Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Waterstones - showing that Twitter can be fun for customers

There is a lot of coverage of companies getting social media wrong but less focus is placed on celebrating those who do it well. As an industry we need to be more positive and celebrate people who demonstrate creativity and innovation in their usage of social media. Last week I came across a Waterstones promotion available to its Twitter followers - the Golden Ticket Treasure Hunt.

The promotion
  • There are 10 Golden Tickets hidden around the website
  • Waterstone's tweets a clue to each one
  • Followers scramble the site using their clue solving skills to locate the golden ticket
  • Followers then email when they have found it
  • First correct reply wins the prize
  • Different prize for each Golden Ticket
  • Prizes are showcased on landing pages linked to via Twitter
  • Additional clues are given from time to time

The benefits
  • Greater engagement of Twitter followers - during each treasure hunt Waterstones is talking to its followers
  • Driving traffic to the eCommerce website
  • Customers spend more time looking around the site to solve the clues
  • Increase product views and appreciation of range diversity
  • Ancillary sales generated off the back of this activity.

Whilst the format is hardly revolutionary (Willy Wonka anyone?), the delivery was neat and fun. And this is where I think social media has great potential - driving brand engagement by giving people something of interest that they can play with. We all like to be distracted for a while and business doesn't always have to be serious.

I would love to find out the actual impact of site traffic s0 have asked Waterstones via Twitter. I will update this blog if they are able to share the information.

The kind peeps @Waterstones have shared this info:
"We've had double the usual traffic from Twitter, and as you can see we've had 882 new followers in 2 wks"

So what do you think? Clever marketing or not?

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Do you need a mobile strategy?

The latest data from ComScore shows a 30% increase in social networking traffic among smartphone users in the past 12 months. Research from Forrester shows that iPhone users are more affluent than users of other smartphones. The average internet usage for an iPhone user is 100MB, x30 larger than on other phones. There is a lot of discussion about the shift from desktop to mobile and the prediction that in several years time eCommerce will be dominated by mobile browsing.

So this begs the question, do you need a mobile strategy?

The obvious answer is yes but what exactly is a mobile strategy? At a basic level, you can optimise your website for mobile browser compatibility meaning that people using mobile devices can navigate your main website on their smartphone. However, I would argue that this is not a mobile strategy, it is simply enabling browsing via mobile devices.

For me a mobile strategy involves integrating mobile commerce into your customer communication channels to ensure that they can interact with you using their mobile device. This goes beyond mobile commerce through to supporting communication and driving engagement via mobile channels. So what can this include?

  • Capturing mobile phone numbers and using these for customer service including order status updates
  • Targeting mobile users with SMS marketing campaigns
  • Developing mobile apps to provide added value, such as an iPhone app
  • Developing social media presence on mobile friendly sites such as Twitter, Facebook
  • Providing mobile as a response channel for customers
  • Taking micro payments for products and services
  • Optimising your web presence for local search to increase visibility when people browse on the move
  • Using mobile technology to improve internal communication between remote teams.
Of course this comes down to relevance. If your audience is not using Facebook, focus on the other elements of a mobile strategy to add value. It's also important that each element of your mobile strategy is measured to ensure it is adding commercial value. There is no point building an iPhone app if nobody is going to use it.

How do you work out if this is right for you?

First, check your web analytics data - what % of your traffic is coming to the site on mobile browsers? If it's a decent %, then there is clearly a mobile audience out there. Next, compare the performance stats for mobile visitors v other visitors - what paths do they take, how long do they spend on the site, are they repeat visitors, how much do they spend? If you have a decent traffic volume but poor conversion, it would suggest you need to do something better to engage your mobile audience.

I appreciate this is a simplistic analysis - I would recommend you survey your customer base to find out what the mobile demands are. Analytics tells you what is happening, the voice-of-customer data will tell you why.

For further reading, there is a useful post by Graham Charlton on the Econsultancy blog.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Local niche business owner using social to extend his brand

It has been a while since I've had time to maintain this blog but as a freelancer I've decided I should prioritise it a little bit more. This week I found something that got me excited enough to want to blog about it.

I got a call from Charlie, the owner of Henry Herbert, a specialist London tailor who makes shirts, suits and overcoats. Everything is made in England and the twist of difference is that they visit you by scooter for a personal fitting. Personal service is at the heart of what Henry Herbert offers.

Charlie set up his website using Wordpress with a focus on content and blogging about the products and services. The site does not sell direct because it's such a customised service but he's turning to SEO and social media to increase brand exposure.

Early efforts with Google local have paid real dividends, generating strong click through and leads. For a mobile tailoring business that relies on bringing its skills into your home, local search is an ideal marketing channel. Next steps will be to add a listing to Yahoo Local and extend the use of customer reviews on to the main website.

Another opportunity around local is to improve the landing pages for local search, providing content that relates specifically to a London audience.

Charlie has sensibly taken steps to build a social media presence. Word of mouth in this market is important and his Twitter presence (@henryherbert) provides a good platform from which to reach new customers and communicate the brand values. It is early days and the challenge now is to extend beyond simply pushing new blog content to engage with a local and national audience and generate dialogue and conversation.

I really love this business idea. For busy people, the opportunity to have an experienced tailor visit you where you want and take all the effort out of the buying process, is wonderful customer service. It reflects the increasing number of businesses that are offering mobile services, especially in the London area, and the online world provides a wide range of communication channels through which to capture new customers.

So take a look round www.henryherbert.com and let me know what you think. How do you think a local niche business can use Twitter to build brand awareness and engage with customers?