Privacy in the Digital Age

Is there such a thing as consumer privacy in the digital age?  I’m pretty sure we all know that companies are obtaining information about us in order to serve more targeted ads.  But are we fully aware of everything they can learn about us through our online activity?  According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, only one out of five consumers understand that your location information is given up when you use your smartphone.  However, conversely speaking, roughly 97% of people admit to being nervous about the fact that companies are gathering large amounts of data on them.  This is a pretty disturbing blend of statistics if you ask me.  Most people are aware of companies collecting data about them and express concern over this fact, however, only a small percent of these people actually know the extent of this knowledge that companies possess.

Generally speaking, people understand that everything you put out there in the digital world cannot be taken back and is available for the world to see.  However, is privacy in the digital age really dead?  The good news is, there is hope for the future.  Several people are pushing for stronger regulations for companies obtaining personal information without a user’s consent and many states have begun to crack down on this type of activity already.  This article from the ACLU explains further.  Take a look at the map below to determine whether or not your state is working to protect your privacy.

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Until we have stricter regulations in place to protect consumer privacy online, I strongly suggest you take care in what you post online as this information is readily available to marketers at the drop of a hat.

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The Mobile Payment Revolution

Before we know it there will be no need to carry that big clunky wallet around.  No more cash, debit or credit cards.  Companies are making it easier and easier to make a purchase using your mobile device which is very appealing to today’s consumer.

Marketers have predicted the mobile payment revolution should have already come this year.  But people across each generational cohort are still walking around with their credit cards in hand.  However, companies are streamlining their mobile payment processes to make it easier and more appealing to customers.  That being said, we should expect to see a major shift in consumer behavior very soon.  At this point, we are at a place where people love the idea of mobile payments but aren’t ready to make the jump just yet.

There’s one thing we know for sure… using Smartphones as a form of payment has certainly been on the rise in recent years.  Industry experts are predicting that we will spend around $60 billion in mobile payment spend in 2016 which is a huge increase from previous years.  The chart below outlines this growth pattern.

mobile payments

Aside from the more generic Apple Pay and Google Wallet options, other retailers have been making mobile payments more appealing through providing discounts, freebies and special offers to customers who pay through their mobile app.  One company who has emerged as a leader in the mobile payment space is Starbucks.  Through offering a rewards program to customers through their mobile app program, more and more customers are beginning to utilize their Smartphones to pay for their favorite handcrafted coffee drinks.  Customers no longer have to fumble around in their purses and wallets for loyalty punch cards or gift cards to redeem their discounts and free drinks.  This convenience factor coupled with a simple way to earn free treats make this one of the most successful mobile payment apps on the market today.

4 Steps to Grow Brand Equity Through Social Media

Social media is, quite possibly, the best way to not only gain new customers but grow relationships with your current customer base.  With so many different social channels to choose from as well as a plethora of targeting capabilities, brands have the ability to cultivate and grow relationships with customers at the drop of a hat.

The below infographic demonstrates how the social landscape has changed in recent years and why social channels have become such an important marketing tactic for all brands.  You can find it here.

social media

Without further adieu, here are my top 4 recommendations for how to grow brand equity through social channels:

Step 1:  Make sure your accounts are up to date.  This sounds like an easy task, but this is something that often gets ignored as companies focus too much on responding to customer questions and posting relevant content.  However, it is equally important to update your company information, photos, events, etc. as many people will look to your social profile for this information before they seek other channels.

Step 2:  Communicate with your audience through thought leadership.  The last thing people want to see in their newsfeed is an abundance of sales messages.  Consumers, particularly Millennials, are attracted to companies who teach, entertain and ignite discussions through regular posts.  Brands should use social media as an opportunity to communicate their knowledge in their particular industry, as well as offer up quality discussions that provoke change.

Step 3:  Respond to customer questions and feedback in a timely manner.  This is how brands are able to foster relationships with customers and provides an opportunity for people to connect with the brand on a deeper level.  And don’t be afraid of negative feedback!  People expect to see a few negative comments here and there.  What matters is the way in which you respond to them.

Here is a great article from AdWeek that explains how to handle negative comments.

Step 4:  Create a fun environment where your consumers aren’t afraid to engage with your posts.  This is a great way to provide a bit of entertainment to your audience as opposed to the normal thought-provoking, company-focused content you are probably focused on.  Utilizing games, contests, images, videos and apps are just some of the ways you can engage your audience in a new and fun way.