Forget “Black Friday” the real deals are online on “Cyber Monday.”

Thousands of consumers went to Best Buy at 4 a.m. on Black Friday last year searching for discounts on a Blu-ray players, netbooks and dozens of other items. Supplies of those hot items ran out before they reached the front of the line.
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This year many consumers will be giving up real-world shopping and plan to do all their gadget buying online.

While Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving in the United States — is one of the biggest retail shopping days of the year, tech-smart consumers are increasingly turning to the internet for the best gadget deals. Last year, 84 million people in the United States went online from mid-November to mid-December to shop for gift items, which was up 12 percent over the year before, according to comScore, a company that tracks online traffic. Furthermore, the growth in online purchases is expected to outpace that in brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season.

The National Retail Association is predicting a 16% increase in online sales, compared to a 2.3% increase in “real world” spending.

But penny-pinchers may also be driving the phenomenon. Many of the best discounts on electronics — especially big-ticket items like TVs, laptops and gaming systems — are found on the internet, not at retail stores.

Online discounts “are as juicy or even more appealing than what some of the retailers are promising on Black Friday,” said Mike Gikas of Consumer Reports. Gikas advised people to stay away from the Black Friday mania “unless you like rubbing against people you don’t know — or getting trampled.”
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On the internet, particular days seem to have less importance than at retail stores. Wal-Mart, Amazon, Target and Best Buy are already offering online discounts on electronics that may match or beat Black Friday prices.

Some discounts may pop up online on Friday, in tandem with in-store deals. Apple, which isn’t known for discounting its high-end products, says it will have a one day online sale at Apple.com Friday.

In recent years, a phenomenon marketers call “Cyber Monday” has emerged as a sort of online holiday shopping event. On the Monday after Thanksgiving, legend has it, consumers rush to the internet — presumably from their workplace computers — to shop for the rest of their lists.

The internet tracker comScore said Cyber Monday never has been the biggest online shopping day of the year. That day typically comes on a Monday in December, said comScore’s senior director of industry analysis, Andrew Lipsman.

Still, the Monday after Thanksgiving is a bigger day for online shopping than either Thanksgiving day — which has been talked about as the hot new day to shop online — and Black Friday. Last year, Americans spent almost $900 million at online retail stores on the Monday after Thanksgiving — compared with $595 million on Black Friday and $300 million on Thanksgiving Day.

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Going back to University after 25 years? I did…online.

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Many people ask me why I decided after so many years to go back to University to earn an MBA….that is a very good question….there were so many reasons.

I think first and foremost because I was departing the comfort of a big global company with vast resources and very smart people I felt I needed the credibility of the MBA…I had the experience but always felt I needed the creds…
I thought if I heard one more client say let’s get some MBA’s thinking about this I would pummel them. I needed that diploma!

I do however believe that people place entirely too much stock in executives who have an MBA directly out of school…most had no real workplace experience so the concepts they learned in their universities had no real impact on them and the students could readily apply what they learned on the job.

Our clients and firms were very often disappointed by performance and output of young execs with MBA credentials. I am sure there are exceptions but as a rule we always found their proposals weak in terms of actionable solutions.

Because i had so much real on the ground experience, I found the MBA learning experience to be exhilarating…I could apply virtually every concept I encountered to real projects that I had encountered over my career…It was like an MBA program on steroids.

I also found the University of Phoenix online program to be an excellent way to go…the classes were small and the courses were taught by “working” professionals with real jobs and real challenges. I also give high marks to the online resources like the extensive library…I had every stat I could every want to bolster my business cases at my fingertips.

The online atmosphere created more dialogue and interaction with fellow students and professors versus my experiences in real classrooms…and the interaction was all week long not just the hour or two that I experienced in a brick and mortar classroom.

Are We Playing Too Much Online? 37.5 Days a Year!

The chart below says it all.
If kids 10 t0 26 are playing twice a day with the average session around 74 minutes that is a lot of time spent in front of a console just chilln’. That is a whopping 37.5 days a year!!!!!
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DEMOCRACY is coming to online shopping.

I am always skeptical about on-line recommendations but an old colleague of mine at Forrester, Peter Kim, seems to think consumer word of mouth has great value.

Scores of Internet merchants have recently begun following Amazon’s lead by posting customer reviews — both flattering and flaming — of products they sell, and directing shoppers to sources of the most highly rated items. For example, shoppers can now find frank assessments of everything from Rolling Stones concerts to computers on sites like TicketsNow.com and CompUSA.com, among many others, as well as portals like Pricerunner.com and, in the coming months, MSN.

The trend arises both from an increasing tolerance for candor among retailers and from the emergence of inexpensive technology to track and post customer opinions on individual Web sites. This promises to give customers a new way to shop. Perhaps more surprisingly, it has bolstered the sales of some early experimenters.

Take Petco, the pet supplies retailer. The company’s Web division last year tested the service of a new technology company, Bazaarvoice, of Austin, Tex., which essentially polls retail customers (and also helps merchants screen reviews for inappropriate content as they are posted on the site).

According to John Lazarchic, Petco’s vice president for e-commerce, 30 days after the company placed links near products asking visitors to write a review, more than 1,000 products attracted comments. Petco then featured the highest-rated products in marketing e-mail messages. Those messages generated five times as many site visits as previous approaches.

Earlier this year, the site devoted entire sections within each pet category to “top rated” products. Shoppers who browsed products that way purchased at a 35 percent higher rate than those who browsed assortments arranged in the traditional manner. And those who bought from the top-rated sections spent 40 percent more than those who did not.

“I think we’re one of the first, if not the first, to create a primary shopping experience that’s driven by the voice of other shoppers,” Mr. Lazarchic said. “It makes sense, though, because if you look at studies that are being done, consumers will trust the voice of another customer before they trust the retailer or manufacturer.”

Indeed, according to a survey by Forrester Research, a technology consulting firm, 6 percent of customers say they believe marketers’ advertising claims, and 62 percent say they feel there are too many ads in the media. Forrester also found that fewer than 10 percent of consumers said that television ads influenced their purchase decisions, while more than half said that the recommendations of friends and family changed their purchase plans.

“It’s pretty clear that people are trusting the words of other consumers more than what’s broadcast on the airwaves,” said Peter Kim, an analyst with Forrester.

Downturn in the Economy and Online Strategy

You don’t have to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board to know that marketers across all sectors are hunkering down and searching for the fastest and cheapest ways to acquire and retain customers as budgets evaporate.
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In the race for low cost, high yield tactics suspicion naturally falls on digital and online media with its well known but often un-harvested ROI promise.

According to Lee Odden’s Online Marketing Blog, blogging, SEO, PPC social networking and e-mail are the top 5 tactics marketers will emphasize in the next 6 months, though not all will yield quick or positive results if you’re not already working on them. Here’ are a few things to consider before embracing these tactics.

Blogging. Considered the human face of corporations and businesses, blogs without traffic and without a point of view don’t matter. ts-1
It’s not enough just to craft customer-friendly messages in blog formats. You’ve got to get customers to click, read and believe. This demands content that’s more textured than the party line sufficient to bring them back, buy something or talk up your brand.

There is no hard research linking blogging with increased brand awareness, preference or advocacy, though company blogs with large audiences should logically develop these things. Similarly there are not a lot of cases that show how blogs drive traffic to brand or ecommerce sites. If you aren’t already blogging and building audiences now isn’t the time to start if you want measurable results in the near term.
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SEO. Seven of ten searchers click on the natural results first. But if you’re not on the first page you’re toast.

Getting to the first page requires huge investments of skill, tools and dedicated players. If you have them in-house or can outsource them efficiently, this is a good bet though improvement is incremental and sometimes glacial due to intense competition and almost constant gaming by both search engines and optimizers.

PPC. Play per click search advertising is the fastest and easiest thing you can do. With even modest budgets you can incrementally improve traffic and results. If you’re willing to monkey with it daily, you can have the illusion of control and can quickly and easily see your progress, parse your dollars and experiment with new or different key words and phrases. Even from a standing start PPC advertising can quickly have a positive ROI on your business.

Social Networking. This is the most hyped and least understood marketing tool. Reaching out to large numbers of customers linked to each other in social forums using the images, language and customs they expect and like makes good sense.

Some brands have amassed large numbers of “friends” others have distributed information and coupons, prompted interaction and feedback, run contests, collected data and even sold some merchandise.

So far however no reliable messaging or media formulas have emerged. Now the sites, eager to monetize their memberships and prove their financiers right, are aggressively selling different flavors of behaviorally targeted advertising; which itself has no track record or widely accepted success stories. At relatively modest costs social networks are a great experimental tool and marketing test lab well worth your time and attention; though keep your expectations for a fast payoff low.

E-Mail. In site of widespread hatred of SPAM and the near ubiquitous deployment of increasingly sophisticated spam filters, outbound opt-in e-mail is the most cost effective and reliable tool you can use. E-mail works.

You can create and transmit campaigns that work fast and cheap. Real-time feedback on delivery, opens, clicks and action allow you to revise, re-target and re-engage customers quickly at modest costs. And frequency works much like direct mail with each sequential blast of the same message generally yielding 50% of the previous one. The key determinants of success are a clean opt-in list, a credible FROM line, a motivating SUBJ line with an actionable offer inside. Shorter copy with minimal graphics and clearly marked calls to action work best. If you only have enough budget to do one thing, bet the farm on e-mail.

Affiliate Marketing. This approach offers the prospect of everyone helping everyone else. Though in reality it’s about finding the right balance between greed and self-interest. The affiliate networks offer automated platforms and minimal advice. For most programs the 80/20 rule applies — a minority of sites will yield the biggest payoffs.

Affiliates are looking for opportunities to generate no-fuss incremental revenue with minimal effort and involvement. In some cases this works like gangbusters. In others its a long hard slog. Setting up an effective affiliate network takes at least 90 days and requires dedicated staff and expertise. If you start now, it might begin to pay out in 2009.
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Internet and the Election

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The following facts and figures are from http://www.pewinternet.org, As I studied for my MBA last year I used them a great deal as a source of accurate information especially since I was studying international marketing and the web is such a key element to successful business these days.
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I thought is was appropriate to share this as we are all Xanga freaks and use the web daily to express ourselves, so too do the parties and candidates. Although McCain says he doesn’t know the web very well his staff certainly realize its power and Obama is using the web more than any candidate in history.

A record-breaking 46% of Americans have used the internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views and mobilize others.
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Barack Obama’s backers have an edge in the online political environment. Furthermore, three online activities have become especially prominent as the presidential primary campaigns progressed:

First, 35% of Americans say they have watched online political videos, a figure that nearly triples the reading the Pew Internet Project got in the 2004 race.

Second, 10% say they have used social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace to gather information or become involved. This is particularly popular with younger voters: Two-thirds of internet users under the age of 30 have a social networking profile, and half of these use social networking sites to get or share information about politics or the campaigns.

Third, 6% of Americans have made political contributions online, compared with 2% who did that during the entire 2004 campaign.

A significant number of voters are also using the internet to gain access to campaign events and primary documents. Some 39% of online Americans have used the internet to access “unfiltered” campaign materials, which includes video of candidate debates, speeches and announcements, as well as position papers and speech transcripts.

Online activism using social media has also grown substantially since the first time we probed this issue during the 2006 midterm elections.

More web facts regarding this election:
1. 11% of Americans have contributed to the political conversation by forwarding or posting someone else’s commentary about the race.
2. 5% have posted their own original commentary or analysis.
3. 6% have gone online to donate money to a candidate or campaign.
4. Young voters are helping to define the online political debate; 12% of online 18-29 year olds have posted their own political commentary or writing to an online newsgroup, website or blog. Led by young voters, Democrats and Obama supporters have taken the lead in their use of online tools for political engagement. _
5. 74% of wired Obama supporters have gotten political news and information online, compared with 57% of online Clinton supporters.
6. In a head-to-head match-up with internet users who support Republican McCain, Obama’s backers are more likely to get political news and information online (65% vs. 56%).

Obama supporters outpace both Clinton and McCain supporters in their usage of online video, social networking sites and other online campaign activities. Yet despite the growth in the number of people who are politically engaged online, internet users express some ambivalence about the role of the internet in the campaign.
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On one hand, 28% of wired Americans say that the internet makes them feel more personally connected to the campaign, and 22% say that they would not be as involved in the campaign if not for the internet. At the same time, however, even larger numbers feel that the internet magnifies the most extreme viewpoints and is a source of misinformation for many voters.