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What You do matter more than what You say: Replace ‘You’ by Brands!

This is turning out to be a great learning so far, I learnt “What is Content Strategy?“, “How should I understand my audience?“, and once I have understood my audience, “How shall I segment them“. This has been a great learning experience.

As I go more and more in detail, now is the time to know about the “Connection” between Marketing and Content Strategy, and we will try and go over quite a few interesting facts here:

Marketing is: 

Understanding consumer and designing products and services to meet their needs and wants, and communicating this to consumer that you’ve done this.

Any content you produce is like a product which you should definitely market. In order to engage with people you want to reach, you must understand them. Content Strategy needs to benefit services and products that your organization creates. Your content should be meaningful and relevant to the products your organization makes. It should be able to brand your product or service. Both should be an absolute part of your content strategy.

Content needs to communicate about the Brand which your product or service defines…!!!

But What is a brand and how Experience is important!

Is Coke a brand or is Sony a brand?

A brand is not just the name or look of a product or service! Its your understanding of the product,its your best idea of the product or service, and how this idea or concept is different from alternative that you have!

Let’s spend some more time on this, and let’s talk about the experience which coke delivers!

Coke ad links coke with the experience of feeling happy when consumer feel happy they drink coke, and are taken to the Coke experience of happiness. By speaking to these experience Coke is able to engage consumers in the brand.

Today, more than ever, how a brand behaves is more important than what it says. Messaging is important, but what really matters is how a brand engages and interacts with the people who impact the business, from
its customers to the people who influence customers.

Img1

In order to build a strong experience brand, it’s important to understand what the drivers of experience are, and how they variously impact consumer perception and purchase.

Fundamental to build any brand is:

1. Product. What you do, sell, and how well you meet your customers’ needs. It’s how you name and define your products or services and price them.

2. Communication. How you consistently promote your brand through marketing and sales – presenting your promise. It is the marketing collateral, advertising, materials, graphic standards, etc. that communicate your brand attributes, create awareness, and develop a brand image.

3. Service. How well you deliver your brand promise. Customer interaction with your company before, during and after they purchase.

An important addition to the brand-building fundamentals:

4. Experience. Synchronizing the entire business in order to generate a unique and consistent experience with the brand. Creating emotional involvement between the brand and the customer.

How to make sure content strategy is relevant to the brand?

You should be able to articulate the concept clearly.  The best tool to do this is to write a positioning.  That specifies who the target statement is, and what is the core concept! And how it is different from competitor!

You use this positioning statement to see how your content is relevant to the same experience the brand speaks to. The positioning is central to the content strategy because this is what keep the content on strategy.

Inspiration: Making consumer believe that they can accomplish things in their own lives.

Many brands have been successful as they inspire their users.  Famous example is Nike which challenges the consumers to take challenge and just do it!

The fact that you are able to do something is far more important than the fact how you did it?

Identity: Identity experience is seeing oneself as being a successful person! As a brand if you can provide useful advice and tips on how to use clothes to appear successful, this will in turn create an excellent identity experience. For this one contact point can be a sales person coming to you and suggesting you a tie which will go well with your suit!

Second example could be an example of say Tesco retail store in UK, where they do a utilitarian advice by suggesting a recipes.

In order to make sure that all the content fits in Content Strategy you need to generate the storyline which is for your brand!

You need to keep it generic enough so that any individual piece of content will tell its own story, but that component is rich enough to stick together to make sure that it caters to the brand and experiences it relate to.

We will get in more details on Experiences, in our next post…this is getting really interesting!

 
 

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How do I segment my audience?

I never understand what segments are? How do you keep someone inside the segment, and someone outside of it?

Segmentation

The harder it is to measure something the better it is in understanding the audience.

In our previous post we talked about understanding audience by targeting them, and creating personas!

Organization talks about Geographical measurements (Where they live which block etc., or demographic (How old they are, how many children do they have etc). But these are weak measures of segmentation, since ultimately two 28 yrs old may look strikingly similar but will have absolutely different needs!

It’s time we start thinking about something like psychography; Who they are, what they need; segmenting based on those needs, values, and the motivation to consume information is important for organization. The more difficult it is to measure a segment the more successful it will be to segment a market.

Let’s take a cue from TV industry:

They use Day parts, they study that what people do in the morning to what people do in the night is something different, and they were different over the weekend…but this is one part, if you keep Demo and Geo at one end and Psycho graphic at the other end…you then need to understand what is happening in someone’s life in the morning, compared to what is happening in the afternoon…it is different.

For example; in the morning you may want to know about the Weather or say how to make best out of your day and in the noon, may be an update on the news, or say something which recharges you! At the end of the day you don’t need a repeat…hence a deep understanding comes from understanding your segment…

Experience a user has makes a lot of difference; how?

Experience work is very important to understand the audience. Because when you start to look at a specific experience, you tend to see how it creates an emotional reaction to the material…let’s say time out experience…when we look at people who are consuming some kind of media message because they are enjoying a release from their regular life, it is one of the reason why reality TV are so successful

There have been instances where women creates time out experience…especially when they are raising kids, and  or working…especially in the evening when they can curl up a cup of coffee…and now let’s say an iPad and consume material, so what your organization is doing to provide some kind of time out experience?

It is not created by you throwing the information at them, it’s going to be a soft touch that really understands that moment in a woman’s day! What kind of information she is looking for, and make her life more interesting!

Create Stories!

Story

Idea of story first and content flowing from it is a brilliant one. Narrative story telling is a huge hit, story illuminates thing for people…but at different levels. Some appreciate visual content in the story, some appreciate stories to be made available for them in chunks…some appreciate telling stories through words; that is where target audience come in picture, and that is where you have to understand the importance of target’s definition of story telling…so that your company can achieve a successful relationship!

In this post and in the previous one, we learnt about how we can define and understand our audience, be it story telling, creating personas, or targeting by knowing their behavior; one aspect is common in all these approaches; You have to understand your audience by being the ‘Audience’.

In our upcoming posts we will talk more about relationship between organization’s brand and its content! Till than happy reading!

 
 

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Please help! I don’t understand my audience!

If you give people engaging content which improves their lives they will consider giving you their time.

Yes…right…but I never understand my audience, their behavior, and how can I communicate my message across to them!

Audience

This is in continuation of my previous post, where we touched upon the importance of content strategy. In this article we’ll ponder more thoughts on segmenting our audience and basing our content based on that!

In all practical ways organizations have to determine the few messages that are key to fostering their strategic message forward.

As a common rule of defining the content strategy; People will only learn about things which they are motivated to learn. People will accept what they need to know from an org that will deliver what they want to know.

Think about a newspaper or a magazine, you are more willing to read what is relevant to your need.

Know your Audience:

I want to target ‘Mass Audience’! 

There is nothing called Mass Audiences…that something we have to accept…Organizations should aggregate a number of targeted audience which is only way to reach out to your audience, and be successful.

Facebook has a large mass audience, because it serves number of small set of audience which has variety of needs…a Senior graduate student will use it in a different than I or you would use it…ultimately FB has been able to aggregate these audiences in to a large mass audience and create a product…that is exactly what an Organization should do!

TA

Key point is targeting the audience, defining segments…but again How?

Let’s understand this:

People’s emotions and cognitive limitations are real, they can only attend to certain number of topics deeply at one time, so people only pay attention to topic when they are motivated to do so

The idea that self interest and social identification precedes motivation; Org have to understand the Social ID, and self interest need of the audience so that they can craft message on “where they are” and “who they are”, and “how they are receiving the message”!

We need to craft message as per audience need, attitude, and behavior in such a way that improves their life style. And you should be able to predict “what user needs before she even telling you!

Don’t ever dare to ask user what they need! They never know this! Did anyone knew they need an iPhone?

Create Personas:

While census data or a questionnaire may help provide you a more complete picture about a target audience segment, understanding how people naturally interact with content with no external influence is essential in identifying their needs and wants and how you can design content to maximize its impact with minimal time and intrusion.

Personas

Image courtesy: Moz.com

Personas are successful, since it helps Organization in understanding what their user type is? Its base? Persona is always based on research and not on intuition It’s about interviewing people, following them on their daytime, experience their life style, understand various stakeholders…

Aspirations are different for different cross culture boundaries but organizations have to spend time with the target audience, follow them, see what is their day like, what they do in their time understand what is valuable for them. This is how you can design something which is regardless of the culture market!

Let’s take an example of Personas:

A major Pharmaceutical company is trying to understand the aging population of the USA. With this they are modifying their shelving needs to re-craft and to serve Older American. They are mimicing Arthritis, what it is like to stand up for patient who have Arthritis. After a seeing the user base or personas so to say; they made the shelves lower to make sure it is less pain and easy shopping for users. With age comes the problem of vision; hence to improve this they have increased the font size of the signboards so that user can see those…and their goal is to appeal to that market.

For more on Personas please visit: Moz.com

In our next post we will talk about Segmentation, Creating Experience, and Stories. Till then happy reading!

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Digital Trends and Insights

 

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Why no one is paying for my Freemium App?

Having an issue with lower conversion rate for your ‘Freemium Apps’? You’re not the only one! Creating a compelling user experience and meaningful feature is critical to the success of any mobile application! It will not make a difference if you play around with the price or promotion; if users don’t value the experience your apps provide.

As the history goes on to say:it was in March 2006 when Fred Wilson described a business model that involved giving fully featured software for Free. And the term freemium was coined by Jarid Lukin a former director of eCommerce.

As a practice it is a simple concept; where you need to build a great product and give away majority of it for free! With-in the application you will have some built-in hooks’ that would lead customer to purchase something – a digital good, better experience, a locked feature, or say a unique level! 

Ever wonder why would a bank give you an app for ‘Free’? Or why is it seamlessly so easy for you to purchase a ‘Paid’ version of Dropbox? As an app developer how you can make your users convert from freemium to a premium version of your App without forcing them to do so!

Free

There are few things as app developer you should keep in your mind…

What you are giving away for free has to have a fantastic UI design as well as some value.Customer care about what are they getting for free…and the value it provides for them. Just giving anything for free and in turn expecting them to pay for more feature will not work!

Let’s talk about Evernote; they have close to 100 million+ users, and only 3.5 % of users are actually paid users. The conversion rate is very small but if you think in the context of 100 million; it is in fact huge! So why is that Evernote is successful? 

Realize this: Evernote > always had a search option. You could search for documents and it is beautifully designed; however, with the premium version to get to search within the document…now that is a real good need! The question that comes in the mind of a user who is using a freemium app,

“what if I can search with-in documents”

Free

This is where seamless transition happens, Evernote is not selling you something new, it is just an expanded version…as a developer or product manager for the app you need to entice some one; and then capitalize on the desire! And that is where you can leverage freemium to generate revenue!

Apart from creating a great product which generates revenue, it is to build something that people come back…

Another example is of Dropbox; why would you convert? You always had free storage…at your disposal, but there is a need for more…and that is where you ask a question to ‘Virtually’ yourself and App; how can I get the more storage? And this is where the Premium helps you!

Measuring the Usage and not just Download!

You need to understand that just because your app is a free to all, and scores huge number of downloads; doesn’t always mean that it is being used! You need to have very very targeted effort on Average Weekly/ Monthly/ Yearly usage, and not jus the downloads. User should care enough to use, come back and see the value in your App.

As a product manger for these apps you should think, and think on What if terms, you should know what questions user could be asking themselves? What are the use cases for premium apps.

This is absolutely clear that in App business you are talking in currency, and one of them is “Currency of User’s time” : If your app can make the first impression, for the first time; and for freemium it is very important, that is the initial sell. And once this is done, you need to make it a part of their pattern, day and / or week. From there you should then use the hooks that allows the user to willingly pay you for usage…this way you create a natural balance to use!

And also you end up closing the gap between use and Pay!

Your users should not even feel like it is a conversion, for them it should just be extending what you’re doing
Introducing a new feature…I am searching now, I can search more [Evernote]…I am dropping more[Dropbox]…

Are not you seeing a great pull from users…it is so much pull from them…this is not just selling…you should find that sweet spot, where there is no friction…

Another important point is Price! 

There is always a threshold of price like say for games they are almost always charged at USD 0.99 or say INR 99 etc..There is always a mental threshold for mobility…which says anything accept very low!

Pricing is a strategy…for Evernote it is USD 40 for a year, and this is a mental threshold, for one user USD 40, and for 3.5 million…whooo hooo! This is huge! 

Why don’t people convert? You only have the answer for this!

Because your app doesn’t make things easier for them…once they wanna buy its a huge trend in favor of you! You have to make it very simple…have an option feedback in case something goes wrong if you are using a security code, let user know what does that mean…use less of abbreviations which your user staff may know, but your users may not! Don’t make it painful for them. Since you’ve got the value proposition, now you need to make experience of buying simple…for example don’t ask for Credit Card again and again!

How do you promote to let people know that there is a paid model?

This is immensely important, as you really don’t want to stick it in to their face…It is very critical for you to not to interrupt users in the middle of a task! Users really do’t convert when the real value is hidden behind the ‘Paywall’

Make your App and the experience associated with this app so beautiful that you create get big community, and in turn the community advertise for you! This is pretty obvious but at times the focus is so much on the conversion and getting business value out of the app, that you almost forgot that app needs to have a great user experience.

I would end it by saying, why is that a bank gives away the app for free..? Simple since its the app which is a front end for the services they have to offer, and in turn it only increases the business for them.

Some times let it be free, it can be a front end for your customers!

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in iPhone, Mobile Applications

 

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Content Strategy: Engaging Audience everywhere!

What is Content Strategy? How is it different from Content Marketing? How can Content Strategy help in engaging our audience? And how in the world of Enterprise Social Network (ESN), a well defined Content Strategy can help?

These are few questions which have always alarmed me with no answers! You tend to get lot of ‘Noise’ on Google, but again does that cater to my need, when I need, where ever I want?

I am learning about Content Strategy, and during this process its alignment with ESNs too. Before we go deep, let’s take a look at this small video:

The video is called Drag Him Away. It was created by Britain’s National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV). It not only raises awareness with credible content but gives people a personal experience that reinforces that they can intervene and do something to stop abuse.

The London billboards are one great example of Content Strategy. Let’s learn more about the concept!

In simplest of words ‘Content Strategy’ is

Effectively communicating the story, in a Credible. trustworthy, and transparent manner!

Why is it important to understand and master the concept of ‘Content Strategy’; simple: because the content that you’re sharing and / or using to communicate and share your goals and objective with your audience consumes their time!

Most of the minutes which you want your content to consume are already committed to working, eating, sleeping, and being with friends and family.

Let’s view this from an end user who will be consuming yours and ‘Like Yours’ information, for her:

  • There is ever-rising tidal wave of information, and it will continue to rise
  • No more time (Not even an addition of one more minute to 1440 minutes of a day!)
  • And it is getting more complicated by every passing second…

As a content administrator for your brand, or for your organization, you have to communicate in something that matter to them, and not the message that You want to communicate, even if the message is important…

Remember, if your audience is receiving more than what they want to know, means you are asking them to spend time on what you Like!

What I am learning along the way is:

“If the content is not smart it is not strategic”

We as content originator have to understand that just because we’ve put it does not mean it is really engaging…You need to remember the pressure on their time! We need to STOP sending out non-strategic messages which consumes time…lot of time! Respect Time!

Strategy refers to the direction and the goals that people often leaders have, and they are thinking about where the organization should be going!

Wait a sec, you said…you don’t have a strategy…ok…no worries…let’s decompose strategy: Do you have Goals, and priority label on these goals…well Yes! Every Organization has certain goals which are prioritized, ad hence becomes a strategy…

However, you need to understand the difference between Strategy, and Tactics!

Tactics are primarily basic things which need to be done, and last for a Year or less whereas Strategy: conveys a roadmap…it refers to the prioritized roadmap and lasts more than a 2-3 years!

While developing the ‘Content Strategy’, for you the First imperative should be to deliver value to empower customers, think about what they value, and how they behave; What matters to them and their work. This should become the base of your strategy.

How effectively you can create a content that enhances your communication, and address customer needs defines how successfully you’ll be able to communicate your Organization goals!

You should communicate in an engaging way. It should be articulated so that the ‘where‘, ‘when‘ and ‘how‘ audience will receive this message gets addressed. If your audience doesn’t receive your message: Where they need it the most, When they need it the most, and how they receive it; your message is bound to fail!

Make sure you know who your audience are! The more specific you can define and understand that narrow set of people…the more expressive and targeted your content will be to them!

Your content may reach and address various geographies and diversified culture but remember

How people decide to spend time with their content is not a function of culture.

All right then, what did we learn, let’s summarize, and keep learning…

Message 1 Content Strategy Message 2

Rest in coming days…Happy Learning!

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Digital Trends and Insights

 

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Top Social and Digital trends for 2014

2014 Digital Trends

2014 Digital Trends

2013 has been an aggressive, fast paced, innovative and a year of Collaboration! 2014 seems to be taking a cue from it and moving on a rapid path of exciting Enterprise Social Media; Cloud, and mobility. Talking about the various trends which we may see in 2014; here is my list of few trends which we may see in coming year!

Content Marketing: 
2014 set to see a major revamp in the way marketing is done.

Brands need to act more as publishers; grabbing the attention of customers will become more and more tricky and good content for sure is going to be one way of doing so… This communication should educate consumer about the brand, and its strategy. Today consumer interacts online with brand, they read the content, they read articles, content that appeals to them, which educates brands on the type of content that is relevant and important to their prospects. These insights can provide valuable input for brands to device their strategy and communication!

The Data...and it's Big Data

We have data, and then we have huge data…and now we have BIG DATA! Lots of news around this, and this for sure will continue to exist for major part of 2014.It is estimated that the volume of data produced is expected to be ~44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009. Phew! That’s massive…. Let’s understand why this is important: First thing to realize is: From where this data is coming? This data is coming from? Data that we are talking about is from all corners, be it customer feedback, the way they interact with your product / services; what your competitors are doing, how are the y doing; and where you stand in all this… This is huge data, and with this come problems of doing a comprehensive analysis of customer preferences, transaction backgrounds, online interactions; analysis of competitor moves, and their strategy etc. Data Analytic, and various tools which are provided in the field, are there to stay and in fact will continue to improve! Data will be analyzed by marketers and use the insights from big data to measure and impact customer engagement, customer retention and loyalty, and marketing optimization/performance.

Images: We Love them...so we love Instagram!

We all love to communicate, and primarily the mode of communication has been words…but 2014 will be a change…2014 will witness communication happening around Images… It’s a fact that posts with images get more responses, likes, comments and shares. Users surely want to communicate by showing rather than telling. The 140 characters; will face a bigger challenge from images…and hence I feel images are going to rule; and rule in big sense!

Crowsourcing: The Social way

Crowdsourcing is an exercise or a practice, by which you can obtain a service, content, or an idea by reaching out to large group of contributors, rather than individuals or employers…

Threadless.com is one such example; crowdsourcing is less expansive and more focused. Let’s see how ‘Porsche’ utilized the crowdsourcing:

Porsche

I don’t know about you, but I for sure am not in a position to afford a Porsche anytime soon. The company also Understand this and think similar for about a significant percentage of their fans.

So here’s an idea, why don’t you let them help design the ultimate fan car? Well; they did come up with this brilliant idea of crowdsourcing this deal!

“The campaign started on Feb. 4 with Porsche asking “the best expert panel in the world: our fans” to choose an exterior color. The post resulted in nearly 16,000 likes and 1,200 comments, with Aquablue Metallic winning the most fan support.

Similarly there are other campaigns which ran around the crowdsourcing; which is sure to get a huge hit in 2014…

We will continue to explore further trends in our next post…

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Gamification and Classroom teaching – no more GPAs Continued

In our previous post we talked about two very crucial elements of Gamification in classroom teaching;

Clarify the learning outcomes!

Select a Big Idea!

Schools today face major problems around student motivation and engagement. Gamification, or the
incorporation of game elements into non-game settings, provides an opportunity to help schools solve these
difficult problems; and this is our objective…

The Fun Way To Engage

The Fun Way To Engage

Today we will talk about two aspects which involves ‘Creating the storyboard’, and Designing the learning activities’

How we can do this?

Schools already have several game-like elements in place. Students get points for completing the assignments. These points translate to “badges” or shall we say as grades. Students are rewarded for desired behaviors and punished for undesirable behaviors using this common currency as a reward system. If they perform well, students “level up” at the end of every academic year. If we do have the gamification already in schools; why is that this game like element doesn’t translate in to engagement?

Storyboard

Storyboard

The primary reason for the disengagement from school to happen is; at Social and Emotional levels…few examples of this would be:

Read an optional library book on the topic being taught in class? Receive “Reading” points. Get perfect attendance and complete all homework assignments on time for a month? Earn an “On Target“ badge.

In order for the students to understand the gamification and enjoy this…the game has to have a story around this, where you start with a challenge; do some learning activities to accomplish this challenge…and then you end this with a show – off; show off in this case will eventually be a reward for the student.

Let’s relate this with our Angry Birds game;

Angry Birds asks players to knock down towers by launching birds out of a slingshot. Players must experiment with the game to figure out the physical properties of different tower materials, the ballistics of the slingshot, and the structural weaknesses of each tower. They launch birds, observe the results, plan their next moves, and execute those plans. In short, players’ desire to beat each level makes them small-scale experimental physicists.

This is exactly the way a game should be planned with a challenge and an opportunity to learn!

There is an emotional transformation that is associated with every game; and so with the storyboard formation in our game theory. While designing the game we need to make sure that we are adding points where ever user can ‘Fail Safely’.

Consider this example of emotional transformation in a game which is around the issue of failure. Because games involve repeated experimentation, they also involve repeated failure. In fact, for many games, the only way to learn how to play the game is to fail at it repeatedly, learning something new every time you fail.

Also pay attention to what happens at the vantage point; since there is always a tendency to react differently when you are at the extreme; be it a failure or a success. This can create a transformation in student behavior too. A shy student may actually learn to lead a team of fighters in the game…which in turn makes her get rid of stage fear; speech fear and many such things.

Now let’s talk about another aspect of our discussion which is around designing the

What do we mean by an ‘Instruction’?

Instruction is a ‘Set of events’ which are external to the learner, and are designed to support the internal purpose of learning.

Examples of learning activities can be: Make Connections, anything which involves deep thinking, and attention grabbing activities…etc.

Learning Activities

Learning Activities

Majority of the time you would see learning to happen during the instructional period; teachers and student and their team mates share the information on what they did, how did they do it; what instruction were helpful for them to achieve a challenge.

Teaching kids was never an easy task, and it will never be; however what we can always try is to make it more fun for them; make it more interactive for them. There are reasons why student fail; the first one being they are not getting engaged with what they are taught! This should be changed! Especially for a country like India, where there is a massive gap between education standards; and the rate at which students join and then leave the school midway…Gamification can be a real boon for a country like ours!

 

 

All right then tomorrow we’ll be talking more on how to build teams, and the dynamics of team…till then ‘Happy Learning’… :)

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Gamification

 

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