Sunday, September 27, 2009

Augmenting customer experience via iPhone App - Starbucks new recovery strategy

Nowadays Iphone app are becoming more often part of mobile marketing strategies used by companies to reinforce their campaigns' messaging.

After over 16 years of dominance on the caffeine market, Starbucks encountered a number of difficulties this year: loss of control over brand identity, quality control issues a.o., dropping 5 places on Interbrands' Best Global Brands 2009 report. Also, for the fist time the company was forced to shutter over 600 stores in the US.

This week the retailer has announced a new mobile marketing strategy, as part of its repositioning program, aiming to reinforce its brand experience: 2 new iPhone app were launched - My Starbucks and Starbucks Card Mobile App:

The 1st app is a pretty standard application based mainly on GPS functions helping to locate the closest store, check menu items, hours and amenities. The main innovative solution which sets Starbucks apart from US retailers is the Starbucks Card Mobile App which allows barcode payments using iPhones.

I hear more often these days that in customer-driven environment "the currency is innovation" and mobile marketing as a 3-rd screen platform (among TV, online and mobile) offers a vast array of opportunities for marketers.

For Starbucks this innovation is clearly a step forward in the field of mobile payments and only its popularity and usage will show if this could be a practice for other businesses to follow and for consumers to adopt.

Sources used:

1. BrandChannel:

2. Interbrand Best Global Brands Report:

3. Bnet UK:

4. Starbucks:
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Monday, September 14, 2009

Twitter usage - ahead of any industry forecasts?

It appears that 2006 was the year of global social networking upheaval: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace - (US), Tuenti (main Spanish social networking platform), Odnoklassniki & VKontakte (Main Russian portals),etc. In spite of early predictions, social networking platforms continue to show significant popularity growth among both consumer and corporate worlds.

Moreover, recent statistics show that it's not only a teenagers' medium, but also a more frequent destination for young professionals aged between 24-35 and even 35-49 (Nielsen Wire)

If in February Nielsen revealed that Twitter is the fastest growing social media platform (1382% growth rate), as compared to Facebook (228%), then today eMarketer published the results of a new study, which states that Twitter growth rate in US accounts for 200% increase over 2008, reaching over 18 million US accounts only.

Still, this isn't a global figure, which according to some sources has reached 44 million Twitter users worldwide. Moreover, because many users access Twitter via mobile applications, text messages (only in US so far), desktop applications, it became difficult to track active Twitterers in order to establish more accurate usage figures.

Anyway, even though eMarketer assumes that there's a large number of users who only open a Twitter account on experiential grounds for a short-term presence, still, its uncertain existance at its early stage has translated into a mainstream media today and when used properly it may result in benefits for both personal or corporate brands.

Sources that caught my attention whyle preparing this article:

1. eMarketer (14.09.2009):

2. Nielsen Wire (18.03.2009):

3. eMarketer (28.08.2009):

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Russian Social Network - ( plans to compete globally against Facebook and MySpace

Social networks have spread enormously within only the last couple of years. Although Facebook is a global leader(230 million users, acc. to eMarketer), followed by MySpace (130 million), there are still a number of similar online platforms leading locally, such as: StudiVZ(Germany)- over 15 million users, Tuenti(Spain)-around 13 million users (comScore), Skyrock(France)-over 17 millions and VKontakte (Russia) - over 42 million users.

Even though accused for its high similarity with Facebook's interface, often called "Facebook's clone" (see the picture below), VKontakte (translated: InTouch) has rapidly grown its users' data-base and has now plans to compete against Facebook globally.

It has acquired a new domain name: (as confirmed by GoDaddy, September, 2009). Also, according to their Executive Director, Lev Leviev, VKontakte is planning to launch globally in the nearest future. Moreover, as of October 2009, Vkontakte will become avaliable in 12 language platforms (at the moment there're only 4: Russian, Ukranian, Belarusian and English).

Judging by recent statistics (view comScore link below), Russians spend more time on social networks than the rest of the world. Among the 40 individual countries reported by comScore, Brazil follows Russia at 6.3 hours, whereas Canada registers 5.6 hours, Puerto Rico - 5.3 hours and Spain - 5.3 hours. The United States is ranked number 9, with 4.2 hours and 477 pages per visitor per month.

Interestingly enough, a new study made by Mobile Marketer (January 2009) shows that Facebook and vKontakte are now the most visited social networks for mobile Opera Mini users, according to Opera's latest State of the Mobile Web report.

So, although local social media champions are facing promissing uprise, the question is : could they compete on the global market, by convincing the international audience? Clearly, the focus will be on innovation and distinct marketing techniques applied locally.

Would be great to hear your thoughts on this news or similar stories.

Sources that caught my attention while preparing this article:

1. TechCrunch Europe:

2. Mobile Marketer :

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Measuring social media ROI - "hard" vs. "soft" metrics. Interview with David Meerman Scott & Ogilvy PR and digital specialists

Today brands are facing the challenge of becoming "sociable", or as some analysts describe - "open source brands". This means higher transparency, accessibility and obviously - authenticity.

Although new media "pushes" brands to speak to consumers, interact with them or even ask for advice , many executives perceive "being sociable" as an equivalent to "over-exposure", showing fear in front of web democratization.

Well, now when the benefits of social interactions are gradually becoming obvious (e.g.Dell reported $ 3 mln sales via links posted on Twitter, Zappos extended hugely its customer base, Ford launched their first Social Media Press Release and got free publicity during their new Ford Fiesta campaign, etc), managers are starting to wonder: how do we measure the effectiveness of social media?

I addressed a few questions to Ogilvy PR and digital specialists: James Poulter, Rebecca Perfect and John Heredea (Ogilvy PR Worldwide):

Digilunch: Do you think that certain companies (industries) should avoid social media?

Rebecca: It could be applicable to any brand if used strategically, whether it's for internal or external use. The major question is : what type of involvement is right for your brand/company?

James: Social media is extremely diverse in its use. There're so many applications for social media in customer service, knowledge management, asset management, human resources, etc. As for marketing perspective there're no particular limitations by sector, it's the strategy companies use to socialize.

John: Also, interaction with consumers adds to the level of trust the brand could benefit from.

James: Trust is key, since there's natural human ability to trust in people. We trust people implicitly day and day out, which could not be told in the same manner of companies. So it makes sence for the brands to come out from their "shells" and start talking to people.

Digilunch: What do you think are the main mistakes companies make when they first start using social media?

James: Spamming is one of the biggest mistakes companies make when using Twitter, for example. Remember the Habitat case? In order to get its tweets noticed, the company used Iranian election # hashtags that had nothing to do with their own tweets:

Digilunch: An example of negative public reaction:

Rebecca: That is why a massive re-education is needed in order to understand this phenomenon!

James: Eventually, the biggest mistake companies might do is: not listening. All brands should stop thinking like companies and start thinking like people!!
Also, when engaging, companies should think of long-term relationships. You've got to relate to it in the same manner you maintain a relationship with a friend: if you suddently break your relationship, you no longer can rely on this bonding as initially - it's commonsense!

Digilunch: Since there’s a strong debate about whether B2C companies should measure social media against brand awareness or tangible revenue figures. What would you say?

James: Any Marcomm methods are measurable. Social media could be addressed by: reach, perception change (measuring positive and negative sentiment) or ROI figures (PR/advertising equivalents) - which are the most debatable, because at the moment there's no universally accepted benchmark in the industry to measure social media ROI.
That's why each agency provides its own metrics to cover the client's objectives.

Digilunch: I've asked the opinion in this matter of David Meerman Scott author of the award-winning Business Week best-selling book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR”(2009),

his answer is below:

I’m often confronted with the issue of how to measure an online initiative’s results. Executives at companies large and small as well as marketing and PR people push back on the ideas of a World Wide Rave because they want to apply old rules of measurement to the new world of spreading ideas online. The beauty of the Web is that you benefit from instant access to conversations you could never participate in before.

The old rules of measurement used two metrics that don’t matter when spreading ideas, especially online:

1. We used to measure “leads”— how many business cards we collected; how many people called the toll free number; how many people stopped at the
tradeshow booth; and how many people filled out a form on our Web site, providing their email address and other personal information.

2. We used to measure “press clips”—the number of times our company and its products were mentioned in mainstream media like magazines, newspapers, radio, and television.

While applying these forms of measurement might be appropriate
offline, using them to track your success on the Web just isn’t relevant; they don’t capture the way ideas travel. Worse, the very act of tracking leads and collecting email addresses hampers the spread of ideas.


Generally, companies executives are looking for "hard" measurement tools, to see social media through "revenue lenses", whereas pactitioners incline to the importance of long-term engagement, suggesting "soft tools" to measure the interaction rate, customers' satisfaction and feedback.
And guess what? building strong relationships with consumers was never a short-tem task.

Sources that caught my attention while exploring this topic:

1. eMarketer "No single metric for digital success":

2. eMarketer "A tool for every purpose":

3. ReadWriteWeb "Social media ROI - Dell's $3 mln on Twitter..":

4. PageonePR "Using cost per click social media ROI" :
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