Archive of ‘English’ category

Mailbox pollution and the unsubscribe startup

I don’t know about you, but my mailbox is swamped with newsletters, information bulletins and so on. I cannot call it spam, as I might have subscribed to it at some point, given permission through ordering something or it might be of general interest to me. However, it does annoy me. And it annoys me most when I am busy. When I am trying to find that one email, or I am expecting that one response. That is the time when I come across most of them.

All of this got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if there would be a startup that offers a service that goes through your email, analyses it, finds all the newsletters and allows you to unsubscribe from them through an easy interface? As a matter of fact, I can think of other things that can come from that email analysis as well.

If you are a developer or a team looking for a new startup idea, here it is. I have got more details if you get in touch with me. And I can be an advisor for your startup to create this. Let me know.

Update:
There are services like unlistr.com (Windows only), unsubscribe.com (can’t get it to work) and unroll.me which is in beta. I love to hear other suggestions

Facebook, fans and commerce [Data heavy]

Ok, here it is: Facebook is not the holy grail in communicating with your customers. It is not even a nice place for ecommerce. And it is not just me that says this. There are actual statistics that say the same thing. Read on to find out why.

Before I start this, let me get one thing straight with you. I like Facebook. It is the biggest social network where people spend most of their time. We already knew people spend one out of every 7 minutes online on Facebook. Now, new statistics show that visitors in January spent 405 minutes on Facebook on average. So, a great place to be.

 

But that is where it ends. A great place to be. And the main reason is that that is what people do on Facebook. They are. They are with their friends, they talk, hang out, joke, play and all that. Commerce is rarely on their mind when they are on Facebook. Something that has been demonstrated last week when American retailers Gamestop pulled the plug on their store on Facebook after JC Penney and Nordstrom already closed their Facebook stores. “There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop,” Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts told Bloomberg in a telephone interview. “But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”

Data from startup PostRocket agrees with the conclusions of Sucharita Mulpuru and gives extra insights into what is happening at Facebook. One of the biggest misconceptions on Facebook has to do with people liking your page. For most marketeers the reasoning goes something like “Hey, we’ve got 4 million fans, so those are people who are ready to buy our stuff.” However, data from BrandGlue indicates that 96% of the fans will never return to the Facebook page after they have liked it! And keeping in mind that a lot of page likes are gathered by advertising on Facebook, most people will never have visited the page in the first place. But assuming that all of your 4 million fans have, only 160,000 people will ever visit your Facebook page again.

Now we get to the PostRocket figures. Through their analysis they have found that the number of Facebook page visits amounts to 0.7% of your fan count. In our example that would give our page 28,000 views. Through the same analysis it was found out that a Facebook page only gets 0.4% of its fan count in unique visitors. In plain English, only 16,000 of our 4 million fans visit our Facebook page on a given day. A good e-commerce site like Gamestop (who had 4 million Facebook fans) brings in around 180,000 visitors every single day. That is over eleven times more!

But it gets worse. Facebook points your fans to your wall. Which means that if you want to sell anything to your customers, you need to install a tab application in Facebook. Data shows that non-landing tabs on Facebook pages only get between 1% and 10% of the page visitors. And the 10% is only reserved for ridiculously well performing tabs offering a direct discount or a super interesting deal. For the sake of argument, lets just take the average. Based on the 16,000 unique visitors we calculated before, only 800 unique visitors will actually be visiting the store (or another tab) on your Facebook page.

Long story short, on average only 0.02% of the fan count of your page will actually be visiting the tabs you created on your Facebook page. Can your situation be different? Of course it can be. Is Facebook a lost cause for companies? Certainly not. But you need to keep in mind that people are not on Facebook to buy. They are on Facebook to share and to hang out. That means that creating a good ecommerce site will easily beat your efforts on Facebook. Just something to think about.

Starting with a passion, a coffee and a bike in Serbia

This morning a friend of mine pointed me to a team of people in Serbia who do what I am always on about. Following their passion and trying to make an impact. Without David’s knowledge he pointed me to an area that has had my interest since the nineties when I met a friend from Belgrade.

This team is based in Novi Sad and wants to reach out in a positive way to the city and its people. How? By starting a Cafe and bike kitchen as they call it themselves. They want to offer great coffee, good food and great bikes. All of them with a sustainable twist to them. I particularly like that for every bike they sell, they are going to donate one to someone who can’t afford a bike.

Yes, it is a business with a business model. Selling coffee, food and bikes. But it is also focused on the community as they plan to make it a place for art, music, free classes and programs. This is an approach I love.

Check out the video and support these guys through their IndyGoGo project.

I’m loving it, are you?

People that know me, know that I am often all over the map. When they think I am going right, I do a quick left and then swerve to the right. Why? Because I love it. Because I am inspired. Well, often anyway. I just love creating big new ideas that might or might not become reality. But I always go for my passions all out. The results? The results are like the email I got the other day from the bus driver on StartupBus Europe. He used to be an entrepreneur in video but the economic situation put him on the bus. StartupBus Europe inspired him to take a new approach and get back to his passion. Those are the emails I love. And that, and other reactions to the impact StartupBus Europe has had on people, are the reasons why I do what I do.

I love people. Yes, that would include you. 😉 And that is why I do what I do. Because I want to share my knowledge, share my thoughts, share my ideas to help you move forward. And I will not be confined to a single space like social media or tech. I promise you that I will go beyond that. My head is full of new ideas and one that I would love to launch in particular. It will take some time before I can share more about that, but it will be something that combines a lot of the things I am passionate about.

And you? Are you inspired? Are you doing what you love? This valentine, consider what your biggest loves are in your life and make sure you embrace them. Whether it is your partner or your passion.

Disappointed in Windows Phone so far. Send me your tips! (Nokia Lumia test)

Last Friday afternoon I got my Nokia Lumia 800 in. First impressions were of a great looking phone with a solid feel to it. The packaging was nice as well, so it all built up pretty nicely. After getting myself a micro sim, the test period was on. I had set myself the challenge to really use it as my only phone over the coming weeks, to see how it would stack up to the iPhone and my Nexus S. Due to something missing on my Lumia, Nokia is going to exchange my phone for another one. Nothing to alarming, but to be honest, I loved the sound of my Nexus S turning on again.

I have written about Windows Phone before. But I had never tried to live with it. And that changed over the course of these last three days. I installed lots of apps, I made calls, took pictures, did video, texted and used social networking sites. Just like I do on my other phones. But it did feel different this time. Let me get this clear. I really do love the feel of the phone. I love the pictures it takes. I like how it integrates things into its user interface. And I definitely, definitely love the looks that Microsoft has given Windows Phone. The tiles are nice and mostly functional. Even though I don’t understand why some are animated and some aren’t.

But in a way, the phone leaves me feeling oddly detached. I am used to the notifications on Android 4.0 and iOS 5. Notifications that tell me when people want to interact with me across all networks. Yes, there is the “Me” tile that I can tap and then go to notifications to see Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live and LinkedIn, but that needs action from me. And as soon as I power up my Nexus S or iPhone, I get flooded with updates that I never saw on the Lumia. And that annoys me. My phone is not about calling. It is about interaction.

And about making a call. That is a completely different problem. When logged on to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Windows Live and four of my Google accounts, the address book becomes a total nightmare. Lots of people are in several of my networks, which puts them in my address book several times. But not all of them have phone numbers. So, I keep on choosing the wrong contact. And trying to call home, I didn’t even find the number. I am sure there are great ways of streamlining this. I do that on the Nexus S and iPhone as well. But I have not found out how to do it on this one.

I think Nokia made a nice phone, but I am not enjoying it because Windows Phone doesn’t work the way I would want it to. And I might be able to solve a lot of this by choosing the right apps. So, tell me, what are the apps you enjoy most on Windows Phone and why? And how did you sort out your address book? Looking forward to hearing from you so I can give the Lumia a second chance!

Google integrates Google+ in search results and drives competitors nuts

Yesterday, Google announced that they will now make Google+ much more of a search companion than it was. Google will introduce a “personalized search” button you can click to see who of your friends have posted messages that align with your search. To be honest, I had expected things like this to happen from day one. I even blogged about how I expected Google to integrate Google+ into everything they do. And surprise, surprise. They did.

The funny part comes next. Now a lot of people are yelling about antitrust laws and how it is unfair to use your monopoly on search to promote your social network. Which is interesting in itself. I am not saying that they are not doing that. I am just looking at the people making that statement and that surprises me. One of the biggest complainers is Twitter. You know, the company who tried to use their monopoly in microblogging to promote their search capabilities. Apparently, after a period of working closely together, they then pulled Google’s rights to use the tweets of their users in Google’s search results. Only to come back to Google to offer them the rights to use the search at a figure “below $100 million”. Imagine their surprise that Google denied it and turned around to do it themselves. In an official statement sent to a number of news outlets, Twitter even speaks of Twitter as the world’s primary source of breaking news. And Google’s new search results will harm information reaching users. (Read the full statement on TechCrunch for instance.) I would almost call that a “We’re better!” attempt. In an interview with Marketingland Eric Schmidt says that they are not favoring Google+ and that they are willing to talk to Twitter and Facebook.

Honestly, unlike Twitter, I do see benefits for people searching. I believe integrating social networks into search can be a step forwards towards offering better search results. But it will be important for Google to get Twitter, Facebook and others to join their social search attempt. Because even though I do like Google+, I cannot and will not see it as my only source of social search results.

Entrepreneurs don’t care about the current economic climate

Yesterday I visited one of the many New Year receptions of our region. It was hosted by the local chamber of commerce and this meant that the chairman did his annual New Year’s speech. Unfortunately he forgot who he was addressing. His speech was full of the terrible economic climate, the changes we all need to make to not go bankrupt and how the chambers of commerce are going to be reorganized to help entrepreneurs do that. He forgot that he was addressing entrepreneurs. I bet his speech would have gone down welll with governmental types. But not enterpreneurs.

Walking around during the reception part, every single entrepreneur I talked to told me that they are expecting a nice 2012. They all saw new possibilities for their companies or their products. Some of them are hiring for that growth already. Unanimously they thought the speech was crap.

When I headed back home last night, I was happy to see that none of the outside factors influenced the real entrepreneurs. They are not bothered with what the outside world says, they see an opportunity and they move on it. And those will be the entrepreneurs that will make it. The ones with vision for their future, passion for their company and a drive to succeed.

Are you influenced by the news on the economic climate? Or are you seeing new opportunities for you and your company?

Clean up the permissions you have given others

Oh, I will quickly log in with my Facebook account. Wait, I don’t have to register here, I can just use Twitter. Or LinkedIn. Or any of my other social networks. Throughout the day, you are giving lots of services permission to use your social network accounts. It may be for authentication at first, but you will almost always be granting more permissions than the service really needs. And over time, you forget which services were granted what.

Time for mypermissions.org. An easy service that shows a couple of big logo’s from the major social networks. Clicking them will take you to the permission pages for your network account on that network. An easy way to check who you have been granting permissions on what. And believe me, even if you are not that active, that usually still is a surprising list.

Have you tried it already? Has it surprised you?

What are you worth to Dove and how to fail getting fans

Earlier this week I came across a commercial from Dove that specifically asked people to like their Facebook page. In return for my click they offered me a €1 discount on one of their products. So, in essence they are asking me to connect my online reputation and my position in the time line of my friends to their brand. And in return? They are going to be giving me a buck. Seriously? Dove, what were you thinking? Offering a discount for linking or following might just be the ultimate way of failing on social networks. And Dove just topped that mark by stating that my loyalty to their brand and the attention of my friends is only worth a single Euro to them.

Getting followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or any other network of your choice is about connecting. Connecting lives with your brand. Connecting personalities, connecting friends, connecting reputation, connecting values in life. It is not about the numbers. It is not about getting as many people as possible as fast as possible. It is about connecting and creating a useful exchange. Yes, I am willing to connect to a brand. In fact, I am very interested to connect to the brands I love because they are close to my heart. But there needs to be a useful exchange. I do not care about being a number. I care about being a person in contact with you. With your brand. Share useful things with me. I am not interested in brands that are just posting little updates on their wall for me to discover in my timeline. I am interested in brands that want to communicate to ME. Personally. To show me things that I am interested in. Things that I care to share. Reasons why I want to be part of the circle around them.

A simple lesson emerges from this. People who come in for a €1 discount are not really interested in you. They are interested in buying your product at bargain prices. Those are not the customers you are looking for. And people who love your brand will not come in on a discount offering as they feel you are not appreciating them, offering them a mere euro instead of a meaningful relationship.

If you were thinking of taking this approach, reconsider. Fast. And read my blogpost on stories and personal relationships.

A marketing campaign will not make Windows Phone succeed

At the end of March, Nokia will launch their new Nokia Ace in the US. And rumor has it that the launch will be accompanied by a great marketing campaign that will run in the neighborhood of $100 million. I just read this on BetaNews. An interesting article that goes on to state that Microsoft needs a hero in the Windows Phone stakes. However, the statement leaves me wondering what their campaign will be on.

I am a firm believer that people want to buy a mobile device that is easy to use and gives them the features they want, for the price they want it at. Almost every day I have people ask me what phone they should buy and how their phone can help them do what they want. And unanimously they ask whether to buy Android or iPhone. I never get asked the question for Windows Phone. Nobody asks me the same about Blackberry either, because you either want one for Blackberry messenger or you are stuck with one as your company phone.

Will a $100 million marketing campaign solve this problem? Hardly. Few people choose their phones on the commercials they have seen or the billboards they drove past. They do choose their phones on what their friends are using and the ease it seems to give them. I agree with Robert Scoble when he responds to Charlie Kindle’s post on why WP7 has not taken off. Through its users, Android and iOS both show they are safe choices. People around you use them. Of all the people I have met over the past three weeks, I have only met one with a Nokia Lumia. One. Hardly a match for the people that have told me about their new iPhone 4S or Android phone.

I am afraid the $100 million might just vaporize on the way to selling a phone. Back in 2007 the launch of the iPhone changed the mobile phone landscape. Back in 2009, carriers were still longing for a good iPhone competitor to offer their customers. Now, in 2012 we have it all. Back in 2007, developers were eager to jump the bandwagon to build their coolest ideas into iOS apps. Now, few startups even see Windows Phone or Blackberry as a viable market. So they develop for iOS and Android only.
I am assuming Microsoft is launching a ‘regular’ marketing campaign with Nokia and AT&T in which they will be targeting consumers to buy the Nokia Ace. What happens is that we get into a circle of people waiting for each other and no phones being sold. Because the consumers will only change to Windows Phone when their favorite apps are running on WP and developers will not be eager to do WP development unless WP reaches enough critical mass to make it worth their while.

Solution? Take a good chunk of that budget and target developers, startups and innovators. To port their existing apps to WP, but also to develop cool new apps that will be exclusive to WP for now. I firmly believe there is a market for WP. However, you need to know where it is to be able to benefit from it. For now, WP phones will mainly be bought by companies to replace their older Windows Mobile devices. A device management issue. But startups can make the most of this by launching themselves specifically geared to business development. There is enough to do in that market still and there is money to sell your apps. And making that work will show other developers that WP might be a financial goldmine waiting for them.

In essence? Spending $100 million on marketing is not going to cut it. It needs to be spent on the eco system that will allow your customer to do what they want with your product. Only then will you be making progress.

2012 – the year the story died and life took over

Picture courtesy of Google Streetview

I am a story teller. I love to tell stories and I explain lots of things through simple stories when I speak in front of audiences. I believe in brands, organizations, people and things that tell stories. I really do. But big changes are ahead. And those changes are going to hit using the story for your marketing more than anything else.

Why? Marketing stories are usually great constructed tales that involve product, emotion and something that makes them almost personal. Something that allowed the masses to relate to them in one way or another. And as a marketeer you could bring that story to your audience where they were in their masses. So, you would determine your target audience, pick a place where they were most likely to see you and you would tell/display your story there. Nice. But not good enough in 2012.

Will stories not work in 2012? Of course they will. Will you not reach that audience anymore? Of course you will. But much more effective ways are coming. And they are coming soon. What can be more effective? Telling the story on a direct and personal level. Tailoring it to the interests and enthusiasm of the individual in your audience, that will connect them to you more and give something back to them. Whether in connections, in experience, in exclusivity or in something that touches their personal interests. As social media are becoming more and more integrated into everything we do, the reach of the general story becomes smaller and smaller. However, the personal story is getting bigger and bigger. And as people are connected to their niche interests, their valuation of what you give them will reach many in their niche community. Impact changes. And as a brand/organization, you need to determine what your next move is going to be. Are you going to be sponsoring the next X thousand people event for €100.000? Or are you going to be splitting up the budget to do separate events that touch your audience directly and allow them to share your awesomeness with their networks? Because you can. You can make it far more interesting than a huge event can be. And you will make a better conversion.

2012 will see new technology to make this even easier. Google+ already launched group hangouts in December. Video meetings by several people, or even several locations, that can be watched live by your audience, but can also be recorded and published on YouTube. As social networks integrate more and more with all our communications, it will be easier to stay in touch with everyone and everything. But more conscious personal filtering by your audience (new tools are released every day) makes sure that if you are not SUPER relevant, they will not notice you. They won’t tune out of your story, they will never have seen it in the first place.

So, for 2012, make this new years’ resolution: I will be personal, relevant and I will reach my audience on an individual level, to have the biggest impact I can ever have.

Have a great year!

Paris, LeWeb, Startupbus, friends and more

I am just coming out of an amazing week. It all started with the launch party for StartupBus Europe in Amsterdam. It was a great turnout and people were excited. Everyone was looking forward to a great trip, some big challenges and very little sleep. How right they were. Over three days of StartupBus we travelled 2700km from Amsterdam to an evening in Copenhagen, then to a lunch in Berlin, breakfast in Zurich and pitching over drinks in Paris. I will write much more about this in later posts. For now, I just want to thank Softlayer and Twilio for sponsoring the bus, Atlassian for their Amsterdam office and Startupbootcamp for sponsoring our parties. And of course thanks to Seedcamp for allowing us to pitch at their party and putting up a great prize for the winners.
Check startupbus.com/europe for more.

Then it was on to LeWeb. I love LeWeb. I have had people come up to me and ask me wether it is worth the ticket price. And again I have to say “yes”. The people that are their and the opportunities to meet new people are incredible. Together with Stephanie Booth and Frédéric de Villamil I was responsible for the selection of the official LeWeb bloggers this year. And I loved it. The team is fantastic and the official bloggers are a great bunch. During LeWeb I have seen great content, met great people and have made some great appointments for the near future. I am looking forward to some exciting steps.

More than anything else, last week was a week of friends. Meeting new friend and catching up with old friends. I love how the names of the StartupBus registration list have turned into what will possibly be live long friends. For the single reason that we have gone through an experience that nobody else has. It has created some great friendships. But I have also met a lot of other new people. At LeWeb, at a Sandbox dinner and at parties and clubs. I am looking to getting to know them better as online time progresses.

I am happy about the past week. I have not slept much and have seen all I might have wanted at LeWeb. But I am happy, because people say that the StartupBus Europe trip has been amazing for them. Because I have had people walk up to me during LeWeb to tell me how StartupBus Europe has inspired them. And because I have been asked to help inspire others to chase their dreams and build their startups. And that is what I am in it for. To inspire people and to help them reach their dreams.