Shazeeye's Blog Thoughts on User Experience, Technology and Business

30Mar/120

Indicating Interest Online Quantitatively

Attention and interest on the web are critical metrics and are an essential component that should guide any online strategy.  LinkedIn has done an excellent job in this area of indicating interest quantitatively. Let us look at a few examples:

Indicating interest in you/your profile by showing how many looked at your profile. Indicating interest in a job by showing how many people clicked on the Apply button.  Indicating interest in your connections by showing how many changed jobs in a year.

There are some other examples in the online retail industry. For example, Rue La La indicates interest in their products (clothing, accessories, home goods, etc.) by letting us know how many Ralph Lauren sweaters are left to buy thus indicating how quickly a product is getting sold. We also measure interest (though not shown quantitatively) by grouping stuff under most popular, most commented and most shared on various blogs and news sites.

The theme of the third largest social network, Pinterest (Facebook and Twitter are the top two) is centered around interest. Interest is indicated quantitatively through likes, repins and comments. We need to have a measure of interest by consolidating our online behavior (sharing, commenting, viewing, etc.). Let me know if you have any ideas on how to measure interest.

30Nov/110

Micromarketing: Location data to better serve your customers – Part 2 of 2

Location data such as using a zip code to find out how much revenue a grocery store can make is critical in your decision to decide if you want to open the store at that location. This is just one example of the powerful potential of micromarketing. Read an earlier post to get the details. Let's look at some more examples of how micromarketing can be used in defining marketing campaigns and identifying sales trends.

Identifying Marketing Campaigns based on Market Potential: Market potential is the estimated maximum sales revenue of a product during a certain time period. MapInfo Professional visually depicts the market potential of households who spend more than $150 per week on groceries for each block group (group of adjacent zip codes) in Orange County. The software also gives details on which customer segment will most likely contribute to the sales at the grocery store. For details on customer segments based on PRIZM groups read the earlier post. We see that White-Collar Suburbia have the highest market potential (count* penetration) of 21.1% and hence will be the target of a marketing campaign. This group is well described and is very specific so a direct mail ad campaign is suitable. As this group is family centric and enjoys a healthy and busy (both parents work) lifestyle we can tailor the campaigns to emphasize healthy foods and easy to make dishes that brings the family together. We can also identify the market potential by block group so say if Block X has high market potential we will place a billboard in that area to target customers. We could also use coupons to entice the White-Collar Suburbia that live outside the trade area (area where customers that visit the store reside - usually a 5 minute radius for a grocery store) of the grocery store to visit the store.

Using Point of Sale Data (data collected at cash registers) to Identify Sales Trends: AC Nielsen collects a lot of data from grocery stores and can show sales trends based on customer locations (zip codes). As seen in the image below we see market share and sales over a year for 2 brands of cranberry drink - Ocean Spray and Coca Cola.

For Ocean Spray we see that within a retailer’s trade area the retailer’s total market share for Ocean Spray’s SS Cranberry Drink is 38.6%, a decrease of 4.3 points from last year. This means that the retailer sells 38.6% of this brand SS Cranberry drinks in this trade area. When we look at the Total Sales we see that the retailer’s sales is down 14% while the remaining market increased by  2.9%.  This means its sales decreased by 14% or people could be going to another retailer with a better marketing campaign (possibly a discount) for this drink in the trade area. The total sales were $700,000+ which is significant. Thus this drink could be a cash cow (based on BCG classification) for the retailer with the right marketing campaign. Plus, the sales for Ocean Spray or the remaining market increased by 2.9% though the overall trend for sales of ocean spray was slightly down by 3.6%.

For Coca Cola within a retailer’s trade area the retailer’s total market share for Coca Cola’s SS Cranberry drink is 23.6%, a decrease of 14.9 points from last year. This means that the retailer sells 23.6% of this brand drink in this trade area. When we look at the Total Sales we see that the retailer’s sales is down 62.3% while the remaining market decreased by  23.5%.  Thus this drink is a dog for the retailer and should be dropped as its market share is less than 35% and its total sales % change is less than 5%. Plus, overall sales were $1450  which is nearly insignificant (less than 1k is insignificant).

30Nov/110

Micromarketing: Location data to better serve your customers – Part 1 of 2

Location data such as using a zip code to find out how much revenue a grocery store can make is critical in your decision to decide if you want to open the store at that location. This is just one example of the powerful potential of micromarketing. Let's go through an example of using location data to open a grocery store in Orange County. We will be using SRC's Allocate to help analyze the location data and MapInfo Professional to map the data.

Mapping propensity and density to determine revenue potential of the store: As we see in the images below, we use SRC's Allocate to determine the revenue potential of  a grocery store in Orange County (OC). We choose the retail store option as the input variable and the dollar per store as the output using the software. Data is also available for furniture stores, sports stores, etc. After the variables are input a map is produced (below) which can be interpreted as follows. For Orange County, the average grocery expenditure per house hold per month (propensity) across a block group (a group of zip codes) where darker green shades indicate  higher expenditure for groceries per household per month is approximately $5800-$16900/month for the darkest or most expensive parts. The hashed region shows total dollars spent for groceries per square mile per month in Orange County (expenditure density). The darkest hashed regions indicate people in OC spend a total of $18,000,000 to $103,000,000 per month on groceries. This data helps you determine if the revenue potential is close to what you expect and can help compute your approximate profit given all the expenses you will incur. It also helps you compare revenue potential across different locations to help you determine the ideal/optimal location for you.

Choosing a Store Location by Mapping Competitors Location Data: Using the Yellow pages we identify the zip codes of the competitors. For this example - a grocery store - let's assume it's Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. We identified 19 Trader Joe's and 2 Whole Foods store in the OC area and mapped their trade areas (area from where customers visit the store - usually a 5 minute radius for a grocery store) using the software.  The blue areas represent the Trader Joe's and the red and fluorescent green represent Whole Foods. This is mapped on the propensity and density map from above using MapInfo Professional. With this information we choose a location (in yellow) that is far from competitors and has good propensity and density. You will also check for magnet stores, customer demographics and traffic (info in next paragraph) and ensure that the information provided by these parameters will help drive your store's growth. You can also compute the break even demand (average retail demand per square mile) as seen below to inform your decision.

Identifying magnet stores, traffic, customer demographics and trade areas for the new store location: The software helps to draw the trade area for the new store location (for this example a 5 minute radius as seen in black) and can identify the magnet stores or stores that will help pull traffic (for example, drug stores).  It computes traffic - 32,800 cars/day. It also helps define the type of people in the trade area. Types of people are defined by PRIZM clusters (for details check  PRIZM Clusters) and gives you demographics and characteristics of the population you are likely going to attract. According to the report this store will attract 54% of people belonging to the PRIZM cluster defined as White-collar Suburbia. This group can be described as "upscale, college-educated baby boomers living in suburban comfort in expensive new subdivisions". For more details on this segment visit Experian's description. Now that you have such a wealth of information on your customers you can tailor your marketing message as well as grocery needs to better suit them.


31May/110

Learning Google Adwords

I started my first paid advertising campaign early this month with Google Adwords and would like to share some interesting things about it. My campaign is to promote my services in design and usability. My skills are varied and range from usability to design to marketing so I created many ads (example of one on the right) to target different users in the Bay Area. Let me walk you through the process.

1. Define the goal for your campaign and a budget. My objective was to promote my services online so that targeted people would visit my blog and email me to inquire about my services. I started with a $50 budget but you can start with $10 and see if the return on investment is greater than the costs.

2. Sign up on Google Adwords: Google helps you through this process and you can sign-up in less than 2 minutes.

3. Create a campaign: To create a campaign you need to create an ad (as shown above), identify keywords, define the regions where you know your audience is from (example: Bay Area) and define the cost per click (CPC). It is best to create more than one campaign to target different segments. For example, I make websites easy-to-use so I can target marketing people, design people and user research/usability people. I could also target industries such as healthcare, finance and retail. Let's review each step in detail.

a. Create an ad: Having decided to target an audience that wants better design I created 3-5 ads as shown on the right. Ads need to include keywords and a call to action. I created more than 20 ads and after trial and error narrowed it to the ones that I found to be most effective.

b. Identify Keywords: Keywords are the words people enter in Google search which trigger the appearance (or absence) of  your ad. With the help of the Keyword tool and the Traffic Estimator tool you can identify about 10 effective keywords for each of your campaigns. Keywords should have a high Quality Score (yellow square) and attract substantial traffic for a low estimated CPC.

4. Monitor your campaign: It is critical to monitor campaigns regularly and change them if needed. I stop campaigns that don't work and create new ones that I think will work better. Similarly, I'm tracking my most effective ads and keywords. You can also connect Google Adwords to Google Analytics to track your campaigns.  In the past few days I have got 6 clicks (right image). Eye Tracking and User Experience Design are effective keywords. Visitors spent an average 2 minutes on my blog and bounce rate was at 50%. Both bounce rate and average time on my blog through these paid campaigns show better numbers than the free traffic visiting my blog. I have yet to learn how to control CPC (as it's currently in auto mode) and will share my learnings soon.

28Nov/104

Networking 101: How to market yourself to get the job you want

As my job search intensifies so do my learnings on what works and what doesn't. I'd like to share a few things that have worked so far.

1. Do what you love: It's tougher to market or sell a product you don't believe in so if you're marketing yourself love the work you do. Most importantly, people will find you if you are great at your work. It helps to surround yourself with family and friends who also share and reinforce the same beliefs. I'm deeply grateful to my family and friends for their support.

2. Face-to-Face Networking:  Events, conferences, association meetings and alumni gatherings are some ways to network in the real world.

Events and Conferences that I've attended recently: ProductCampSocal, Health 2.0 (saved $1000+ in registration fees by volunteering) and SVPMA. One that I would have loved to attend but couldn't afford was Web 2.0.

Associations I belong to: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Usability Professionals' Association, American Telemedicine Association, Silicon Valley Product Marketing Association and Girls in Tech. I try to attend as many meetings as I can as I always learn new things and meet new people. I've listed some tips on networking below:

  • Start with family and friends as emotional investments have high pay offs. In my class at business school more than 75% of students said they got a job due to family or friends.
  • Real world interactions are powerful and do not substitute online interactions.
  • It is important to stay in touch not just during the job search but at other times too as on average a person looks for a new job 4 times in his/her career.
  • Before an event or conference go prepared by learning about the companies coming to the event and the jobs being offered in that company. Select the ones that interest you so that your time at the event is used efficiently. Use some of the tools listed below to differentiate yourself from the competition (example: business card with target position that interests you).
  • Follow up with a thank you letter or a reminder. Don't forget to thank the person who helped you get in touch with your contact. If there is one thing to take-away from this post this is it.

3. Online Networking: Networking online helps you meet many more people in a specific time frame compared to networking offline and it's free. The best part is that you can target your search to groups you want to attract. Some effective ways to attract online traffic are:

- Write a blog so that people can read your thoughts. It also helps to comment on blogs (remember to add a link to your blog with the comment) in the same industry and thus redirect their traffic to your site. This gives you access to at least 200 readers/month.

- Write a column or an article for an online magazine. For example, my article will be published next month in UXMatters. This gives me access to at least 5000 viewers/month with similar interests.

- Use Twitter and LinkedIn to direct traffic to your portfolio or blog. This is very effective as approx. 20% of the traffic to my blog is from Twitter and LinkedIn. Ensure that you are adding the right people and that you have frequent updates to get the most from these social media channels. TweepSearch and Twitter Analyzer are a few Twitter tools to help you target and monitor your traffic. I always add the people I meet offline on LinkedIn. You could also use LinkedIn's  job and people search to add people to your network.

- Show up in the top 3 searches by improving your ranking on search engines (Google, Bing, etc). You can do this by getting a custom URL on LinkedIn (in Edit Profile>Public Profile>Edit) and adding targeted keywords under specialties (see mine). If you have a blog you can do a lot more. A few suggestions are add your blog to LinkedIn and write posts such that your content (words) reflect what people are looking for in your industry. Google's Webmaster tools shows you a list of keywords (left column in image) that people type into search engines to come to my site and the right column shows the most relevant keywords on my site. Thus, you would tailor your content accordingly. Add plugins such as All in One SEO Pack to your blog so that people find your blog in the top 3 search results. In my case, I have used my name as a unique keyword for my blog to ensure I come up in the first 3 search results.

In my experience the success rate of getting an interview is as follows: Online job sites (1 in 15), LinkedIn job application and follow up with a recruiter from that company or an employee at that company (1 in 10), conferences or events with recruiting booths (1 in 10), asking a friend or family who works in a company that interests you (1 in 5). My estimates may be conservative and the numbers change depending on recruiting cycles and macro economic factors.

Tools to help you: Blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, follow up log (excel sheet with names of contacts to follow up with respect to positions I've applied for and I use Google Docs to share it with people in my support group-very helpful), support group (people to keep you motivated when things look bleak especially in this economy-very important), business card (I usually add the position I'm interested in - great value add and it indicates you've done your due diligence), resume, cover letter and visual resume.

All the best if you are looking for a job or plan to in the future! Feedback is appreciated.

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