Wait a minute, Mr. Postman

#30DaysOfKindness

Today, we find ourselves in the middle of #30DaysOfKindness. From November 5th, Monday through Friday, until December 17th people will join the event and do a random act of kindness in order to brighten up the day of their fellow human beings.

I was thinking a lot about how to contribute to this event (apart from wishing the bus driver an excellent day), when I found a note in my mailbox that some parcel was waiting for me at the post station. Since I love parcels, I was so excited to pick it up the next day and it wasn’t a small parcel but a big 5kg package from home! My friends had been putting together my favorite Christmas sweets and other thoughtful presents like socks and thermo-tights, which are probably vital for the Canadian winter. This was an unexpected act of kindness; I was very happy and proud to have such good friends.

Receiving goodies from home

Meanwhile on the other side of the earth…

My best friend moved to Singapore a few months ago for his Ph.D. and he enjoys the country very much. However, with December and the pre-Christmas season arriving, some nostalgia kicked in. A few days ago and completely unexpected, he received a big parcel, too. In contrast to me, he didn’t just rip it open but took the time to set up a camera to film him unwrapping the package. This was a very good idea because it allowed the senders to view his immediate reaction to the content. He received different sorts of home-made baking goods, which are a crucial part of the German pre-Christmas tradition and for which I envy him, and next to other goodies, he also found a big present and hand-written cards for every Sunday until Christmas.

In the video you can clearly see how touched he is by this unexpected package and platforms like Skype and YouTube certainly help to forget the geographical distance between friends and family, because you can actually see each other.

New media certainly have their advantages and I wouldn’t want to be without them. Nevertheless, I noticed that “real” mail somehow has more value than the electronic version, because it is so rare. When I get a letter or a postcard that has nothing to do with paying bills or advertisements, but is a note from a friend, I’m very excited because it is something so special.

Combining the digital and the pre-digital world

With #30DaysOfKindness I looked for a good way to give something back to the people that mean a lot to me and I found Apple Cards. It is a tool that combines the convenience of an e-card with the excitement of receiving an actual card. Using your iPhone or iPad, you can chose from many templates and customize your card with your own pictures and text. Apple will print a high quality “real” version of the card and send it via mail to every place in the world. This service costs about $5 per card but the price is significantly lower for destinations within the U.S. ($3).

Apple card

Despite the price, I prepared nice little cards, wishing “Bon courage” (French for “Hang in there” or “Good Luck”). This time of the year is often very stressful for all university students and since all my friends are spending a semester abroad right now, I wanted to surprise them and make them smile. Each of the cards contained a personalized note on the inside, also explaining the hashtag. Now I only have to wait until they reach their destinations…

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KPIs, Analyzing, Visualizing – Using analytic tools successfully

In all marketing efforts it is important to integrate measurements, to see whether a campaign or a website is successful. This is also the case for online marketing. Today it is not longer a problem to find data but finding the most relevant data is crucial. In order to get the right answers, we need to ask the right questions.

Key Performance Indicators

Here, the right “questions” are so-called Key Performance Indicators, better known as KPIs.

KPIs give a clear overview on how a company is doing because they are aligned with the pre-set business goals. Because they give an overview, there should not be more than ten Key (!) Performance Indicators which allows to read them quickly. Setting up KPIs is a difficult task and should receive high attention, but following the SMART formula facilitates the process, since KPIs (like goals) should be:

SMART formula for goal setting

In my last blog post, I presented the case of the cinema Burg Theater and how one could develop a mobile strategy for the company. KPIs for the website of the Burg Theater could be:

– number of visitors who issue a reservation

– average time spent on website

– number of returning visitors in comparison to overall visitors

Businesses who have difficulties with setting KPIs can use the performance management platform KPI Library, which also automates the business performance reporting. Apparently this tool creates “insights about the performance of your business and provides direction on how to improve business outcomes” but there’s no indication for the costs of using this service.

Analyzing

The next step after setting up KPIs is to analyze and interpret the obtained data by using benchmarks and goals. Avinash Kaushik explains in his videos how to read and use data from the Google Analytics dashboard and he recommends that for each KPI there should be one responsible person who needs to explain why the metric is (not) performing well and how it can be improved. In addition, Kaushik brings up the 10/90 rule, stating that only 10 per cent of the web analytics budget should be used for tools like Google Analytics, the rest should be spent on employees who can interpret the data and give meaning to it. For that, one has to fade out unnecessary data (“noise”) and focus on the relevant parts.

Visualizing

The last step after understanding the data is often to “translate” the findings in order to pitch it to people who are less familiar with data interpretation. This could be a boss, who you need to spend the advertising budget differently because of your findings, but this could also be a client, for whom you have prepared a pitch. In both cases the data needs to be visualized and the best way to do that is by using infographics. David McCandless claims that information is beautiful and a glimpse on his website confirms that. There you can get a good impression on how data can be transformed and presented in a compelling way. One of my favourites is “Chicks Rule?“, a visualization for the percentage of female users in social networks. Gender balance on social networking sites

Not everyone can be an infographic genius like Davic McCandless but we can try. For new comers, there is Infogr.am, “an easy to use online service that lets create, share, discover infographics and online charts”. It is a Latvian data visualization start up which is now in business for 9 months.

In order to gain more knowledge in the field of data visualization, I am looking forward to attending the Girl Geek Dinner Ottawa next week which follows up the question “What to do with all that data?”.

Developing a mobile strategy for Germany’s oldest cinema

In 2012, smart phone users will officially be the majority of cell phone users, at least in the U.S., and other mobile devices like the Apple iPad and the iPad mini are becoming more and more popular. According to researches, users spend on average over one hour per day engaging actively with their mobile device. This is reason enough for businesses to take the opportunity to use mobile devices for their own purposes. But which way to take for a successful mobile strategy?

In the following, I would like to examine some points businesses have to consider when they are addressing a mobile audience. Logo of the Burg Theater

Burg Theater

In order to facilitate the examination, I take the case of the Burg Theater, the oldest cinema in Germany, located in my hometown Burg. Currently, I’m highly involved in this project, which is based completely on volunteers, who are dedicating their free time to keep an extraordinary cinema going. In 2010, the cinema was to be closed when friends of mine decided to found a registered society to save the Burg Theater. Since then the building is in the process of being renovated with donations from private persons and local businesses.

Following the plane analogy used by Chris Silva, the Burg Theater is still “on the ground” with its mobile strategy, because we need to work on a strategy right now. Firstly, we have to decide what type of impact we want to have with our mobile strategy in order to answer the question which type serves best our needs: a mobile website or an app?

Purpose

Customers should be able to access the cinema program and the show times easily via their mobile device. Then, they should get additional information on the movies (short description, trailer) and finally, it should be facile to make a reservation for the most popular seating place in the Burg Theater, the bar. A kind of lounge with comfortable red arm chairs, where one is served with drinks and small snacks. The customer should also be alerted by news of the cinema.

In the end, the number of online reservations should increase, as well as the number of overall visitors.

All volunteers sitting in the Burg Theater

All the volunteers of the Burg Theater. In the background: the bar

Audience

In our mobile strategy, we target regular customers of the Burg Theater who want to be effortlessly informed about the program, the show times and news, on a regular basis through their mobile device.

User experience

With our strategy, we basically want both end goals: Enrich and Engage. On the one hand, we want to drive the number of reservations and visitors. On the other hand, we want to improve user interaction and give information about our “product”, to build brand affinity for the Burg Theater.

Budget

For a business based on volunteering, budget is a crucial factor. An app would require a lot of time and financial resources whereas a mobile website can reach a larger audience easier and more economically, regardless of the device and the operating system.

Other considerations

Creating and updating a mobile website is less complicated and time-consuming and with technologies like HTML5 and CSS3 there’s less and less difference between an app and a mobile website. Moreover, SEO can be more efficiently used with mobile websites.

Burg Theater Logo

Conclusion

A mobile website would be a good first step for the Burg Theater to enter the mobile world. The costs are low but the business outcomes can be similar successful compared to an app. If the mobile website proves itself, we can consider creating an app as a next step for our mobile strategy.

The Power of Communities – Offline and Online

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that people coming together and building a community can have a lot of power. For a long time, communities have only been active in the real-world, far away from Alternative Media. They came together for a common purpose and often tried to create something new.

‘Offline’ Communities

Startin with ‘Offline’ Communities,one example can be found in Eastern Germany, before 1990: Thousands of citizens of the German Democratic Republic lit candles and marched peacefully on every Monday starting on September 4, 1989, claiming “Wir sind das Volk!” (We are the people!). These demonstrations were an important part of the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Peaceful Revolution in Leipzig, Germany, ’89

Another, more recent example comes from Manchester, UK, where locals created the Hyde Park Community Orchard (watch their 4-minute video here). Several subgroups are integrated in this project. At the “Operation Farm“, School classes are planting trees, sowing seeds and, in the end, harvesting the fruits of their work. In the “The Plant Café”, people with learning disabilities can take lessons in handcrafting and healthy lifestyle. The Orchard is a powerful place for connecting several generations. Trust, interest in others and having fun are essential pillars for this undertaking.

Online Communities

With the rise of Alternative Media, communities began to appear online and spread very fast. Look at Karen Parles who set up a comprehensive online resource on lung cancer for both, patients and professionals. She connected concerned people and gave them something extremely powerful: hope. This single website advanced the whole field of lung cancer.

An additional example is Trip Advisor, an online platform where everyone can rate and review the places he or she has used or visited. Based on those reviews, others decide where to go on their next trip. The platform targets the “long-tail” and the online users can both, highly praising a certain hotel and boosting sales, and disparaging another one and ruining it. Thus, they have an enormous impact on offline behavior.

The New Mix: Offline and Online

Recently, we can see a new emerging trend: Using online platforms to facilitate offline interaction. Meetup is the biggest network of local groups worldwide, with 11 million users and basically one meetup every 13 seconds (!). Everyone can find like-minded but unknown people with the same interests. Scott Heiferman, a co-founder of Meetup, said that 9/11 and how people connected with each other directly afterwards in NYC inspired him. He wanted to use his skills to help connecting with local communities. Now, Meetup is a successful website and without “artificial” help something very interesting happened: Local businesses began to contact local meetup groups, offering discounts for group members, which is an old but nevertheless lucrative marketing model.

Alternative and Social Media gave communities more and more power. We remember the impact of Twitter & co. in the Arab Spring, where young demonstrators used these online platforms to organize their resistance against the government. If we look back in time, we can only imagine how Social Media could have accelerated the Peaceful Revolution in Germany ’89.

By looking at these examples, it is obvious that companies have to pay attention to their customers goals in order to promote the development of a community. Leah Betancourt has collected several crucial points for creating community engagement and therefore profit for a company.

Pull the ribbon and continue – Dior’s Miss Dior Chérie online

The Internet is a wonderful place to market a brand, but what does a company need to successfully present and sell their products online?

In the following, I would like to use the seven brand engagement criteria presented in Brian Sheehan’s Online Marketing and analyze shortly the minisite of Christian Dior’s perfume Miss Dior Chérie. Please open the website in a separate tab by clicking here to better follow this blogpost.

The New Miss Dior

1 Branding

When visiting the Miss Dior website, you can see the same images as in offline advertising. In the current campaign, Natalie Portman is the new Miss Dior Chérie and represents the brand with her charm and sensuality. The design of the first page is very puristic and the only way to enter the secrete universe is by clicking ‘Enter’ and the magic happens…

4 Interactivity

There are several big Dior boxes and in order to start ‘The Encounter’ you are asked to pull the ribbon of a hat box. Suddenly, the box tips over, the lid opens and rose petals, small boxes and a picture of Natalie Portman tumble out. Later on, you can explore the rest of the minisite by pushing the small round box, a rectangle box or by pulling another ribbon. If you like to get information on the key elements of the fragrance (The Fragrance > Le Parfum), you just drag the cursor over the relevant ingredients. You as a customer are the one who keeps the story going.

5 Visual stimulation

Those interactive connecting pieces are charmingly animated and the striking pictures of the new Miss Dior, including the film, are a feast for the eyes; they invite to explore the website further.

2 Completeness

The minisite provides detailed information on the campaign, the fragrance, the bottle and the music. Additional information can be found by clicking the link to the main website dior.com, which, by the way, is worth seeing, as well. The product range, including prices, and recommendations on how to choose and to use a Dior fragrance can be found there.

3 Functionality

Navigation within the minisite is easy. Four subheadings lead to the content and the challenge starts only on the main website, which is so vast that you can get lost in image flows and animations. It would probably take hours to browse through everything offered on dior.com and even then, somewhere in a submenu, you will find a Miss Dior page you have never seen before.

7 Community connections

Sharing the minisite via Facebook or the old fashioned email is more than easy. Miss Dior is also has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts, where customers can be part of the exclusive Dior circle. Furthermore, recommendations and a sharing icon in the lower right corner of the main shopping site  support community connections.

6 Relevant advertising

Dior does not show any kind of advertising for non-Dior products, except maybe the relevant social media icons for own marketing purposes. The costumer’s focus stays with Dior the whole time.

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Since the Miss Dior Chérie minisite meets all of the seven key criteria, it can be called ‘sticky‘. People will definitely come back and spent a lot of time on the website. Personally, I think that the minisite is one of the most adorable websites I have ever seen. If I wouldn’t already have the fragrance, I would want it now more than ever and therefore, Dior has perfectly accomplished its online marketing goals.