Consumers Are Players In The Game Of Marketing

The market is a multi player playing field. And the consumers are players too! Now, consumers can either play with brands or against them. Let me explain.

The fact that marketing and branding have been a focus for protests is nothing new. It is simply proof that advertising and marketing have become powerful. The new thing is that the opposition to brand names is no longer limited to ideological groups like Greenpeace or leftists.

With the development of digital networks and a new post-industrial consumer culture, it is ordinary consumers who wake up one morning and decide to play not with brands, but against them.

These are protesters who forsake official demonstrations for ‘flash mobs’ and press announcements for ‘posts’. Their weapons are blogs and social networks. They work in their pajamas, safe and warm at home, drinking soda to stay up all night online.

Their power is absolute. It is measured by their Google PageRank and the number of hits they receive.

Fighting a brand becomes a game. Points are tallied. Just as in a game, the raison d‘être is to free yourself from the rules, to master and transform them.

“Such and such a brand wants to impose this product or rule of consumption on me. Well, I have the power to challenge it.”

“This brand is dishonest; this product is of poor quality. Well, I have the power to advertise the fact.”

Consumers are therefore far more dangerous for brands than politically active groups, because their discourse is not ideological, but real consumer speak, which is far more likely to convince the vast majority.

This alone is a profound change in the relationship between brands and consumers. We no longer have complete power over the consumer. We are now in an equal marketing relationship.

Not only do consumers decode marketing strategies but, better still, they are capable of producing new ones or subverting them for the purposes of social or political mobilization.

With new media it often means that certain particularly skilful consumers have a greater capacity to distribute information on a large scale via the Internet than groups with a wealth of financial power at their disposal. The development of image alteration tools coupled with the viral effect means that anyone can become a marketing agent.

It also means that instead of playing against you they can play for you. They can be your voice, your brand ambassadors, your community leaders and your heroes.

These new consumers, symbolized by bloggers, instagrammers and social media savants are constantly on the move and it is up to the brands to internalize the idea that consumers have the power. The brands that understand this have a significantly better chance of coming out victorious in this game than those who do not.

Written By: Bruno Walther

How to Read a Treemap Visualization

1 dimension (hierarchical or not) + 1 metric

A Treemap visualization represents a hierarchical dimension by encoding a metric on each node of the hierarchy.

Example : The hierarchical dimension of geography. On the first level, we can see the distribution of the metric between continents. We can then explore a continent to see the distribution between countries, etc.

Let’s say you want to check out where your visitors are located.

 

 

Treemap Captain Dash 1

Let's Analyze A Bit

At a mere glance, we can see that nearly have of your visitors are in Europe, a quarter in the Americas, the remainder in Asia, and but a few in Oceania and Africa. The “Explore” button gives us a closer look at Europe, revealing that half of those visitors are in the West and the rest are split evenly between North, East, and South.

Treemap Captain Dash 2

Another “Explore” click and we see that more than half of your Western Europe visitors are in France.

Treemap Captain Dash 3

A look at the Americas reveals that the United States accounts for 86% of viewers on the continent.

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Is that where you should open your new office?

In order to play around some more with Treemap visualizations you can head over to the visualization lair at Captaindash.com.

How to read Leaderboards

Leaderboard

The leaderboard displays a metric over a dimension in a way that allows you to easily categorize each dimension value’s “performance” in terms of the metric value.

Leaderboard Visualization Captain dash

In the example above, we can see the amount of revenue distributed over different dimension values (Points of sales). The dimension values are displayed in descending order, from the highest metric value to the lowest which allows us to “stack them” against each other. Travelling down the visualization, we can see that Shanghai is the point of sale selling more, followed by Berlin, then New York, etc.

The general statistics displayed allow us to determine the significance of each dimension value by comparing it to the Total and Average revenue per point of sale.

In order to play around some more with leaderboards you can head over to the visualization lair at Captaindash.com.

Two dimensional Leaderboards

These three different leaderboards essentially offer a different view depending upon how you wish to present your data.

Grouped Leaderboard

Grouped Leaderboard Captain Dash

 

 

The Grouped Leaderboard further segments the revenue by town into “Point of Sale A” and “Point of Sale B”, which allows for a more specific breakdown of information. The two values are grouped together vertically with the superior value appearing first.

Stacked Leaderboard

Stacked Leaderboard Visualization Captain Dash

 

The Stacked Leaderboard combines the two values together, which grants a view of each metric value as a “part of the whole.”

Superimposed Leaderboard

Superimposed Leaderboard Visualization Captain Dash

 

The Superimposed leaderboard displays the total amount of sales on a bar, with a specific segment highlighted for identification. In this case, we can visually pick out the “online sales” from the bar of total sales.

In order to play around some more with two dimensional leaderboards you can head over to the visualization lair at Captaindash.com.

Choosing the right web analytics solution for your marketing needs

Choosing a web analytics tool that is right for you in terms of your requirements, level of sophistication, and budget is no easy task given the number of tools out there. Here, we are not reviewing various available solutions, rather we are going to talk about the points to consider when you are shopping for the ideal solution for you.

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Evaluate your needs. What do you need to accomplish, can your company implement the technical solutions, what is the frequency with which you need to generate reports and how reliable are these reports, is your current site compatible with the solution, what are the options and costs for adding more servers in the future and last of all, how much can you currently spend on this?

Examine the breadth and depth of the solution. Is it scalable, easy to use, intuitive, how fast are the reports generated, is the language easy to understand, and last are you able to configure the solution to suit your needs?

Think about the support system provided by the solutions provider. Is the support easily available, are there additional hidden costs, are there any tutorials provided, is there an online community support around the solution and are there any integration services offered?

Company track record. How long has the company been operational, is it stable, are they upfront about costs, is this their core business, are there updates, and is there a commitment to continuously improving their solution.

Approaching your analytics solutions from these four broad angles is a good way to whittle down the options till you are left with just 2 or 3 and from there on you can go into further detail to make your final choice.

At Captain Dash we believe that there is no real silver bullet as far as analytics solutions go. Every business has its own individual needs. This is the reason why when we create dashboards, we take into account the finer details of a given business and provide customised solutions for their needs.

 

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

 

To Create or To Curate – The Content Marketing Dilemma

Content is king and there is a case each to be made for curation and creation of content alike.

Content creation gives a voice to the brand; an ability to create a unique universe tailor made for a given audience. Consumers return to you for a perspective that only you can provide. The biggest upside, of course, is the fact that you own the content; you get to establish the brand as a knowledge provider. The negative? Original content is hard to create on a constant basis and can become very monotonous and one sided.

Curating content on the other hand is very easily available and makes for regularity in posting online. There is also the social aspect to consider. Curated content provides different points of view and makes for further social engagement; which is the ultimate goal of social platforms. Engaging your audience in the correct way leads to them creating content for you – that makes for the ultimate curated content. The flip side is that the voice is not uniquely yours and you might inadvertently end up driving your viewers towards competition.

Clearly it is the mix of the two that wins ultimately. But, what mix? How do you know which one to do more of?

It has been observed that companies that are predominantly curators, that is, they post external content 75% of the time or more have very high click rates but a low conversion rate.

Curators

Companies that employ a balance of curation and creation with 50-75% curation tend to have lower click rates than pure curators but their conversion rates are significantly higher.

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Finally, companies that are predominantly creators with about 75% or higher created content have low click rates. Surprisingly though, their conversion rate does not rise relatively speaking.

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From this data it is clear that a balance between the two is the most beneficial route. Although, in the end it depends entirely on the business you are in and the resources you have.

Note: Stay updated with our posts by following us on Twitter or subscribing to our Blog.

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

Using Hashtags in Marketing

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#Hastags have fully integrated in the way we communicate online. Used appropriately, they can actually drive significant attention to your business. Here is a quick guide of where and how to use them:

Twitter: initiated the hashtag revolution! Used in almost every single tweet, hashtags can be followed, clicked, searched and analyzed. From a best practices point of view it is advisable not to use more than 2 per tweet.

Instagram: is one of the most hashtag friendly platforms because Instagram runs primarily on hashtag based search. Use Instagram, hashtag your content to be visible and create marketing campaigns using them.

Tumblr: Hashtags have a very unique usage in Tumblr. They can be separated by a space and are called tags. Tumblr adds a hashtag on to the word or phrase after you type it and even suggests tags for you to use. Tumblr like Instagram uses hashtags in a very big way and they can be employed for gaining popularity. Here any number of relevant hashtags work.

Google+: Much more hashtag friendly than FaceBook, Google+ not only displays results by hashtag search but also suggests hashtags for your posts through auto fill. Another advantage of Google+ is that the results show up on Google searches.

FaceBook: Brands primarily use hashtags on FaceBook since they are trackable and the Facebook feed is easily linked to other hashtag friendly platforms like Instagram and Twitter. The best practice is to use not more that 2 or 3 hashtags per post.

Pinterest: Use hashtags for descriptions. You can follow hashtags and use them  to tie in posts that may exist on separate boards. Hashtags on Pinterest can be used to create a campaign though be careful to not over use them since hashtags are still just rising in popularity here.

YouTube: While hashtags do turn up in results on YouTube and hashtagged material ranks higher it is not a very popular thing on YouTube. Most people do not search for videos through hashtags. It is advisable to use one or two hashtags in combination with other more hashtag relevant platforms like Twitter or Instagram.

LinkedIn: After experimenting with hashtags for a while LinkedIn abandoned them in 2013. While hashtags of key words still get back results it is still considered bad form and unprofessional to use hashtags on this platform.

Note: Stay updated with our posts by following us on Twitter or subscribing to our Blog.

 

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

5 great sites to help you to create infographics

Pictures speak a thousand words and add as much more to your text. The trend of infographics and charts is sweeping the Internet. If you have been wondering how to add this powerful tool to your arsenal then look no further! Today, we bring to you the top 5 online tools out there to create infographics.

1. Canva provides a service that makes for a very simple and intuitive creation of beautiful slides, flyers, posters, infographics, and photo collages.

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2. Easel.ly is a basic infographic-making tool. If you have any needs beyond a simple infrographic then one of the other tools is better suited for you.

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3. Piktochart offers 7 free templates, which can be customized to create infographics.

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4. Infogr.am is a tool that can be used for creating interactive charts, graphs and infographics. Each of these charts can be used with any spreadsheet information that you can upload to infogr.

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5. Visual.ly is a community-based platform for creating and sharing infographics and data visualizations.

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Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

How to Take Advantage of Timing on Twitter

Using twitter for business is as commonplace today as email marketing and while there are several guidelines about tweeting for business it has been found that the time you post for your business can affect the engagement rate on your account as well.

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Overall, posting on the weekends as opposed to not posting increases the engagement rate of your account by around 17% overall. It also helps to post more between 8 am and 7 pm of your target market everyday as opposed to just about any time of the day. Even in this time period it has been found that early afternoon - 1:00 to 3:00 PM has the highest traffic and engagement rates.

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Another factor that has an affect on engagement is exactly which part of an hour we post at. It is advisable to post either on the hour or at the half point of an hour since people usually end their meetings or classes at these times and tend to check their twitter before the next thing on their schedule.

Of course, at the end you do need to analyze your previous tweets to see which times and days seem to work the best for you.

 

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

Marketing WITH Millennials

Millennials, most simply defined as the group of people born between 1977 and 1995, are larger as a group than the baby boomers and are set to make up 50% of the work force in the coming years. Other than accounting for one third of the retail spending in the coming 5 years they are also an extremely difficult group to market to.

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With millennials, the trick is to engage with them. They have grown up ‘hanging out’ on the internet, using peer reviews as the main source of information on brands, sharing opinions and feelings online, and grown up into a recession with huge education debts. All these factors make them very well informed consumers who keep up with current and future trends. They sell the product for you!

They do not feel the need to create an allegiance with a particular brand. They have a point of view and do not hold back in expressing it; thus, preferring brands who listen to them. They create content for the brands.

It is, therefore, brands that will engage beyond just tweeting to them who will survive in the long run. A sense of purpose and responsibility on the brand’s part will make them more interested in the brand.  As a brand you need to add value to their brand experience through loyalty programs and give your consumers a voice – a mode to engage with you. Make them a part of your brand, of your product - of your journey! You have to create a mini cosmos for the millennial to exist in. Do not try to market to the millennial. Market WITH the millennial!

 

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

After Snapchat, What?

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The race to the top is very much a reality and the future, ladies and gentlemen, is closer than you imagine! 2014 was the year of consumer engagement and communities. 2015 is all set to be the year of solutions that will help brands target their ideal demographic better. That is always good to know, but, if you wish to become or remain ahead of the competition you should be asking what about after that?

With millennials living their lives on social networks and in light of recent technological trespasses privacy is the single biggest concern for consumers and this need for privacy will only intensify. Here, at Captain Dash we are committed towards using the best possible solutions to protect the data shared by our clients with just this very fact in mind. Data collected through Marketing efforts is collected through creating trust with consumers and hence, needs to be treated as such. Even as I write this, technology is getting closer to realizing this need.

Snapchat has paved the way ahead indeed. The power of this medium has become obvious ever since Madonna took to Snapchat for releasing her latest video. But, Snapchat is just the beginning. There is more to come – exclusivity and elusiveness both are becoming paramount and as a marketer you need to think ahead. Think about how your campaigns can and should be designed to cater to the new age consumers. You need to be predictive and proactive, with a focus on protecting the privacy of your community.

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

Beacons : What are They & Their Potential for Marketing

Imagine a world where you can push content and information to consumers’ mobile devices based their proximity to your product/store. Welcome to the world of beacons!

Beacons are small transmitters that connect to devices on location via blue tooth and are proving to be a formidable marketing tool. By the end of 2016 it is predicted that 85% of the major retailers in the US will be using them. So, how exactly can they be deployed for push marketing in an effective manner?

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Since these devices connect to consumers through Bluetooth the most important thing is to seek permission to access said devices. Privacy being of paramount concern, consumers need to understand what information will be accessed and for what it will be used. This way, creating trust can create value.

For a consumer to readily give access to their devices they need to see the value in your proposition. Most times brands promote schemes to their own benefit. Thus, the value needs to be beyond just discount coupons – customers today are smarter than that. For example, interactive maps of the shop floor can be offered to the walk-ins through the use of beacons.

Another great application of beacons is improved customer service. Brands like Urban Outfitters are using them to alert employees on the shop floor about loyal customers and their preferences to create a better shopping experience.

Beacons are also a way to discreetly get real time feedback from the customer while they are still in the store. Though one needs to be careful with this one as it can be an irritating tactic if not handled with delicacy.

And last but not the least is to take it out of the store. Nivea for example has rolled out child tracking bracelets, which connected, to an app warn parents if a child strays too far. This creates a pure value for the customer.

As more and more devices equipped with Bluetooth are rolled out beacons will only gain popularity. It can provide a great way to extend reach to your consumer base and in the coming years the brands that will win will be the ones who get innovative with their use of such technologies.

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .

5 tips to best use Pinterest for Marketing

Pinterest is the one place on the web to spot, collect and share visual content. Here are 5 tips to help you get the most out of the platform:

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1.     Create your own boards: Free up your creative mind and consider your boards as albums that visually showcase your product categories or your business interests. Keep each album clean, well organized and as much as possible good looking. Pay attention to fonts and graphics. Remember: Pinterest is all about visual experience.

2.     Start pinning: Pins are what you find visually relevant on other people’s boards. It is also what you want others to pin from you. Allow your website visitor’s to pin your content and share it on their own boards. Use Rich Pins to add additional information such as pricing, availability, etc on your products and services pins.

3.     Engage with your audience: Reply to comments and questions that are posted on your boards. Post your own comments. Leverage the platform to create a community not just content.

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4.     Don’t forget reciprocation: Don’t just pin things on your board and wait for miracles. Follow people you think embody your brand identity, engage with them and talk the language of the people who are a part of your community.

5. Data, data, data: Start with the data you can get off your pins to figure out which ones are most successful and start adjusting and optimizing your pins. Next, share your statistics and information with the help of data viz.

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Happy Pinning!

Written By: Meghna Verma Meghna Verma is the Content Manager at Captain Dash.  You can reach her on Twitter @M3GV3RMa .