Sales Genius Helps You Track Customer Interactions with Your Website

Sure you can have excellent stats and behavior tracking with your email newsletters but what about the follow-up emails that your sales staff sends to hot prospects and potential customers? Ever wish you could see if your prospects are visiting the web pages you are referring them to? Now you can with a new service that will track customer and prospect behavior based on the emails that you are sending. Give Sales Genius a try during the free trial period to see if it's going to be worth paying a monthly expense for the service.

SalesGenius™ is the first personal web analytics service that lets sales professionals instantly qualify sales prospects by tracking individual visits to corporate web sites, without any programming or IT involvement. The real-time Genius Tracker™ gives you immediate feedback about which sales leads have opened your e-mails and clicked through to your web site, so you can tell at a glance who is most interested.

Sales Genius

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May 3, 2006 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tracking Your Customers or Competitors Website

feedwhipAre you watching the websites of your customers and competitors? How do you know when the sites have changed? Feed Whip is one of a slew of services that track websites and can email you when the site changes.

This is especially useful for monitoring “what's new” pages or “new products” sections of websites. In addition to a business home page you may want to track team pages, personnel listings, specification pages or any other specific intelligence pages.

Tools like these help you stay current with your customers and competitors. It's the essence of customer intuition.

Feed Whip

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April 13, 2006 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Geographic Customer Intuition: Census/Google Maps Mashup

We're all about the Customer Intuition here at BeConnected. Learning about your customers, their needs, behaviors and desires is so important for any business. For those addressing specific geographic areas when developing new locations, products, services or experiences understanding Census data is critical. Here's a cool tool that allows you to analyze Census data based on a one, three and five mile radius from a given location or address.

AnalyGIS: Census/Map

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March 30, 2006 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

PodZinger: Search Engine for Podcasts

I've blogged before about the tools that are out there to discover and monitor relevant discussions and media mentions of your product, business, competitors and customers. By now you should be aware and using tools like RSS, Google Alerts, Technorati Watchlists, the search tools in your newsreader and other customer intuition tools that may be appropriate to your work flow.

 Images Logo-BigAs new forms of communication and media distribution develop savvy developers create new tools to help users search and monitor these new messages. This is exactly the case with PodZinger a search engine for podcasts and video podcasts. Drop your keywords into the search box and specific occurrences of those terms are discovered and highlighted for your review. You can watch or listen to specific clips of the entire podcast. Nice.

If you are a technology company and you want to track mentions of your new product PodZinger is a great tool to track product names and measure the buzz across podcasts.

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March 22, 2006 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tom Peters' Blog on Defining Customers

Steve Yastrow over at tompeters.com has a simple definition of a customer:

Anyone whose actions affect your results.

Simple, succinct and broadly applicable. If we're talking about developing customer intuition and using tools to learn more about the background and happenings of our customers we better have a good definition. What do you think? Is this a good definition? Anything to add?

tompeters.com: Refine to Simplicity be sure to read the comments. Good stuff their too.

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March 10, 2006 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Track Your Comments with coComment

coCommentI have been telling you for a long time now that you need to use the available Web Tools like Technorati, Feedster and PubSub to discover and track the conversations about your customers, your company and your products in the blogosphere. Beyond just discovering conversations you should join the conversations with constructive comments that add value to the conversations. Discovering blog posts good and bad about your product and responding in an authentic and transparent way is good for your business. It shows that you are listening and responsive to the needs of customers.

The problem comes when their are dozens of posts and you begin leaving comments all over the blogosphere. How do you know when others comment in response? You don't want to spend a lot of time manually checking each post to see if there are new comments. There's a new tool to help you track your commenting activity. coComment is a new service that helps you track your comments and see when others add comments to posts you have commented on. The service is in a private beta but go ahead and request and invitation. It seems they are sending them out within hours of your request. Not only can you track conversations you are participating you can get an RSS feed of your comments for your RSS reader. The service doesn't support all blogging platforms yet but is promising.

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February 9, 2006 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Luxury Hotels Using Technology to be Intuitive about Their Customers

Preferences it's all about knowing and adjusting to the preferences of their guests.

When regulars like Laurence Wiener check into the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, they get more than a smile from the concierge and a mint on their pillow. Wiener's hotel room “knows” exactly how warm. It welcomes him with a personal message on his television. It even loads his most frequently dialed numbers onto the phone.

And the bellhop did not have to do a thing.

At the Mandarin and other high-end hotels, new computer systems which connect individual rooms to network servers can now keep track of guests' preferences and change the room conditions automatically.

These “smart” systems can learn whether a frequent guest likes the lights dimmed, the curtains closed or the room toasty warm. They can also personalize the electronics in the room so that the music of John Coltrane, for instance, greets jazz buffs when they enter their rooms. Meanwhile, sensors in refrigerators alert maids when the minibar is running low on Coca-Cola.

In the old days hotels relied on their staff to remember and make these adjustments to their customers experiences. People are a critical aspect of these smart hotels:

Smart networks rely largely on a user's preferences that hotels gather in various ways. Some guests, for example, fill out questionnaires before they arrive. At the Mandarin, housekeepers, bellboys and waiters took note of Wiener's preferences and updated the digital profile that the hotel keeps for each customer. Wiener, an anesthesiologist from Philadelphia, has stayed at the Mandarin 45 times the past two years when he was supervising the construction of his apartment in New York.

Trusted relationships are at the core here. Guests/customers need to trust a hotel to accept and benefit from these personalization systems. If you believe the motives of a hotel are to truly serve you better you are more willing to be open about personal preferences and information. If customers are concerned about the use of that information all the tech in the world will only scare off customers.

How is your business balancing the need to respond to customer preferences and assure them you can be trusted knowing their birthday and all that can be intuited from their purchase history.

International Herald Tribune: In 'smart' hotel rooms everything is just right

Related:
Hotel Forcasts the Weather
Find What Touches Customers

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November 17, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Marketing Communication, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Robert Scoble Wakes a Monster

Microsoft technical evangelist and prominent blogger Robert Scoble was invited to speak to Monster Cable about blogs and blogging. Monster is aware of the marketing challenge they have. Their site does not show up very well on search engines. They were unaware that the blogosphere is talking about Monster and boy will they get an earful when they tune into the conversation. Monster products are not well liked. A good blogging strategy might be able to stop the bleeding and perhaps turn the tide. Read the comments on Robert's post to get an idea of the tone of public opinion of Monster products.

I dare say that more and more companies are waking up to the fact that they need to be listening to what blogs are saying about their companies. At the same time corporations are at a loss for how to effectively use blogs for positive PR and crisis response. It's a delicate balancing act that requires experienced hands. A good reason to consider outsourcing your blog design, management and content creation. BeTuitive can help with all that.

Scobleizer: Visit to Monster Cable

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October 28, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Two Things

This month's review for the BeTuitive Business Book Club is up over at the BeTuitive Blog. Another good review, Susan.

I also want to remind you to go ahead and add yourself to the map of BeConnected readers on Frappr.

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October 26, 2005 in Blogs, Books, Building Customer Community, Customer Intuition Tools, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Newsletter Reader Maps with Frappr

Frappr-1Here's a nice tool for mapping customers, readers, vendor locations, retailers, etc. Frappr is a free tool that let's users set up groups and members can add themselves quickly and easily.

If you are publishing a blog or a e-newsletter consider setting up a map of your own and asking your readers to add themselves and give you a shout out on this google maps based tool. Very fun.

To see just how easy and fun this is click over and add yourself to the new map of BeConnected readers.

Why map your readers? Next time you travel to St. Louis, San Francisco or Sandusky you'll know you have friends there that might buy you a beer. They might also prove to be excellent local resources.

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October 25, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When Caller ID is a Good Thing: Automated Customer Service Phone Systems

This week I had the pleasure of calling my cable company to report an service outage. In the past I've dreaded this because they have routinely practiced what I consider the Number One Irritation with Customer Service Call Centers. The automated system asks you to enter your phone number before connecting you to a human agent who starts by asking for your phone number. Arghhh!

Caller ID to the rescue. Today's systems can readily detect a caller's phone number and pull information from a database before a call is even answered. Yes, there are times when customers call from phone numbers other than those in their customer records but those are the only callers that need to be prompted for their identifying info. Why aggravate all callers to find those few.

Caller ID can also help automated systems have better customer intuition. By identifying customers from prospects different automated choices can be offered to each individual caller. Customers with open orders can receive options for order tracking, returns, status, etc. While new prospects, those numbers not already in the customer database, can hear options for additional product information, free offers, promotions, etc. The bottom line is that technology is allowing the intuition of the entrepreneur to scale.

As an entrepreneur you answered the phone and dealt with each caller depending on the needs you perceived that they had. Now the business has grown beyond the ability for you to answer all the calls. There's no money to staff a human call center so automation is a must. Be sure your systems are as responsive and intuitive as possible. The October issue of Inc Magazine has some insight into automated telephone system vendors. Check out the small business and enterprise offerings at Angel.com

By the way, similar things can be done with email responses to your email newsletters. Email rules can be set up to automate responses and forward messages to the right people in your organization.

Inc. Magazine: What's Next: Service with a Smile. Really.

Related:
Do You Have Rules for Your Email

Building Customer Intuition Archive

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October 14, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Changing Music Industry: Roll Your Own Customer Relationships

No where are digital tools changing the customer relationship faster than the music business. Disintermediation is removing the recording industry(RIAA), traditional music distribution and sales (brick & mortar music stores), CD manufacturing and even radio stations from the space between the musicians and their customers (fans). These old school status quo interests aren't going quietly. We all watch in amazement as the industry sues it's former customers.

The future is unrolling around us and many musicians are finding effective ways to draw the ever shorter line that connects them to their fans. That line used to go through the record company, the recording studios, CD manufacturers, radio stations, media & PR to the fans. Now the line between musicians and fans runs from the musicians directly to their customers through the internet. New tools like blogs, wikis, podcasting, iPods, and the iTunes Music Store are allowing musicians to build their fan base in more connected intimate ways. No longer do fans have to turn to third parties like the entertainment media to quench their thirst for information about their favorite musicians. You want to know more about your favorite band? Now you can read their blog and subscribe to their podcast.

More than ever before musicians have the ability to communicate directly to their customers and build direct relationships. The permission assets of email lists, blog feed subscriptions, podcast subscriptions, etc. give bands the ability to market and deliver their story and music faster and more powerfully than ever before. Customers (fans) who are this connected will be eager to buy merchandise, attend concerts, patronize marketing partners and evangelize the brand.

The good news is more potential revenue for musicians as fewer and fewer intermediaries take a cut of the revenue. The downside is that the new skills and tools of marketing and PR are in the hands of musicians that may not be well educated and skilled at the business of promoting their creative output.

So if your teenage daughter's band is using Garage Band to record their music in the basement. You need to help her discover the new tools of the music business. Help her start a blog, start a podcast, submit her music to the Podsafe Music Network to get it played on podcasts, burn some CDs on her computer, set up to sell those CDs online through CD Baby, and open a CafePress store to sell band merchandise.

Help your young musicians to learn how to build relationships with their fans not just sell CDs. Whether they pursue their music or go into other fields the ability to build customer relationships will serve them well.

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October 2, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Business 2.0 Spots the Value of Customer Intuition

Business 2.0 spots the trend of building customer intuition. Their current edition includes an article about the trend of Companies Tap into Consumer Passion. The article talks about the increasing number of companies that are experimenting with user created advertising and product innovation. A key part of that is to keep your ear to the ground to discover your most passionate customers. The article mentions a technique that I've been advocating for a long time now. You need to be aware of what people are saying about your product, service and company. Use Technorati, PubSub, Feedster, Google and any other tool you can find to monitor internet conversations. When you find them, participate in them. An honest and timely personal contribution to a developing conversation can change the trajectory of a conversation from negative to neutral or even positive. You can't control the conversation but you can influence it.

The tricky part for companies isn’t discovering whether such passion for their products exists -- if eBay (EBAY) has taught us anything, it’s that there are enthusiasts for just about everything -- but where those customers can be found. In his book Democratizing Innovation, von Hippel says that “users on the leading edge of a target market often congregate at specialized events or sites that manufacturers can easily identify.” This involves more than ad hoc tactics such as shoe companies staking out inner-city basketball courts or automakers flocking to conventions where drivers flaunt their modifications; it’s also about continuously mining specialized search engines like Technorati and Daypop for postings relevant to their businesses.

Business 2.0 - Companies Tap into Customer Passion (via)

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September 28, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Building Customer Relationships: Note Taking

Earlier I mentioned the importance of tracking contact communication patterns. I suggested taking notes on each communication you have with your customer and prospect contacts. While this sounds labor intensive it sets you up to deepen your relationship with your contacts.

Being able to quickly pull up detailed notes about each contact gives you the opportunity to build your relationship with that contact by “remembering” relevant details from prior communications.

When Jane calls you'll have more than just her order history at your finger tips. Your notes will help you build your personal relationship and rapport with her by recalling her wedding anniversary because she mentioned the date in a phone call 14 months ago. Oh, and it's soccer season and you read on her blog that her middle son plays, so you ask her how he's playing.

These personal touches are appreciated in a world of self service and high volume customer communication.

Your contacts will be so touched by the details you “remember” that they won't care that you are using a database(instead of brainpower) to catalog and recall them.

Related Category Archives:
Building B2B Relationships
Building Customer Intuition
Customer Intuition Tools

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September 26, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Basics of “Reading” Customers: Patterns

Patterns - How fast do your contacts respond to phonecalls, voicemail, faxes, emails and blog posts/comments? If your contacts haven't stipulated a preferred communication channel their response time and thoroughness of response will indicate a preference. The important thing is to look for patterns of normal activity so you can react when patterns are abnormal.

A customer that always responds to your emails within the hour who suddenly let's a day or half a day pass before responding is a sign that something has changed in their world that may or may not be relevant to your relationship. Perhaps it's time for a telephone call or a personal visit. They may have new responsibilities and congratulations are in order or perhaps there is a business crisis in progress that you may be abl to assist them with.

A contact that never initiates communication is found to be commenting on your blog regarding a new product. They are also found to not open your email newsletter. Suddenly they have opened your last three newsletters and read all three articles about the same new product. She's in the market to buy or is at least very very interested in the product. She may be researching for a friend and ready to refer you. A contact is in order.

The point is you need to be developing your sensitivity and awareness to patterns of communication that can indicate changes in your business relationships. Get in the habit of making notes about these patterns in your contact management program or your CRM app.

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September 25, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Great Resource for Google Search Techniques

Here's one to bookmark. Ever have a problem finding exactly what you need in Google? Here's a page that explains all the special tips and techniques for searching on Google, Google Images and Google News. Very handy and useful stuff.

Google Search Techniques via Lifehacker

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September 19, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Polite is A Moving Target

Reading a post over at Signal vs. Noise about overly polite customer service reminds me that polite is a moving target. Whether a customer service rep is polite or rude is in the mind of the customer not the script or training of the CSR. Some customers want all business in their transactions some want 90% socializing and 10% business. Most are somewhere in between.

The key is not to respond with blanket training and scripting trying to hit courteous or polite. Train customer intuition into your front-line staff. Teach cultural differences, geographical differences, political differences, racial differences, religious differences and any other relevant category differentiation that's relevant to your customer base. Teach the cues that can help you read a person and better communicate with them.

Armed with some understanding of who people are and what their world view is, your people can better communicate and build relationships with customers and prospects.

For example: If I meet someone new and discover through their cues (i.e. age, accent, word pronunciation, tone of voice, etc.) that they are from the south I am going to ask them different questions and show them respect in different ways than someone from the northeast. I am certainly going to ask them how they and their family have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

You could train sales people to strictly adhere to the scripts or you could train your sales people to be expert people readers and be ready to adapt on the fly to the many cues their customers and prospects are putting out there. Cues about who they are that can be utilized to build better relationships and better communication. Which do you think would work better?

SvN: Customer Service That's Too Polite

Related:
Thinking About Customer Service

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September 16, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

UPS vs FedEx: One Experience...Shared with more than a few friends.

Everyday there are examples of the power of blogging to influence customers and prospects. Here's a little post for the very popular Signal vs. Noise blog.

A comparison of some real-world contingency design at two leading shippers.

I had to call FedEx and UPS this week and pick up packages at both locations because I missed the deliveries at my house.

When I called FedEx I got through to someone in about 12 seconds.
When I called UPS I actually called three separate times because I was on hold for over 10 minutes each on the first two calls and hung up. On the third call I had to wait 21 minutes until someone answered.

When I visited FedEx, their location was bright, fairly friendly, carpeted, and overall pleasant. My package was brought to the front desk within seven minutes of giving them my info slip. When I visited UPS, their location was dungeon-like: a windowless steel door marked “CUSTOMER PICKUP” in poorly aligned all-caps, a cracked cement floor, cold florescent lights, a TV in the corner with horrible reception, afterthought plastic chairs, and a woman behind the desk with a matching attitude. I swear it felt like an interrogation room. It took too long for them to bring my package to the desk.

Just one experience, but a lasting one.

Typical customer service type rant right? The kind of thing that circulates among coworkers and friends everyday. What's different here is the ability for others to join the conversation. As of this writing there are 46 comments. This is not surprising when you see that their are over 13,400 subscribers to the blog.

UPS and FedEx can't really worry about those conversations about them that few people hear. This however becomes something else all together. This is why you need to use web services and tools to track and participate in important conversations that are relevant to your business. Step one is hearing the conversation. Step two is responding appropriately. Hint: A C&D letter is like gasoline on the fire. There are better ways. It's perhaps the number one reason to hire a blogging consultant that can help you formulate your responses in a way that's well received in the new world of the blogosphere.

UPS vs FedEx: One experience:

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September 15, 2005 in Advertising, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Can You Talk The Talk?

We all have had the experience of talking to a sales person who doesn't know our business. Back in the day I certainly wanted to throw out many an uneducated sales person. It's a catch 22...no experience...no sales...no sales...no experience. But sales teams need to do everything they can do to learn not just about companies but also about the roles, challenges and expectations of the executives. Do your sales and marketing teams understand and correctly use industry terms and jargon?

Here's a tool that says it does just that. As always your milage may very. Worth a look.

Executive Link is the FIRST and ONLY tool that links your sales team to executives roles. Executive Link details the issues they face, others that are effected by these issues, industry trends, industry terms, and solutions your company offers. We even give you the ability to customize the solutions to your products or services!

Executive Link

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September 7, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Todd Smart: FAQ on Email Newsletters

Hey, no kidding, I am more and more impressed with the BeTuitive Newsletter. I am not on the team that publishes that baby so every month I get a chance to read it fresh just like everyone else who has signed up for it.

This month's issue has several great items in it. I am going to link to one of them but if you find it valuable you should take just two minutes and make sure you sign up to receive future issues directly.

In the August issue Todd Smart, President of BeTuitive, presents some insights into the use of email newsletters for marketing. It's a great piece responding to several frequently asked questions about email newsletters. Here's just one answer that I found interesting:

How do we decide on content?

Todd: You must make the recipient's life better in some way with the information you provide. It's different with every business. The surest way to go about it is to ask referral sources, prospects and customers what their pain points are. Ask them: “What information would be so valuable to you right now that you'd be willing to pay for it?” Create, find or buy that information — and then give it to them for free to grow your relationships.

What content to put into your newsletter is only part of the whole picture. Is also important to understand how your newsletter can work for you:

How do you turn what people are reading into leads?

Todd: What I know for sure is this: What people read is a leading indicator for future purchasing.

Take me — I'm not a car guy, and I don't seek out information on cars unless I'm in the market for one. Then, when I'm looking to buy, I buy magazines and look up all kinds of information to help me make the right decision. Anyone with the power to track my reading behavior would know that I'm looking to buy a car.

For instance, we have a client who wants to measure interest in Voiceover IP. So, we run articles in their newsletter with headlines like, “Pre-planning for VoIP.” That information
[click-thrus] can easily be fed to sales as a lead.

Todd has more valuable nuggets to share. Read these and also find out four keys to doing a great newsletter.

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September 1, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

RFID Used to Gain Customer Intuition for British Homebuilder

A British homebuilder is using an active RFID system to study how a typical British family lives in one of their model homes. The family agreed to where RFID bracelets that tracked their movements throughout the house while they lived there. The goal is to determine which features of the design actually get used. Dinning Room? Sunken Bathtub? Basement space? Decks? Hot Tubes?These are some of the elements under scrutiny.

The standard layout of British houses derives from what people's needs were in the days before TV and 50-hour work weeks, Birbeck points out. “If it's true that today adults are only in the house and consciously awake three hours a day and that they spend half that time pampering themselves in the bathroom, what's the point of a huge living room?” he asks.

More and more technology is being used to track and understand customer behavior and preferences. Privacy advocates hate tracking systems but handled properly these kinds of systems can generate valuable insights that can help business' better serve their customers.

Sometimes it's as easy as a review of the video of customers using your product or service. What insights have technological systems brought to your understanding of customer behavior?

Business Week: Home Design

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August 31, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Geeks Get Their Customer Intuition On

Flickr Logo-1Two geeks wondered which days of the week are the most popular for pub/bar going. They sought a geek solution to the answer. They decided to analyze the dates on Flickr photos that are tagged “pub” or “bar.” The logic is simple. People who go out drinking are likely to take pictures of their friends and upon uploading them to Flickr are probably tagged with either pub or bar.

While this is an unscientific analysis done by a couple of code geeks just for fun it does point to the practicality of using consumer generated media and social software to gather customer intuition.

If you were a bar or pub owner you'd do well to set up an RSS feed to monitor flickr photos taken in and around your establishment. If you make and/or sell widgets of one kind or another you should also monitor tags and photo pools that are relevant to your industry, company, product, service, etc.

Arm Chair Sociology With Flickr

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August 30, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Useful Tool: r|mail for When Newbies Need RSS

RmailThese days we are all looking for ways to streamline our data consumption habits. Many people are using aggregators to surf RSS feeds.

Others are still wondering what Blogs are. If you are reading a few blogs and news sites and not yet ready to jump to Bloglines, News Gator or a standalone aggregator there is a tool that you can use to subscribe to ann RSS feed by email. This be a good first step into understanding the usefulness of RSS feeds.

r|mail equips you to receive RSSn feed updates by email. This might be useful as you transition from email communications to blog/feed based customer communications.

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August 22, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tool: URL123

In your efforts to do a good newsletter you may be using a service like Tinyurl.com to shorten your links for the sake of simplicity. Tinyurl has been around for years and many people use them. Even popular radio shows use it to make it easier for their listeners to find web sites that they reference on the radio. The shortcoming of Tinyurl is that it's not very customizable or feature rich.

Now comes URL123 which is a feature rich alternative. Not only do they offer the ability to specify the shortened URL code but it includes the ability to track click throughs to see just what people are clicking on. This is very useful for those tracking the effectiveness of their successful email marketing campaigns. This is quality customer intuition data.

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August 18, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tools Help Swing Bad PR to Good PR

The Scobleizer points us to this post at furrygoat about an interaction with a company rep that read his blog complaints about their software product. The timely response of the company changed his mind about the product and swung bad PR to good PR all because the company was paying attention to the blogosphere. I have been encouraging people to set up Google, Technorati and PubSub alerts and watchlists for some time now. The evidence keeps coming that monitoring the conversation about you, your company and your products is essential.

Take a couple minutes, set some stuff up and see what's being said.

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August 18, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

High Gas Prices Present an Opportunity for Smart Marketers

Seems to me that the recent $.18/gallon increase in average gasoline prices presents a huge opportunity for those marketers seeking to strengthen their customer relationships and customer intuition. Want to increase you response rate to promotions or customer surveys? Tie them to discounts for gasoline. Both business and consumers are ready to do just about anything to pay less for gas. Why not offer free gas or disounts to customers in exchange for some good quality data.

This can be as simple as sending out $5 gas cards for people who respond to a lengthy email survey or as complex as a chance to win a hybrid vehicle. The point is we now have a lever that can increase response rate to marketing promotions and customer intuition surveys.

High gas prices can also be leveraged by offering incentives that help move people to use mass transit. Think about offering a transit card to readers of your email newsletter who get five friends or colleagues to subscribe to you newsletter. (Ask BeTuitive how such activities can be tracked using email newsletter management)

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August 16, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tool Roundup

One of the things we are known for here at BeConnected is tools and techniques you can use to develop your customer intuition. The web is full of tools you can use to keep abreast of the latest developments with your customers, competitors and industry thought leaders. Since we have a lot of new readers I thought I'd put together a round-up of tools you can use to develop your customer intuition.

If you are looking for ways to write a relevant and high value email newsletter these are some tools you can use to find great content resources. These are the kind of tools that put the interactive in interactive marketing.

Weather, Weather Everywhere - a look at how organizations like Disney and 7-Eleven use weather to predict their customer behavior.

Senegal Whishes for Rain in France - Related to the above link is this story about how tele-marketers use weather patterns to shape their calling patterns.

Staying Alert to Your Customers - My favorite technique for using Google to develop your customer intuition.

Knowing When Customers are Online - A tool for tracking the online presence of contacts and customers.

Finding Employees of Customers Online - A clever Google hack for finding websites of people who work for or at certain companies.

Connecting with Birthdays - Using birthday data to enhance your connection with your customers.

How Much TV Coverage are You Getting - A service to track mentions of you, your company, customers or competitors on television.

If you like thee seven tools and techniques be sure you grab the BeConnected feed on the side bar and stay subscribed for new tools and techniques.

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August 11, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google News Offers RSS and Atom Feeds

Marketing Vox reports that Google News has added support for RSS and Atom feeds to Google News:

Google on Tuesday added RSS and Atom functionality to Google News, its aggregated news service, allowing users to receive to content from via feeds, reported CNET and Internet News. Users can now subscribe to get feeds from seven subject areas designated by Google or can create customized news feeds or Google News alerts. Those who have created My Google personal start pages will be able to add feeds to those pages as well.

Google News aggregates news via links to stories on myriad websites and is available in 22 versions for audiences worldwide. For now, RSS and Atom feeds are available on six versions: the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. and India.

This is an important development for those tracking customers, competitors, industry news etc.

Google News Offers RSS and Atom Feeds

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August 9, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How Are You Using Flickr?

Flickr LogoBy now you should be using or at least familiar with Flickr the insanely great photo sharing service. Hopefully you have taken my suggestion to set up some customer intuition tracking functions with Flickr using the available RSS feeds or if you aren't yet using an RSS reader you can now use Notifyr a service that will send you or anyone you select an email when a Flickr page updates.

This is useful for tracking tagged photos of specific people, places or things(products). Flickr is also a useful place to be sure that your people, company, products or services are discoverable. Take time to set up an account, upload, tag and group some photos so that prospects searching for your company, product or industry will have something to find that will lead them back to you and your company. These shouldn't be marketing shots. Those will be viewed as sp*m. Your photos should be candid and relate to your company culture.

Get out there and feed the market before the wrong message is sent about the people who work for your company. Turns out there are some people who can't seen to park well at Yahoo.

So, How are you using Flickr?

Related:
Customer Intuition Tool: Try a Photo Contest
Get into Flickr

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August 5, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Communications: IM Comes to the Marketplace

Instant Messaging(IM) has quietly jumped from the realm of social communication favorite of rabidly multitasking teenagers to primary electronic communications tool in today's workplace. consider this from Cnet's recent piece:

“If you don't have IM in this business, you're not there,” says Sal Morreale, a trader at Cantor Fitzgerald. “I tend to have 10 or 11 IM windows open at a time.”
And it's not just information-greedy traders who are enraptured by IM. Roughly 85 percent of all North American companies use IM, according to a recent report by market research firm Radicati Group. Some researchers even predict it will surpass e-mail as the primary way people
interact electronically by the end of this year.
For companies, however, widespread use of the technology presents an important challenge: how to control and manage employee use of IM and, critically, protect against viruses and other security threats while also extending its benefits of instant communication and enterprisewide collaboration.

IM is a great tool to use in your customer communications toolbox. While you and/or your organization might not be IM savvy who is to say your customers aren't. If those survey results are to be believed a lot of people are adopting IM and fast.

Read the whole Cnet piece for a nice overview of enterprise IM application including a word or two about the special needs for logging, security and virus scanning.

[
Cnet on IM]

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July 6, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A9: Street Level Photo Goodness Redesigned

A9mapsI've recommended before that you use Amazon's great A9 search tool with street level photos to check out a customer's neighborhood. Now they have redesigned the tool so that it's even more useful. The new system brings click and drag functionality similar to Google maps. Very Cool. Use this to get a feel for a customer's neighborhood, check out the look of a hotel or restaurant or any number of fun creative uses.

If only Amazon had a fleet of robotic photographers that could be dispatched to take real time photos. That would be spiffy.

Check out Chicago with A9 maps

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July 1, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wall Street Journal Tells Us Why We Need a Corporate Blog

I talk a lot about monitoring the value of listening to the conversation about your brand, product, service or company and I point to a lot of tools for doing just that. Here now the Wall Street Journal agrees that blogs and other forms of consumer created media (i.e. forums and chat rooms) provide very useful customer intuition that can help shape product offerings.

Marketers say bloggers' unsolicited opinions and offhand comments are a source of invaluable insights that are hard to get elsewhere. "We look at the blogosphere as a focus group with 15 million people going on 24/7 that you can tap into without going behind a one-way mirror," says Rick Murray, executive vice president of Edelman, a Chicago public-relations firm.
The article also points out why it is so important for companies to both monitor and participate in the discussions about themselves online.
Mr. Blackshaw says companies used to dismiss vocal complaints from one or two consumers as an aberration. But now, they have to pay attention because now those complainers may have blogs. "Those folks have influence with others via the Internet," he says. PR firms are hiring Intelliseek to monitor their clients, he adds, because once-obscure consumer issues are surfacing at awkward moments, such as CEO interviews with "reporters who go to Google and type in a brand and [then] ask tough questions."

If you're thinking about starting a corporate blog consider outsourcing it to provide excellent professional content, management experience and insight that will shorten your learning curve. It's easy to start the exploration. Visit the BeTuitive pricing page to get started.

Not ready to jump in? Keep track of the latest developments with e-newsletters and blogs by subscribing to the BeTuitive newsletter.

[WSJ.com on Blogs and Brand Insights]

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June 24, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

B2B Relationship Tool: Hollywood Loves IM

Wired News reports on a new trend in Hollywood.

Freelance/Contract/Consulting people in need of work are using their IM status messages to indicate their availability for work. The messages typically indicate "Away from computer." but are editable to indicate that an individual needs/is available for work. Producers who are looking for short term production help are able to scan their "buddy list" to see who is available. Saves the time and effort of calling each contact to see who is working and who is available.

This is perhaps a killer-ap for the use of IM in the workplace. IM could be a useful tool as part of a B2B relationship. Is there a role for IM in your workflow? A mention of this Wired article and an article about IM in your business would be a good content item for your next email newsletter.

[Never IM in This Town Again]

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June 14, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Verbal Communication Tip

One of the best things you can do as a leader/manager is develop tips, tricks, techniques and hacks for bettering your verbal communication skills. Whether it's employees, vendor's or customers there are some creative strategies for communicating verbally. Some of these are useful and some are borderline rude. How about this technique from Jim at Tips of the Trade:

When you also want to avoid getting into an endlessly long and boring conversation with someone at work who doesn't know when to stop talking, but you must talk to them, do the following:

Open up your cellphone, and approach their cubicle. Say into the phone, "hold on one second." Then tell your talkative friend exactly what you need to tell them. They feel important because you interrupted your other conversation, but then you can motion to the phone to disengage them from any further small talk. Walk away and continue talking to your dial tone.

So what's your favorite technique? What do you think of this technique? Leave a comment.

Related:
Verbal Communication Skills

[Verbal Communication Tip at Tips of the Trade]

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June 12, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Eight Ways to Be A Good Customer

Sarah Eaton over at my sister blog BeTuitive talks about being a good follower. That got me thinking. I talk about developing tools and systems that help you know more about your customers. In a sense leading your customers. As a customer are you a good follower?

Eight ways to be a good customer:
Participate in Customer Intuition Systems - Be sure you are on the company's mailing list. Make sure that they have accurate contact information for you. Subscribe to their email newsletter.
Speak Up - If you are a satisfied customer let them know. Write an old fashioned letter. It's hard to pass around copies of a voicemail or recorded call center call.
Offer Constructive Criticism - If there is a way they can improve a product, service or experience offer them constructive criticism. Even great companies have many areas that can stand improvement.
Link To Them - Of course, I'll assume you have a e-newsletter or a blog. If you like a company or product say so by linking to them and talking about why you like them.
Comment on Their Corporate Blog - show your support for a company or product you like by being active in the community and conversations they are fostering on their blogs and newsletters.
Respond to Surveys and Questionaires - If a business you value asks for your input give it to them. Yes, we're all busy these days but your input might make or break a new initiative that you would value or conversely it might save you pain and loss of time in the future.
Reffer a Friend or Collegue - Share your good experiences with your network. What goes around comes around. This is a pathway to discovering new great people to do business with.
and, of course
Buy Their Product, Service or Experience - Continue to support the businesses you value by being a repeat customer.

These are basic elements of building B2B sales relationships but it is surprising to me how few people follow even these basics.

Update:Jackie Huba adds to the conversation in More on Being A Good Customer.

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June 1, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Leaders: Stimulate Fresh Thinking

As a devoted internet surfer and blog geek I am always surprised at how slowly revolutionary ideas, products, services and experiences move to the offline world. This is evident in noting the lag time between the appearance of an idea online and the appearance of that idea in the broadcast media or daily conversation. By the time the nightly news is reporting X the internet is a buzz with Y and Z considering X to be old news.

Is this the case where you lead? Is your team stagnant, the same opinions, information sources and perspectives lead to the same old insights? Do your weekly, monthly or annual strategy meetings consist of the same 12 people discussing the same 5 ideas over and over?

Many leadership books and gurus recommend tactics for stretching your teams perspective through travel, diverse magazine reading, uniquely creative off-site experiences and other techniques designed to foster exposure to a variety of new perspectives that will hopefully result in useful "a-ha" insights.

These days the internet is full of varying perspectives and conversations about all kinds of different subjects.

Stimulating fresh thinking:

Read a Diverse Blogroll – model and teach team members the value of cultivating a diverse collection of blog feeds in an RSS reader. It's no longer difficult to track 200+ different discussions about a wide variety of topics.

Study the Lag Time – notice the lag time between ideas, news and opinions appearing online and offline. Whether it's in mass media or casual conversation you will discover the people and sources that are the most dialed in to relevant ideas.

Use the Cool New Tools and Services – New web based services and tools are introduced and discussed all the time. Monitor these discussions and experiment with these new tools. The next time you are involved, online or off, in a discussion about flickr, ta-da lists, Technorati, Pub-Sub, Basecamp, Feedburner, Bloglines, etc. you can participate intelligently. Being current helps you see new combinations and opportunities.

Start a "Blog Club" – Like a book club but for blogs. Start a discussion amongst your team about particular blogs and related blogs. Create a base of common knowledge about A-list blogs. Make sure every one is reading certain must read blogs. Thought leadership is out there. Find it and talk about it.

Track New Ideas in Internal Wikis, Del.icio.us Lists or Blogs – If you set you six team members loose and ask them to each come back with three fresh relevant ideas for your next management team meeting what's to say their won't be duplicate's? Building a team blog or wiki to track these new ideas can help avoid duplication. Make sure team members are reading and contributing to the collective regularly.

First equip and train team members to find relevant new ideas and then challenge them to use the tools to branch out of group-think and find new insights in unexpected areas. The power of fresh ideas and vision for your business, division or department is worth it.

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May 26, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Customers Have More Power

CheapgasPeople are making new tools that give customers increasing power to make purchasing decisions. A software developer has created a truly useful program. Cheap Gas scraps the gas price information from gasbuddy.com and maps it using Google maps. It used to be that a customer had to drive around in search of the lowest price for gas. Not any more. Now customers can check the web before the head out for gas.

Everywhere business models are being upended by customers gaining the power of aggregated product, price and service information. What's a business to do? How do you keep customers who are tempted by lower prices or different product selections elsewhere?

It's all in the relationship. Are you constantly developing your relationships with customers and prospects? Just like gas stations need to be easy to pull in and out. A B2B business needs to be visible and accessible. Are you using blogs, RSS and email newsletters to be easily found by prospects and customers?

Take a minute and Google your company name. Are you the first result? At least in the top ten?

How are your customers going to find your business?

Don't forget about Cheap Gas when you are traveling.

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May 19, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Understanding Newsletter Metrics

In the BeTuitive Newsletter this month Sarah Eaton has written a great primer to help people understand the basics of some important email marketing metrics. Understanding delivery rates and open rates is key to measuring the success of your email newsletter.

Nowadays marketing professionals can describe themselves as both mystics and mathematicians. Now we have numbers rolling off spreadsheets and coming out of our ears.

When it comes to newsletters, there are certain numbers we're fed continuously. We cling to these numbers like we're drowning. (If they go away, we might be forced to consult runes and draw archaic symbols in the dust again.)

Now that we have numbers, we don't need anything else. Numbers don't lie. They are numbers, strong and solid and true. These numbers speak to us of our success or failure.

The above paragraph is unquestionably true, but only if you add the word "accurate" before the word "numbers" each time.

The trouble with measurement in the e-marketing world is that everything is so blooming complex. There are so many behind-the-scenes variables that go into creating that poor little number on your spreadsheet that taking it at face value doesn't really do it justice.

Here are just a few of those variables, stripped down for your skimming pleasure:

[read]

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May 9, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't Do It Unless You Measure First

Marketing Vox points to a study showing the importance of measuring email marketing efforts. Many publishers simply push their content out to subscribers and count the ROI as brand awareness, customer education, name recognition and other soft metrics. They are missing the power of measurement inherent in email marketing.

With the right email marketing service provider a lot of hard data can be captured about your customers. Beyond simple open rates you can know who is reading each article. This is hugely valuable information as you shape future issues and sales efforts. If you are running articles promoting a particular product but no one is reading it it's time to reconsider your product offering. If you are experimenting with sales pricing and you receive huge interest reflected in the metrics then you know you are on the right track.

Don't publish if you aren't going to measure the results.

[read]

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May 4, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Know Your Audience

Presentation coach Scott Rayburn has some good advice for speakers and email marketers alike:

Know your audience.

That doesn’t mean learning people’s names and birthdays and favorite movies before you speak to them.

It means investing the time to determine how the people in your audience relate to one another. What commonalities exist? What burning issues might they be facing?

For an audience to be willing to let you enter their world, you first must demonstrate the thoughtfulness of a good guest. Make inquiries. Do your homework. Then acknowledge who they are and what they value as a community of people.

Neglect to do so, and you may be left knocking at their door, your message unheard, your objective unfulfilled, your opportunity lost.

Here at BeConnected we have a whole category of posts detailing Customer Intuition Tools that can help you research, track and relate well with your customers. Use these tools wisely to look for patterns and commonalities that can help you develop better interactive marketing materials.

[read]

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April 28, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Knowing When Your Customers Blog

FeedbeepRSS technology is becoming more and more important for both mission critical applications and geekified conveniences alike. But let's face it in today's world it's hard to keep up with the exploding number of feeds that are filling up our newsreaders and Bloglines accounts.

Why not take a handful of critical feeds from your customers websites or blogs and use a service like feedbeep to alert you to changes by SMS message to your BlackBerry or other SMS enabled cellphone.

Don't be caught clueless about your customers latest product announcement that they just posted to their blog because you aren't at your computer. With a service like feedbeep you can get a notice to your cellphone and know there is something you should read before you call that customer.

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April 26, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Productivity Hack: Abreviation Tools

For several months now I have been using a productivity tool that I have come to rely on. It's called TypeIt4Me(OS X) and it's awesome. (There is a similar tool called Active Words for you Windows users) Both applications allow you to abbreviate often used words, phrases and paragraphs of text. The idea is that you can save keystrokes by entering an abbreviation an then entering a trigger keystroke (enter key, tab, space, etc.) The program then replaces the abbreviation with the stored text.

I use this tool for all sorts of things like long user names, repetitive bits of html code, my name, even entire email messages that I often send. It's extremely useful.

Do yourself a favor and spend some time configuring a tool like this that will save you many minutes every day. What would you do with an extra hour or two every week that you gain from the smart use of productivity tools? Of course, you would enhance your customer intuition by reading the archives of BeConnected. Who knows what useful customer intuition tools you will find that will help you build B2B relationships and help your bottom line.

[TypeIt4Me]

[ActiveWords]

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April 19, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Intuition Tool: TrendMapper

TrendmapperTrendmapper is a new service that will track the number of Google results for a given keyword, name or phrase. Use this to track your marketing keywords or your customer, competitor, product name over time to see just how much web attention your terms are getting.

This is a new and small service so expect it to get slammed from time to time. It's yet another valuable customer intuition tool which you can use to gain insight into your customers. Have they just launched a major new product? A breaking scandal? News stories? You can see the buzz happening over time with trendmapper.

[TrendMapper] via

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March 29, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tool: Tracking del.icio.us Comments

Here's a nice tool that will help you see what people are saying about a particular website, web page or blog. Another tool to discover what people are saying about you, your competitors, your customers, industry websites, etc.

The bookmarklet returns the tags and comments that del.icio.us users have associated with a given url.

Just follow the three easy steps here and get started listening to the conversations about you.

via lifehacker

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March 28, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Be Discoverable Be on del.icio.us

Last week I asked Which Channels Are You On? talking about using a mix of available channels to communicate with your customers. Now I want to encourage you to use as many tools and channels to make yourself, company, product, service or experience as discoverable as possible.

Beyond SEO today's savvy marketers are using social web systems like Flickr or Technorati to discover what information customers and prospects are publishing about them. By now we all know that we cannot control the discussions but we can shape them by participating.

Toward that end I encourage you to discover and use the social bookmark sharing service del.icio.us. Here is a great overview/tutorial that will explain the how and what you can do with the service.

At the very least you need to bookmark your blog and website with relevant tags(keywords) that can help people discover you.

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March 21, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cold Calling Tips

Kevin Stirtz has some good common sense advice for those using cold calling to build their B2B businesses. One of the best ways to pre-qualify your leads is to work off a list of those contacts who have subscribed and clicked thru on the content of your email newsletter marketing efforts. Properly written and distributed an email marketing campaign can provide incredibly detailed information and customer intuition that will help your sales staff know what your customers are interested in.

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March 10, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Weblogs, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Airline Websites Not Intuitive About Customers

Further evidence that airlines need help with their efforts to intuit the needs and wants of their customers. ClickZ reports on a study evaluating the customer experience of both airline and travel agency websites. The results are telling:

"But online agencies are also creating a better overall online experience for customers and this is a significant contributor to the success of these sites over airline sites. The airlines are just not fully capitalizing on their loyalty programs and direct ties to the customer."

Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity, in that order, were the top three ranked sites in the study, scoring significantly higher in terms of customer experience and conversion than any airline site with the exception of Southwest.

Budget carriers Southwest and JetBlue outranked market-leading airlines in terms of both customer experience and conversion.

Airlines are not capitalizing on their direct connections with their customers. How are you capitalizing on your direct connections with customers? Would they rather buy from someone else because the experience is better or the interface easier? Time to take a close look at your own operations.

While you are at it, take a look at your competitors. Are they doing anything new this week? Have they started a blog? What does their e-mail marketing look like? Could you be doing a better job?

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March 8, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Traveling? Google the Weather Forecast

GoogleweatherTraveling on business or pleasure this week? Calling a customer? Calling Mom? It might be helpful if you knew the local weather. Google has added a four day weather forecast to it's search results. Just type weather plus the city and state .

If you are writing a e-newsletter this might be a good practical tip to include. We all know how hard it is to consistently develop and write useful content for corporate newsletters. If you can consistently provide practical useful information your readers will consistently open, read and click-thru your marketing newsletters.

Google continues to provide useful tools that can help you develop your customer intuition.

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March 6, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Creating a Company Newsletter, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Travel, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Maps Adds Browsers

Goog_1By now you know Google provides some great customer intuition tools. In addition to all the cool things you can learn with Google Alerts and the ability to search sponsored links, Google has now announced additional browser support for it's useful and elegant mapping service. Google Maps now supports Opera and Apple's Safari.

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February 28, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why Email When You Can IM? Outlook Plug-in Makes it Easy

I've mentioned before about how AOL Instant Messanger AIM can be an excellent Customer Intuition Tool. Collecting AIM Screennames is an excellent way to discover the online habits of your customers and prospects. Being able to see when key contacts are online can give you great insight into when to press send on you email newsletter marketing efforts.

Beginning today (Monday 2/28/05) America Online is offering a free plug-in for Microsoft Outlook Users that will enable them to see which of their contacts are online and available to be contacted by IM.

This function will enhance communication with contacts. Email exchanges can more easily be converted into IM chats when online presence status is available within the email environment. While this will enable faster and perhaps more natural communication, environments that need a "paper" trail of communications will require a user to actively save chat logs when chatting with coworkers, prospects and customers.

Overall this is a great step forward for AOL in spreading the use of IM in the workplace.

Get the plug in here.

Read the USA Today article here.

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February 28, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Automated Systems Serve Introverts Well

Michelle Miller over at Wonder Branding tells a story that is a valuable customer insight waiting to happen. She describes her introverted husband calling Merrill Lynch's automated update line for his weekly check. When the system alerts him that he's being transfered to a customer service representative he hangs up in disgust. Michelle makes the point that introverts like to use automated systems and are frustrated when they have to deal with people.

This is a valuable insight to people designing systems to interact with customers. The experience and frustration of trying to reach a "real live person" receives more press. Designing great systems that operate well without live person to person communication serves introverted customers well.

If you have some sort of automated phone system you might research the number of calls that terminate just as they are being transfered to a human operator. If your system logs caller ID information you should check to see if the same callers call right back to try again to find the right information from the automated system.

Even at a micro scale this is an important distinction to keep in mind. We all have customers, friends and coworkers who prefer asynchronous communication(e-mail, voicemail, etc.) versus face to face or live voice communication. Don't assume in these digital times that everyone prefers interacting with a human.

February 25, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hey, You! Time for A Backup

The BBC reports that a people feel they would lose friends if they lose their cellphones and or their address book data. Would you lose valuable customer contact data if you lost your cellphone or Blackberry?

Sure, the data is not irreplaceable but who has the time to reconstruct contact information from scratch.

Time to backup your cellphone, Blackberry, PDA or card file.

February 23, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Opting-in at the Chicago Auto Show

2005_cas_logoThis past weekend I went to the Chicago Auto Show. Over the years this show has become more and more interactive as car makers attempt to scale their customer intuition efforts. It used to be that sales people from area dealerships staffed displays. There's no selling at the show but reps could collect contact info and follow-up with prospects after the show. Now trade show renta-reps dressed all in black collect addresses to mail or email brochures to prospects. Carmakers are trying various tactics to get information and a conscious or unconscious opt-in from show attenders.

Some use attractive premiums like, no kidding, giant red stuffed animals to get people to register for a free drawing. Others use higher tech methods like offering "free" pictures that require visitors to visit and register at manufacturers websites to receive their "free" picture.

These real world practices are analogous to the online challenges of opt-in e-newsletter marketing. Some offer cool premiums that drive sign-ups but have little or nothing to add to a potential customer relationship. Some use bait-n-switch like tactics to offer something for free that comes at a hidden cost. Others engage people as people and offer a fair and reasonable exchange of value that begins a lasting relationship.

So where are you on the scale? Are you building a big list with a high churn as people opt-in for a premium and then opt-out just as quickly? Are your list building tactics bordering on deceptive? As people get savvier to the techniques of list building it becomes more and more important to market real ongoing value to opting-in.

Beyond links to privacy policies, no spam pledges and required opt-out or unsubscribe links it is important to be transparent in presenting the value of being open to hearing from you in the future. Are you just looking to send out brochures and promotional email or are you looking to build a lasting mutually beneficial relationship? How do your prospective list members know what you are doing?

February 22, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Creating a Company Newsletter, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Overwhelmed by Your E-Marketing Program?

We all agree that cellphone conversations in public can be annoying. Sometimes they are fascinating. When I commute by train if someone sitting behind me uses a cell phone it's like they are speaking right into my ear. I can't help but overhear their conversations. On a recent train ride a woman of certain demographics sat behind me an made 2 lengthy phone calls in 45 minutes. She discussed travel plans, work scheduling and tasks, car model preferences and marketing preferences(she was on her way to an auto show). Anecdotal information to be sure but full of insights that may not have been obvious based on appearances. By knowing something of what she was interested in I have a wealth of insights into who she is and how best I could communicate with her and sell to her.

In these times it's very hard to have a lot of time personally interacting with individual customers in order to inform and educate them about your products or services. Many people are turning to opt-in email newsletter marketing as a way to meet these needs in a cost effective way. There immediately becomes a challenge of consistently developing effective content, building and maintaining an email list, complying with the CAN-SPAM regs, etc. Many marketing departments are so busy doing these things that they miss the golden opportunities inherent in the medium. Actionable results.

If you are overwhelmed by the tasks of producing a regular e-newsletter consider outsourcing the whole process. Beyond a savings of workload, outsourcing can set and maintain a high level of quality while complying with regulations. Outsourcing brings professional industry specific expert writers to your project and provides individual level interaction data that can provide actionable results. Your follow-up reports will provide specific sales leads for your sales department.

If you want to see a sample newsletter why not sign-up for the monthly BeTuitive e-newsletter. You will see a great newsletter with great information about interactive e-marketing with dynamite newsletters.

If you are overwhelmed or just exploring your options why not spend just 3 minutes to fill out a brief pricing request form. You will get a reply in 24 hours or less and be better prepared to craft a strategic internet marketing plan.

February 17, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, How to Send an Email Newsletter, How to do a Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Writing A Newsletter | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lead Nurturing for the Complex Sale

The highest use for your customer intuition is lead nurturing. It's the process of converting a prospect into a customer. The more complex the sale the more attention and care you need to put into your lead nurturing processes. We can all use help polishing our skills in the area of lead nurturing.

Brian Carroll, CEO of InTouch Incorporated and the mind behind the B2B Lead Generation blog, is presenting a webinar, "Lead Nurturing for the Complex Sale," and you're invited!  It's free and on Feb. 15th and at 1:00 CST.

Once you hear from Brian you will know why we consider him a kindred spirit. Good way to spend an afternoon break. For more information or to get in on this webinar email Sarah and she'll find you a great seat. Probably the one you're in now.

February 10, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Knowing "When" Your Customers Are

If you have customers in other parts of the country and the world there is no excuse for not being aware of the time difference. There are just too many tools like the World Time Server on line today to help you know what time it is where your customers are.

In this world of global commerce, conference calling, video conferencing, instant messaging, Skype, Vonage, webinars, international overnight delivery, etc. keeping an eye on the many different times of your customers is critical.

All the more reason to leverage asynchronous marketing communication like blogs and email marketing newsletters to their full advantage. Customers can visit your blog or open your newsletter anytime they want to.

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February 8, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tips for Networking

Sarah Eaton at our sibling blog Betuitive: Measurable Results is using a technique I blogged about yesterday. She discovered this list of networking tips and this marketing blog in her Technorati watchlists. Sarah consistently points to good stuff.

I especially like points nine and ten:

9. Don't corner people and don't get cornered. Manage your time and conversation so you can meet enough people to justify your time spent networking.

10. Offer referrals. The best way to begin a relationship is by giving someone something - like a referral. It doesn't cost you anything. If they're the kind of person you want to do business with, they'll reciprocate and a valuable, long-tem business relationship could develop.

Related: Intuition Tool: Technorati Watchlists, So What?

February 3, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Getting Into Flickr

You know I am a big fan of the photo sharing site flickr. They do a lot of cool things with tags and rss feeds. I think savvy marketers should be setting up some feeds tracking some relevant tags to keep abreast of relevant keywords. You may have run across flickr feeds in tag searches at Technorati.

For those wanting to participate, and why not, lifehacker has a nice list of tips for beginners.

Choose your photos carefully before you upload

It’s a natural impulse to upload a bunch of photos to Flickr immediately. That’s a fine thing to do, but realize a free Flickr account limits you to a set amount of upload throughput per month. So choose and upload only your best pictures and leave space for all the future greats you’ll take through the rest of the month. (Account usage resets on the 1st of the month).

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Related: Customer Intuition Tool: Try A Photo Contest

February 3, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intuition Tool: Technorati Watchlists, So What?

Logo200407 OK, so you are convinced that you need to track relevant conversations with tools like Technorati Watchlists, now what. Well, if you have been to Technorati and set up some watchlists for relevant keywords and phrases I hope you have put the resulting RSS feeds into your news reader. While the snippets of text they provide are not useful in and of themselves they are helpful in couple of ways:

Discusion Discovery - this is the advertised or anticipated use. If you track your company name or product, customer, competitor name in a search you can discover mentions of these words in places you were not previously aware of. This can help you gauge public opinion, participate in discussions, receive feedback, spot mounting PR crisis, etc.

Discover Locations of Future Relevant Conversations - Watchlist results can help you discover new blogs that you should be subscribing to in your newsreader. When the same source shows up multiple times in your results it is a good indicator that that source frequently mentions your keywords of interest.

A recent pass through my Technorati watchlists didn't find anything of new or real value re: the search terms it did lead me to discover three or four new new blogs that found there way into my newsreader.

As more and more blogs come online tools like Technorati Watchlists are extremely helpful for finding relevant discussions and places where relevant discussions will take place.

It's important to remember that Technorati only searches and tracks sites with RSS feeds. That's why it's important to uses Google Alerts to keep alert to your customers all across the web.

For more on tools that help you track leading indicators for customer behavior, what we call customer intuition check Customer Intuition Tools

February 1, 2005 in Blogging Tools, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Intuiton Tool: Check Out The Customer's Neighborhood With A9

Amazon's A9 search engine has added an interesting feature to it's yellow pages function. In the top ten cities Amazon has photographed every city block. A search for a business in any of these cities now includes a picture of their location.

If you are like me the first thing I do when learning a customer's address is to drop that address into a search engine to learn who else is located at that same address. Knowing what other businesses share a building might be a good way to prompt a customer to refer you to them. "Do you know anybody across the hall at xyz corp?"

This application, while not entirely accurate at times, provides useful information about a customer's neighborhood. Planning to meet with a new customer? Why not suggest that you meet in that coffee shop you saw three doors down from their building.

On a darker note this service can also help you discover when a customer or prospect is using a PO box service or false address. Useful stuff.

try it here (click on yellow pages upper left)

[read USA Today story]

January 27, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Usability A Factor in CRM Systems

When I worked in a large non-profit organization we used a custom CRM type system that tracked interactions with over 50,000 people. I hated the system because I new things could be better, faster and more useful. In fact, I only used it to pull contact details into my own system that I used to monitor and build relationships with the 250+ people I was involved with. There was constant discussion and analysis of the system by all who used it.

Dave over at B2Blog has a summation of his experience with the different types of CRM system users that really resonates:

Power-user: One who wants to make the most of the tool they've been given and are willing to explore its capabilities. Symptom: "I think I screwed something up." Thankfully, I'm not the only one.

Power-ignorant: Those who use the software, but aren't aware how the software is there to benefit them and make their lives earlier. Symptom: "I didn't know you could do that."

Power-less: Those who simply don't understand what to do. Most likely these are field salespeople somehow. Symptom: "Can you show me that again?"

Power-trip: One who understands the software and its capability but takes short-cuts or does it the old way. Symptom: "I'll figure that out later."

These classifications apply to many different software and technology systems.

What's important here are the Tells or symptoms that indicate which category a user is in. Keeping this in mind will help you see just what the effectiveness of your system is. There are two ways to think about your CRM system. One, what are the real results, the ROI of the system. Two, what is the frustration level for the users. Are the means to the end subtracting from the end? Are productivity losses overshadowing the gains from the system?

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January 24, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intuition Tool: NicheBot

Building customer intuition is all about using available tools to replicate the kind of leading indicators you would get from a face to face interaction with a customer. If you were able to have face time with each of your many customers you would be able to know what they are interested in or passionate about based on the content of your conversation with them.

In the online world what people are interested in gets condensed into search keywords. Tools that help you see and select relevant and effective keywords are essential elements in your customer intuition toolbox.

NichebotNicheBot is a tool that helps you see the effectiveness of your current keywords and help you select new and related keywords. A tool like this helps you to optimize both your keyword advertising and your blog targeting and content development.

Have a look.

January 21, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Knowing The Emotional State of Your Callers

I am sure you have had the experience of returning to your office after a lengthy meeting or lunch mission only to find your voicemail full of increasingly frantic or angry messages from customers. Often these messages are mixed together with several other more calm less urgent messages. What if you received text messages that indicated not only that you have a message but indicated the emotional state of the caller?

The New Scientist reports on a new system being developed that will analyze voice messages and label those that are urgent, happy, calm, etc.

A voicemail system that labels messages according to the caller's tone of voice could soon be helping people identify which messages are the most urgent. The software, called Emotive Alert, is designed by Zeynep Inanoglu and Ron Caneel of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US.

It might be installed at the phone exchange or in an intelligent answering machine, where it will listen to incoming messages and send the recipient a text message along with an emoticon indicating whether the message is urgent, happy, excited or formal.

It works by extracting the distribution of volume, pitch and speech rate - the ratio of words to pauses - in the first 10 seconds of each message, and then comparing them with eight stored "acoustical fingerprints" that roughly represent eight emotional states: urgent or not urgent; formal or informal; happy or sad; excited or calm.

The fingerprints were created by "learning" software, which was fed hundreds of snippets from old voicemail messages that had been assigned emotional labels by the researchers. In use, the software looks for the acoustical fingerprint that is closest to the characteristics of the voice message and sends the recipient the corresponding emoticon. It also sends a text message indicating the two best-matching emotional labels.

While this technology is not yet ready for prime time it does indicate the future potential of technology to "read" the subtle and not so subtle cues in human behavior that will help people build better working and personal relationships. That's what we call customer intuition.

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January 19, 2005 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intuition Starts in the Parking Lot

Here's an example of the cool intuitive things people are doing with flickr.

The Parking Lot Indicatr project invites people to submit cameraphone pictures of company parking lots during off hours. Intuiting that high levels of off hours work activity as indicated by populated parking lots indicates that a company is close to a product release or a major breakthrough/ announcement. This the organizer feels is a good indication of a positive move in stock prices.

I recommend parking lot studys to access the health of a potential customer's business. A full or empty parking lot can say a lot about a doctor's paractice, a restaurant, or a shipping and receiving company. While it can be difficult to track this information remotely, projects like these can bring useful intuitive data right to you via the internet.

January 11, 2005 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tool: Try A Photo Contest

Want to see how your customers use your product? Maybe get insight's into new solutions you can develop products for. Why not sponsor a photo contest and ask readers of your blog or email newsletter to to email photos of themselves or coworkers using your product, wearing your t-shirts, sporting your logo, etc. In these days were camera phones are becoming more and more common and most workspaces have access to at least one digital camera it's easy for people to capture imagery. These photos will not only give you great human content for your blog and e-newsletter, but a potentially great anthropological study into how your customers think about your products.

Flickr_logoWhile you are thinking about that why not drop by the photo sharing service flickr and do a search for your product, customers, industry, competitor, keywords, etc. to see what pops up. You might find some surprising things. For extra credit try creating RSS feeds of your chosen search results so you can track new postings in your newsreader.

January 11, 2005 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Corporate Blogs: Good Windshield Tour

Fortune magazine has a good overview of the recent major events in the blogosphere. Since you are reading this blog you know something about blogs but this piece will give you a nice overview of recent happenings.

Blogs are great customer intuition tools since they invite customer feedback through comments and links. Sometimes you can know what a customer is thinking by observing body language, facial expression or tone of voice. At scale this is increasingly difficult. Blogs provide instant global access and a feedback channel that is of great value to the smart companies who know they should be in on the conversations about them and their products. Intuiting how customers are thinking and feeling about your product is as close as engaging them in real dialog about their experiences with your products. Blogs are an excellent venue for such conversations.

Some of the PR problems the article talks about make the case for why it's important to consider outsourcing your corporate blog to experienced bloggers and writers who can help foresee potential pitfalls and opportunities inherent in strategic internet marketing with blogs.

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January 4, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Intuition Tool: Sponsored Link Google Search

I think we would all agree that it's important to keep an eye on our customers and competitors. Here's another tool to help you do just that. This search returns only sponsored links.

If you want to see who else has bought the keywords you are buying here is your tool.

December 31, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Collecting AIM Screen Names

Do you use IM? Do your customers? Just as the collection of email addresses is difficult as people are spam averse the collection of Instant Message (AIM) usernames is also difficult. The good news is that it can be incentivesed. Simply offer a value exchange.

Set up a special AIM account with a special away message that could include something like a special code for a discount on their current invoice. Change these codes frequently. Log this account so that you can go back and capture the screen names and add them to your buddy lists so you can know next time your customers are online.

Once you are set up simply use your other communication tools to promote your special discount. Add it to your e-newsletter, voicemail greeting, e-mail signature file, etc.

Once you have the screen names find useful value added ways to use them. Don't just feed the same content through the new channel. This is especially true for IM since it's a very personal communication channel. You want to use it to follow up on orders that have shipped or very simple questions/verifications regarding open orders.

"Sue, did you get the order we shipped on Tuesday?" or "Tom, I see you only ordered three widgets this month. Last month you ordered five. Is this correct?

December 30, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Intuition Tool: Out of Office Messages

In these days between holidays it may be hard to communicate with coworkers and customers as many are taking vacation or work for companies that shut down during this week. Ever feel like no one is returning your calls or emails?

You can intuit a lot about a person by observing how they use their communication tools. If it's a scheduled vacation but you receive no out of office responder messages by voicemail, email, IM or even a blog post that indicates time away you can figure the person is uncomfortable with these communication tools. If you get one type of Out of Office message but not another it may be a clue as to which communication channel they value most. i.e. Email vs. Voicemail. If you consistently experience timely voicemail message updates, email auto-responders, IM away messages, and even blog schedule notices you can bet that you are dealing with a tech savvy customer who is ready to subscribe to your email newsletter or the RSS feed for your corporate blog.

December 30, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Newsletter, Newsletter Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Opt-in Email: Are You Opting In?

Many companies are doing email newsletters and blogs to communicate with customers and prospects. Are you routinely signing up for the opt-in enewsletters of your customers, prospects and competitors? These strategic marketing communications are chuck full of customer intuition just laying there ready to be analyzed.

A customer announces new building in their newsletter. They might be ripe for your HR services as their staff grows in the new facility.

The first place a company is likely to announce a new product or service is to their customers via their email marketing or their corporate blog. If you are their competition wouldn't you like a head's up? Shouldn't you be reading along?

Your customer's customers are complaining on the corporate blog about problems with their products or services. You can spot an opportunity for you to help your customer solve their problems.

Monitoring the internet marketing efforts of your customers, prospects and competitors can be a leading indicator that helps you determine the direction and opportunities for your own business.

December 22, 2004 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Intuition Tools: Top Five

Here are the Top Five Customer Intuition Tools we've posted this year.

Weather, Weather Everywhere
Using weather information sites to inform customer touchpoints.

Staying Alert to Your Customers
Using Google Alerts to stay informed on relevant information about customers.

Tracking Down Your Ex Customers
A service for cell phone companies to help them find and market to their ex customers.

Knowing When Customers are Online
A tool to track customer's online status in AOL Instant Messenger.

Six Questions to Ask Customers
A strategy for developing customer intuition by asking good questions.

December 21, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intuition Tool: Good Telephone Voice

Do you work on your telephone voice? Does your first telephone call of the day get your best gravel voice? One of my coworkers was explaining his morning telephone voice routine. Each morning before his first call he makes a point to clear his throat and practice his answer line to work out the gravel.

Being in good phone voice is a good for customer intuition. Combining good voice with Caller ID and even CRM tools allows you to infuse your voice with appropriate emotion when taking calls. It may be your best customer calling, next year's best customer or even a problem customer. Your tone of voice will communicate to your caller that you are glad to hear from them. A warm excited greeting will put them at ease and perhaps they will be more candid about the content of their call if they know you are glad to hear from them. People will be quicker to return your calls if they intuitively know by reading your tone of voice that you are glad to hear from them.

Take care of your voice and use technology to help you communicate with authenticity and energy. Customers will respond and connect with you.

December 17, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

B2B Lead Generation Blog

B2b_lead_gen_blogAll the cool marketing kids are reading B2B Lead Generation Blog. Shouldn't you be also?

Brian links to studies and stories relevant to generating and nurturing sales leads in B2B marketing organizations. Cool!

From a recent post:

Sales people want selling time more than sales leads


Ask most executives and marketers what sales people need and they will say, "more leads." Your sales people don’t want more leads actually, what they want is "more effective selling time."


A recent report by Aberdeen Group, “Sales Effectiveness: Helping Sales Sell” concludes, “The number one issue for most CEO's and Marketers is lead generation - getting more leads to their sales team." The number one desire for sales people however, is MORE selling time with “sales ready” opportunities.

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December 1, 2004 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Six Questions to Ask Customers

Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the US. I am reminded that the coming holidays are an excellent time to grow your customer intuition. More than an opportunity to send another tin of popcorn, the holiday season is an opportunity to connect personally with your customers. While not everyone has a lot of time to talk with you, many will appreciate the personal touch. Launch your contact manager or CRM system, pick up the phone and ask a customer these six questions:

-What have we done for you this year that has gone well and why?
-What could we have done better?
-What could we be doing better to help you and your business prevail?
-Are you aware that we (also carry xyz products, can do xyz, etc.)? This is a great opportunity to make customers aware of new products or initiatives your company has to offer. This requires some skill and tact to gauge the openness and receptivity to hearing about these new things. Over time you will be able to determine your customers openness to your verbal communication.
-Is there anything we can do for you between now and the end of the year? The last month of the year is a good time to ask for some additional business as many business leaders are spending the last of their budgets. Those who operate on a spend it or loose it budget may be especially interested in doing some year end business.
-Would you like to hear more from us about (the topic of your email newsletter)? Ask them if you can add them to your subscriber list to receive your e-newsletter.
Don't forget to thank your customers for their support and their business. Your customers may like the holiday gift you send but they will really appreciate the personal attention and interest from you even more. Who knows you may gain some new business directly from these calls. You may not even see the results until the next buying cycle. Connecting one on one improves your customer intuition.

November 23, 2004 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Have I Caught You at A Good Time?

That's a question that a lot of sales and marketing people have been taught to ask as part of their sales training. Using the telephone for sales and marketing is an art form. Some people are naturals and have a strong intuitive sense about the party on the other end of the line. Conversely some are simply clueless to all but the most blatant direct statements. In this era of increasing B2B telemarketing(spam if you will) legitimate sales calls are meeting with less tolerances and shorter attention spans.

So what's a marketer to do? Hire well, of course, get the best telephone intuitives that you can. Beyond that you can train your people to always have a WIFM(What's in it for me) Benefit for person they are calling. Always do their homework so they have value to add to the person, the business, the sale or the relationship BEFORE making the call. This is a lot like developing the content for your e-marketing newsletter. The content and headlines need to be of value to the recipient or they won't bother reading it and interacting with the offers you are making. And forget about future e-mail newsletters.

Yes, people are busy and not always available to talk to a marketer but over time they will equate your call with the WIFM and realize that it's in their best interest to take your call.

November 22, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tracking Blog Conversations

By now you should be well versed in using Google Alerts to track news and happenings for customers, prospects and customers. But what about the blogsphere? There are great tools out there to track what is being said about the names and keywords that you are most interested in. There is a debate between whether it's better to have a individual from your organization use the available tools or to outsource the tracking of blogs to a service like BlogSquirrel a service that claims to track 100,000 blogs.

Using a service like this does give you the early warning that your keywords are being talked about but they don't help you to be able to participate in those discussions in an effective way. I suggest that an individual who uses the tools everyday will be better positioned to not only discover conversations but participate in those conversations. Their knowledge of your organization and their ability to read and understand the context of the conversations makes them more effective than reactionary tactics like C&Ds and press releases.

We're seeing some old school PR techniques being ported to the digital age. A "clipping" service is relevant when the communication is one way like a newspaper. When the communication is a discussion awareness of the discussion is only the first step.

November 17, 2004 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Value of Listening to the Conversations about You

PR Guru Steve Rubel over at Micro Persuasion has a great piece that makes the case for why it has become extremely valuable for marketers to listen and participate in the exploding blogsphere.

He recounts the PR spectacle of the Kryptonite lock after it was discovered that a simple ball point pen could unlock these well known high security bike locks. Steve talks about how companies who keep their ear to the ground and routinely scan the blogsphere for mentions of their company/product or competitors can respond and react to potential bad PR situations before they explode and get picked up by mainstream media.

The piece concludes with recommendations for tools like Technorati and Feedster among others that help businesses listen in to the ongoing conversations that may included their brands and products.

Not only is it becoming critical to listen to the conversations customers are having about your business it is also valuable to participate in the conversations. We're not talking C&D happy lawyers we're talking commenting on blogs and discussion boards and starting a corporate blog of your own. Having your own blog creates another channel to initiate a conversation with customers and prospects. The blogshere is not something you can control but positive and negative messages can be influenced by being forthcoming and responsive to the conversations occurring around you.

Click over and read the story if you aren't familiar with it.

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November 9, 2004 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paper Paper: Who Reads Paper Papers

Developing customer intuition means knowing your customers and their habits and practices. Often times a study in the news will prompt a question that's relevant to a better understanding of B2B relationships and educating clients and prospects.

MarketingVox is pointing to a story that has relevance for marketers:

According to the study, over 70 percent of "newspaper loyalists" access the Internet daily, while fewer than 42 percent read a printed newspaper every day. Further, this group is heavily engaged in multi-channel shopping, meaning they use newspapers, the Web and brick and mortar stores to research a purchase and then make that purchase offline. As a result, Yahoo! said marketers should supplement their offline newspaper buys with placements on Internet news sites.

The relevance goes beyond just advertising buys. Knowing that fewer customers are reading paper newspapers can influence the targets for you PR plans. When you do something newsworthy and you or your PR team work to get ink make sure that you get pixels also.

A study like this raises a relevant question that is something worth asking when you talk to customers and prospects. Ask them how they get their news and what web sites they read.

Related:
Knowing What Your Customers are Interested In
More on Getting to Know Your Customers

November 4, 2004 in Advertising, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Voicemail: Marching to it's Demise?

Recently I spent some time optimizing my senior parents new voice mail system. I smiled at the irony of how much they, unlike their parents, were attached to their physical answering machine tapes and all. They couldn't understand why they received some messages on their machine and some on the voicemail. The reason of course was that they were using both and both picked up on the fourth ring. Which ever technology answered first won the message. I turned off the machine and streamlined the voicemail system and they were happy.

The BBC reports that the younger generation, who have adopted cell phones at amazing rates, are reticent to use voicemail because the realtime connections of IM(instant messaging) and SMS(text messaging) have much more immediacy than the asynchronous communication(phone tag) of voicemail.

Why is this important? Because today's teens are tomorrow's B2B customers. Knowing how their communication habits are forming will help you formulate the future of your interactive marketing communications. Customer Service by IM anyone?

My grandparents couldn't really accept a machine that answered the phone. Their messages were comical in revealing their unease at the technology. My parents have accepted the answering machine but are unsure about voicemail. I've yet to pick out the communications technology that I will fluster me toward the end of my days. I am sure I'll find something. Perhaps it will be holographic messaging.

Help me Obi-wan!

November 2, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Getting Started With Bloglines

Have you made the jump to a newsreader? Many people use bookmarks for their blog reading. Some rely on a service like blogrolling to show them when blogs update. The problem with either of these systems is that it's slow and inefficient. Both require you to load the full page of each blog simply to read the latest posts. The advantage of using a newsreader is that it automates the process of reading just the latest content from your favorite blogs.

I often recommend those just starting out with newsreaders try a free web based reader to get their feet wet. Bloglines is the service of choice. Steve Ruebel of Micro Persuasion points to this fine tutorial that will help you get started.

The conversations are happening. Bloggers are talking about your company, product and customers. Shouldn't you participate?

October 29, 2004 in Blogging Tools, Blogs, Building Customer Intuition, Corporate Blogging, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Marketing Like A Sailor

David Wolfe over at Ageless Marketing makes a great analogy for marketing in today's market conditions. He describes the differences between marketing like a powerboater vs a sailer.

Marketers will increasingly find greater success by acting less like powerboaters slicing their way through their watery environments paying little heed to others. They will learn that the sailor’s mindset works better in today’s markets than the powerboater’s mindset.

Reflect a moment on differences between power boating and sailboating: Except in extreme conditions, powerboaters can ignore the forces of wind, wave and current, and reach their destinations. However, sailors can only reach their destinations by collaborating with the forces of wind, wave and current.

Interersting. Perhaps one of the best ways to market like a sailor is to be aware of market conditions just like a sailor would read the wind and sea conditions. At BeTuitive we work with freelance writers who are themselves dialed into their specific industries to provide content that is relevant and valuable to our clients and their subscribers. Beyond industry knowledge we can intuit exactly what customers are interested in by knowing what elements of the e-newsletter they read. The combination of these two strategies provides extremely valuable marketing intelligence to our clients helping them learn to sail through both the good market conditions and the challenges faced by today's savvy business marketers.

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October 27, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Intuitive Marketers Turn to Keyword Buys in Times of Crisis

CBS/Marketwatch reports that the Vioxx news of this past week is mobilizing lawyers, who smell blood in the water, to buy up adwords to find new customers.

From the article:

As people search for credible sources online, marketers realize that there is an opportunity to target potential customers by sponsoring keywords associated with news as soon as it breaks.

It's exactly what happened when Merck's (MRK: news, chart, profile) $2.5 billion arthritis and painkiller drug was recalled last week. As soon as the news broke, law firms seeking Vioxx takers to represent in lawsuits against Merck began bidding on the term Vioxx. It was $2 per click last Friday, when I wrote about this story.

That could be chump change when compared to the money that a lawsuit could reap for attorneys and plaintiffs.

At last check, that keyword Vioxx is attracting swarms of lawyers and driving the word up to $11.88 on Yahoo's Overture network.

It's bidding frenzies like this that's putting search increasingly on the map.

The point is customers are turning to search in times of crisis. A marketer with polished customer intuition will see the opportunities and jump on opportunities to put search engine marketing to work to find new customers.

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October 6, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Google Hack for Printed Materials

Google Print is developing search capability for offline printed books and magazines.

Google's mission is to provide access to all the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible. It turns out that not all the world's information is already on the Internet, so Google has been experimenting with a number of publishers to test their content online. During this trial, publishers' content is hosted by Google and is ranked in our search results according to the same technology we use to evaluate websites.

This will take some time to develop but it's worth knowing about if you want to search by keyword for a book or magazine article.

It takes some Google-Fu to do this. Enter a search string like this:

keyword site:google.com (inurl:isbn | inurl:articleid)
Where
-keyword=your desired search term
-site: google.com= limits the search to pages within the google system
-(inurl:isbn)= will return books because the pages have "isbn" in the page url
-(inurl:articleid)= will return magazine articles because the pages have "articleid" in the url
-(inurl:isbn | inurl:articleid)= will return books and magazines.

This is just one example of the advanced search hacks available on Google. It really is amazing all the things Google can do. The more you know about using Google the better you will be at using Google to develop your customer intuition.

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October 5, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How Much TV Coverage Are You Getting

multivision, Inc. is a clever company that uses speech recognition and the closed captioning system for television to monitor 1,000 TV channels for client keywords, company names, customer names, competitors, etc. They are then able to build a library for clients of captured references.

It does for TV what Google News Alerts does for online news sources.

From the multivision website:

Know your customers better
The business development director at an exhibit booth manufacturer devised a way to find new business by scanning all broadcasted stories in their market that covered companies receiving venture capital funding, expanding marketing efforts or launching any new products. He received video clips of the announcements directly to his laptop and was able to call on those companies that very day.

Find new customers
An innovative account executive for an industrial lubricants manufacturer decided to take advantage of bad situations by monitoring product recalls. By scanning the news broadcasts for the first mentions of product mishaps, problems or retractions, she was able to find new leads for her company. Ultimately, she was able to add 15 new clients in her first month of "crisis monitoring."

Be where the competition is
In an effort to jump start awareness in the marketplace, a marketing manager for an established health-services company tried some unique monitoring techniques. To remain on top of the latest news and developments, he tracked not only the competitions’ media mentions but all products and services that his company didn’t. That way whenever customers inquired about other services, he knew how to respond more effectively.

A great customer intuition tool.

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September 29, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Television, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Outlawing GPS Customer Tracking

Global Positioning Systems(GPS) are entering mainstream use in applications that track customer behavior. Rental Car companies are equipping vehicles with these systems as an amenity to help customers. Few customers understand that these systems can also be used to track the driving behavior of vehicle renters. After a Connecticut company was found charging additional fees for customers found by a GPS system to be speeding in violation of the rental agreement. New York has now passed a law restricting companies from using GPS systems to track customer behavior. Similar laws are expected in other states.

I think Americans measure their freedom in terms of their ability to drive faster than the speed limit. Any technology or policy that strictly enforces the speed limit elicits loud objections and cries of privacy invasion.

How do you feel about the use of tracking technology to enforce contractual agreements?

September 28, 2004 in Current Affairs, Customer Intuition Tools | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Getting Practical: Building Trust From Customers

Last week USA Today reported that shopping malls across the country are cracking down on teenagers in their malls. As a response to fights and "clogged hallways" malls have curfews and escort policies that require teens to be accompanied by their parents.

There's a trust breaker. I'm sure that teens everywhere can't wait to be seen at the mall with their parents.

Beyond being bad for sales from the teens, these teen targeted unfriendly policies teach an entire generation of future adults that the mall is NOT the place for them to shop. If you alienate them at 17 how hard do you think it will be to get them through your door at 21?

Creative Graphic Management(CGM) a Chicago based printing and promotional goods company points to a great idea:

If you want to tap into this large disposable income segment, you could create a teen board to act as a focus group whether you run a mall or any entity that desires business from teens. By giving a group of teens a vested interest and a voice, it could also go a long way toward self policing and taking care of property.

But remember, teens are just as crunched for time as everyone else, so make the time they invest in your board worth their while. When they come in for focus group activities or volunteer at mall events, give them logoed merchandise as thank-you gifts. Create a cool logo for the board so the teens will be proud of being on it and want to use or wear logoed merchandise. (Let them decide between several choices what they think is cool.)

By teaching teens to trust and understand the interests of a Mall operator from the inside as part of a Teen Advisory Board you not only keep them engaged as a teen shopper but you build lasting trust and loyalty as the teen becomes an adult. With teens of course we're talking about more than just one individual we're talking about their entire social network.

Can you identify a "Trust Buster" in your own business and think of ways to turn them around?

September 23, 2004 in Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Current Affairs, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Building Customer Trust

I've been posting lately about Getting to Know Your Customers (and here). Customer intuition, people skills and trust building are critical skills for anyone who deals with customers. Jill Griffen talks about building trust with customers in a recent piece for Marketing Profs.

Ready to get serious about building customer trust? Form a cross-functional team of employees and, together, map out the customer development stages as they apply to your firm's products/services and identify trust builders and trust breakers inherent at each customer stage.
Identifying the critical trust builders and trust breakers and responding accordingly can streamline the process of building profitable B2B relationships.

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September 22, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More on Getting to Know Your Customers

Comments from Sarah and Susan both pointed to the key challenge in Getting to Know Your Customers. Knowing when your interaction with customers is welcome and when it is unwelcome, intrusive and irritating. The key is polished customer intuition.

In his last column for Fast Company magazine, Seth Godin addresses issues of trust by comparing the actions of marketers to those of friends and family:

What would happen if your friends and colleagues treated you the way marketers do?

What if your spouse sold your personal information to anyone who would pay for it? If your boss promised you miraculous changes and then failed to deliver? If your co-workers refused to talk to you unless you spent half an hour on hold first?

He continues:

Why do we hate marketers so much?

We don’t just hate them. We ignore them. We distrust them. In fact, when a marketer actually keeps his promise to us, we’re so surprised we tell everyone we know.

He's right isn't he? Even as professional marketers we cringe when we are personally disrespected by short sighted marketers interested more in a sales transaction than building a lasting B2B relationship. And then he nails it:
Somewhere along the way, marketers stopped acting like real people. We substituted a new set of ethics, one built around “buyer beware” and the letter of the law. Marketers, in order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, decided to see what they could get away with instead of what they could deliver.
That's significant: Somewhere along the way, marketers stopped acting like real people. That's a huge clue in developing your customer intuition.

If you act like a real person and use your people skills to intuit the mood and receptivity of your customers on an ongoing basis. If customers don't return your phone calls and emails it's time to reevaluate what the possible reasons may be. Chances are it's one of three things:

Wrong Communication Style - You may be trying to get a response on the wrong channel. You may be leaving voicemail messages when you should be sending email messages or vice versa.

Information Free Communication - You may not be providing enough actionable information in your communication. You aren't helping busy people if you leave messages with no content. "Call me…" or "Just touching base to see if you have any questions." Doesn't help people. Contrary to what people request leaving just your name and number doesn't help them decide to return your call. Do you have personal friends who do this? "Hi, John, it's Jane. Call me. Bye." What she didn't say is that she's calling to see if you want to go to the movies in one hour. Without that information John might wait until tomorrow to call her back and miss the opportunity. Business people do the same thing by not offering new relevant information in communicating with customers. "Jill, this is Jack Hill. I have a new idea about how our product can help you with your xyz challenge. Please call me." vs. "Jill, it's Jack Hill. Please call me."

Not Interested - Your people skills and intuition should clue you in when someone isn't responding because they aren't interested. If you are doing the first two correctly and still no response it's time to move on. Build relationships where you can and move on when a prospect isn't interested.
These are basic relational intuition principles.

If you enter relationships looking to advance the interests of the other party then they will welcome your communication. If you provide them with a constant flow of valuable ideas, referrals, recommendations, ideas, connections and appreciation people will respond and welcome your efforts to build a mutually beneficial B2B relationship.

So before you Connect with your next customer ask yourself "What's in it for them?" What do you have to offer them. How are you earning their attention. If you have nothing for them or you only need something from them skip the connection. You risk wasting your customers time. Find a way to add value to their life and they'll welcome hearing from you.

Sign-up for the BeTuitive Newsletter to find out more about building b2b relationships.

September 21, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Getting to Know Your Customers

Have you called any customers today? Not to problem solve or sell them but to connect with them.

A simple phone call can mean a lot. Conduct a little customer behavior research by casually interviewing them. Find out what their greatest business challenge is this month. Find out where they are really succeeding. Ask them to tell you stories about what's going on in their business or industry. Ask them what they are reading.

Try and get to know them a little better. Ask open ended questions. Ask if they have any family that's effected by the hurricanes this month. This is a great ice breaker to find out some useful personal information about your client. If they say yes you can follow up asking where they are and how they have come through it all. If they say no you can easily ask where their family is located and where they grew up.

Why do this? Why take up your time and theirs? Because it offers a wealth of information you can use. Any stories you hear about a customers business can generate ideas for new or improved offerings on your part. If they face a challenge you have found your way through you might offer some sound advice that will strengthen your B2B relationship and their customer loyalty.

Personal information can inform your efforts to connect with them on their birthday. You might find out that they grew up in Kansas City. Next time you close a deal with them you might send them a bottle of Zarda's Barbecue sauce (a local favorite) as a thank you. They will appreciate the fact that you remembered a personal detail about them. The point is you can personalize your B2B relationships so that customers and prospects treat you as a friend and a business partner not just a salesman.

How do you do all this? A simple usable Customer Relationship Management(CRM) system is a must. These memory aids can be hugely valuable when it comes to tracking customer details. Most good systems allow you to track customer contact information and communication details. Notes from phone calls, emails, letters, meetings should be logged for future follow up.

CRM systems also interface with calendar systems allowing you to set memory ticklers to prompt follow-ups with contacts you are building b2b relationships with. Client casually mentions their upcoming vacation or their daughters wedding. Why not set a follow up phone call to see how everything went?

Seems simple but how many people are doing it? Everybody is busy but a few phone calls or timely emails can go a long way when trying to forge profitable B2B relationships.

Update: More on Getting to Know Your Customers

September 17, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Connecting with Birthdays

Collecting and acknowledging birthdays is a critical marketing function. Personally acknowledging a person's birthday captures their attention and connects with them emotionally. It's an opportunity to connect the relevance of your offerings to their life. Markets are becoming connections and conversations. In that context making a connection and obtaining attention are critical.

Collecting birthday information is as important as how you use it. There are many ways to collect birthday information from customers. Some are better than others. Just as people are increasingly wary of submitting their email address for fear of spam people are hesitant to submit personal information such as birthdays and other demographic information.

The key to overcoming the resistance to submitting accurate information is to earn trust and provide incentives in exchange for information. Presenting a professional image through high quality web design and professional email marketing materials projects a serious organization that readers can trust. Being upfront with privacy policies provides reassurance to hesitant readers that their information will not be abused. Incentives can be anything of value to your chosen audience that makes it worth their time and effort to sign up. In B2C markets this is often in the form of discount coupons, gift certificates, loyalty points, etc. In the B2B markets this can be special reports, white papers, e-books, .pdf files, software applets, audio files, sample chapters from books, etc.

Once you have a way to collect information from customers and prospects it's important to have a plan for how you will use the information.

In the case of Birthdays it's an opportunity to connect with people. Birthdays are a time to draw emotional lines for people. Connecting past, present and future for people creates a bond that earns attention and loyalty for your business.

Three things your Birthday acknowledgements should do:

Connect People with the Past: By providing "this day in history" type data chunks for a specific person's birthday demonstrates you value them enough to provide personalized relevant information that stimulates their memories.

Immediate Value Offering: Providing a discount or gift certificate demonstrates you value and appreciate them today as a customer or a prospect.

A Next Step Offering: Give people an opportunity to take their relationship with your company to the next level. This could be "insider" type information, a personal audio greeting from the CEO, an invitation to participate in an invitation only online forum or survey, a VIP type group membership, etc. Basically anything that provides a person with a feeling that they have a special connection to your company or brand will keep them interested and loyal to your offerings.

Birthday acknowledgements should not be a time to sell people. Don't send messages that mention a birthday in passing on the way to sell more stuff. People don't want to mentally move your company from relevant to spammer and click "unsubscribe" from your business. Birthdays are a time to strengthen the relevance not screw it up.

Find out more about what BeTuitive can do for you.

September 13, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Find Out Who They Are and What They Are Doing Here

Like me, are you sometimes left scratching your head wondering why Amazon.com is recommending some weird stuff to you? It's probably because you purchased a gift for somebody. Amazon thinks you are suddenly into that weird music that your brother-in-law listens to. Amazon should watch the giftwrap option at checkout to see if an item is being purchased for the account holder or someone else. Gifts should have less relevance in the recommendation system.

When considering your own email marketing programs, whether you outsource your email newsletter or not you need to know why readers are interested in your product, service or experience. Is their interest personal, professional or on behalf of someone else. I for one sometimes will opt-in for targeted email marketing for products that may be of interest to my retired parents. Does this mean that I would be interested in special discount offers by e marketing pertaining to fiber supplements? NO, Mom and Dad can handle that on their own. If those email marketers would simply survey me and ask what the nature of my interest is they would know why I subscribe to their enewsletter.

Look out for anomalies in your CRM data. Young people shopping for senior focused products or adults buying toys and never having them shipped to their billing address. Follow up with these customers to figure out who they are and what they are doing with your business. You may just discover entire new markets or ways to improve your strategic internet marketing.

For more about outsourcing your email marketing sign up for our newsletter.

September 2, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Finding Employees of Customers Online

Want to find websites or blogs written by people who work for a major customer organization? Enter this search string into Google: "i work (at | with | for | in) (google | googleplex)" Substitute the company name for google and any colloquial term for the company for googleplex.

This technique usually turns up the "about" section of blogs or websites where authors mention who they work for.

[via]

August 24, 2004 in Blogs, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Marketing Communication, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Knowing What Your Customers are Interested In

Forrester reports that only 165,000 out of 1.8 million online sales leads are closed by the auto industry each month. This is a problem with lead processing technologies and follow up. Forrester suggests better performance could increase online vehicle sales by 40%. The auto business simply doesn't acknowledge that their customers are interested in shopping for vehicles online.

Wow, what an opportunity for increasing business. So many businesses struggle to generate sales leads and here is an industry trying to keep up with the flood of leads they are already receiving.

Most businesses are somewhere in the middle. They would like to increase sales leads and the number of sales resulting from those leads. Developing customer intuition is a way to do both. Knowing what products, services and experiences your prospects are interested in allows you to know which of your offerings they are interested in buying. Technology is a great aide in this process. Being able to read your customer's mind is a process of knowing what they are interested in. There are many ways to know what your customers are interested in. Listen to what they talk about, the questions they ask, the comments they make, track what articles they read and which information they download; all these things can be valuable windows into the mind of your customers and prospects.

Yesterday, Oprah and I both had jury duty. One of the attorneys who questioned the panel I was on asked each person where they got their news, which TV stations they watched, what newspapers they read etc. Clearly he was trying to gain some insight into each prospective juror's mindset by knowing where they get their information. Do you ask your clients and prospects what publications they read? Not just trying to know where to advertise but in a way that provides you some insight into what they are interested in and how they think.

Once you have some idea about what your customer is interested in you can better address their needs. Both with your own offerings and by recommending other offerings that may be of value to them. If you find out that your best customer reads a stack of travel magazines every month you may not know better how to sell her your widgets but you certainly have useful information when you want to reward her for her customer loyalty. Beyond that you might want to send her links to some good woman oriented travel sites like Adventure Divas or Let's Go Girl.

August 17, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Travel | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Understanding Customers Through Analytics

Nice overview of customer analytics at MarketingProfs. The article by Colin Shearer talks about four categories of analytics: Statistical analysis, On-line analytical processing (OLAP), Data mining and Text mining.

I couldn't agree more with Colin when he says:

With the massive amounts of customer data being generated every moment of every day, and the absolute necessity of carefully managing the customer relationship, analytics are no longer a nice thing to have; they are essential. The backlash against spam marketing, and new privacy legislation put into place as a result of this backlash, is forcing a more scientific approach to the art of marketing.

It will no longer be a matter of just throwing out a hook and seeing who bites; it will be about taking the time and using the right tools to truly understand customers, satisfy their needs and wants, and anticipate what they may want tomorrow.

[read]

August 11, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Weather, Weather Everywhere II

awlogo

I've posted before about the value of knowing what the weather is like where your customers are. Here's a great resource for finding very detailed weather conditions by zip code.

August 4, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Metro Scale Wi-Fi Provides Real Time Customer Data

Mesh networks that connect Wi-Fi hotspots are being created to cover entire communities. These technologies are simultaneously increasing customer intuition data and cutting the labor costs in collecting it. Customers and the utility are able to see usage patterns in real time.

Tropos Networks, the leading supplier of equipment used to build metro-scale Wi-Fi networks, today announced that the City of Corpus Christi, Texas, will deploy the Tropos Wi-Fi system for use by the city-owned water and gas utilities, public works departments, and public safety agencies. The city anticipates significant cost savings and increased effectiveness in the mobile workforce as a result of the wireless broadband network. After successful deployment of the 18.5 square mile first phase, the city plans a complete build-out of the entire 147 square miles of Corpus Christi by March of 2005.

The most immediate cost savings will be seen as a result of the automated gas and water meter reading that will utilize the Tropos metro-scale Wi-Fi system to relay automatically generated usage information twice per day from all meters in the coverage area. By eliminating the need for utility personnel to visit each meter and manually record customer consumption, the city can more quickly and accurately provide up-to-date billing information to their service recipients. Additionally, utility customers have immediate, real-time usage data available to them through a Web-based billing and information system run by the city and automatically updated with each wireless meter polling.[link]

Technology is changing some of the oldest data collection based operations around.

August 3, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Finding Customers

mpgifThere are smart uses of technology that provide real benefits. With mobile wireless technologies we are still in a "look what we can do" mode where people are developing proof of concept applications and small pilot projects that are usually the purview of the geek set.

The people at MeetingPoint have such an application. Basically in a nutshell the technology allows users with the right devices to receive an alert tone when they are within 30' of a similar device held by an individual they want to meet up with.

The application runs on Smart Phones and PCs and uses Bluetooth.

The technology is useful in crowded environments like trade shows, airports, train stations, etc.

While this technology is not yet ready for mass adoption this kind of application is coming. You will be able to find people quickly and easily saving time and energy. A boom for customer service and relationship building at conferences and trade shows.

August 2, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Customer Intuition Tools, Travel, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Knowing When Customers are Online

imwatchingDo your customers have AOL Instant Messaging? A new service profiled in the New York Times can help you discover patterns in their online connectivity.

A new site, IMWatching, lets you enter the screen-names of up to 40 people whose activity on AOL Instant Messenger you want to track. The site, which is not affiliated with AOL, collects what it calls "presence data," or information on when those users sign on, sign off, go idle or flag themselves as being away.

Because the users being tracked are not notified, my first impression of the service was Big Buddy Is Watching You. But many IM users will probably find it useful. And it can be blocked by adjusting the visibility preferences in your IM client.

"I realize this application is borderline-scary," said the service's creator, Gregory Harfst, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "But you can't browse screen names or track people you don't know."

While some will feel that this technology is intrusive it is possible for users to block the service and people are beginning to realize that everything they do online can be seen and tracked by others.

Knowing when and how long your customers spend time online can give you insight into their level of comfort with the Internet among a host of other insights. IMWatching is another tool to help build your customer knowledge and customer intuition.

[regreq link]

July 30, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Interactive Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tracking Down Your Ex Customers

cellkeysA company called Accudata Technologies has come up with a system to help wireless phone companies locate their former customers. From the article:

To get help from Accudata, carriers will first need to send a list of former subscribers to the company. The OCNL[Operating Company Name Lookup] service enables Accudata to search out and locate specific subscribers in North America that have moved on to other carriers by accessing several databases. Accudata pledges to locate and provide subscriber information to its clients within a 24-hour period. The company says the carriers can use the information to contact former subscribers and try to win them back, say by offering them a better deal than they switched for.
The key to approaching former customers is to know why they switched in the first place. If it is a cost issue then systems like this may enable companies to win back some subscribers. If it's a customer service issue expect harassment complaints that may do more harm then good.

Rather than chase customers who have a reason not to use your product or service why not spend the money keeping and building relationships with the customers that you do have and making it easy for them to evangelize your business to others. This is just some of what you can do with a well written B2B email newsletter.

[read]

July 28, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Email Newsletter Outsourcing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Build Your Customer Intuition with Google Adwords

google_smallAn intelligent use and analysis of the Google Adwords program can provide valuable customer intuition. Brian Teasley over at Click Z has some suggestions.

Knowing What Words Appeal to Customers
By creating a series of keyword ads aimed at specific landing pages on your site it is then possible to track what visitors do once they are on your site.

In addition to the number of searches on your words and the CTR[click through rate], you can tie data from a Web-related event on your site to the ad data to get an even better measurement on what keywords work best for you.

For example, you can measure how many people who viewed your ad ended up on the "Thank you for ordering" page. This, of course, is a measure of what percentage of people from each keyword (or group of keywords) purchased from your site.

Reading the Minds of Customers

AdWords can provide more than a simple analysis of your keywords. It offers a tool that suggests other words Google searchers have entered in combination with the keywords you already thought of.

At a minimum, this information is like focus group members telling you what phrases are on their minds when they thinking about your product or service. In the best possible scenario, this is your focus group telling you about other possible applications of your product or service -- ones you might not have even thought of yet!

Testing Customer Appeal
Again, by tracking the effectiveness of different keywords and ad formats you can test the effectiveness of different offers.

If you were a large telecommunications company, this provides an opportunity to quickly test whether a "Free Camera Phone" offer might outperform a "Free Blackberry Device" offer. If you're a consultant or professional service provider, you might test a "Free Analysis of Your Business" offer against a "Free White Paper Report" offer. The possibilities are endless and will vary depending on your business. [read]

Google Adwords joins other tools for developing your customer intuition.

July 27, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Find What Touches Customers

hotel-lucia-rooms-newJason Fried over at SVN writes about hotel Pillow Menus.

At Hotel Lucia in Portland they have a “pillow menu” where you can select from soft, firm, firmer, and hypoallergenic. At the Sheraton in Seattle they have 7 pillows on a queen sized bed. What’s with the new infatuation with pillow options? I suppose it’s probably a good idea, but I just find a little humor in a “pillow menu” and 7 pillows on a single queen bed. One thing I have noticed, however, is that the quality of beds at hotels is improving.[link]
What's remarkable here is the opportunity hotels have to track this information about their customer's preference and stock the room with their preferred pillow selection on the customer's return visit.

Hotels are discovering that the greatest touchpoint a guest has with their business experience is the head/bed interface. Great attention is being paid to this interface-the pillow. In your own business are you actively identifying and tracking the greatest customer touchpoint? Perhaps it's the relationship with the sales staff person or the way your product is packed for shipping or the value add of the industry knowledge and education your company shares with customers. Whatever it is you need to find the "pillow" or what Seth Godin calls the Free Prize for your business. Not what you think is the most valuable touchpoint for your customers but what your customers consider to be the most valuable touchpoint for them. Once you find it, polish it and make it remarkable. Seven pillows on a queen sized bed was enough to start Jason Fried talking.

So what is it? What is the "pillow" in your business? Share with us in the comments what you have found is the single greatest customer touchpoint between your business and your customers.

July 22, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bezos Goes With His Intuition

On the train this weekend I had a chance to read yet another Jeff Bezos cover story from the August Fast Company magazine. The article written by Alan Deutschman covers a range of subjects related to Bezos. Of interest were insights into how Bezos trusts his instincts and intuition about what is good for the long term satisfaction of Amazon customers. Clearly Bezos is into "leap of faith" kind of decisions when it comes to serving the interests of customers:

What really distinguishes Bezos is his harrowing leaps of faith. His best decisions can't be backed up by studies or spreadsheets. He makes nervy gambles on ideas that are just too big and too audacious and too long-term to try out reliably in small-scale tests before charging in. He has introduced innovations that have measurably hurt Amazon's sales and profits, at least in the short run, but he's always driven by the belief that what's good for the customer will ultimately turn out to be in the company's enlightened self-interest.
However he also has a strong reputation for measuring the performance of new features and programs.
"One of Jeff's most recurrent phrases when someone has a good idea is, 'We can measure that,' " says Stonesifer. But, she adds: "It's one thing to be a data junkie who just looks at history, but Jeff takes a prospective view. He takes risks and he changes and changes."

Sometimes, Bezos says, you can't rely on facts because it would be too hard to test an idea, or too costly, or you can't figure out how to do it. And "sometimes we measure things and see that in the short term they actually hurt sales, and we do it anyway," he says, because Amazon managers don't think the short term is a good predictor of the long term. For example, they found that their biggest customers had such large collections of stuff -- especially CDs -- that they accidentally ordered items they had already bought from Amazon years ago. So they decided to give people a warning whenever this was about to happen. Sure enough, the warnings slightly reduced Amazon's sales. But it's hard to study the feature's long-term effects. Would it reduce sales over a 10-year period? They didn't think so. They thought it would make customers happy and probably increase sales. "You have to use your judgment," Bezos says. "In cases like that, we say, 'Let's be simpleminded. We know this is a feature that's good for customers. Let's do it.' "

Amazon faced similar dilemmas with its dramatic moves to cut prices and offer free shipping on orders of $25 or more, which is very costly for the company. "You can do the math 15 different ways, and every time the math tells you that you shouldn't lower prices 'cause you're gonna make less money," Bezos says, laughing inevitably. "That's undoubtedly true in the current quarter, in the current year. But it's probably not true over a 10-year period, when the benefit is going to increase the frequency with which your customers shop with you, the fraction of their purchases they do with you as opposed to other places. Their overall satisfaction is going to go up."

Clearly, Bezos makes decisions based on what is in the long term best interest of it's customers. It's a vision thing. Bezos' intuition tells him that serving the best interest of his customers over short term sales performance wins the day. Another example:
From Amazon's early days, his vision was "to create the world's most customer-centric company, the place where you can find and buy anything you want online." Within weeks of first publishing customers' reviews of products, Bezos says, "I started receiving letters from well-meaning folks saying that perhaps you don't understand your business. You make money when you sell things. Why are you allowing negative reviews on your Web site? But our point of view is we will sell more if we help people make purchasing decisions."link
When you are making decisions about your company and your customer communications are you looking out for their long term best interests? Educating customers and prospects is perhaps one of the best ways to look out for their best interests. Knowing more about your industry and specifically the problems and opportunities your products or services address is a powerful way to link customers and prospects to your brand. E-newsletters provide a great opportunity to provide world class communication and education in a format that is completely trackable and measurable.

What innovations or ideas have you implemented where short term analysis proved negative but the long term interests of customers carried the day?

July 19, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Centric, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Senagal Wishes for Rain in France

Buried in this Wired News story about French firms outscourcing their telemarketing to the french speaking sub-Saharan African nation of Senegal is a mention of how local weather information is valuable customer intuition for telemarketers. From the article:

"The center works with a local college to make its telemarketers' accents as neutral as possible. And it checks Internet weather reports so callers can refer to the weather or concentrate their efforts on a specific area if it is raining there and people are more likely to be indoors."
read

July 19, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Staying Alert to Your Customers

google_smTechnology provides so many excellent tools to help us know more about our customers. One of the simplest and perhaps most useful is the free Google News Alert. Google will automatically search for news about a topic you specify and email you a list of relevant stories on a daily basis. You can use these to keep tabs on your favorite celebrity but more importantly you can use News Alerts to develop your customer intuition. Set up several searches for relevant media mentions of customers, prospects and competitors. News Alerts will keep you current on breaking news regarding those you are growing a business relationship with. Being aware of news about customers equips you for timely follow up with them. Positive or negative media mentions are opportunities to strengthen your relationships. Calls, emails or written notes of congratulations may be in order. An offer of assistance might be appropriate in the face of bad news. Either way Google News Alerts can keep you in the know.

Google News Alerts can even provide valuable customer and industry insights to use as content in your B2B email newsletter.

July 16, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Business Marketing, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Email Marketing, Email Newsletter, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Newsletter Marketing, Opt-in Email Marketing, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Loyalty Card Data Mined for Customer Intuition

Nice article over at MarketingProfs.com about a European supermarket and the customer insights they have gleamed from their loyalty card program. Tracking customer buying activity whether it be consumer products or B2B offerings is a great way to develop your customer intuition.

From the article:

The scope and capabilities of Clubcard are astounding. Tesco collects data on each head of lettuce, can of peas, bottle of wine or other item purchased by more than 10 million Clubcard members. It analyzes this tsunami of data to send a magazine with segment-specific content and six highly targeted coupons to each member four times a year.

Four coupons are for products the customer already buys, and two are for products that the customer has never bought before but is likely to buy. As of 1999, Tesco was sending out 145,000 combinations of magazines and coupons; undoubtedly, the number is higher today.

Many promotions just rob future sales, but the analysis enables Tesco to generate more than £100 million in incremental sales each year. Another benefit: “By monitoring short-term coupon redemption rates and then tracking the ongoing transactional activity of the members across all store departments, Tesco could calculate precisely the return on investment.”

Analysis of the Clubcard program led to a great pricing insight:

“If Clubcard data could identify the products that were brought by the price-conscious customers, but not by the rest of us, then lowering those prices would have a huge benefit for them, at the lowest possible cost for Tesco…. By not knowing their customers, many retailers are effectively wasting their money on price cuts that could be targeted to people who want them because they need them.”

The targeted price cuts enabled Tesco to attract more shoppers from competitors and capture the volume that supported the lower prices—all without hurting overall corporate profitability.

Knowing what products, services and experiences your customers are interested in whether by mining data about previous behavior or by monitoring their response and behavior towards marketing communications can set your business apart.

[link]

July 13, 2004 in Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Weather, Weather Everywhere

redumbrellaEvery time earnings season is upon us companies of all types and sizes are quick to blame or credit the weather for their fluctuating fortunes. Recently Wal-Mart and Wendy's have blamed weather for slumping sales. Even the British get into the act crediting sunnier weather with increased sales. This is nothing new. The phenomenon of business using weather fluctuations keeps a raft of consulting companies busy as retailers, suppliers and those in the middle look to improve their management of weather related sales fluctuations.

Perhaps a master of customer intuition, Disney monitors the weather to alter their business practices:

One thing Disney can't control is the weather - which is not to say that it doesn't scrutinize the skies over Orlando as carefully as any air traffic control center. One Central Console screen shows a radar image of the property, as well as current data about wind speed, temperature, and rainfall. Says Blackwell: "We keep an eye on the weather in case we need to cancel outdoor shows or shut down certain attractions like the Skyway," a gondola that runs between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. "The decisionmaking is guest oriented," he goes on. "We want to keep things operating as long as we can."

Blackwell, who began his career at the Magic Kingdom as a 15-year-old balloon vendor on Main Street nearly a quarter century ago, explains that there's a merchandising consideration, too: the weather station allows the Central Console to warn the dozens of shops around the park so they can set out Mickey umbrellas and bright yellow ponchos before the first raindrop falls. As he talks, it becomes clear that the Disney "cast member" structure is a case study in the networked system. Though Blackwell's bailiwick is engineering, he takes pains to point out earnestly that "shelf space is very valuable - it wouldn't make sense to have rain gear out on a sunny day."[link]


Weather impacts sales of a broad range of products not just rain gear or sunscreen. Even doughnut sales fluctuate based on the weather. From an interview with Jim Keyes the CEO of Seven Eleven
Keyes: You know, that is a great example because in the old days we had a very difficult time knowing how many doughnuts to order. Doughnuts sales will actually differ based on the weather: A rainy day, a sunny day, hot temperatures, cold temperatures... these will affect the sale of even a chocolate-glazed doughnut versus a regular-glazed doughnut or a cream-filled doughnut.

Interviewer: I guess that makes sense.

Keyes: It really does. It is interesting to see those changes. We could never stay in stock because it was always a guess. Now, when making tomorrow's order, we can look at 8-10 days of actual sales data and compare the weather pattern on those to the sales data. Then we actually forecast tomorrow's weather for the store. When the managers are making tomorrow's order, they are placing that order with knowledge about previous sales patterns and the external factors that could affect tomorrow's sales. It helps us stay in stock and it helps us reduce the write-offs. The bottom line is the shareholder benefits and the customer benefits from this use of technology. [link]

Keeping an eye on the sky over your business is part of developing your customer intuition. Knowing what products, service and experiences sell seasonally and in good or bad weather is crucial not just for retailers but for B2B organizations as well. If you are in supply chain logistics or marketing you need to know how weather impacts your customers. Not just what weather does to your sales but how it impacts the lives of your customers.

Before you call that customer or prospect take a few seconds to drop their zipcode into a search box at Weather.com and find out what the weather is like where they are. Make mention of it in your conversation. It's a small thing but it can really help build your customer relationship.

July 2, 2004 in Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Advertising: Missing the Relationship

An interesting post about the shortcomings of contextual search engine marketing from search engine marketing guru John Bettelle. Without a known relationship between audience, publisher and advertiser there is no trust and no customer intuition being developed. Advertising may be relevant but it's not valuable.

It's this relationship which I find entirely missing in all these contextual, behavioral, paid search networks. Sure, they are "relevant" to either a search, or to the content they match. But they are driven by metadata and the actions of only one of the parties - the content of the publisher for example (AdSense), or the actions of the audience (Claria, Revenue Science, Tacoda, etc.). As far as I know, none are driven by an understanding of the give-and-take that occurs between all three parties in a consensual relationship mediated by the publication. A site which has only AdSense or behavioral advertising fails to value (or monetize) the community connection between audience, publisher, and advertiser. Advertisers in these networks are not intentionally supporting the publication, and by extension they are not supporting the community the publication has created. In essence, they are not being good citizens of the community where their advertising is being displayed.

Contextual, behavioral and paid search advertising techniques may bring you traffic and even build your email list but it is the development of your customer intuition and your 1:1 marketing communications that will build your business.

[link]

June 1, 2004 in Advertising, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, Customer Intuition Tools, E-Marketing, Educating Clients and Prospects, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Communication, Strategic Internet Marketing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack