Sunday, June 5, 2011

Is Twitter writing or is it speech, regardless - welcome to The Art of the Short.

A great tweet yesterday from "Is Twitter writing or is it speech? Why it's time to change the way we think about social media " drew my interest and after reading Megan Garber's thoughts on the subject and that of the ensuing links provided, it got me thinking.

While some tweets may be nothing more than a quick shout, more often then not, I find there is more to it than that.  The posting limits of Twitter and Facebook by their very short nature force us to consider what we say and how to say it within the few bytes we get to do so.  More so when the complete thought is within the tweet or post, but even when it is just a blurb to tease others into the treatise further explored in a blog, it forces us to think of how to say it within the boundary's defined by the limits themselves.

Sometimes this requires txt shorthand itself, but more often then not we must think through what we say and be creative enough to fit it in the space provided to do so.  In this way, it differs from spoken dialog, typically unedited and in fact at times we wish we could pull it back even as the words come out of our mouths.  Herein lies the challenge: to say what we want, keeping it short and sweet, yet still compelling enough to achieve the goal set forth in our quest to post in the first place.  After all, are the character limits of the new medium really that different then the article word limits set by a publisher to the journalist or writer in print?  I am not saying we all become professionals or minimizing what the professionals do day in and out.  But doesn't it force all of us who have chosen to participate, to step up our games in this new Art of the Short?


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No Card, No Benefit, No Data. In Retail Loyalty Programs, Who Is Served By This Policy?

A puzzling practice has come up a few times in recent conversations with consumers about retailer loyalty programs.  We know that consumers join loyalty programs for the presumed upside of discounts, sales, rebates, etc., all from their membership in a particular program.  From the marketer’s perspective, what’s the purpose of a loyalty program?  In the old days it may have been as simple as the increased spending by a consumer due to the presumed upside of collector promotions, discounts, sales, etc.  But, in today’s data driven world, getting the consumer to enroll in the program is first and foremost about segmentation and targeting; demographics, how often a consumer shops, how they shop, how much they spend, what they buy and when, shopping frequency, etc. With this information, the marketer can tailor it’s messaging to the consumer either at a kiosk, the point of sale (i.e. receipt/checkout coupons) or via email, txt messaging, a website, an app, or the old reliable direct mail piece and of course some combination of the above. 

Regardless of the method of communication, the engagement or campaign is targeted based on the demographic and behavioral data collected during shopping.  Both parties win because of the presumed value of their participation.

This is why I am so puzzled by retailers that have programs where they go out of their way to get in their own way of collecting the very data they can otherwise be so adept at leveraging with their customers.  Two examples are retailers that insist you carry your loyalty card with you at all times or they won’t let you participate for the visit and retailers where they will put in the default customer code so you can take advantage of the specials, losing the ability to track you for the visit.  Neither approach makes much sense.

For the marketer, it’s not about the specials – that’s for the consumer; it’s about the data, the data, the data, oh and the data.  If a consumer doesn’t have their card, take their phone number and unlock the riches of their data.  Of course if a customer is not signed up in a program it’s a completely different story.  But if they are in the program and will provide an agreed upon identifier, just do it.  The marketer stands to lose far more in the above two examples than the consumer gains if they were to give a false id (ie: someone else’s number).   

Forget the card only attitude, and while the consumer appreciates the benefits of the default customer code, it is a lost opportunity not to get that link to the data.  Retailers (after the marketing starts), must keep your eye on the prize… 

In a future post I’ll talk about another consumer annoyance, that of message relevance – one of the expected yet squandered benefits for both parties in the loyalty program relationship.