A very interesting graphic from LUMA Partners (LUMAscape) was recently published. You will notice pretty much all of IBM’s recent acquisitions (in the last 3 or so years) are on this graphic. This is in my opinion a validation of the IBM’s Smarter Commerce strategy as their products become more and more integrated. Having a single company with best of breed technologies integrated and supported by one company makes this landscape a bit more consumable and less daunting.
I started creating a presentation to show to a customer about the journey map a customer has while dealing with your web site and/or mobile device. I wanted to show this in a unique way and have it be in the context of the presentation which was precision marketing using out of the box WebSphere Commerce. Precision marketing is essentially putting forth offers and dialog to the customers that are relevant to them – either through segmentation, online behavior, or purchasing behavior. Then it hit me, the business user tooling in WebSphere Commerce reads like a book and the flow is right in front of your face! So I created a slide that simply showed a customers journey on the site and what offers are sent to them from certain events. There are many combinations I could do but hopefully you get the point with the set I have here.
You get an email from your favorite store and see a coupon for 20% off now through the next weekend. You click on the link and you are now shopping online. You add a few items to the cart and finally click that “Buy” button. Ok, it is probably a check out button but that didn’t sound as good as the way John Mesberg said it in his post on the Smarter Commerce Blog.
The first thing the customer does after hitting the button is go through the checkout flow. This is a critical piece in an online site. Make sure you get a very seamless and easy check out flow. I can’t tell you how many companies spend a lot of time streamlining this check out process to prevent abandoned shopping carts. Next is inventory. A well designed site should have some kind of “At Time of Purchase” or ATP of the inventory. Whether it’s an online purchase or pickup in store your site should be smart enough to know whether the items in the cart are available. Accepting the major credit cards and even a service like PayPal is very important. Many people use services like PayPal to “protect their identity” and its important to support these types of payment systems.
After check out, the customer will most likely be anticipating a confirmation email for their purchase along with a pickup or delivery date. Having your e-commerce site tied into your fulfillment centers and warehouse delivery system is key here. This allows for a streamlined delivery from the shortest packaging center, often referred to as Distributed Order Management. To put it simply, you don’t want to ship from China to a U.S. location if you have a fulfillment center with inventory in the U.S.
What if something is wrong with the order or the person wants to make a change? Maybe they clicked the “buy button” too quickly and need to “call support”. Your call center needs cross-channel visibility into all orders. Some orders may come from the phone, the web site, the mobile store, or even the brick and mortar store. Having a single call center to support all channels is ideal.
Now that the order is all set, the customer waits for delivery.
Let’s just say the customer gets his product delivered, then the fun starts. The power of social media is now at play.
They will most likely Tweet, Post to Facebook or even Google+ (just so Google’s employees know about it) that they either love the product and buying experience or didn’t. They will then use the product or wear the product and post pictures, likes, dislikes etc. Maybe even be asked if it was clothing where they got it and how much, etc. After a period of time they might have another opinion of the product – it’s still great, its out of date, it no longer works, etc. And if they are a nerd like me they will most likely blog about it. I do this quite often in my “Things-I-Like” category.
In the end it is no longer a simple “word of mouth” rule. People have access to opinions (good and bad) at their fingertips. They can quickly find the good, the bad, and the ugly of your products, your brand, and your online experience.
Related article: eCommerce Trends: The Infographic
I read this article today (How to Grow Your Business with Inbound Marketing) and totally agree with the writer about how a transition from the traditional outbound marketing is becoming less popular to inbound marketing. This is a fundamental premise of Smarter Commerce! It puts the knowledgeable customer at the focal point of the business and marketing machine. Having my friends recommend products or product reviews in general are much more powerful than an advertisement on television (outbound marketing).
I often, very often actually, get asked to review products and books on this blog. I generally say no unless I am personally interested in the product or book. The reason I get asked is because the companies know a blog article or a review on Amazon.com is a very powerful element on the internet, regardless of how popular the blog is (or as unpopular like mine). When people search for that product, a blog post, tweet, or any kind of review, it will most definitely show up in the results.
Companies know the value of referrer sites and most likely even track where their sales are being generated from. Below you can see a screen shot from Coremetrics where you can quickly see how much revenue is generated on that commerce site based on the referrer:
So if you are a very popular site you might want to ask for a bit of that money back or even charge for a product review – but then the value of your review declines. My motto is to really only review things I am truly interested in and I almost only review things I would write positive about. Keeps me out of trouble…
When you create tutorial videos or live presentations of software you may want to have the viewer see where the mouse is at certain times throughout the video. Windows 7 has a pretty slick feature that you can enable in the Mouse dialog box. Enabling that option will then allow you to simply hit the CTRL key to get a visual indicator of where the pointer is. This is great for highlighting the pointer and also highlighting a button or a click option you will click.
Many video production software packages do something similar as this but if the one you are using doesn’t you can always use this as an option. This is what it would look like in the end video:
I just read this blog post “7 Secrets to Effective Corporate Blogging” and I think this is also a great list for the regular bloggers like myself. As a matter of fact I guess I am doing their last tip right now by “stealing their idea” and adding to it, plus one more tip! I have been blogging for just over six years and I have seen a lot of hits on some posts and not nearly as many hits on other posts that I thought would be good reads. I have learned a lot over the years in this space and hopefully some of this information will be useful to other bloggers or newbies.
The biggest success in my opinion for any blog is the consistency of the content in the blog. This blog pretty much focuses on software development in many areas, collaboration, social, commerce, programming, administration, etc. basically whatever I do in my own time and my professional time around those areas. Over the years I have gained readers and lost readers. I am definitely not an authority or generate 10,000 hits a day, or even a thousand hits a day in most cases; I do think I get enough readers to at least talk about what I think works.
So on to my “keys to success”, first and foremost get followers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other site you have presence on. This will give you an opportunity to post your blog posts there. Many may find it annoying but many also look at those social networks to get news versus using a feed reader or visiting blogs individually.
Tip 1 - I find that scheduling posts between 4am and 5am Eastern Standard time is the best for me because I have many readers in Europe. Having your blog software automatically Tweet or share the post at that time is also a good idea. You want to promote your post URL between 8am and 10am in the different time zones. Studies have shown this is when most people read news on the internet.
Tip 2 - SEO can not be underestimated! Getting your post URL on the different social networks and then getting people to reply, like, Tweet or whatever will raise your SEO score on the search sites. A good example on my site are these two posts, they each get about 5-10 hits per day and a few are years old, the Eclipse preferences one was actually posted in 2007!
- Is GWT the future of web development?
- Which Java sort is faster – MergeSort, QuickSort or Arrays.sort?
- Where are all of these Eclipse preferences stored?
- Flash, HTML5, Java, Silverlight – which one would you use?
- Finding the XPath in Internet Explorer
- Window Builder for Eclipse – for SWT, RCP and SWING UI’s
- A great Lotus Notes Composite Application tutorial
Tip 3 - Blog titles, very important. This particular post might get a lot of hits just for the title alone. The content may or may not work but hey, at least the title drove something. Many bloggers use “shock” titles to get a lot of hits but then the blog itself loses credibility over time.
Tip 4 - Stay consistent to your blogs purpose. Whether you blog about software or pickles make sure you stick to those guns. I use to post a lot of personal information in the beginning and found many liked it for the occasional read but it really didn’t build my readership. When I really focused on my specialty I started gaining hits.
Tip 5 - Use images and videos! Nothing makes a point like a picture or video. I may not be the most descriptive person with words so many times I just use a video or picture to help out. It also makes the blog itself a little more flashy. I may actually use too many pictures and videos…
Tip 6 - Your blogging software and the tools to effectively promote, attract, and publish your posts. It’s no secret I use WordPress as my blogging software. I used three different blogging software for this blog and eventually settled on WordPress. I feel the administration, the plugins, the templates, the community and the quality of the code is unparalleled in the free blogging software world. You can probably find “better” software but you will most likely have to pay for it or have it hosted.
Tip 7 - Promote, Promote, Promote. You have to have social presence and you have to promote your blog. Those Tweets, comments, mentions, likes, etc all work in your favor and could gain new readers. Use hash tags in Twitter so your post shows up in searches and other peoples lists. This is how you will gain new followers and readers.
Tip 8 - Comments are key. I actually lack in this space a lot. I don’t get a lot of comments on my blog because maybe I mostly post FYI or education like material. The better blogs out there actually get engagement from their community. I am always trying to get people to comment here but what I am finding now is most people comment on the social sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. So thank you to all who comment on this blog!