Sunday, July 23, 2017

AppStore Optimization vs SEO

One of the first few concepts we learned in class is SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which I covered under the post SEO Trend in 2017. While researching ways to promote dwindl, a personal entertainment recommendation mobile app, I found similar concept to SEO that is specific for mobile apps i.e. ASO (App Store Optimization). ASO is technique to ensure that a mobile app meets App Store ranking criteria and rises to the top of search result page. While this definition is very similar to SEO, ASO has additional parameters that it can optimize to achieve different purpose than SEO. So how is ASO different than SEO? The table below compares the aspects of SEO and ASO.



In summary, the ultimate goal of ASO is to drive app downloads, which is the key difference with SEO. Keywords and links are important in both ASO and SEO; however, ASO also focuses on elements of the “app front-page” such as logo, description, screenshots, which play crucial role in determining conversion.

Indeed, ASO is also an iterative process similar to SEO. This is thanks to both the continually evolving ranking algorithms and the competitive nature of the App Store. Thus, a successful ASO strategy requires proper measurement, analytics, and regular check-ins. If you can manage this, your investment will surely pay off. I hope this blog post clarifies the proper strategy of optimization in the App Store.  

Sources:

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I’ll have an Order of Breakfast Fries with a side of Instagram Kit, Please

What do people most share on social media? Photos.
And what are these photos of? Usually: food.

A recent trend in social media involves photographing food and posting these photos to Instagram. This has become such a widespread fad that Business Insider wrote a feature at the end of 2016, “The 50 Best Food Bloggers to Follow on Instagram in 2017,” where the Instagram users cited have millions of viewers. Literally.

So - why the obsession with sharing food photographs? People like to be taste-makers (no pun intended) and show off that they are eating at the trendiest places, or have advanced culinary skills, or, put simply, that they have fun with food. Everyone (theoretically) eats. And people are generally curious about “how others eat.”

Earlier this week, Dirty Bones, a hip London eatery, announced that it would provide an Instagram kit for free to any diner eating at the establishment. The kit includes an LED camera light, a multi-device charger, a clip-on wide angle lens and a tripod selfie stick for over-head table shots. Their thinking here is to provide this equipment, since if diners are going to photograph the food anyway, why not enable them to show it off optimally. And – why not let diners “advertise for them for free on [their] social media accounts” at the same time?

In this regard, this idea is incredibly smart. It not only encourages an activity that most likely would have occurred anyway (particularly since it is a trendy restaurant with creative dishes and drinks and visually interesting presentations), but enhances the product. It’s higher quality free advertising for the restaurant. Plus, having a mini-photo shoot at the table is – simply – fun.

The founders of the restaurant are doing more than just providing Instagram kits to diners. They admitted this week that they designed the entire restaurant with social media in mind – what lighting and décor works best when captured on Instagram? And, they have plated food to make it look “Insta-worthy.”

It’s fascinating to see how this trend in social media has literally shaped how this restaurant and its products were conceived. As new trends in social media evolve, it will be interesting to watch what widespread impact they have on how other, seemingly unrelated businesses, operate.





http://www.today.com/food/dirty-bones-london-instagram-packs-food-t113923

http://www.businessinsider.com/best-food-instagram-2016-12/#50-igbrunchclub-6315-followers-1

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Iterative Nature of SEO Development

Many companies launch their digital presence with a company webpage, and early on, perhaps companies built their webpages to get basic information and functionality to work. As time went on, the value to search engine optimization came more to the forefront. So perhaps the priority for companies in developing their websites is something like: 1. Functionality 2. SEO 3. Customer Experience.

When SEO first became mainstream there were lots of tips you could follow to get your page to rank higher - using bold fonts, high keyword density, lots of links to and from reputable sites etc... But designing a website through an SEO lens will yield a different result than if you design a website strictly from a customer experience lens; and the two lenses can be at odds with one another.

This article proposes an iterative process on how you can better align SEO and customer experience. 

The basic gist of this article is that companies typically design a website with a certain customer experience in mind. They make sure to fit in keywords to help rank their page based on what they think their customers may search for, and try to ensure the customer experience aligns with this. This article suggests SEO and customer experience is an iterative process and that companies should go back after their site has been running for a bit, and analyze the data in Google Search Console. Here, companies can see what words their site are actually ranking for and using that information to evaluate your existing customer experience.

"The page keywords and phrases serve as our inventory of the customer intents, and this allows us to perform an audit to identify the gaps in our experience."

The article goes on to tell the audience how to use keywords and customer intent to modify the content on the company's landing page, and to develop specific content to meet the appetite of the customers.

I think this article does a good job reminding us that maintaining a digital presence needs to be an active and ongoing process and that there are lots of ways to continue to refine and improve your webpage to meet your customer's evolving needs. It's also a good reminder that content is still king - building quality content to meet your customers' demands is still the best way to get noticed on the web.

Iterative Nature of SEO Development

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Google goes Gorilla on Spoofing with Ads.txt

Google is quietly conducting tests with major partners to stamp out spoofing. During the tests, Google shuts off all ad inventory for a brief period (like 10-15mins) then scours the ad exchanges to see what’s listed. Results? Thousands if not millions of video and display despite no ads actually for sale at the time. Who had the most ‘fake’ inventory? SmartRTB.  According to eMarketer, around $83m will be spent on fake ads this year. Some experts believe this traffic could represent nearly 20-30% of total traffic on some secondary exchanges. Google’s Ads.txt is a technical solution designed to protect web publishers by blocking unauthorized companies from selling ads via questionable exchanges.



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About to post that sweet ad on Google? Better check the weather!

A new study by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences links weather to how people respond to mobile ads (Link here: Sunny, rainy, or cloudy: New study shows how weather impacts response to mobile ads ). Now that scientific research is linking the two, we can expect more companies to start using AI and data-driven engines to drive their ad campaigns much like Hilton did in targeting stranded airline passengers (Link here: Hilton: Innovation in customer-centric, real time search to provide value to stranded travelers and drive revenue). It's not hard to imagine a near future state where Google ads even lets you select real-time conditions as one of the attributes of your bid. This would allow you to up your bids when it's raining, or maybe advertise a cruise to someplace sunny when the audience is stuck inside during a blizzard.

On a more general level, the study finds that people respond better to mobile ads when it's sunny out than when it's cloudy so mobile ad buyers should be willing to pay a premium on sunny days. More interestingly, the study also finds that "Compared with the neutral ad copy, the prevention frame ad copy hurts the initial promotion boost induced by sunshine, but improves the initial promotion drop induced by rainfall." In other words the content of a company's mobile ad should actually adapt to the weather to be more effective. All of this points to a future we already know is coming (or here): more data with more intelligent computing power behind it driving more highly tailored and targeted advertising.

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Women’s Market – Under Armour Is Getting Serious Now

When talking about Under Armour, most people would probably have an image of a macho man. This article talks about Under Armour’s new campaign which aims to tap into women’s market and attract more female audience to its sportswear. It wanted to break the traditional testosterone image. But this is not the first time Under Armour modified its brand marketing strategy.  

A few years ago, a campaign “I will what I want” was initiated by Droga5 to help Under Armour break its brand’s perception of pure masculinity and establish an emotional connection with a female audience. The campaign chose Misty Copeland and Gisele Bündchen – two non-athletes - to promote its women sportswear line.

Similarly, according to the article, Misty Copeland was also featured in the new campaign “Unlike any” to push Under Armour’s brand image more resonate with female audience. From my perspective, it’s the right direction in terms of its marketing strategies, however; this shift was a bit too late in the current sportswear market place. Given that Nike is the industry leader in both men and women’s products, Under Armour might find it challenging to reach its goal just through a few campaigns. One thing that is very clear to me here – these new campaigns will definitely echo a large group of women consumers who have been fighting with obstacles in their lives and then gained positivity. 

Click the link below for the original article:

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Facebook's First B2B Ad Campaign

Hoping to Target Marketers, Facebook Launches Its First Global B2B Ad Campaign Focused on Growth

Last week I blogged about Facebook opening up their messenger app for advertisers. In this weeks edition of "what will Facebook do next", we have an article about Facebook's effort to lure more business. As noted last week, advertisements make up ~98% of the company's $27B of annual revenue. One would think that every advertiser/marketer not living under a rock would be aware of Facebooks power as a ad platform, however, after reading this article, maybe that is not the case. Facebook, at least, thinks spending on advertising themselves will attract new customers.

The campaign has been dubbed "Discover Growth" and will be done with ads both on and off the Facebook platform. Off platform ads will be in industry trade publications and marketing websites. The examples Facebook provided for this article show they will be utilizing their detailed knowledge of the FB user-base to lure advertisers.

The reach and power of Facebook will never seize to amaze me. I just wish I bought more at IPO....

Examples (click link to see the live digital ads)

  • There are 50 million coffee addicts on Facebook. Get more people buzzing for any brand. Your new customers are waiting. Find them on Facebook.
  • There are over 10 million vegans on Facebook. That is one meaty audience. Your new customers are waiting. Find them on Facebook.

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Can Digital Marketing Save Major Retailers?

We have all seen, heard or participated in the trend that is causing major problems for big retailers. Shopping from the couch on your favorite device has become the new norm. This trend only continues to grow and doesn't show any signs of reverting back to glory days for brick and mortar retailers. This new reality has forced brick and mortar retailers to ask themselves a question that will shape their futures. Do I fight the tide or just go with it?

Nordstrom is the latest industry player who has decided to go with the tide and ride the wave. They will be launching an exclusive Snapchat lens in hopes of pumping some volume into their annual anniversary sale. Article It is important to note that this isn't Nordstrom's first attempt with digital engagement ploys.  They partnered with Pinterest in 2013, tagging items throughout their stores as "top pinned items." It will be interesting to see how this plays out for Nordstrom, as they work to switch up their dying business model. For now, post a selfie with their new lens and take advantage of the sale.

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The world’s first augmented reality menu is here

Imagine, a cocktail menu with a AR twist

At the City Social restaurant and bar in London, one of the most innovative chefs in the world, Jason Atherton, has sought to create an immersive experience with his cocktail drinks in the menu. To see the cocktails come to life, bar-goers will have to download an app, called Mirage. The drinks arrive on a mat that the phone scans like a QR code. Drinkers can then snap and share the images on their social profiles.

Each drink provides a different experience, featuring artwork that reflects its flavors and themes, immersing guests in a vibrant world where cocktails become interactive art. Not all are pleased with such a presentation method though. Eater's headline was: "London Bar Adds Unnecessary VR Component to Cocktails"

Maybe it is seemingly unnecessary because such a form of technology being applied to F&B sector seems so new (and jarring, for some). However, I believe that augmented reality has the potential to not only engages visitors, but encourages them to see, taste, think and experience food and drink in a new way. 

This integration of technology and F&B can be delightfully surprising and I believe, is a step in the right direction. Millennials lean in to immersive experiences, a trend that shows no sign of fading. Visual technologies such as AR and VR can reinvent dining and bring attention to the tastes, stories, and ingredients behind each creation, and bring audiences (especially millennials) closer to the geniuses of the chefs.


Read the original article here: http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/bars/jason-atherton-launches-worlds-first-augmented-reality-cocktail-menu-a3522981.html

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Window shopping in the Amazon Age


This article touches on the latest addition to amazon’s list of offerings to keep users within its ecosystem – Amazon Spark. This social network feed provides its core users (If you have an Amazon Prime account, you qualify for that tag) with a platform to share stories, pictures and ideas on their purchases in a manner akin to an Instagram feed.
The idea here is that users with access to Amazon Spark can now “discover” purchase ideas, much in the same way a person discovers certain products of interest while browsing through the stores in a mall. The advantage of Amazon Spark is that, along with these product ideas are associated reviews from shoppers who have bought and used the product. In other words, a virtual window-shopping experience with user reviews attached to each product encountered in the process.

The big question here is whether this new service will not be a turn-off to users who feel like they are being barraged with recommendations and purchase ideas they do not want and cannot trust because there is no human connection to a purchase recommendation from a friend. Instead, these purchase ideas would seem to come from an algorithm that does not offer the same level of personalized interest to the targeted potential customers that something like an Instagram recommendation or Facebook “like” of a product by a friend would generate.
In fairness, this new feed from Amazon is probably a decent first step to creating some order (or a better guide) for navigating the chaos that is the amazon browsing experience. Quite frankly, the only thing worse than an attempt to browse Amazon.com is probably an attempt to browse Walmart.com. For that, I wish you loads of patience and plenty of luck. Consider finding that needle in the haystack. You have a better shot at it!

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Google’s New Voice-Activated Analytics Fueled by AI Will Simplify Data Queries


Google is launching a new tool for Google Analytics which will allow users to make basic voice queries on data. This new functionality, fueled by AI, will be similar to the existing voice searching capabilities on its flagship search product. The intent of the new tool is to reduce the number of steps required for a Google Analytics user “…to perform tasks such as checking online revenue data or website traffic.” With the implementation of the AI component, the more the function is used, the more accurate searches will become resulting in a more effective functionality for users.

This push for a voice activated search functionality comes from a recent Google survey which “…found that 61 percent of marketing decision makers struggled to access or integrate data in 2016, while the same amount expected the struggle to continue this year. Meanwhile, about a quarter (26 percent) said they didn’t have the right analytics talent or enough of the right talent to properly use their data.” The hope with the new function is that new users (non-experts) will find searching and accessing relevant data easier. This low-level entry benefit for users will ideally help expand and maintain the business user base.

Although Google’s current foothold in the digital marketing industry is strong, added functionality such as this, that caters to business side users, will support long term growth and add to the stickiness of the platform. Helping business sides customers move away from the need for Analytics experts with this AI functionality is a strategic move for Google, and one that will help differentiate it from competitors.

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MIT is building a system that can identify a recipe using pictures of food

Wouldn't it be great if you could take a snap of your food and know exactly what ingredients went into it and how to make it?

Using a food identifying algorithm and a database of food images cross-referenced with a database of recipes, a team of MIT scientists are working on a system that will be able to do just that.

Whilst the system is not perfect yet (baked goods are faring better than items like smoothies or sushi), the implications of this technology can be used to help check nutritional value or identify dietary restrictions. There could also be e-commerce applications that could provide a customer with their own personal meal kit delivery much like Blue Apron or Amazon.

https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/20/mit-is-building-a-system-that-can-identify-a-recipe-using-pictures-of-food/

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Mobile App Review Site – Does it Work?

While researching on mobile marketing strategy for dwindl (a personal entertainment recommendation mobile app - COMING SOON), I stumbled upon mobile app review sites. Mobile app review sites are similar to any other product review sites; in fact, the original idea came from video games review sites. There are hundreds of these sites; some are free earning revenue from ads, and others charge developers for reviews with prices ranging from $15 to $50. Majority of these sites are generalist reviewing any mobile apps they received while others cater to niche target segments. These sites not only provide mobile apps reviews but also news on the latest apps, previews, and features. Readers can discover which apps are worth downloading and which apps should be avoided.

So, how effective are these sites in promoting a new mobile app? There is no authoritative data to prove the correlation of app reviews site to app downloads. For example, an app, which was mentioned in UK national newspaper, only enjoyed less than 100 extra downloads, whereas an app (PicilT24) featured on Mashable gained significant exposure and moved into top 100 rankings in the App Store photo category. In fact, one may even argue that majority of users do not visit these sites to search for mobile apps to download. However, specialist app review sites could be effective in promoting new mobile apps to early adopters. For example, The IPhone Mom aims at parents covering primarily children apps, and iFanzine focuses on iPhone games.

Additionally, there are also businesses such as Appromoter and AppLaunch that assist developers in doing a microsite press release by submitting the mobile app to hundreds of app review sites and journalists. These businesses also provide premium services such as press release writing, video creation, and even confidential app evaluations from sourced reviewers.

All in all, app review sites for mobile apps’ promotion can be successful with a well-focused strategy. A review from a major tech network like TechCrunch and Mashable can provide huge exposure that significantly increase the number of app downloads. On the other hand, niche app review sites can be a good resource to target early adopters. Beyond reviews, a creator of mobile apps should focus on creating a good app that solves real users’ problem and providing a background story that people can relate to.

Sources:


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Friday, July 21, 2017

How an online distributor is making record labels unnecessary

How an online distributor is making record labels unnecessary

TuneCore is a premier digital music distribution company with one of the largest music catalogues in the world.
It is one of the biggest development in the music industry in the past decade. Up to date Tunecore has generated almost 100 millions dollars in project revenues for their artists in total. Tunecore attracts artists from around the world because what they provide is a straightforward and affordable pricing model that allows the artists to keep 100% of your rights and sales revenue. In the last few years the revenue of Tunecore rose 120% in total, from a sales revenue of 3.4 billion in 2013 to 7.5 billion last year. This is a growth never seen before made by only independent artists.

What makes Tunecore unique is the ability for the artist to connect to the music streaming services directly without having to go through a music label. In a more simple way to explain is that Tunecore is eliminating the middle man, that usually takes a big percentage of the share. Most of Tune Core’s earnings come from North America and Europe, the expansion to Asia is in the works but have been a success according to reports made by billboard.com in the past year. In conclusion, Tune Core has been an intriguing to creation that allows independent artists to share their music with the world without having to be picked up by a huge label that has unlimited amounts of money to back their projects up. They don’t have to be kept in the shadows after they are sign and they can release music whenever they want to share it with the world. The process of uploading your music to Tunecore and then seeing it on Apotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Deezer, Joox, or Pandora only takes about 1-2 weeks. This is a breakthrough! 


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Google Posts

Google posts first appeared in the 2016 elections allowing candidates the ability to submit updates that would directly appear in the search engine results page. As of now this is in pilot phase with a few local vendors and Google has not marketed this feature broadly.
Even though posts are showcased prominently, Google does not bump the business using posts to the top at the moment. This feature allows verified individuals and organizations to connect with each other using text, images and videos.However, the current posts do not provide an interactive platform to the users. 

The marketers can significantly benefit from the new google feature. Even though Google does not bump marketers with post to the top of SEO, posts definitely attract attention from the consumers and can be used very effectively in combination with SEOs. Good quality and informative posts can help increase awareness about a product.  


Source:

  1. https://searchenginewatch.com/2017/07/20/google-posts-growing-under-the-radar/
  2. https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/03/31/how-are-businesses-using-google-posts/

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Magazines Embrace Facebook, Snapchat After Video Blunders

I thought the below article from the WSJ was interesting as it focuses on traditional print publications and their shifting focus to video. Although I have yet to watch, I have heard good things about the "Last Chance U" documentary on Netflix, which I would have never guessed was actually produced by Conde Naste and then sold to Netflix. Conde Naste has sunk $50-70M of investment into video since 2011 and had launched its own video hub, which has since been transitioned into a vehicle to distribute video on Facebook.

In addition to opening my eyes to a realm that I did not know these traditional print media companies played in, I think it is interesting to imagine the marketing opportunities that will stem from all of this investment in video. Video is at the high end of display advertising and being a content producer that allows advertising could prove to be quite lucrative now and in the future. It will be fun to see whether this initiative will be significant enough to bolster what is a dying magazine industry.


https://www.wsj.com/articles/after-stumbling-in-online-video-publishers-embrace-facebook-tv-licensing-1500206402

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Amazon is killing it....Watch out Whatsapp, Home Depot, Lowes

There is not a single day when Amazon is not in the news. This week Sears has announced a deal with Amazon to sell its Kenmore appliances that will be integrated with Alexa platform.
This is a win-win situation for both the companies as Amazon will be able to gather more customer information through Alexa and Sears will be able to sell its appliances to gain some revenues by utilizing Amazon's platform. Sears has already closed 236 stores this year and hoping to keep its cost down by selling on Amazon.

Watch out WhatsApp, Viber, Snapchat, Line. Amazon is now foraying into messaging app called Anytime. A snapshot of what customers want out of the messaging app based on a survey is shown below:

Amazon messaging service survey
It has already rolled out Chime, a video conferencing service competing with Webex and Skype for business. There are rumors of Amazon acquiring Slack.


Source: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/20/sears-shares-jump-after-launching-kenmore-products-on-amazon-including-alexa-enabled-appliances.html
http://www.aftvnews.com/amazon-possibly-working-on-new-stand-alone-messaging-app-called-anytime/

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Campbell’s Focused on Digital Marketing and Food Transparency

At its investor day, Campbell’s announced it plans to generate $300 million in e-commerce sales over the next five years by partnering with leading e-commerce companies (i.e., Chef’d) and improving its distribution system.  The company also mentioned that they are focused on improving consumer trust and transparency with the use of a new digital platform and unveiled an agreement with The Sage Project to partner on digital food labels which will make information about calorie content, ingredients, and nutrition profiles of Campbell’s products more easily available to customers.

Campbell’s has been trying to reinvent itself the past couple of years by committing to a “real food” philosophy and heavily promoting its healthier and more premium labels such as Bolthouse Farms and Pacific Foods.  These brands are not as well-known as the recognizable red and white Campbell’s can and the company will need to depend on its digital marketing strategy to 1) increase label awareness; 2) emphasize its commitment to providing healthy foods; and 3) improve consumer trust.  Also, when partnering with other e-commerce companies, Campbell’s need to make sure that display advertising and social media strategies are controlled and aligned with their goals.



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Google Monetizing Another Feature

http://adage.com/article/digital/google-maps-ad-campaign/309828/

Google has been under pressure to develop revenue from all of its platforms, including Google Maps. Maps is not only a useful way to find directions, but it also is a way that businesses can advertise. Advertisers can offer promotions, display logos, and show ads on the Maps platform - interestingly, Google's "Get Location Detail" click option when searching for a brand on the search engine incurred 7% of clicks on phones - an increase over past periods. The latest effort to develop advertising traffic and revenue from Maps is the latest example of how Google tries to stay nimble and identify revenue sources beyond its standard search engine/adwords programs.

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Email Marketing: What Do Your Customers Really Want?

Like it or hate it – email continues to reign as one of the most effective tools to engage with consumers in a personalized way. A research conducted by campaign monitor reveals the key insights that can help increase your ROI. Here's a summary:

Consumers Still Prefer Brands to Communicate via Email

Key finding: There is no doubt, consumers still love email. More than half (52.7%) of those surveyed in the U.S. check their personal email account more than 10 times a day, and it is by far their favorite way to receive communication from brands  (compared to direct mail, mobile apps, social media, push notifications, and mobile wallet).


PREFERENCE OF COMMUNICATIONS FROM RETAIL BRANDS

Marketers are Delivering on Personalization

Key finding: 76% of consumers agree that retail brands are sending relevant, accurate emails which reflect their shopping preferences, location or purchase history. Companies across all industries are delivering on the promise of personalized emails. Overall, consumers overwhelmingly prefer to receive personalized emails across verticals.
AGREEMENT THAT BRANDS ARE SENDING RELEVANT EMAILS ACROSS INDUSTRIES

Along With Personalized Subject Lines, Discounts Drive the Most Opens!

Key finding: Across verticals, the top reasons 
consumers will open an email from a brand are personalization and discounts. Consumers are just slightly more inclined to open an email offering a discount (72%) than one with a personalized subject line (62%).

CONSUMER PREFERENCE BY EMAIL ATTRIBUTE ACROSS INDUSTRIES
Millennials Lead the Way in Making Purchasing Decisions Based on Email

Key finding: Preferences based on personalization and type of content received from brands did not vary widely among age groups. However, when it comes to taking action based on an email, millennials are far more likely to do so. 58% of millennials “always” or “most of the time” donated to a nonprofit while just 18% of respondents 55+ did the same.
PROPENSITY TO TAKE ACTION BY AGE GROUP ACROSS INDUSTRIES

The bottom line? Marketers must know their audience to run a successful campaign. Consumers prefer when brands personalize their email marketing campaigns, across age groups and verticals, and are seeking more of it. Brands must continue to personalize email campaigns to drive even more success and engagement, particularly with millennials. This trend will continue over time, as email continues to reign as one of the most effective tools to engage with consumers!



Link: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/guides/insights-research-report/

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AdAge: Facebook's Subscription Plan Gives Publishers Hope at Last

A new development in Facebook will allow publishers to charge a paywall for Instant Articles. This will help publishers in that they will be able to charge for articles that are accessed on Facebook's website. The reason for the access on Facebook itself was to improve time to the article, since readers stay within the social network. This has proven to be the preferred format of social media readers, but has created a problem for actual monetization. Newspapers will now make money off of Instant Articles.

Perhaps traditional newspaper companies will continue to adapt so they have a strong presence in the digital news focused world.



http://adage.com/article/digital/facebook-s-subscription-plan-publishers-hope/309819/

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Food and Beverage: The Next Big E-commerce Industry

It's looking like the food and beverage are following the trends of entertainment and apparels transformation to digital channels. Over the past 4 years, food and beverage companies have seen a 28% percent increase through e-commerce channels.  Campbell's Soups is one company that believes this growth will continue to increase over the next 5 years.

Campbell's recently announced they've launched a North American e-commerce unit which they expect to generate $300 million in sales over the next 5 years. 

"We're investing in digital and e-commerce across the enterprise with a goal of building industry-leading capabilities and relationships that will drive innovation in this space," executive Mark Alexander said in a statement.

Campbells aims to utilize the digital platform to provide better transparency to information like nutritional facts to its customers.  They believe that this, mixed with enhanced consumer analytics, and the ability to optimize their supply chain, will be the catalyst they need to re-spark growth in a stagnant industry.

See full article here: http://www.zdnet.com/article/how-campbell-soup-is-betting-on-digital-transformation-e-commerce-science-to-grow-sales/


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Hyperexcited for the Hyperbolic Hyperloop, or just Hyperbole?

Elon Musk tweeted this week that by the end of calendar year 2017, digging is set to begin on vacuum-sealed tunnels between key U.S. cities, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and D.C.. However, further press investigation found that there is little to substantiate these claims. There is a lack of official government approval, not to mention validation from the city officials from the cited cities.

In a time where the U.S. population is overly-sensitive to ‘fake news’, it is initially a bit puzzling why such a prominent figure in the tech and travel space would make such a dramatic announcement sure to get audience reaction. One hypothesis is that he is kickstarting the consumer adoption process early. Many studies have been done over the years proving that humans cannot keep up with the advancement of technology. This is tangential to Moore’s law that states computer processing power will double every two years, meanwhile consumers have yet to full convert to technologies like mobile pay that have been out on the market for over two years.


Adapting to new forms of transportation will be dramatic for both cities and commuters. Generating PR efforts early around the conversation and adoption could be advantageous when getting buy in from key stakeholders, namely the government. The 2016 election drove activism among the American people, and perhaps Elon Musk will use this type of behavior to have his future consumers influence their local and state governments to provide support. I do think he will not have much trouble garnering support among New Yorkers as I can say firsthand, that transportation is in need of an upgrade here!


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Snapchat’s Double Edged Sword


Snapchat’s acquisition of the location data company Placed in early June shows the company is getting serious about attribution.  While Snapchat has robust location data on its 166 million daily active users, Placed’s ID graph, which collects geodata on a panel of 150 million opted-in mobile devices, broadens those insights to people who don’t use Snapchat and age out of its core demographic and because Placed measures channels beyond mobile, Snapchat will gain insights on how its audience behaves across platforms.

In April, Snapchat debuted its attribution capabilities with the roll out of Snap to Store, a tool that attributes footfall in retail locations to ads on its platform. The addition and incorporation of Placed’s ability to attribute ad exposure to purchase data on its panels of users, along with its 270-plus proprietary relationships with brands and retailers, Snapchat presumably will be able to go the extra step in attributing those ads back to purchases. The potential to perform purchase attribution is a “big plus” that could help Snap attract more direct-response advertisers to its platform

This blogger finds this corporate pivot to be a bit contradictory to the allure Snapchat to its core user base – privacy. During the valuation and IPO process this was always something that I found confusing – how does a service that champions privacy monetize the user data it collects.

I for one do not understand Snapchat – I guess it’s generational. I downloaded the app, but never really used it because I find it very confusing and, quite honestly, I don’t have anything to “Snap” about. This is my whole gripe with social media – who really cares what I have to say – I find people that post opinions and world outlooks annoying. However, those individuals that use Snapchat religiously, and from my understanding it has become a religion and boosts a pretty large cult following amongst the youth of America, were initially drawn to it because of the temporary nature of the messages. The other aspect of its core user demographic is their “flavor of the month” view of the world.

Imagine if a company did a volte face on the core aspect that attracted you to use its platform, how would you feel? I for one would feel betrayed, and would probably disassociate myself from said company. If I were a competitor, I would take the opportunity and step in to offer a service that championed this value (i.e., privacy) and gobble up market share – read as a great opportunity for WhatsApp, although they face a similar privacy dilemma.

I guess I’m just turned off by things that I don’t understand – and I really just don’t get Snapchat – which is disconcerting from a valuation perspective as the growth opportunities are predicated on retaining its existing consumer base and penetrating other age demographics (i.e., ME). This acquisition, which I believe is a very insightful one from the perspective of enhancing its offerings and reach to potential advertisers thereby monetizing its user base and providing returns to its shareholders, seems like a very sharp double edged sword. I seriously think that they risk alienating their core users – although let’s be honest, these aren’t the type of people who are reading the Wall Street Journal, and who honestly reads updates to Privacy Agreements – I mean you can’t use the product unless you click “Accept”. Check out the HUMANCENTiPAD South Park episode to see the consequences of not reading all the Terms and Conditions to see what those consequences could be.


I suppose only time will tell whether Snapchat’s value proposition to its user base conflicts with the manner in which it creates value for the shareholders, but as we have learned throughout the history of Facebook, privacy infringement and transparency is a slippery-slope.

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