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QR code

The Evolution of QR Codes

Someone in our company asked me the other day if we could print a QR code on posters which would be displayed throughout a trade show. When people scan the code, they would be directed to an online version of a PowerPoint presentation. I thought, “Why not? We can do that.” We’ve used QR codes in the past to link to websites and YouTube videos, but it hasn’t been something people get very excited about. Or perhaps, not many people knew about them. A QR (Quick Response) code is similar to a barcode, but can hold at least 100 times the amount of information than what a typical barcode can hold. They have been around since 1994, developed by a Japanese company to help track vehicles during manufacturing. They were introduced in the U.S. sometime around 2010 when the first QR code scanner app was released for smartphones. As the technology evolved, the code began to contain more and more information. Although the use of QR codes has been popular in Asia, they have had a difficult time defending their…

Measuring Value

7 Ways to Use Social Analytics to Maximize Brand Impact (Webinar Recap)

So your store has a Facebook business page, and maybe an Instagram and/or Twitter profile…but are you regularly monitoring the analytics for those profiles? Do you use a monitoring tool to “listen” to what customers are saying online about your store(s) outside of your social media profiles? If not, you’re missing out on a key component of your digital marketing strategy. I recently watched an AdWeek webinar called “7 Ways to Use Social Analytics to Maximize Brand Impacts.” It was sponsored by NetBase, a social media analytics platform, and hosted by Paige Leidig, CMO of NetBase, and Mike Baglietto, Director of Product Marketing at NetBase. Leidig and Baglietto emphasized that monitoring social media analytics is not something you can do on your own. As a small business, you might be able to manage and monitor your own social platforms easily enough. But once you start looking into analytics and trends that will help you take your digital marketing to the next level, you will need to consider looking into a tool that can help. Depending on your budget, you might…

Augmented Reality - photo by mankind2018

Create an Immersive Experience

The Adobe MAX 2018 conference drew a lot of attention to Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). Virual reality is a form of immersive computingthat can take you anyWHERE. You can tour the Eiffel Tower or ride a raft through the Grand Canyon, all from your own living room. View some VR videos at youtube.com/vr. Augmented reality is a form of immersive computing that can bring you anyTHING. You have the opportunity to see objects in front of you that actually are not there. Imagine walking up to a real live dinosaur…or what appears to be a live dinosaur! We as designers and artists are no longer limited to the screen. The world around us becomes our canvas. With over a billion AR-enabled devices in the hands of users today and even more wearable and headset devices being used, immersive media is something that is no longer seen in science fiction. It is right here in front of us.  We have the creativity, but augmented reality requires different skills, different programming languages and a knowledge of different tools. That was…

Adobe MAX - The Creativity Conference

Adobe MAX 2018

The Next Generation of Creativity October brings with it some exciting events. For many, it is a time to find a fall festival or a pumpkin patch to pick out that perfect pumpkin for their Halloween jack-o-lantern. In our house, our celebrations that month include the birthday of our daughter. For many Adobe software enthusiasts, we know October also brings the annual Adobe MAX conference. This is where creative types gather to learn of all the new advances, tools and tricks Adobe has been working on over the past year and is releasing right NOW! I attended my first MAX conference 11 years ago in Chicago and I still remember the excitement of walking into the conference center ballroom to kick off the event with the keynote speakers. The overhead lights were out but the room was illuminated with ginormous video screens filled with colorful motion graphics set to music coming through a wall of loud speakers. It’s been a bit since I’ve attended a conference in person, but that doesn’t mean I have to miss it entirely. The keynotes…

Voice activated "What can I help you with?"

Voice search AI and local business strategy

Artificial Intelligence is the ability of a computer system to perform tasks of human intelligence. Conspiracy theories about what Artificial Intelligence is, can do, or what it’s used for are all over the place. Humans are naturally fearful of what we don’t fully understand so we create adverse ideas and scenarios to rationalize our fear. Whether you harbor suspicions about AI or not it’s already here and making things easier. As I write this blog Google’s Smart Reply just identified the text in an email and provided me 3 options to use in response with the click of a button…boom just saved twelve keystrokes. Speaking of saved keystrokes, AI has made huge strides in the voice activated virtual assistant channel. Virtual assistants are in-home devices like Alexa and Google Home, but they’re also available on your mobile devices like Siri and Cortana. Virtual assistants recognize voice commands in many different languages with only a 5.9% error rate; meaning they understand the same amount as you or I do in a conversation now. When using a virtual assistant you are utilizing…

IP Targeting: Cool or Terrifying?

Imagine you had a list of addresses. That doesn’t seem farfetched. I bet you have thousands. Direct mail is good. It’s even better when paired with targeted ads online. In the old days you needed people to actually go to your site in order to target them with ads. Not anymore.   You are now able to use your address list to find the IP address associated with each location. Every computer network has a numerical label assigned to it – its IP address. Now through a proprietary service companies are able to match IP addresses to physical addresses with a 60 percent success rate. Direct Mail mail can have a 5.1 percent success rate. That can be even higher when paired with targeted online ads. The ads are targeted only to those on the mailing list, so companies are able to build a true one-to-one relationship. If that’s not minority report enough for you just wait… Matching an IP address to a physical address is nice. What about all potential customers whose addresses you don’t have? You can’t leave…

Fill viewfinder example photo of produce.

Do you need online shopping customers’ approval on produce?

Time and again when online shopping is brought up some Negative Nancy inevitably says “What about produce?” like they are the first person to think of this potential problem. Setting aside the fact that the average person really doesn’t know how to pick out ripe produce, stores train their staff in how to spot a good tomato. If a store is going to be really successful in the online shopping game then they will have a well trained staff who know what produce to select for you. Despite hearing this, some customers will remain unconvinced. To combat this Walmart has patented the “Fresh Online Experience”. According Supermarket News, customers would be able to “order produce, meat and bakery items online using stock photos, but then have the opportunity to approve the actual items being purchased via image scans (either two- or three-dimensional) sent to them by Walmart store workers.”  After the customer’s approval the items wold be tagged with an “edible watermark” to show it was indeed the item the customer selected. Perhaps this technology will become the standard. However,…

Snickers Hungerithm

Ease “Hanger” with real-time deals

With Hungerithm a hangry internet means cheaper #SNICKERS for you. Get your Coupon Here: https://t.co/xh5arwKrnF #EatASNICKERS pic.twitter.com/cAvNz2OUFg — SNICKERS® (@SNICKERS) November 16, 2017 On November 16 Snickers announced a new program to offer discounts based on algorithm they created. The candy bar brand is monitoring social media posts for over three thousand words and phrases that indicate people are upset. The idea was debuted at 7-Eleven stores in Australia. Discounts for Snickers fluctuated in real-time based on social media monitoring. Obviously, this is going to be beyond the capabilities of most retailers. However, the principle can still be applied. The idea of real-time discounts has been around for a while. Use our text-message program to alert customers to flash deals. Do you have digital signage  in your store? Use them to call attention to a flash sale. You don’t need a big marketing agency running a fancy algorithm to let you know the mood of your potential customers. As a retailer you should be tuned in to your community. Do you need to discount liquor because the local team just lost…

Tablet, Digital Notebook, Online Marketing

Online Targeted Advertising Webinar Recap

I recently hosted a webinar to discuss the opportunities retailers have with our Online Targeted Advertising program. During the webinar, we discussed the current digital marketing trends that point toward success with digital initiatives like OTA and how they can drive traffic to websites and stores. To start the webinar, Christine Walsh of Brick Inc. began the discussion by outlining the four formats that this program utilizes to reach potential customers. These formats include images, text, video and audio to deliver branded and targeted messages to website visitors in locations that the user requests. Next, Christine explained the current trends and statistics that show how adults over 18 in the U.S. view digital ads at a rate of 14 times that of print advertisements. This, coupled with the fact that over 60% of these adults prefer digital ads compared to print, offers insight into just how effective a sustained digital display campaign can be for retailers of any size. Christine then explained a survey that detailed why these online users prefer this type of digital advertisement. The five most important…