Last week in New York, Google launched its online fashion marketplace boutiques.com, which allows users to tailor searches to their own personal style and takes a content-based approach to the whole experience.
With weekly magazines dedicated to shopping seemingly thriving in the UK (IPC puts Look magazine’s weekly readership at 585,000 between July 2009 and June 2010) and retailers keen to associate their brand with celebrities and high-profile fashion bloggers, the story behind the clothes has never been more important. It brings to mind Simon Sinek’s quote that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” or, in this case, who you do it with…
So Google has enlisted the help of style icon celebrities such as Olivia Palermo, the Olsen twins and Carey Mulligan and fashion bloggers including Jane of Sea of Shoes, Alix, aka The Cherry Blossom Girl and Susie Lau from London-based Style Bubble, to tell that story. These taste-shapers ‘curate’ their own boutiques, based on their favourite pieces as well as their personal style – the sum of their preferred designers, shapes, patterns and styles-, allowing those inspired by their style to join them on a virtual shopping spree.
Increasingly it seems like we are the 51st US state here in the UK. If you’re not watching Mad Men or talking about reformed witches running for the senate you’re just not up to date. However the amount of promotional activity for “Black Friday” here in the UK has taken me by surprise.
If you’re not sure what Black Friday is then you definitely aren’t on Amazon’s email list! Black Friday is a term to describe the day after Thanksgiving in the US. Similar to our Boxing Day retailers traditionally launched sale promotions on this day with big bargains to be had!
It seems this year the trend has firmly come to the UK, Thanksgiving or no Thanksgiving.
Amazon has been heavily promoting their “Black Friday Deals Week” – a combination of weekly, daily and “lightening” offers – through both PPC and email. These lightening offers occur every hour and expire at midnight of that day.
However it seems restricted stock numbers has led to mass disappointment. The reaction on Twitter has been overwhelmingly negative (these are the polite ones!):
Over the past few weeks/months Google has been making a number of changes to how search listings are explored and displayed. I find this very interesting as, whilst I understand that Google makes on average one tweak to its algorithm per day, there seems to be a much stronger focus on the user journey and experience whilst searching.
These developments to the user experience of searching has got me drawing similarities between Google’s listings and the trials of speed dating! Both involve a number of nervous candidates who are all vying for the attention of the audience of the room, each hoping someone will engage with them in the brief amount of time that they have and ultimately agree to something more intimate.
With that in mind I thought I’d pull together Doug’s top tips to attracting the attention of the opposite sex, in this case your target audience.
I’ve used the new Windows Phone 7 as an example for this, and these tips can be applied for any query – although I feel are especially important around new product launches or music/film releases.
Tip #1 Check Your Appearance
“I think Richard Dawkins was sent to test us. Like fossils. And facts.”
It’s not just religious fervour that facts can get in the way of – a good dose of facts and rational discussion is the best cure for disinformation and malicious rumours too. So why aren’t more CSR programmes using social media to fight negative perceptions of their organisations?
It strikes me that one of the richest sources of useful, interesting and inspiring information that organisations have is the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work that they do. By that I mean in part, their charitable, social works, but also their ethics and principles and how these are put into practice
It’s not just about shouting about all the work you do for charity. CSR at its best (and I think of M&S Plan A first in this respect) is about explaining the principles and the ethics the organisation subscribes to.
In my student days i was lazily radical in my views about corporations. Twenty years later I will hold my hand up and admit my views on, say, McDonalds or Nike were informed by word of mouth, rarely backed up by evidence or data beyond that which was presented to me by campus activists. I think I got quite worked up about some of it, and I think a lot of it was nonsense.
There were and are two issues around responding constructively to anti-corporate criticism:
On Monday night Facebook revealed the new Messages, amid fierce protests that it’s not e-mail. Even they have to admit that it does seem a bit like e-mail, especially as you get an @Facebook.com e-mail address. But on closer inspection it feels like e-mail evolved. It’s a bigger beast that’s gobbled e-mail and other communication channels up, and spat them out as a digested whole.
The premise is combining four methods of contact – Facebook messaging, text message, Facebook Chat and e-mail – into one system to give you a Social Inbox. Whereas previously you’d need to use a variety of channels to communicate with all the different people in your life, and one conversation could be dispersed across all four with no consistent record, now the conversation can be contained in Facebook.
If someone writes to you in Chat, the same message appears in your inbox so you can read and reply in either place, and it’s not lost once the chat window is closed.
Anyone on Facebook, friend or not, can send you a message. But not everyone is on Facebook. Enter the Facebook e-mail address. Now anyone can send you a message.
And if you provide your phone number you can get text messages in the messaging system. This is the cloudiest element for me – does it apply when sending a text from and to a mobile if both people’s mobiles are registered with Facebook? Can I read my text messages in messaging or only read my messages in text? Or does it simply notify me by text when I receive a new message. Remains to be seen when it’s rolled out.
Your Social Inbox prioritises your friends – by default messages from Facebook friends and friends of friends are automatically sent to the Inbox. Everything else goes to the ‘Other’ folder, even if it is sent directly to your Facebook e-mail address. If you bring a message from your ‘Other’ folder into your inbox all future messages from that person will go straight to the inbox so you can prioritise who you want to hear form.
Facebook Places was speculated to be the end of other location-based social services such as Foursquare and Gowalla due to the massive user base of more than 500 million that Facebook has access to. But, unlike their competitors, Facebook Places gave users little incentive to check-in to a local business, until yesterday when Facebook formally announced an extension to their Places feature: location-based deals.
So what does this look like for businesses?
Much like on Foursquare, businesses can now entice customers to check-in to their physical store locations by offering some form of deal or discount.
With the huge potential audience reach that Facebook provides and the creation of deals being completely free, both small and large businesses are sure to be drawn to experiment with the power of Facebook Places. Although The Zuck (Mark Zuckerberg) declined to comment on the amount of check-ins Places has seen since its August launch, he did say “We know that it’s multiples larger than any other location service.” This gives potential partners an indicator of the reach Places has to offer despite only being active for three months.
Deals can be created by any business with a Places page, using a self-service tool, and fall into four distinct categories:
- Individual Deal: An individual deal rewards, as you might have guessed, individual customers. These types of deals will often be in the form of a discount, free merchandise or, to quote Facebook, ‘some other cool reward’. An example of this would be the deal that Gap is running where the first 10,000 check-ins at any Gap store receive a free pair of jeans and subsequent check-ins will be offered a 40% discount on one item of clothing.
- Friends Deal: A friend deal is the equivalent of the ‘Super Swarm’ badge on Foursquare, whereby a group of customers that check-in together are offered a group reward. For example, a group of friends at a gig could be offered a free t-shirt each if they all check-in together.
- Loyalty Deal: The loyalty deal will work much like a mayorship on Foursquare, whereby the most loyal customer is given special deals that others are not entitled to. Though Facebook’s implementation of this slightly differs from Foursquare as the reward is offered to those that check-in a certain amount of times, rather than to one person who check-ins the most times overall. For example, a bar could offer the user a free drink for checking in five times.
- Charity Deal: A charity deal is where a business can incentivise check-ins by pledging to donate money to a charity every time users check-in to their business.
Blog science: the numbers that matter
I get lots of reports, data and analysis to read through each week, but there’s one report that, year after year, I anticipate more than any other: Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere.
This year’s survey, taken by over seven thousand bloggers, highlights a few things I found particularly interesting.
Still a tension between bloggers and traditional media?
Thanks to Andrew Marr dissing bloggers as “inadequate, pimpled and single” and grousing that blogging is “not going to replace journalism”, the war of words wages on.
At a gut level, this just feels irrelevant and very out-dated to me, so it’s good to see the survey data backs me up.
Far from being the enemy of traditional media, 33% of all respondents and 49% of corporate bloggers have a traditional media background and 27% of bloggers are still employed in traditional media. These numbers are fairly consistent with last year.
High volumes required for authority
Reports from previous years have shown a correlation between post frequency and Technorati’s own authority ranking. This year, those blogs in the top 100 posted an average of 14.5 times per day. That’s unfeasible for all but highly organised multi-author blogs.
Some people are blogging less this year than they did last year. 30% of this group said they scaled back to devote more time to Twitter and 28% to devote more time to social networks – so less content, but more engagement.
So Google has announced the release of Google Instant Previews – “a new search feature that helps people find information faster by showing a visual preview of each result”
This means that Google SERPs will start to look like:
These previews are activated when you click on the magnifying glass icons at the end of each listing.; if you use your cursors to navigate listings – with the blue arrow – then using the right key turns the preview on, and the left key turns it off.
You can read our full write up of the new Google Instant Preview feature from Natural Search Analyst Jake Hawkins, as well as some details from Google below about how to make good use of the feature:
Google Ad formats
The last 12 months has been a busy time for the Ad Format team at Google HQ in Mountain View. Google has introduced a number of innovations to spruce up their paid listings making for a very different search engine results page (SERP). Up until this point there had been very little change to the format of the eleven sponsored links we see on our SERP. Lets take a look at some of these changes:
The most commonly implemented innovation or Ad Extension has been Site Links. Originally introduced in two line format in November 2009; this was extended to cover one-line site links in June of this year.
Two-line Sitelinks would only be eligible to show for “exceptionally high quality Ads – where one Ad provides the best answer”. This is measured by Google via an Ads CTR and essentially rendered this format available only to brand owners.
An increasing number of companies, especially retailers, are adopting mobile applications or in some other instances mobile web as part of their digital strategy. Here at iCrossing we conducted some analysis to find out how different demographics use their mobile devices depending on their needs.
The use of mobile internet by women is quickly catching up with men. According to Opera research between May 2008 and July 2010, the number of female users using Opera Mini increased by 575%, while male users increased by only 233%.
Our latest Research and Insight report, Understanding Women’s Digital Behaviour, shows that women prefer to use their smart phones when they look for advice compared with when they are performing a transactional query. Of the volume of mobile search queries analysed, most were advice-related. Search categories in the yellow circle below were more likely to be performed using a mobile rather than a desktop browser, meaning that women are interested in getting advice using their mobiles: from hair styles or recipes to sex tips or career advice.
For instance, mobile search for ‘sex tips/advice’ (figure below – left column in pink) showed 53% of total searches compared to only 4% using normal desktops. For ‘handbags‘, women are more likely to use desktop search – 23% of the total volume compared to only 3% with mobile.
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