And we will say… These were my Facebook days!

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Facebook is not new? Well, correct… Facebook is complete new! It writes our lives…

I just realized how Facebook ruled my last three days offline and online…

On Tuesday, I was shaking hands with Carolyn Everson, (Vice President, Global Marketing Solutions) after her presentation on stage at the dmexco Conference 2011. Yesterday morning, I enjoyed an espresso with Scott Woods, Commercial Director DACH at Facebook. In the afternoon, I was moderating a panel on engaged consumer advertising strategies. Topic: Facebook. Obviously, Facebook was one of the main topics we discussed…

And then, the evening came with the big announcements. I was on the train watching the announcement of the new Facebook features at the f8 conference. Techcrunch told us how to get into the new Facebook in minutes. However, only the owner can see it until the 30th of September.

And what can I say… Welcome to my Facebook life!

The main three changes for me…
– the massive lead picture – reminded me of a former Myspace design.
– the two frame structure – offers a quicker overview on personal infos, updates, activities.
– the missing picture gallery – enables people to do some personal or company branding with these pictures. Cool!

The main three „Likes“ from me…
– The coolest feature is the Timeline. If Google is changing our brain, then Facebook is pre-writing our autobiography.
– People can be creative in terms of the mixture of their conversational ingredients – text, video, audio. This makes a profile colorful and lively, apart from finally understanding that we do not „LIKE“ everything – we shop, we act and we like!
– It is much easier to see which updates were uncool and not engaging. Kill them to make your profile look conversational. Aren’t we kind of authentic…?

Facebook wants to get away from throwing sparks in our days – it aims for long-term relevancy. It wants to be the ever-lasting spark. Our memory…?! And when we are old, we won’t tell our grandchildren stories of the past. We will say… Just read my Facebook days!

LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook? Study finds leading social network from journalists…

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What’s your guess? What is the leading social network for journalists? And what does this mean to business decision makers, managers and PR professionals?

The answer by far is LinkedIn with 92% – with a remarkable increase of 7% compared to 2009. However, this does not mean that it is their main source of information. At least, this is what the latest study tells us which is called 2011 Arketi Web Watch Survey: Inside BtoB Media Usage of Social Media.

For me it was a bit of an eye-opener as I thought journalists might prefer to use Twitter to monitor sources for trending topics and breaking news. Probably, the statement has some value still. For Mike Neumeier, Pricipal, Arketi Group was not surprised…

„It comes as no surprise more BtoB journalists are participating in social media sites, especially LinkedIn. (…) LinkedIn provides an online outlet for them to connect with industry sources, find story leads and build their professional networks.“

The second largest still is not Twitter. It is Facebook. 85% of journalists are on Facebook (increase by 30% to 2009). However, Twitter comes in nearly at the same result (84%) and with the highest growth of 60% to 2009. And nearly half of the responding journalists (49%) say they blog or read blogs regularly.

„When compared to the 2009 Arketi Web Watch Survey, this year’s results show significantly more journalists are using social media tools (…) This means companies have more online channels through which they can reach media targets. This is both a blessing and curse for today’s PR professionals.“ Dr. Kaye Sweetser, associate professor of PR, University of Georgia’s Grady College

Findings where journalists have their news sources…
– 80% via public relations contacts
– 77% rely on news releases
– 74% turn to newswires (i.e. BusinessWire or PRNewswire)
– 71% get from email pitches
– 56% from blogs
– 44% from micro-blogs (such as Twitter), and
– 39% from social networking sites (such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace).

More than nine out of ten journalists responding (96 percent) say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they know, and 95 percent of business journalists say they prefer to receive news releases via email from companies they don’t know but are in industries they cover.

Journalists get crucial information regarding breaking news from the following sources…
– 85% Industry experts
– 81% Company website
– 80% Industry website
– 80% Other interested parties
– 57% Industry blog
– 53% Company blog
– 41% Industry Twitter feed
– 33% Company Twitter feed

Spot On!
Although LinkedIn is very popular among journalists, it does not seem to be the centre of attention to get a big story. Still, the direct contact and company websites have massive power and as they are probably the most trusted sources, they still lead. Still, social networks make it easy for journalists to get in touch with relevant people for good quotes. It should assume that investigative journalism is on the rise. Reading newspapers and websites today, I personally get the feeling that blogs have far more to offer.

What is your view?

How Cisco’s SocialMiner helps improve the conversation with customers (a John Hernandez interview)

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One-on-one interview with John Hernandez

John Hernandez is General Manager of the Customer Collaboration Business Unit (CCBU) at Cisco, which provides contact center and interactive voice applications to enterprises and service providers. In this capacity he oversees product and market development, and is closely involved in the business with the Cisco sales force and partners.

The Strategy Web spoke with him about the launch and benefits of their new customer care product SocialMiner.

What were Cisco’s most successful social medias tactics in the last 2 years? How did Cisco came across the new solution SocialMiner? Why is social media monitoring so important from a strategic point of view for businesses?

Cisco is very active in social media. Our employees were some of the earliest adopters of Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other social sites. We have tens of thousands of active social media users in our company, as well as a robust and vibrant corporate presence on the social web.

Social media monitoring can become a key strategic advantage for businesses. From a contact center perspective, social media could be treated as „just another channel“ in a multichannel approach. However, the public nature of social media, along with the sheer volume of social media postings, makes social media as much a business intelligence tool as a new way to engage with customers. Cisco believes that proactive social media customer care will have a transformative impact on how companies engage and serve their customers.

The concept of the SocialMiner product came from our observation of the changing communication habits and Internet usage of consumers. As consumers have adopted social media channels for their individual communications on an ever-increasing basis over the past couple years, it is only natural that they would consider interacting with a business via social media. This concept of social impacting customer relationships is a very active topic within the emerging „Social CRM“ community.

Is SocialMiner just a Customer Service product? Bearing in mind that social conversations on the web affects the whole business…

Cisco SocialMiner is an engagement product, not a „listening product.“ SocialMiner is designed to scale the quality and quantity of social media interactions performed by a business. SocialMiner can be used for a variety of business functions such as Support or Sales, but we believe the customers that derive the most value from social media will also use these engagements to drive business process change. For example, an organization could use SocialMiner as a source of business intelligence to provide real-time customer appreciation or criticism of a product or service (or of a competitors’ product/service). Social media can direct their business strategy. Cisco believes that companies that learn from social media will become closer to meeting their customers’ expectations and this will drive overall business success.

Which three benefits do business users have using SocialMiner compared to other tools in the market (Radian6, Alterian, etc.)

1. Cisco SocialMiner is complementary to brand monitoring dashboard solutions. It is designed to support scaling social media by leveraging the best practices from contact center type operational models: Queuing, Service Level Metrics (Average Speed of Answer), and productivity metrics for users. By contrast, many of the brand monitoring dashboards have pieces of workflow capability, but these capabilities are either relatively limited or recently introduced functions.

2. Cisco SocialMiner is a component of the Cisco contact center portfolio which currently includes an installed base of over 10,000 customers. SocialMiner is packaged, priced, and delivered along with Cisco Unified Contact Center Express and Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise solutions, and therefore it supports the same installation, deployment, serviceability, and user experience as these other Cisco collaboration solutions.

3. Cisco SocialMiner is a very easy to install and operate software appliance. It runs on premise or in a customer controlled data-center hosting facility and offers unlimited capture capability. Cisco SocialMiner is an API-first product with 100% of functionality available via REST API’s and all user interface delivered as OpenSocial gadgets with documented source that can be modified by Cisco channel or customers. This model supports the preferred consumption model of most enterprise organizations along with a broad customization capability.

Can it be used as a stand-alone product or only in combination with other Cisco products for customer service? Do you have any case studies of success?

Cisco SocialMiner can be used as a stand-alone solution. We have several case studies that illustrate SocialMiner’s success. Zone Labs is one of them. The small wellness company was looking to accelerate revenues & grow 1000% in next 3 years, implemented Cisco SocialMiner to increase customer engagement, customer satisfaction and sales. Zone Labs started developing social communities on their own website as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. They used Cisco SocialMiner to route and queue contacts to experts within their organization.

Using SocialMiner, experts were able to proactively answer health and wellness questions via Twitter, providing encouragement to consumers on the Zone Diet, customer service and expert advice on questions such as vitamins and healthy recipes. Zone Labs saw improved agent productivity by automating capturing and responding to social media posts (currently estimated at ~10x). They gained greater customer satisfaction & brand mind-share from faster first inquiry resolution on the web, and were able to compete on comparable scale with larger companies. Their social media activity reduced their customer acquisition cost and created a larger funnel with more leads, that were converted more easily and more quickly than before.

Within 4 months of using SocialMiner, Zone Labs saw tremendous results:
– Web site transactions up 189%
– Revenue up 203%
– 202% increase in total visitors to www.zonediet.com

Thank you for your time, John. And by the way: I like your commercial for the product…

Social Networks – Are niche communities the future of networks?

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More often people are fed up with all that self-referential talk of individuals on social networks. Or, companies which do not understand the idea of an online conversation, including clients and not just broadcasting the old-fashioned marketing and sales way. Just today, I had some people in my Facebook stream and my Twitter updates telling me how the weather was, what their kids had for breakfast, or that their wives don’t understand their affinity to social networks. OK, nice, fair enough… Interesting? No!

And then I hear my wife saying… „Why keeping up the contact to so many people if there is no option to even get actively into 10 per cent of the conversations happening in these online relationships?“ True, but you never know when some contact might need you, or vice versa.

Checking Facebook and staying up-to-date on Twitter becomes challenging on a busy day, with kids that are happy to see dad in the evening for some minutes, and long-time friends complaining why they don’t hear anything from you anymore.

So, is there another trend coming up in the future that might go for niche social networks, niche communities? Why? We had that offline for ages. Years ago, people have spend hours in their football club bar after a training session, or went to book readings to enjoy the discussion afterwards, or went to a vernisage in order to „philosophy“ about the latest gallery exhibition with someone they don’t know. The reason for doing it was just their share of interest in something, a hobby, a passion, or a kind of affinity. So, are we seeing social networks for art geeks going on virtual gallery tours in the future?

My father was telling me that he uses a Bridge community and plays daily for one or two hours. A friend of mine is a DJ and he spend hours in communities for DJs like My DJ Space or Mix DJ. Some even still (or again?) love vinyl and become members in a community there. These music enthusiasts do nothing more or less than share their interest in being DJs, and obviously loving to mix tapes. The special interest is the centre of their community engagement.

Some years ago, somebody approached me with the idea of an international golfer network (http://www.golffriends.com/welcome/community). As I love playing golf (though don’t have enough time to play often…), there was some interest to become a member, if not more to become more engaged in the business idea. But then, time and the thought of managing many private interest networks -as I have quite some hobbies- next to my business networks and the top networks made me not investing too much time in that vision. Maybe I should have done…

Mothers share their passion for coffee on Cafemom, and if we think about all the Starbucks communities it does not surprise us. Games exchange ideas and thoughts on Raptr, or real social activists use Care2. Even more „nichy“ is the passion of men for their moustache that they express online to the public. And others share their interest in Whisky or Wine networks.

So, my question is if niche networks could take a big portion of the market share of global social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc.) in the future? Can you see people going away from the self-gloryfying popular networks that the mainstream web user is engaged in? Tell us of niche networks you know and how you see this trend?

Studie: Hierachie in Social Networks

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Die aktuelle Studie „Social Network Hierarchies and their Impact on Business“ von Bridge Ratings bestätigt eine Theorie, die ich schon seit einigen Wochen in Vorträgen vertrete. Die Nutzung von sozialen Netzwerken hängt sehr stark von einer alterabhängigen, stufenleiter-orientierten Hierachie (oder Evolution?) der User ab, die sich mit dem Alter und Wissen verändert.

Kurz gesagt, macht die Studie unter 2322 Personen im Alter zwischen 6 und 54 Jahren eins klar: Für jedes Alter gibt es einen bestimmten Typus von Social Media und Social Networks sowie eine entsprechende Hierarchieordnung von Social Netzwerk Nutzertypen.

Vor allem bei der Nutzung durch die Generation X und Generation Y zeichnen sich hierbei besondere Unterschiede ab. Aber auch in den Generationen bis 54 Jahre lässt sich dieser Trend beobachten. Das Marketing Verhalten bei der Adressierung der Zielgruppen ist entsprechend anzupassen, folgern die Studienmacher.

Mädchen im Alter zwischen 6-17 Jahren beginnen vorwiegend mit der Nutzung von Seiten wie Club Penguin, Poptropica and Stardoll. Über die Jahre hinweg geht die Nutzung dann in Twitter oder Spieleseiten wie Habbo über, was einem Aufstieg in der Nutzungshierarchie gleichzusetzen ist.

Obwohl man meinen könnte, daß auch sie Seiten wie Facebook und MySpace nutzen, so zeigt sich, daß Freunde zwar im Lebensmittelpunkt stehen, aber mittels anderer Netzwerktypen kommuniziert wird. Die Nutzung dieser führenden Social Networks unter 35-54 Jährigen ging um 25% im Vergleich zum Vorjahr nach oben.

Ein Test bei einer Radiostation, die mit ihren Marketingaktivitäten die Hierachie Muster beachtete und anwand, belegt die Hierachie-Theorie. Die Station promotete regelmäßig die Seiten mit Gewinnspielen und Kunden-promotions. Das Ergebnis: In allen Bereichen stieg die Response und/oder Teilnahme um nicht weniger als 25%. Dies belegt -nebenbei bemerkt- auch die Wichtigkeit von Outbound für Inbound Marketing.

Bei den 18-24 jährigen jungen Damen steht das Hochladen von Produkt-orientiertem Inhalten (45%) hoch im Kurs. Dies lässt sich auch leicht an der Begeisterung für das Bloggen nachvollziehen, bei dem das Thema „Trends setzen und finden“ eine nicht unerhebliche Stellung einnimmt.

Daß junge Erwachsene selbstbewußt ihre eigene Meinung vertreten und ihre Fähigkeit diesbezüglich nutzen, zeigt sich als eine der Haupt-Charakteristiken durch die ganze Studie. Vor allem wird dies ersichtlich aus ihrem Verhalten hinsichtlich ihres Markenbewußtseins. Mehr als ein Drittel (35%) haben sich in einem Internet Forum oder einem sozialen Netzwerk über ein Produkt oder eine Marke in den letzten Monaten geäußert. Fast 40% haben online ein Produktmeinung geschrieben.

Junge Männern zwischen 18 und 28 Jahren zeigen sich als Multiplikatoren von Produkt-Informationen – 76% haben derartige Informationen weitergeleitet. Sie gelten als die Markenexperten, denn 54% haben auf Onlinewerbung geklickt und sogar 38% haben sich Werbung vor einem Videoinhalt angesehen.

45% laden regelmäßig Werbung oder Produktmeinungen (und Clips) auf Social Networks oder Videoseiten hoch. Ein Drittel hat in Foren über Marken gesprochen und ein gleicher Prozentsatz kommuniziert über markenbezogenen Inhalte auf Instant Messenger oder sozialen Netzwerken.

Spot On!
Die Studie zieht folgende sechs Schlüße aus den Ergebnissen, die spezielle Aufmerksamkeit verdienen (sollten) bei sozialen Marketingaktivitäten:

1. Soziale Seiten targeten, wenn spezifische Konsumenten erreicht werden sollen. Nicht alle Konsumer nutzen soziale Netzwerke auf die gleiche Weise.
2. Laser-fokussierte Produktbotschaften, verschlüsselt an den Lebensstil des Targets zu richten, sind kritisch.
3. Jede Konsumentengruppe und Seite wird begrenzte Wiederholung von Botschaften tolerieren.
4. Begrüßen sie die Hierarchie durch die jede Gruppe reist während ihre sozialen Netzwerk-Fähigkeiten und Erfahrung wachsen und sich verbessern.
5. Staffeln sie Hierarchie Botschaften um den effektivsten Responseraten zu erzielen.
6. Social Networking Kampagnen in Flights abfeiern.

Die Studie liefert einige gute Erkenntnisse. Was denkt Ihr darüber? Decken sich Eure Erfahrungen mit den Ergebnissen?

Study: The importance of cross-channel sales

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Most companies wonder how the purchase funnel looks like when consumers evaluate products they think about buying. A recent study from ATG helps: 30% of consumers reach out to more than three commerce channels to research a product and make a purchase. This shows that retailers and merchants need a broader cross-channel approach to boost sales and enhance customer purchase decisions.

The consumer study found that more than three-quarters of consumers use two or more channels and nearly one-third work with even three or more channels to research and purchase products. While we have all expect that mobile use and social media find their way into consumers‘ online commerce activities, it is surprising that traditional catalog channels are still popular.

„Merchants have heard the call for a stronger cross-channel strategy for many years, but what has been lacking is a deeper explanation about why this is so important. We are seeing a multi-channel revolution now, with a vast majority of consumers using multiple channels and now almost one-third actually relying on three or more channels to complete transactions. Retailers must direct their energy toward fulfilling the unique role and sales potential of each channel. This research illuminates the expectations consumers have for the Web, call centers, the store, catalogs, and email.“
Nina McIntyre, Senior Vice President Marketing and CMO, ATG

The key findings of consumers‘ cross channel experiences…

– 78% use two or more channels to browse, research and make purchases; 30% said they use three channels or more

– 78% of all consumers say they use catalogs to browse and research products or services at least four times a year BUT 40% of those consumers never purchase products or services through catalogs.

– 43% start their research online or with mobile devices. BUT They need to call customer service or call center representative to complete the transaction because the product or service information cannot be found online!

– 39% browse via the online or mobile channel and then make purchases in the store because they prefer to touch and feel the product – reason for 36% is product and brand comparison

Interesting findings on mobile commerce (emphasis on the 18-34 age)…

– 27% of all consumers 18 and older use their mobile devices to browse or research products and services at least four times a year, and that number jumps to 41% for the 18-34 year-old age group

– 13% of all consumers 18 and older and 23% of the 18-34 age purchasing at least four times a year via their mobile devices; 8% of the later are doing it weekly

Spot on!
The study highlights how important it is to link online and offline sales communication and give the customers the same purchase service in multiple channels. It will always be difficult to understand where customers make their final purchase decision and where they finally buy though. This additional study by Google underlines the trend for an offline and online purchase decision mix. One things is for sure again: The need for more awareness around the incorporation of commerce activities in social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter is gaining momentum.

Study: Twitter users not as social as they seem?

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A new report by Barracuda Networks on the company’s newly launched security research portal unveils a truth that was already found in this Harvard study some months ago: Twitter users are not as social as they might seem.

Although Twitter is probably the fastest growing social network, most of its 50 million accounts seem to follow other users – instead of posting their own messages. In some way this sounds positive, as it shows that we are not living in a pure self-referential world.

The Barracuda study states that in December 2009 73% of Twitter accounts have tweeted fewer than 10 times. Only 21% of Twitter account holders are „true users“ as Baracuda defines them. The „true user“, according to their definition, is someone who has at least 10 followers, follows at least 10 people and has tweeted at least 10 times. Now, we may argue differently about that, but it definitely shows a trend.

Paul Judge, author of the report and chief research officer at Barracuda, thinks that Twitter is becoming more of a news feed channel than a social network. That indicates that most Twitter users „came online to follow their favorite celebrities, not to interact with their buddies the way they would on Facebook or MySpace,“ said Judge.

The follow-only trend might be part of the is part of Twitter’s „red carpet era“ when celebrities pushed their microblogging account into the mainstream during the six-month research period of Barracuda.

From November 2008 to April 2009, some celebrities, like Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey and John Mayer, joined Twitter. In these days the micro-blogging service grew 21.2% in the month of April 2009 alone.

Spot On!
The question remains if Twitter will be able to get more of these followers activated to become „true users“ and to start tweeting themselves. Or if security risks will keep users away from becoming the active Twitterati. In combination with news about sites like Pleaserobme.com people have scared of users not to tell to much about their real-time privacy. In my eyes Twitter should be making the main benefit clear to their potential users and show some monetization strategy for companies and users. Why should someone use a platform that does not show a valid business reason?

Moms access point for engagement? – Social Networks!

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If your company sells children (car) seats, diapers, baby buggies or lipstick, when it comes to engaging at-home moms you may think about social networks. At least two recent reports from the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) conducted by BIGresearch as well as another one conducted by Lucid Marketing and analyst Lisa Finn in the US make clear that moms are more likely to be on Facebook, MySpace or Twitter than other moms.

Moms log on almost daily
And moms are using social networks quite often. A Lucid Marketing study states that 80% of Facebooking moms log in at least daily. Even more, 30% of the responding moms login more than five times each day. Also mobile logins are quite popular: About 40% login from smartphones and computers.

The future seems to belong to Facebook. 90% of the moms say the Facebook benefit is that its easy contacting friends/family. 26% mention they like the apps (games and quizzes).

Social web for at-home moms important
– 60% more likely to use Facebook
– 42% more likely to use MySpace
– 16% more likely to use Twitter
– 15% maintain their own blogs

„Retailers who aren’t engaging customers through social media could be missing the boat“ (…) „Twitter, Facebook and blogs are becoming increasingly popular with moms as they search for coupons or deals and keep in touch with loved ones. The web provides efficient, convenient ways for brands to stay in front of their most loyal shoppers and attract new ones.“
Mike Gatti, Executive Director, RAMA

Spot on!
Now, the most interesting part for marketers: 64% like ads (or feeling neutral about) on Facebook, says the Lucid Marketing study. Meaning, Facebooking moms are apparently open to get in touch with brands and marketers – if they take their wants and needs into account. The ’social moms‘ are getting engaged when they search for exclusive deals (i.e. coupons and discounts). Apart from that, these studies indicate that companies addressing moms could replace old loyalty programs. I am sure, this is a great opportunity. But don’t forget to provide sustainable conversation – moms hate it not to be taken serious in their job at-home.

News Update – Best of the Day

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daily1Although web 2.0 provides all the benfit for e-learning, the use is till low. The study “Benchmarking Online Operations: Snapshots of an Emerging Industry“ by the consulting company Eduventures shows that the education they offer is still based on „rudimentary, text-based technology“. This stands in contrast to webinars, web-conference or any kind of podcast or vidcast tools that the web 2.0 world offers today. „But when it came to technology, the Eduventures survey found that the widely used tools are e-mail, text discussions that don’t happen in real time, physical textbooks, and word and PDF documents“, reports http://chronicle.com/blogPost/Online-Programs-Profits-Are/8517/?sid=wc&utm_source=wc&utm_medium=en.

Blogher released a new study on how social networks are used by men and women in the US. The main findings are…

– 84% (16 out of 19) of the sites have more female than male users.
– Twitter with 59% female users and Facebook with 57%.
– Most female-dominated sites: Bebo 66%, MySpace and Classmates.com 64%.
– Average ratio of 19 sites: 47% male, 53% female.

MINI started a great project„Wash me“ at retail on the 3rd of November „when 10 different artists are each presented with a MINI to deface — ahem!…design at will“. See what these guys came up with…

News Update – Best of the Day

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daily1Social network users love to spend time watching videos according to the latest Nielsen figures. The total amount of time spent was 999.4 million minutes in October – an increase of 98% to 2008. People watched 349.5 million videos (up 45%). Facebook was the No. 1 online social networking and blog platform for video consumption in October with 217.8 million total video streams, followed by MySpace with 85,2 million video impressions.

The latest CMO Council study shows how relevant it is to provide good content, as well as sending out mass mailings carefully. The study, “Why Relevance Drives Response and Relationships,” states that 91% of respondents have unsubscribed to e-mail newsletters. 46% of those said that the content wwas not relevant.
Even worse is to receive emails with product promotions people have already purchased. 22% won’t buy from the company after receiving such irrelevant mails.

Connecting offline and online in a funny and intelligent way by iCarphone Warehouse. Can somebody explain why it got banned?

PS: Also found some good new videos – check out my new The Strategy Web YouTube channel.

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