I’ve been following the cloud with great interest since Slacker and Pandora came on the scene some time around 2007. The idea of streaming music from the cloud was appealing and struck a chord. This year however the cloud will come fully into it’s own. This is the year that consumers will adopt cloud technology at a faster rate than businesses have to date.
Video, Data, Music
With consumers creating data at a breakneck pace, they will want to store it in a safe place, and they will want to share and access it from everywhere they go. My wife went nuts when I set up her new point and shoot camera with an Eye-Fi card last week. The card allows her to take a picture, have it immediately uploaded to her PC through her smartphone, the PC then uploads it to Shutterfly. Then with an app on our iPad and her iPhone she can almost instantly see the photos she’s taken. Better yet, she has instant access to all her pictures without having to store them on her phone.
Safe and Secure
The other big advantage is her digital treasures are safely backed up on Shutterfly, temporaily on the Eye-Fi cloud and on her PC. On another front our PC’s are backed up through an online backup service on an ongoing basis for a mere $60 a year.
The number of entertainment options has also gone through the roof. Every week I get at least 5 free songs from Amazon and Google which are of course stored in the cloud for free, but accessible everywhere. Our TV and Blu-ray player have access to almost endless streams of on demand video and I can even access the data on my PC.
Just the Beginning
The best part is this is all just the beginning. Soon everything, maybe even the fridge will be connected to the cloud. Just look at CES this year and you’ll quickly see that everything being shown has a cloud component.
The key here is the ecommerce opportunity for smart companies who can control themselves and look for small ways to tap into recurring service fees. I say control themselves because the desire to add a $5 or $10 fee for cloud services is great but will quickly result in fee-fatigue by consumers. Finding a business model that works with micro-purchases will be the most successful, leaving the consumer with greater control of their expenses and feeling better about their purchases. The question for your company is; can you restrain yourselves?
Yesterday I received a Roku 2 XD as a gift. In the past I’ve had a WD Live digital media player and thought it was great. I was of course excited and went downstairs to set it up on my non-connected TV. The initial setup went smooth enough with the following exceptions:
- Computer Required – The box claim is Roku is the best way to stream content without a computer. But they neglect to tell you that you must go to your computer to register the unit before it will work. OK, so I have computers in my house and a smart phone that meant I did not even have to get up off the couch. No real biggie, but still annoying.
- Credit Card Required – The big annoyance was that during the registration process they ask for your credit card information. From my point of view there is absolutely no reason in the world I’d want to give Roku my credit card info. None. Roku does not mention this in the set up materials in the box or on their sales pitch on their web site.
At this point I’m thinking, oh well, guess I’ll just return it and get another WD Live box off eBay. But then I decided to check Google to see if anyone else was as bothered about this as I was. Turns out there were. In fact, helpful folks in the forums will tell you that by simply calling Roku (during business hours) they will waive the credit card requirement. How thoughtful of them to make me take extra and unnecessary steps to use their product.
Lesson: Remove barriers to entry
I’m sure there are lots of folks with no problem giving yet another company access to their credit card info, but I”m not one of them. Besides the fact that Roku does not need this for their box to operate, they went about asking for it in all the wrong ways.
Ask, Never Demand or be Sneaky
In all things on and off line companies should behave in the following manner:
- Notify users up front of all requirements to use a service, before they buy it or try to set it up.
- Give users the opportunity to Opt-out of non-mandatory information gathering without having to search forums to find out how to do so.
Roku did neither of these. They just assumed I’d hand over private information with no indication that it was not mandatory.
Lesson for Online Businesses
- Always tell your whole story up front. If you require certain steps, outline them, including the optional ones.
- Don’t require consumers to take extra steps to use the product in the way you and they intended to use it.
- Always ASK for information in an Opt-in format, and don’t be sneaky.
- And never, ever, make a user have to search outside resources to find information you should have readily available on your site.
Everyone has seen them. The headline screams a crazy tune, but the copy does not back it up.
Today in the Huffington Post, experts at this, a headline read; “Fox News President Makes Shocking Admission About Sarah Palin” OK, great headline, makes people want to click to read it. Problem is the only mention of the former VP candidate was one line about why the Fox news president hired her. Turns out it was for her looks and popularity, go figure.
The rest of the article was a great piece about the career of the 73 year old Roger Ailes, the head and founder of Fox news. Though I did read the article, it was not what first caught my attention.
Another thing HuffPo is known for is changing the title of their articles frequently. This very article could have a different headline tonight or tomorrow morning. They do it all the time. In fact, I’ve found myself clicking on the same article several times thinking it was a new article, only to find out it was only a new headline.
Does Any of This Work?
By work, I of course mean does it generate a goal; more page views, advertising clicks, satisfied readers, you get the idea. I’m pretty sure you can say this gets them more page views. Advertising revenue is harder to guess. On satisfied readers you can count me as a no vote. But I’m guessing they would not be doing this if it did not increase one KPI or another.
Maybe my headline for this article should have been; “Huffington Post Invents Click Through Machine”
What do you think?
This mornings post seems even more justified now that Amazon has unleashed the $199 Kindle Fire. They should have called it the Kindle Storm because it will take the world by storm.
Apple cutting back on supply orders for the iPad may be a sign that they are expecting a battle. Given the rapid sell out of the HP tablet just a couple of months ago for $99, I don’t thinks it’s because of a lack of desire for tablets in the market.
With a 7″ screen it will be even more important to have a suitable tablet interface for your site given the tens of millions of Fire’s Amazon will sell.
Competition is good.
With today’s announcement of the Amazon Fire tablet, you can be sure that tablet sales for the 2011 holiday season will go through the roof. If you’re still relying on your regular website to deliver you site to tablets, your missing the boat. As mentioned in this month’s Website Magazine,
“What’s the big appeal? New tablet apps such as TheFind’s Catalogue and Google Catalogs for the iPad. Tablets allow mobile consumers to view products on larger screens, giving retailers greater flexibility to display their inventories, pricing information, customer reviews, etc. Many retailer catalogs can be viewed in rich media through these apps”
Still not convinced? Here are 4 reasons to get a tablet strategy today:
- Navigation – Site navigation using a finger is much different than using a mouse. Since your hand is immediately in your way once it moves toward the screen to click, buttons need to be larger and other elements better positioned.
- Screen sizes – Table screen sizes are not all the same. With the common sizes being 7″ and 10″ your site may be hard to view on a smaller screen, causing visitors to have to “pinch & scroll”
- Personal experience – Tablets are a much more personal interaction than PC’s. People are more relaxed while using a tablet. Using fingers on a device to interact with products is more engaging than a mouse.
- Preferred over Smart phones – Why not just use your smart phone interface for tablets? Forty percent of tablet owners use their tablets instead of their personal computers when both are available, Forrester found. And though more people are shopping on , they use them mostly for comparing prices and receiving mobile coupons, and get frustrated by the small screen. (NY Times)
Do you have a tablet strategy for your eCommerce site?
9 Week Holiday Planner
QR Codes are quickly gaining popularity. Because of this many companeis are putting them everywhere, often without thought as to what they want to accomplish.
How to have a Bad Customer Experinece with QR Codes
In a recent Sunday newspaper (yes, I do still get a paper) ad section, a large local retailer had QR Codes on almost half the products in their circular. All touted the refrain, “Get a Lower Price”, leading you to believe that if you used the QR code, you’d be rewarded with a lower price on that product. Very cool. Three problems;
- Many of the QR codes would not scan because they were too small to be read
- Once scanned, they took me to a non-mobile ready web page
- The pages were also very generic with multiple products on the page, I could not find the one I wanted!
At least not easily. I simply gave up and went on to the sports section.
This was a total waste of effort for this retailer.
A Better QR User Experience
What should have happened once the I took the shot of the QR Code?
- Above all, make sure the QR codes are big enough to be scanable.
- The user should always be taken to a mobile friendly web site. With a big chance they are coming from a mobile device this is your best alternative.
- You should always take the user to the product they were interested in. If they have to search for it you’ll loose them quickly
What other things could you do?
- The QR Code could have been a game. Randomly generated pages with different discount code. This would prompt use of the QR and get more folks into the store.
- The landing page should be highly sharable
QR Codes are a great new asset for off-line retailers if used properly. If not, they are a waste of time and will create customer frustration.
It will be 20 years since I married my beautiful wife on September 21, 1991. Since then I’ve worked hard on 3 things; staying happily married, surviving my children, and digital marketing and eCommerce.
I’ve had great success on all three and along the way the first two have taught me a bit about the third.
- Listen – Marriage is about listening. So is marketing. Just as you will occasionally misunderstand, or don’t listen to your spouse, it’s easy to misread a customer’s desires and intentions. Be sure you listen to and understand the true meaning of the data, in the context in which it was delivered.
- Content – Always consider the timing and content of what you’re saying. With spouses and customers there is a right time and way to deliver a message. In both cases, knowing what each wants to hear in relation to their mood or buying stage, will get you a lot more attention than simply selling your benefits. It’s always about them, as it should be.
- Delivery – A smile will help you sell almost anything. Almost. How you deliver your message can make the difference on your spouse or customer listening and understanding. Deliver you message with a smile.
- Follow up – You told your spouse that you were going out Friday night, but despite their listening, understanding the content and with perfect delivery, they forgot. Well timed and gentle reminders will go a long way. Reminding customers of specials, appointments, new products and more can go a long way to building a relationship. Just be careful not to over-do it, they might get cranky.
- Social Support - My wife is one of my biggest fans, whose support has more than once made my day, and endeared her to me even more. Support your best customers and they will support you. Continually build a close group of evangelists, and reward them publicly with praise and support.
- Show the Love – Every morning, every night, and every time I leave her side, I kiss my wife. I thank her for common every day chores. I never go to bed angry. I never forget she’s a critical part of my life and happiness. This isn’t marketing, it’s just love, but I’m sure you can figure out how it relates.
Love you honey! Nick