yourself heard on other blogs as a constructive business partner – far and foremost in not well-known blogs. This will result in new visitors. Beware the free of sense comments! This will damage your own blog reputation in the long term.
  9. Comments of others on your blog – This is the secret of well-visited blogs:
    Be responsive to comments – You will win permanent visitors!
  10. Guest writers – Invite readers/users, other bloggers or “VIP’s” from the offline and online world to write guest posts. Every guest author will be talking to others about it or link directly to this post.
    Your creativity has no limits: travel agents blog about journeys of their customers, hotel managers animate guests to write about their vacation resort, … Your customers don’t want that? Ask them if they want to publish some of their holiday pictures on your homepage! You will be surprised seeing the reaction…

Did I forget something? Is your ranking of visitor resources different? Where do you see options to attract more visitors for your blog? Looking forward reading your comments and reading your ideas and thoughts!

Guest writer Karl-Heinz Wenzlaff is the German expert and consultant for business blogging. He knows the useful tips and tricks, and is specialized on professional company blogs, product blogs or employee blogs. Some month ago, he helped me migrating from Blogger to WordPress in order to set up a magazine theme.

Thank you for being one of my guest writers, Karl-Heinz.

Studie: Kundenkommunikation zu teuer – Optimierung nötig

Daß Kundenkommunikation kostenintensiv sein kann, ist kein Geheimnis mehr. Die aktuelle Studie ‘Reality Check 2009’ des Softwarehauses novomind AG zeigt jetzt, daß Unternehmen mehr als fünf Euro pro Kundenanfrage einsparen können, wenn sie ihre Beratungskanäle automatisieren.

Denn bisher nutzen beraten neun von zehn Unternehmen ihre Kunden noch über die gängigen Kommunikationsoptionen E-Mail, Telefon und Kontaktformular. Bislang bietet nicht einmal jedes zweite Unternehmen FAQ-Seiten an, Live-Chats nutzen sogar nur zwei Prozent.

Die durschnittlichen Kosten im Einzelnen…
– Telefonische Beratung durch einen Service-Mitarbeiter pro Anfrage rund sechs Euro
– E-Mails und die Verwendung von Kontaktformularen pro Anfrage rund sechs Euro
– Live-Chats pro Anfrage zwei bis drei Euro
Die preiswerteste Seite zur Beantwortung häufig gestellter Fragen bietet eine FAQs Webseiten, die pro Kundenanfrage gerade mal etwa zehn Cent kosten.

Spot On!
Natürlich kann nur aus Kostengründen nicht gänzlich auf den Einsatz von Telefon, E-Mail und Kontaktformular verzichtet werden. Entlastung durch stärker automatisierte Kommunikationsmittel nimmt kostenintensive Beratungszeit. Die Effizienz bei der teuren Beratungsleistung per Telefon sollte dabei im Auge behalten werden. Wie bei Social Media und im Verkauf gilt hier: ZUHÖREN! Nur jede zweite telefonische Anfrage wurde korrekt beantwortet, bei E-Mail Bearbeitung nur 28%, besagen die Ergebnisse. Interessant wäre mal Kundenservice via Twitter der Kostenkontrolle zu unterziehen. Schließlich setzen ja schon einige Unternehmen diese Option ein: Dell, Deutsche Bahn, Bank of America, Starbucks, South West Air, Jetblue