When the basics become commoditized, invest in your CX

Photography
This weekend, the wonderful Casey Newton over at The Verge posted a comprehensive review of the many, leading photo backup and cloud storage services. Nearly every service listed offers oodles of storage, location tagging and auto-backup from my mobile device. The very basics of photo backup have become commoditized.  

But these photo services were built by engineers to solve a technical issue - limited storage space. What these products lack is an understanding of our human needs - sorting, fixing, viewing and sharing photos.  With cloud storage quotas growing to near-irrational sizes, storage size is no longer a rational differentiator. To stand apart, it's time for a focus on the customer's needs and customer experience. 

A focus on CX would produce a "mom friendly" one-click service. Once you download the app, your photos and videos would automatically backed up to the cloud, and possibly also to your home computer. Photos and videos would be automatically fixed, doing the basics like removing blur, shakes and red eye. Parents will appreciate automated tagging of children (the spec is simple - define the face a few times, and it will be automatically tagged moving forward). De-duping and simple, controlled sharing (with one click sharing to Facebook, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram) would round out the basic feature set. And lastly, this service would allow users to easily send photos to their favorite online photo printing services.

Google+ has many of these features, but it's stuck on Google+. My Mom doesn't even realize she has a Google account and would never understand their sharing or sorting features. Once again, Google+ photos is a great technical solution, but a bit more focus on the CX would make it far more user-friendly. Way back in 2013 I shared my frustrations with the mobile photo backup space. Reading Casey's thorough roundup, most of my frustrations remain.

But there is a ray of hope.

  • Microsoft's new corporate direction shows a strong push towards freemium and cloud based tools. One Drive is a nice solution, and a bit more work would make this a more viable photo back and management solution. Microsoft also seems the most likely to build in deep integrations with leading "sharing" services such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram.
  • Google+ Photos is probably the most capable solution from a big name company, and their recent moves to integrate photos into Google Drive are a step in the right direction. But Google needs to translate their technical tools into a simpler customer experience, building in better third-party sharing integrations, better tagging and lifting their storage quotas a bit to remain viable for more than a couple of years worth of photos.
  • Facebook Photos already allows me to tag my kids, and will automatically back up all the photos on my phone. Their automated photo fix tools are also becoming increasingly capable. Better photo search, tagging and downloading features would round out their app.
  • DropBox's Carousel is nice, but it's still not feature-rich enough for me to consider a real "mom-ready" browsing and management solution.

What would you want to see in a CX-centered photo and video backup and management solution? 


Are you listening to your customers when it matters most?

Listening

Smart marketers appreciate the value of social media. You tune into the latest industry chatter, engage with customers on Twitter and monitor social media for mentions of your brand. Listening to customer conversations about your brand or business yields incredible insights into your customer’s needs and passions. Unfortunately, many marketers are only listening to their customers with half an ear. While they focus on public social media chatter, they often forget to listen to their customers when they are most invested in their business – while they are on the brand’s website.

Listening to customer feedback on your website is easy and incredibly useful. Below are the 7 advantages of direct customer feedback over traditional social media listening.

  1. Customers are More Invested 
    Customers come to your site for a reason; to research a product, complete a purchase etc. These customers have a vested interest in completing their task, and will let you know when something is not as it should be. The feedback you gather from these customers will impact your bottom line.

  2. Real, Meaningful Conversations 
    Your customers want their voices to be heard and acknowledged. Show them you care by inviting their feedback on your site, replying to their feedback messages, and implementing their ideas. Unlike public social media, website feedback is a safe environment that is conducive to meaningful, productive conversations. Freeing your conversations from off-putting color commentary typical of many social media channels allows you to ask provocative questions such as “What could we have done better?” without creating a public relations or social media nightmare.

  3. Customer Responses Are Unbiased
    In social media your customer comments are public statements. In website feedback customers are free to share personal experience with no concern for peer approval. Customers who consider peer approval before sharing feedback are generally (a) less likely to share their feedback and (b) prone to sharing unproductive, negative commentary.

  4. Feedback Is Fresher 
    Customer feedback collected on your site captures the customer’s state of mind, frustrations and ideas while your site experience is fresh in their minds. In contrast, support, social media and sales conversations hours or even days after the customer has left your site are less likely to yield meaningful results. Over time, customers tend to forget the little tweaks that can yield the strongest returns for your business, such as a confusing button, a missing payment option, or an incomplete product description.

  5. Insights Are On-Topic 
    With on-site customer feedback, you can choose the topic of conversation. Your product team can ask customers for feedback on your login process, and your merchandise lead can ask for feedback on your product selection. And best of all, you can target the right customers.

  6. Insights From The Right Audience 
    While it is always helpful to collect feedback across every page on your site, you can target specific audiences on your site with larger invitations for feedback. A targeted, more prominent feedback invitation will deliver the insights you need without disrupting the rest of your customers. For example, you can target new customers on pages with high bounce rates to understand why they are leaving. Or you can target loyal customers to understand why they are loyal to your business. You can even target customers taking a long time at checkout, offering assistance to help them complete their purchase while learning how you can improve your checkout process. By combining the right targeting parameters and the right questions, you can understand any customer journey. These insights would be incredibly difficult to gather through social media listening.

  7. Analytics Become Exponentially Smarter 
    Your analytics tell you what your customers are doing. Customer feedback will tell you why they are doing it. A good customer feedback platform will integrate with your site analytics, making it easy to use your customer feedback to understand and improve any analytics trend.

Getting Started
It has never been easier to impact your bottom line with customer feedback. Contact Kampyle's Success Team to learn just how simple and powerful customer feedback can be. We look forward to speaking with you!

Originally posted on the Kampyle blog.


Gaining user clarity by blurring the lines between marketing, product and UX

ClarityIn the traditional paradigm product defines the core value, marketing sells it and a UX lead designs it. I'm not sure this is the most efficient or effective dynamic.

The focused disciplines of product, marketing and UX were born of a desire for efficiency and a focus on product. But what if we redesigned our teams around the user? 

Great marketing, great product strategy and specs, and great design are all born of the same core insights and the same promise to the user. From the user's perspective the pitch, the product experience and the product value all combine to form the brand or product impression. 

What if we blurred our expectations of our teams, of our team members and of our recruiting prospects? What if we expected marketing to contribute meaningfully to product discussions and turned to UX leads when considering outbound messaging strategy? This wouldn't just about information sharing, but creating an environment that fosters cross-disciplinary thinking and cross-disciplinary leadership.

Our users experience our brands and products as one continuous entity. Why shouldn't we organize our teams around the users they serve?


Facebook is punishing crappy content - here's how to create great content every day of the year

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Over the past 24 hours the web has been abuzz over Facebook's latest blow to brand publishers: a new algorithm that will demote many posts from brand pages. The industry has been portraying this as the latest blow from Facebook. They couldn't be more wrong.

Facebook will now filter out posts that provide no unique value to users. To be specific, Facebook will be filtering out posts that are (a) purely promotional, (b) copied directly from ads or (c) meaningless promotions. This is good for marketers, it's good for users and it's great for Facebook.

Here's why most Facebook content is crap.

  • Brands and agencies still aren't setup to publish fresh, quality content every day. Agencies are setup to deliver three great thirty second commercials every few months.
  • Therefor, with the exception of a few "major" campaigns every year, brands rarely have anything of value to post to Facebook. In order to feed the Facebook content beast, brands and agencies relegate daily posts to twenty-something community managers or social content specialists.
  • While they try their best, these junior employees often find themselves sharing what they personally enjoy - re-purposing content from around the web. This is generally the same kind of content they would share on their own pages.
  • In order to keep their community engaged, brands invest in the occasional promotion or giveaway. These posts are a great, cheap way to drive "likes" and "shares" but generally contain limited content.
  • In order to show the ROI potential of the Facebook page, page managers will throw in the occasional promotional post with a direct link to a download, purchase or campaign. Unless these posts are truly exceptional, these posts generate low overall engagement.

Facebook is pushing brands and agencies to adopt a new form storytelling, a new approach to branding and a new solution for Facebook content overall.

Facebook is pushing brands to embrace brand storytelling.

Great brands tell a story. They embark on a journey and invite the user to join them. Brand stories live in the 30 second spot and they live in the microsite. But those are mere moments in the arc of the brand story. The brand story arc fills all 365 days of the year and is brought to life through the content and engagement driven by daily engagement with the brand. This engagement will happen on the brand's mobile apps, in the brand's real world follow through, on the brand's website and on the brand's social channels.

It is far harder to create a brand story with an arc, to deliver the vision that includes daily episodic content worth creating. This demands more of the brand, it demands more of the agency and it demands far more from the community managers and content strategists. 

This isn't social-first content or Facebook exclusive-content. It's about consistently meaningful content, 365 days a year. It's about more than a content calendar, it's about creating the brand story that has the legs to fill all 365 days with great content. And inviting your community to join the ride.


The book industry is missing television's boat

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The industry press is replete with coverage predicting the fall of the book publishing industry. I disagree with this bleak forecast. But in order to stay alive, publishers are going to need to think beyond print to digital conversion. Book publishers must learn from television's tough lessons learned: the value of relationships, the economic potential of subscription and ad-sponsored distribution, the power of episodic content, binge viewing and the allure of free.

While major book publishers struggle to combat Amazon's hold on their industry, they have failed to deliver a meaningful alternative. The book publishing industry needs find their inner Hulu, and create a powerful new digital platform that can leapfrog the market stasis that has long defined their struggle.

I consume most of my books on the go, listening to them through Audible's Android app. But Audible is far from an ideal platform. Audible demands either a monthly subscription or retail-like per-book fees for their audiobooks. And while Audible is one of my favorite apps, it is frustratingly limited in it's vision and scope.

I want an Audible-like product where I can:

  • share, swap, or borrow audiobooks from friends - possibly for a small fee
  • subscribe to a serial series at a discount
  • access smaller, more frequent releases from my favorite authors
  • engage with the authors and with other fans
  • gain access to supplementary content like author interviews
  • share my listening history with friends and family
  • gain perks when friends purchase books I recommended to them
  • discovery and engage with emerging authors
  • listen to books for free with integrated advertising - book readers are an often affluent audience
  • listen to or subscribe to magazines, particularly the lengthier feature pieces

With only one player in town, the audiobook space is ripe for competition and innovation. And if leading publishers fail to fill this void, someone else will.


Stepping Up to a Better New Year

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Once a year I sit down to think about the last year, and make my goals for the next. This past year was a roller coaster. We kicked off the year with the birth of our third son. This was a particularly special moment for my family, as he was the first "Burg" born in our homeland in what was likely around 2000 years.

But this year took a different turn as we approached summer. It began with the news that three of our boys were missing. Over the weeks that followed, I understood for the first time what it meant to be part of this great nation. Strangers gathered together in prayer and acts of kindness. As a nation, we collectively held our breath and hoped for the best. 

But our nightmare became a reality. The bodies were found. And then the war began. For the first time in our lives, my family found ourselves running for bomb shelters as rockets flew overhead. For week after week, we kept our ears tuned to the sound of the sirens as we shared our collective anxiety, fears, pride, dreams and the pain of loss. The cost in human lives and suffering was unbearable. And as we pick up the pieces, I'm not sure we've really moved forward or set ourselves up to prevent further tragedy a few years down the line. 

This past year was not an easy one. 

Here's to a new start. Here's to always appreciating the little things, and never letting the big things weigh us down. Here's to a sweet, healthy and happy new year.