Making Ordinary Things into Something Extraordinarily Digital

It was not until August 1991 that the world wide web became available to the public .This was the beginning of the internet boom in the 90s that gave us a taste of connectivity in a virtual world. Then in the 2000s social media came to a head and changed the landscape for both marketers and businesses.  Everyone from mom and pop shops to fortune 500 companies began utilizing social media to engage customers and increase profits.

Now, the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing how we interact with technology. Ordinary tools are becoming “smart”.  This area is where I believe there will undoubtedly be another boom for marketers and businesses. We can define IoT as traditional objects that are connected to a bigger network which allows devices to “talk” with each other and people.  Your devices would be connected to the internet and linked to make life easier for you the customer. The infographic below gives an idea of how IoT would work.

Image result for internet of things

Instead of a fridge where we can update our Facebook and Twitter, it seems much more useful for a fridge to alert you through a text message that you need milk etc. Another example is your car being equipped with sensors that are connected and alert you about an ice or snow storm. It could just be an alert or the car itself changes gears to go through the snow ahead. The IoT is much more different than anything we have encountered before. It fosters creativity and allows traditional businesses to get back into the game and make their tools smart. This smart technology will not be isolated to particular industries but instead be beneficial to all of them. Some of these ideas may be years away but we do currently use IoT to make life easier. FitBit tracks our physical activity and the Nest smart thermostat for remote temperature control are successful devices that have been fulfilling our needs today.

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Mobile the Medium of Now

Mobile Marketing is not just for the big retailers. It is a strategic tool for small businesses, non-profits and health clinics. Doctors and dental offices use mobile marketing to send out appointment reminders, specials and updates. I am a frequent customer at a large cosmetic dermatology firm in Houston and love that I get text reminders about my appointments and upcoming deals.

According to smartinsights mobile media time is now greater than desktop and other media. Consumers are extremely connected to their phones. The days of thinking of the phone as just a means to make calls is long gone.

time spent on mobile vs desktop devices 2015

Adding mobile marketing strategies in a MARCOM plan is unsurprising because of the way we use our smart phones and other devices.Marketers have the opportunity to reach their target audience with a high chance of open rates.  A study by Oracle found that the open rate of SMS is 98 percent compared with 22 percent for emails. Mobile marketing will continue to be an expanding frontier for marketers to take advantage of with such a high usage rate among customers.

Sloppy Websites Impact Your Bottom Line

Website design is an artistic while strategic tool for businesses. A quick look at a company’s organization website could mean a make or break on a customer’s purchase. The website has to look professional, have easy navigation and intelligent design. A nonprofit organization, that I briefly worked for had a great mission and message but this was obscured by a pretty lackluster website. The page colors did not jive with the rest of the content. In comparison to our competitors, our website was pretty amateur.

We began working with local web design consultants to develop a stronger site that reflected our mission. We announced new updates to our site on our Facebook and Twitter. This was well received by Facebook fans and volunteers of our organization, who positively commented on the changes. It also improved our SEO rankings and led to more calls from potential customers inquiring about our services. There is so much data that proves that website design is crucial to your bottom line. See the infographic below.

 

 

No Such Thing As One Stop Marketing

The American demographic has changed drastically over the past few decades. Minorities have become an integral part of the nation’s fabric. Hispanics have surpassed the African American population and the Asian demographic is rapidly growing. Marketers have to take all of these considerations into mind when crafting a marketing plan. We are familiar with tailoring messages to certain age groups and gender but race now has to be a key factor. Minority groups are spending record amount of money on products. Check out the graphs below to see the spending habits of minorities.

multi-cultural-growth

Companies interested in growing profits realize the shift and are working hard to gain minority customers. Social media is an area where minority usage differs from whites. For example, Twitter, is a medium mostly used by blacks which surpasses the usage of Hispanics and whites respectively. Blacks’ usage of Instagram (23%) also outnumbered Hispanics’ (18%) and Whites’ (11%).  The chart below from pewresearch.org highlights the key differences between the different demographics.

Latinos', Blacks' Use of Social Media

Buying habits also differ between minorities as it does with whites. Hispanics spend the most of the demographics on diapers, Blacks on beauty products and Asians in club stores. This means companies that sell these merchandise have to tailor their marketing strategy to benefit from minority spending habits. It will take both qualitative and quantitative research, observation, relationship building and focus groups to learn about each community to make marketing efforts successful.

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Communications Shake Up

The public relations world like many other fields has changed in the era of social media. PR practitioners had less to worry about before the advent of social media. Instead, our only worry was being able to write and speak well. Today, we still have to know how to write and have strategic connections with journalists but so much more. Public Relations compounded with social media has made communications even more interesting. Being well versed in social media strategy is a necessity in today’s world. The Institute for PR identified some interesting results from a study conducted in 2014 which found Twitter replacing Facebook for public relations activities. It is a strong reminder that what’s hot in social media right now could change drastically within a few months. Check out the graphic below from Leverage Media that summarizes the need to participate in social networking.

Social-media-comparison-infographic_2014 (1)

 

For instance, crisis communications skills must be sharp for a practitioner. There is less wait time to make a statement.  Being silent after a crisis has always been a huge no in public relations which still holds true. Yet, Twitter forces us to interact with the public about problems with our companies, executives or products. There is an advantage to this fast paced media in the sense that we have more control over the message which can be difficult in our field. Consumers are also able to engage in an organization’s crisis through social media like Twitter and Facebook by supporting or dissenting. This means that the PR practitioner has to factor in another player within crisis communication plans.

There is a huge benefit for PR people using social media. It allows for measured results which can determine specifically if public relations goals have been met. Quantifying results from impressions and print placement are an arduous task. We can now use analytics to measure clicks to our website, get specific data on who our audiences are and blog subscriptions. This means PR people do not have the luxury of falling behind on “emerging media”. Each type of social media must be understood to apply them effectively to the overall goal of the practitioner.

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