5 Tips on improving your E-commerce

For the past year our so I’ve been launching an online coffee shop. Coming from an Industrial Engineering background and given the fact that I consider myself a caveman, as far as technology comes, let me tell you which are the 5 things I think every upcoming entrepreneur should know at the time of launching for the first time an online business:Image

 

Create interesting content for yourself

            Chances are that you are trying to engage with your audience but don’t know how. Probably you have done tons of research and things seem to point out in many different directions. My advice to you is to go with your gut. Start creating content that you find interesting yourself. This way you will kill two birds with one stone, you are going to be working on stuff you find fun and most likely your audience will find it engaging as well.

Make it easy for audience

            Nowadays people is living in a very fast paced way. We like to get information in a convenient and quick way. Instead of delivering your content in 3 pager articles, try to convey your information with as little words as possible and as visual as possible. By doing this you are going to make your audience be attracted to you because they find it fun (… and also because it educates them!).

Compelling story

            Although this might sound as a Buzz phrase, getting a good story behind your product is something crucial, especially when you are not able to get your customer to touch and feel your product before making the buying decision. A great way of getting your audience make up their minds about your product is by making them feel identified with it, a good story behind it will always help achieve this!

Trial and error

            At the beginning of your advertisement campaign you really do not have a clear idea on what works best for you. I highly encourage you to just get started and test different approaches. Try to get a good mix of different ad types, for example: paid vs. organic, illustrations vs. pictures, content messages vs. sale messages. At the beginning you will be shooting in the dark, but as time passes you will become knowledgeable and precise on what works best for you.

Schedule postings

            Being consisted is key on developing brand credibility. Facebook’s ads manager has a pretty cool feature that allows you to schedule in advance the ads that will be posted during a certain period of time. This has been incredible valuable for us since it is pretty easy to forget about posting ads on a day-to-day basis. In order to avoid this, we organize every Sunday our weekly program and from then just follow up on it throughout the week.

 

The Role of Social Media in Airline Crisis Communication

CrisisAhead

My inspiration to write this blog w as based on a recent article authored by Ryan Cohn, Vice President of Sachs Media Group. How Social Media is Elevating Airline Crisis Communication

Over the years, we’ve all seen that social media has grown to become an essential communication tool used by airlines in managing emergency response crises. Why use social media in the first place? Well, what better way for an airline to be transparent about its actions than through sharing information and engaging with the public community.  It provides an opportunity for the airline to update people on events occurring during the crisis and what it is doing about those events. It is also way to involve the public and potential survivors by allow them to react to and even help resolve the crisis through real-time exchange of information. How can this be done effectively? The article provides examples of how some airlines have used social media effectively while others failed on many levels. This can serve as guide on best practices as well as what not to do.

In the case of the Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash in July of last year, Asiana made some critical errors. Firstly, in the aftermath of the crash, it was silent for more than four hours until posting a standard tweet that thanked the public community for their concerns and conveyed that it was investigating into the matter and would update them. Then, this was followed two hours later by an equally indifferent press release, a point by which the public had already formed their opinions. The uncertainty about the situation fueled by truth mixed in with rumors ultimately called into question the airline’s credibility and took a major blow at its reputation. The problem was that Asiana did not do much to reassure the public that it had control over the situation.

The example above is contrasted by the proactive approach that Southwest Airlines takes in handling such situations. The Southwest Flight 345 had an uncontrolled, rough landing at LaGuardia Airport in July of 2013, and ten passengers were injured, six of which needed to be hospitalized. Within half hour of the incident, Southwest began releasing communication to the public via an official hashtag to reassure the interested public that it would actively inform them about what was happening. In this way, Southwest initiated the conversation by acknowledging what had happened, and then continued the conversation with ongoing updates. Remember, that a conversation works both ways; it is equally as important to listen and react to what other people have to say as it is to drive your messages. This behavior was not unexpected coming from Southwest, which has always been known for its active use of social media in crisis communications. In fact, the airline is also reputed for its internal practices of effective communication and employee empowerment. If a company is able to excel at this internally, then it should naturally be able to so for its customers, stakeholders and the public community. Ultimately, Southwest was able to win the trust of the public by taking control of the conversation and by displaying a sense of urgency. So long as such efforts are genuine and consistent, the public will buy into it.

In today’s digital age, it is easy for a crisis to spiral out of control. Once the initial piece of information about the crisis is out in the public domain, there is a tendency for it to spark numerous tweets, picture posts by plane survivors, not to mention all of these being picked up by news channels. But on the same token, all the real-time reporting generated from the various sources can be valuable to airlines. For example, it can provide confirmation that the plane involved in the incident in fact belongs to them, a process that would have taken up to an hour in the pre-social media era.

We’ve talked about how social media is a powerful listening tool to get insights from public and platform to constantly assure your public that you are taking action, but where exactly should all this take place? There are a plethora of social media platforms out there and many companies have presence in several of them. It can be very confusing for people to decide where to get their information if a company is using multiple channels to drives its messages and engage in a dialogue. In order to effectively deliver your message in a crisis situation, where time is of the essence, it is vital to limit the number of channels (keeping the most relevant ones) and then link those channels to a centralized repository of information. For example, you might have tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram photos that all feed into your website. This I believe is just as true for crisis communication as it is for digital strategies in general.

One may ask, how can an airline start sending out messages if it does not have a clear social media crisis plan? The answer to that is yes, an airline should have a plan indeed, but one that is flexible and adaptable to change. As Rachael Rensink, Manager of Social Marketing Strategy and Engagement at Delta Airlines put it, the process should involve plan, evaluate, test, re-evaluate, evolve, etc.

Social media is usually one of the pieces of a crisis communication plan and it is important to consider how it fits into the marketing mix. For example, at Delta crisis coordinators play a key role in working with various teams to determine the messaging while ensuring that communication is socially responsible, what the current conversations are and what needs to addressed.

Also, since crisis situations may extend days, weeks, or even months beyond the emergency phase, there will be people out there affected by the events who seek closure. Airlines should prepare to address such concerns by making genuine efforts in providing the necessary relief to such individuals so that they can move on with their lives.

The article talks about the importance of using proper hashtags.  This may sound trivial, but it is ever so important for an airline to establish a hashtag that is officially dedicated to the crisis. Doing so sends a signal to the public that this is the place to find information about the incident and that you own the conversation. Southwest did this by ending its initial tweet with “#Flight345”. Once people are aware of what the official hashtag is, they can easily look for it to track the developments. More importantly, the airline itself can easily track what information is being exchanged and take corrective measures as necessary.

In today’s world, social media is not just used as one-way communication tool. The goal is ultimately to engage the public, and empower them to find the solutions. As the article aptly puts it, “everyone is an amateur investigative reporter with the resources to find the truth, often before the brand owner even knows it.” Malaysian Airlines did this by crowd-sourcing its efforts through satellite imagery. Whether or not these efforts lead to solving the mystery remains to be seen, but one thing the airline and the authorities are doing right, amidst all the criticism directed towards their approach and the conspiracy theories floating around, is that they have made the citizens of the world feel part of the quest.

 

MLB jumps on the Snapchat bandwagon

MLB recently adopted snap chat as a its latest social media platform. They began using the popular messaging app as spring training began this season as a new way to connect with fans. Social Media Producer Hali Stark commented that spring training was a great time to use Snapchat as the atmosphere is much more laid back and provided a great opportunity for the league to share moments that fans might not get to see otherwise.

Image

So why Snapchat? MLB found that a significant portion of their viewers and demographic were using the service and thought it would be a great way to interact with viewers in a new, creative way. Stark commented that “very social platform serves a purpose. Finding that purpose for Snapchat was important to us before joining because it’s such a personal experience”. MLB took the time to understand the platform and the way their viewers were using it before diving in head first. When reading the description for Snapchat on the Google Play store, it’s easy to see why MLB decided to get on board.

Description: Experience a totally new way to share today. Snap a photo or a video, add a caption, and send it to a friend (or maybe a few). They’ll view it, laugh, and then the snap disappears from the screen – unless they take a screenshot! If you want to share a Snap with all of your friends, add it to your Snapchat Story, a living narrative where each Snap lives for 24 hours until it disappears, making room for the new.

The images might be a little grainy, and you may not look your best, but that’s the point. It’s about the moment, a connection between friends in the present, and not just a pretty picture.

The allure of fleeting messages reminds us about the beauty of friendship – we don’t need a reason to stay in touch.

What jumps out to me is the statement that an image may not look its best, but it’s about a moment and developing a connection. To that end, MLB didn’t just use Snapchat to send out the same information. There are no game updates, or trade rumors. MLB uses the service to connect the viewer with individual players and teams in a way that no outlet has been able to before.

ImageImage

Anything New about Analytical Tools?

In recently two years, another buzz word “Growth Hacker” went viral following “Lean Startup”. Defined by Wikipedia, Growth hacking is a marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. Two points from this definition are very eye-catching: analytical thinking and metrics. All the analysis is to better understand your customers and the value brought to them through your products. Then we could adjust our work through the metrics and data.

For entrepreneurs and startups, the core job is to improve the products day by day. While most of them are not quite sure which way is the best way for the products. To answers these questions, they best way is to find the authentic data hidden behind the products and build the proper model. How to gain these data is another question standing in the way. Here we could have a review about the analytical tools including the traditional and emerging ones.

Google Analytics is the most popular one with free access. The metrics it contains include page view, user view, traffic sources, user demographics and flow report. It is obvious that Google Analytics is based on visit. It is basically enough for the content-based websites to know the web visiting and channel conversion. While for some customers-driven websites, Google Analytics is not that appropriate. The core is not number of visiting any more, but the customers themselves and the process from visiting, registering, using and subscribing. That is to say, analytical tools are not enough and they need users-centered analytical tools.

1

I would recommend Mixpanel and KissMetrics in this field.  Mixpanel provides data which is customer behavior-driven. It provides metrics including trends, funnels, cohorts and people. Each behavior indicates a single event. Hence they could be more focused on improving functions and better know if each function turned better or worse after pilot testing.

2

KissMetrics is another analytical tool which I highly recommend and it is very similar with Mixpanel. Google Analytics tells you what’s happening and KissMetrics tells you who’s doing it. KissMetrics is easier to use and provides you a deeper understanding of the customers’ behavior. When you are considering which one to use, you could try Segment.io first to compare the results on both platforms of Mixpanel and KissMetrics. You could also switch seamlessly between these two platforms.

Then we need more specialized analytical tools with more accurate target and goal. I recommend UserCycle, Customer.io and Optimize.ly.

UserCycle focuses on single metrics and improve it accordingly based on the data. It provides data on trends and cohorts, lifecycle messaging, split-test experiments.

3

Customer.io only focuses on a single process during the whole process such as Lifecycle Email. This tool could better address the differences between users hence customize the content of the emails sent to customers.

4

Optimize.ly is for A/B test. It could generate test reports based on diverse customers’ behavior.

5

All these tools are for better growth and they would definitely contribute more to the AARRR model:acquisition, activation, retention, referral and revenue.

Can Line beat WhatsApp in the US market?

According to a globalization affected by internet, preferences of people around the world seem to be closer and closer, especially in technology-related issues. After coming from Thailand to study in US grad school, I was surprised by the different applications my classmates use for messaging. My American friends mostly use WhatsApp as a main platform in smartphone communication. The others depending on their countries use different application. They don’t use only WhatsApp, but also Line, WeChat, and Kakao.

WhatsappLine

WechatKakao

In my country, we used WhatsApp around 3 years ago. After Line had introduced in my country, suddenly almost all of users shift their main messaging from WhatsApp to Line. This circumstance also occurs in many countries in Asia and Europe. The data shows that there are 300 million users in the end of 2013 compared to just over 100 million in the beginning of the same year. Although WhatsApp also captured a higher number of new active users that year, this year that Line shift their focus to US and Latin America market, it is interesting whether Line beat WhatsApp in US market or not. In my opinion, Line has a chance to beat WhatsApp because of several reasons, specifically their value to customer, revenue model, and integrated platform.

Firstly, Line provides better value for users. Even though both applications are based on the same basic idea which is “free, simple, no ads”, Line outperforms WhatsApp in many reasons. For example, offered stickers in Line allow users to express their feelings better than Emoji in WhatsApp. Moreover, Line has a timeline function so that you can update your friend you have in a friend list. Also, Internet voice and video call are provided in this Application. Therefore, in your friend list, it’s not limit only texting, but voice and video call. This feature is also applicable in international call. Although Line introduce game in their application, it doesn’t disturb users because the game is in different tab and never interrupt when texting with your friends.

Image      Image

Image

 

Secondly, revenue model of Line and WhatsApp are totally different. As for WhatsApp, the company gets a yearly fee of 0.99 USD after year 1 onwards. Line is completely free for the texting and internet calling feature. They gain the revenue from selling Sticker and games. Although WhatsApp has users more than 450 million, their revenue was under 20 million in 2013. Surprisingly, line revenue was 335 million, around 17 times than WhatsApp. Disregarding the parent company of both companies, cash generated internally in both firm is totally different, affecting marketing, strategy, and development budget the companies can employ.

Lastly, Line is not only limited to smartphone, it is also integrated to PC. Users can use the same account they use in their smartphone in their laptop, getting the same contact list, and historical chat log. This feature helps the company to retain its current users when changing their phone or PC.

What I’m curious is that like most of social network platform, messaging application requires friends in your loop to switch to new platform. Even the application provides you better value or experience, without your friends in that application, no one will use it. A challenge for Line is how to convince the first group of user in US to change their application from WhatsApp to Line.

Share Your Thoughts and Your Lawnmower: the Rise of the Sharing Economy

In 2010, I was interning at Latitude, a research consulting firm specializing in media and technology. This company, extremely curious and knowledge driven, created and published its own studies focused on innovation. When I arrived at the company, it had just completed a study on the sharing economy, then a fairly new idea. I was absolutely fascinated by this study which stated the following:

• Social media and sharing online builds trust, encouraging offline sharing.
• The internet is now being used to connect people to items.
• People are focusing on access over ownership.
• The internet is giving people a new way to exercise sharing behavior.

Latitude gave the examples of Zipcar, Netflix, and Craigslist as companies that were bringing this sharing economy to life. The study predicted that the sharing economy would become a booming industry within the next five years. (Latitude’s The New Sharing Economy Study – http://latdsurvey.net/pdf/Sharing.pdf)

In a matter of four short years, the sharing economy has grown significantly. In 2010, with the exception of Craigslist, people using sharing sites were relying heavily on the company. Netflix and Zipcar provided and maintained the assets shared. Trust in the company was still at the forefront of consumers’ minds.

We are now seeing companies like Airbnb and TaskRabbit. Instead of providing products and services, the facilitation of sharing is the new company goal. These companies work to connect people and create value for both lenders and borrowers. This creates a huge shift in how the companies must operate. Trust, relationships, and good experiences strongly influence the customers’ perceptions of the brand and these key factors are no longer solely in the hands of the company. They are in the hands of the lenders and borrowers who perform, experience, review, and report on the actual interactions.

As Latitude discovered, social media is integral in this shift. Social media was responsible for establishing sharing as a viable industry. It got people comfortable with interacting with and trusting others online. Once this trust was established, social media users were more willing to share offline. This paved the way for an entirely new industry.

Now the role of social media has changed. Social media in the form of lender and borrower pages, online interactions, and reviews is now a key business function that increases interactions, propels business, and raises many new challenges. For example, how do you ensure they are offering quality up to the company standards?

So what does this mean? Customers are no longer just customers. They are company assets. They provide products and services, act as salespeople, and build relationships. Companies need to manage these assets as they would any other. Providing social media platforms will allow the company’s assets to share, connect, and brand build while offering the products and services that the company boasts. It will also allow companies to engage and track the people that are providing its products and services ensuring quality and consistency.