The Value Exchange

We are now knee deep in and learning to approach, interact and profit from the new social/2.0(5) web. Starting in 07 there was many predictions made on where we are headed and how we will arrive (at the end of this post there are some links). Ad-age has an interesting continuation to the story from bloggers on the Power150 blog-ranking index. They were asked to elaborate on what technology marketers should be paying most attention to in 2008. I think a clear picture emerges – apparent in this article and thought other conversations on the future (08). Here is my take on this cake… My list of kit (in no particular order)…

Micro-content
As Tom Martin (Positive Disruption) “With the cost of production and distribution of digital content rapidly approaching zero… the opportunity to create branded micro-content that consumers will invite into their lives becomes a financial reality with a huge ROI upside…” a.k.a widgets etc.. This I think is one of the strongest channels out there right know, at least when it comes to actual advertising to the consumer. Here we have a way of providing relevant, targeted, interactive, inviting and social (if applicable) branded stuff that the consumer can actually use. You know not jam down the trough just a gentle whisper… this is already taking of (been for a while now) and seem to be working. Now we just need be clever.

Mobile – the natural extension and Holy Grail of relevant and useful.
Take this micro-content/widgest/apps and make them work on mobile platforms as well and we are now adding an limitless dimension. Marie Lena Tupot (BrandNoise) “Mobile apps. But not in a whiz-bang, over-the-top manner; the sort of incremental mobile apps that make ordinary things even easier, like let you pay back friends on the fly, split the check at restaurants, pre-order your coffee so you can bypass the line at a local café, pay your belated phone bill, donate to your political candidate …” It is just logical right? I would love to have all my coffee related expense (here in Sweden there is a lot of “fika” going on or hanging at the local Starbucks for you Americans) taken care of by my phone, that would be great. And while one is at it just add a café rating (maye even Twitter) to this and one can be social as well. Further support to this is recent study by eMarketer on mobil ads.

Mico-blogging – or shall we call it Twittering?
While on the topic of Twitter and mobile integration… Peter Imbres (Point Oh!) – “The most important technology for marketers to understand right now is Twitter and some of the other micro-blogging platforms. It’s less a question of how they can directly apply this technology than how they need to understand collective conversations. Some of the most influential people in several different verticals are engaged in a dialogue at any given time on these platforms, and it provides a unique opportunity for brands to reach stakeholders when they’re actually listening, which is rare in many of these emerging media categories. The media outlets and politicians are starting to get it, hopefully other marketers won’t be too far behind.”
Clearly a great opportunity here, now how harness? I am not yet an active user of this medium so limited understanding, but it seem to be contagious if one has a large following… Very cool with the built in mobile support.

The Blog – the organic SEO
The (traditional?) blog must be one of the greatest things to have taken foothold in the last years. It is just great for all. Consumers benefit for the information and the multitude and companies benefit from information, advertising (it is like free adds space and it builds rep and cred) and the feedback (if dare). And it is all very social as well… and best of all for web sites; relevant streaming content.
Kevin Tomczak (PowerUp) – “Blogging continues to be one of the most influential communications channels for B2B marketers in 2008. This channel is a precursor to a true social network, and allows companies to continue the conversation beyond our traditional touch points. Yesterday’s mass marketing strategies don’t work — we’re on the customer’s time, and by keeping conversations going through blogging, we’re increasing the chance that we’ll be present when the customer needs our product or service.
We’ve also just begun to scratch the surface of the SEO benefits of blogging. In the US, roughly 80% of internet use (excluding e-mail) begins with a search. And a majority of business purchasers use the internet for research before a purchase is made. Blogging gives a company a lot of content containing a lot of keywords, and, with a lot of incoming and outbound links, that’s SEO gold.”

Yep, so true for both B2B and B2C. Be visible through content. More visitors and more time spent with brand

SEO
Joost de Valk (Joost de Valk’s SEO Blog) – “The technique/technology most worthy of any marketer’s attention is SEO. It’s the cheapest and best way of getting quality traffic to your domains. Especially due to the emergence of so-called universal search, ie. the integration of the results from vertical search engines like images, books and local into the “main” search results, more chances of driving cheap, high-quality traffic have come up.”
With the right (relevant to your target) content, linking and media one can go far… Throw in some local targeting and we are even better. Andy Wibbels (AndyWibbels.com) – “Local search. Consumers are learning they can find resources not just across the globe, but down the street. “Findability” is crucial, whether you are a global organization or local mom-and-pop. “
Nutshell – worth time and money invested.

Video – the face to face web revolution
Well no surprises here. It is now very quick and cheap to produce, it gives great effect and it is more fun. (or is it just that it is like TV and we are all used to and liking that?). I also believe it brings a more human aspect to content and to the web – you know, face to face, it is always more powerful. And yes very social web friendly.
Paul Chaney (Conversational Media Marketing) – “Online video/TV is the technology to watch in ’08. There seems to be a seismic shift toward digital distribution of video content, more and more video sites are being created, and there is a small camera revolution going on (which includes webcams) that portends a continued rise in user-generated video content. YouTube was just the beginning. Now, there’s ooVoo
, seesmic, Revver Jumpcut … the list goes on and on. Oh, and FastCompany.TV that Scoble just inaugurated. Add to that the fact that people are scurrying to their computers in droves to watch television programs which, themselves. More than any other technology, including social networks, online video is it.”

Niche
It is all about the niche. You can find or distribute anything you want, on any topic… and people will find it… Start/join groups on social networks, start blog, even start a social network. I mean it is natural conversation on topics you are passionate about. Now for the marketers there is a need for some thinking to get into this kind of conversation with some relevance.John Ebbert (ContextWeb Internet Advertising Blog) – “…Marketers need to understand the impact of the media fragmentation now occurring as users migrate await from portals and large sites to smaller, niche content sites, and how one of the key technological beneficiaries of this trend — online advertising exchanges — will create new opportunities for marketers seeking to improve ROI.”

In-game advertising
Believe that this is the next channel for large scale branding and advertising… Kinda like product placement in TV that is so blissfully annoying , but with relevance. Like this – walking around a beautifully rendered true-to-life city scape (…maybe hunting aliens or under attack from the enemy, but anyway;) and seeing all these signs, posters, products, details that are most of the time very badly executed or just a brand ripoff… it is a shame to ignore details like this and undermine the surrounding work. To the point, these spaces are being opened up to advertisers and brands. This is great, we get detailed product in its relevant environment to complete the picture and cheaper/free/better games because of revenue. Big opportunity for advertiser of course.

The content marketing movement
Kinda sums it up…
Joe Pulizzi (Junta 42) – “The single biggest issue/technology that deserves the most attention is not a site or an application, but more an organizational philosophy. It’s the content marketing movement — which is the philosophy of marketing services not by traditional methods, but by delivering valuable, relevant and compelling content to customers and prospects on a consistent basis. This is being done through all media platforms, and we are seeing companies like P&G and Nike put a large amount of money and resources into these efforts.”

Give, give and give and when you’re done give some more.

One of most talked about people during the SXSW 08 was winelibrary.com/WineLibrary.tv‘s own Gary Vaynerchuk. Seriously this guy rocks. Passion for what he dose and one of the guys that have really understood and harnessed the power of the social web. And changed the preservation of wine to thousands of non wine lovers. Found this video interview form Tara Hunt, on the topic how and what (Loving the name of Tara’s blog though – horsepigcow).

And here is an SXSW 08 spot with Kathy Sierra (invites Gary Vaynerchuk up during her presentation).

Some good inspiring stuff, enjoy.

What listening can(should) do…

Admiration to companies that listen to their customers/users and make the experience (web site, service, product) better based on this. It takes a smart and humble company… but all should. It is only logical, right? This is what the evolution of the web is… communication both ways. And then reaction to make the experience/service/product better.

Found two cases – two completely different markets and purposes and methods – on the use of such tactics – form Get Elastic and Creuna (sorry this one is only in Swedish for now).

Get Elastic Outtake:

Customer Feedback Inspires Eddie Bauer Redesignby Linda Bustos
Eddie Bauer recently revamped its online store design using customer feedback. At first glance, it’s hard to see much difference other than the doesn’t look like much has really changed. But when you look under the hood, you find Eddie Bauer’s packed its new site with plenty of Web 2.0 to improve usability and customer satisfaction.

Before

Old Eddie Bauer Design

After

New Eddie Bauer Design

And the product presentation – brilliant in name and function…

Eddie Bauer calls this “virtually picking up” an item, and “putting it down” to continue browsing that category.

After

 

Virtual Pick Up

Before

Old Product Page Layout

The favorite – a consumer friendly shopping bag with great options and cross-selling.

Eddie Bauer’s “Add to Shopping Bag” confirmation gives full details of which item, size and color was added, the price, availability (in stock), cross-sells and links to check out, “>continue shopping or add a gift box. Trust me, I’ve looked at hundreds of “add to cart” confirmation methods, and I really dig this one.

Add to Shopping Bag

The revamped cart page has larger product thumbnails, tax and shipping calculations and holds items in your cart for weeks, so if you abandon your cart, you don’t have to start over (a.k.a. “persistent shopping cart”.)

Shopping Bag Layout

Must say, one of the best e-shop i have use… Feels like they have thought of everything… forgot, their customers did 😉

Check out the site here – www.eddiebauer.com

Creuna Outtake:

Stockholm stad remake

Offentligt i världsklass

Creuna och Stockholms stad har ett strategiskt partnerskap kring Stockholm Webb, som innefattar den stadsgemensamma intranätslösningen och www.stockholm.se. Creuna har arbetat med Stockholms stad sedan 2005 med koncept och interaktionsdesign för båda webbplatserna, användarstudier, fokusgrupper, webbutveckling, integration, redaktörsutbildningar, funktionell och teknisk förvaltning samt tekniska förstudier inför satsningen på e-tjänster för medborgarna.
Stockholm.se
Beta-version av nya stockholm.se växer fram successivt under våren. Under tiden den nya sajten tar sin fulla skepnad finns gamla stockholm.se kvar. Med den öppna utvecklingsprocessen ges chansen att involvera stockholmarna i slutresultatet.

Creuna har arbetat fram koncept, interaktionsdesign och form och gör även utvecklingen. För att skapa förutsättningar för kommande e-tjänster till medborgarna används den senaste tekniken och funktionaliteten inom området. Nya stockholm.se följer WAI och Vervas riktlinjer för tillgänglighet.

Utvecklingen av nya stockholm.se sker med starkt fokus på medborgarna. Fokusgrupper har genomförts på ett tidigt stadium för att utforma interaktionsdesign och struktur.

Webbplatsen utvecklas i en öppen utvecklingsmiljö med en beta-version där medborgarna ges möjlighet att spela en viktig roll i utformningen. Kommunikationen sker via utvecklingsbloggen för Stockholm.se.

Here we have a very interesting way of developing a new site with the help of the users/citizence. For a public service site such for Stockholm city this is defiantly the way to go – get the users/citiceze involved in the process and make them feel as a contributing part of the project. Benificial for both parties and seriously good for the bottom line. If managed right you will end up with a great site.

Stockholm stad entery page

While the new site is under construction the old one lives but with clear CTA to take part int the development of the new.

Stockholm stad dev main page

The main page of the developing site. Here you get info on what this all is about with some nice animation. Your are encouraged to click around (the site in development) and enticed to take part in the development thought the blog. It also shows in percentage how far the project is as well which is a nice feature.

Stockholm stad dev blog

And the blog page or conversation page as they call this. Here one can follow the story, get more info, vote and take part. The posts generally asks the user to comment and give feedback.

This is a great example on how to make a new site with user input through the whole process. Again the way to do it… Great show Creuna. If you live in Stockholm and know Swedish check this out and take part…

As you see some great effects of customer/user feedback. Now let us all be wise and adapt…