Time is valuable. Social media is important.
And if you run your own business, you might be struggling to find time to monitor and post on your social networks. Thankfully there is Hootsuite to solve both problems. It’s another one of my ten best free internet marketing tools that you should totally be using.
Hootsuite can manage all your social networks in one place. It’s great if you have content you want to share on multiple accounts at once. There’s nothing worse than having to login to each social network to post and update or see who’s talking to you.
But Hootsuite does that and allows you to schedule posts into the future. Overall it’s great for when you and your staff are busy. They also have a mobile app which is great if you’re on the road and don’t have a laptop with you.
What I love most about Hootsuite is the ability to monitor streams. From specific Twitter lists or Google + cirlces, you can see specific streams from all your networks. This is a huge timesaver. No longer do you have to login to each of your accounts to see what people are saying. You can do this all from the dashboard.
Here is what the dashboard looks like. You’ll notice that I have all four of my social networks and specific lists and streams running.
Anita Campbell from Smallbiztrends wrote and in depth review on Hootsuite which I encourage you to check out. If your going to take my advice and start using this great free internet marketing tool, then watch the video below for a tutorial on how it all works.
Do you use Hootsuite or any other social media management tool?
In my last post I wrote about mobile applications in the business world.
I showcased a real life example of Bluebird Taxi who wants to stand out from their competition and focus on customer acquisition and retention.
It’s truly a great example of what meaningful marketing in the mobile world looks like.
Since that post was long I wanted to carry it over. For this post I’m going to talk even further about ways they could really increase their customer retention and acquisition.
In this example I’ll be showcasing another car service company already doing these things.
Read on if you want to see how apps can increase your customer loyalty and sales.
A few months back I got tipped off on a very cool business idea.
Uber.com is a car service that utilizes the wonderful advancements in technology to improve their customer acquisition and retention.
How do they do this? It’s a two step process. The first step does three things very well.
Engagement, Transparency and Trust
After you log onto their app, you can request a pick up from your location. All you have to do it setup the location tracking services on your phone and you’re set.
This very step is where the personal engagement begins. Instead of the standard “Your cab will be 15 minutes” answer we normally get when calling for a pick up, Uber sends you a text.
It’s the content of the text that makes it personal and allows Uber to be transparent while increase their trust and engagement.
The text comes with an update that your pickup car is en route, how long it will be and who your driver is.
Why is this engaging? It’s a one way text but it offers you an update of how far way your car is. That’s helpful and it allows the company to be fully transparent and honest with how far your ride is really away. We’ve all been lied to by cab companies before on wait times.
In my last post I mentioned that how GPS tracking of cabs allows people to see where their cab might be. The text update is another way to achieve that. It is nice to get a personalized text however.
Now onto what builds trust. Being able to view the profile and ratings of your driver is a comforting way to see who will be taking you home.
We’ve all ridden in a cab with a driver who was not very friendly or a tad reckless. Instead of calling the company and complain, we often do nothing.
A few years back I was involved in an accident that was my cab drivers fault. I’ve not ridden with that company since. I’ve been in a few rides home with less than safe drivers but have done nothing to complain about the ride.
That’s the not the case with Uber though. You can rate your driver right after the ride is completed by loading the app.
This could also help the company evaluate how their drivers are truly perceived by its customers.
Being able to see what other users have said and how they’ve rated a driver builds trust. It’s also very transparent to see what others have said.
Review sites like Yelp, Yellow Pages and now Google’s Place pages allow us full transparency. Businesses no longer have much control because everyone has a voice that can be heard.
Being able to see reviews of the driver is this same idea but within the app itself.
This next step is where Uber really focuses on customer retention.
Most cab companies are still using interact machines for those paying by debit or credit. This can slow the checkout process down. If a cab is in a location where there isn’t a great connection, the processing time can take a few minutes.
Uber instead keeps your credit card on file. This makes payment super easy and helps those in a jam without a wallet. Talk about convenience.
I know that if a cab company has my credit card on file, I’ll be more likely to use their service since it’s easier. I can just get out of the cab and leave.
They could also think about offering a kick back to their frequent users. From there the users could check their points through their application.
Now’s not the time to talk about rewards programs. That’s for another day.
I’ve profiled Uber because they get it. They’re marketing with meaning by using technology to make it easier for those needing a ride.
In doing so they increase their engagement, transparency, trust and convenience.
In marketing you don’t have to some unique idea. Take a look around and see what other industries are doing and see if you can adopt those ideas to your own business.
In this example Bluebird Taxi could look at what Uber is doing and borrow their apps ideas.
What do you think?
If Uber was available in your city, would you use their service?
Smart phones and tablets are taking over.
To back this I’m not going to throw any statistics at you.
Instead, take a look around.
Observe what people are doing at the bus stop or when walking down the street.
What’ll you see is people buried in their smart phones or tablets.
Instead of paying attention to a bus that is coming, their dog or the people their about to walk into, their texting, checking out their favorite social network or reading something.
Mobile devices allow us to stay connected away from our PC‘s and laptops.
So how can you increase your businesses engagement and extend your customer service experience utilizing these devices?
Read on if you want to see what an example of meaningful marketing looks like in the mobile world.
Mobile Applications for Business
Last week I did something I never do, I picked up a newspaper.
I was waiting at my car dealership when I decided to give old media some attention. On the front page of the business section I read an article that made me smile.
What exactly made me all warm and fuzzy? For a normal human this would probably be some heartfelt story about a mom reuniting with a lost child before mothers day. Those stories make me tear up no doubt.
But for someone as addicted to marketing and business as I am, it was a story about a local cab company and an application they developed for smartphones.
The local taxi company developed a smart phone application that provides users with:
- A one touch dial button for their 1-800 number
- Fair estimates
- The best locations in the city where you can find a cab
The vice president of the company says that the app is all about customer service. I can’t argue with that.
In an industry where customers are all about getting a ride home as fast as possible, loyalty is obviously very low. People want to get a ride home safely without having to wait long.
You don’t catch yourself saying to your friends “Sorry, but I will NOT ride with XYZ Cab company because I had a terrible experience last time”.
Your friends would hop in a leave you behind!
This application allows them to stand out from their competition. It shows that they truly care about their customer and getting them home as fast as possible.
In doing so they’ve created something that connects directly to a market that needs such a service. Youth who are out late and competing against each other for a ride home can download and utilize the app.
Most youth are smart enough to program numbers into their phone so the one touch dial portion of the app isn’t as beneficial. Users have this option when on the company’s mobile website as well.
The fair estimates are a nice touch but for most, they know how much a ride home costs.
I really want to zero in on the last benefit of the app.
Best Places to Flag a Cab
This is the most beneficial component of the app. When you stumble out of a bar or nightclub, you want to know where the best spot to catch a cab is.
Users can now do that by tapping a button on the app.
Even David Hasselhoff could complete this process! I do wonder if they have thought about the whole beer goggles and seeing double?
This app definitely improves people’s lives regardless if they’re a customer or not. That right there is the most important aspect to meaningful marketing.
As much as I love this idea and how meaningful it is, they could go even further.
After downloading and viewing the app, there is a slight problem. They’ve only listed places where you can flag a cab in the downtown core.
For most residents of Victoria, they know where the cab hot spots are. This is also no good for the people out in the suburbs at parties.
Here’s how this app could be better. Instead of listing the best places to flag a cab in the downtown core, why not offer GPS tracking on all cabs in the fleet?
GPS technology is everywhere these days. If I can spy on my ex-girlfriend (totally something I’ve never done) to see where she is, then I should be able track where cabs are.
The Waiting Game
We’ve all been told that our cab is only 5 minutes away yet waited for 30 minutes or more. Being able to track the cab through GPS would certainly help.
People could plan their exits more efficiently and not have to keep their hosts waiting. These situations can be awkward. Think of the old Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine are waiting for Kramer to pick them up from a party in Long Island.
Those people downtown could check their app inside and plan accordingly. No more waiting out in the cold trying to flag a cab.
Another benefit of GPS tracking is transparency for the company. Users would be able to see where all the cabs are in real time.
As you can see by going a little bit further with this app, Bluebird could really stand out from their competition. Don’t get me wrong this is a massive step in the right direction and I applaud their foresight.
My next post is going to talk about other ideas for this app. These ideas will improve the checkout process and engage customers even more.
What about you?
You’re wondering what this has to do with you. How can your business give better customer service and market with meaning by using mobile apps?
Here are a couple examples that improve brand engagement, extend the customer service experience and are full of meaning.
My friends over at Victoria Transmission and Auto Care could develop and app that:
- gives tips for those with car troubles on the road
- use data from gas war type websites to show which gas stations have the cheapest gas
- send you updates on when your car needs a checkup
- let you see your cars checkup history
A local gym could develop an app that:
- gives you tips for workouts (possibly in video format) from their personal trainers
- allows you to track the progress of your workouts (how much weight your lifting and reps your doing)
- keeps track of your visits on a visual calendar
- tracks calories and what foods you’ve been eating throughout the day
Mobile applications are not as expensive as you would think. Years ago websites use to cost a boat load. That’s changed as more developers have come along and the coding has improved.
This is happening in the app development world as well. There are so many developers that prices have dropped.
How can your business extend its customer service experience by going mobile? There are ways any business can do this.
It takes some brain storming. You might even be doing some of these things right now. I know at Victoria Transmission and Auto Care they have user profiles people can access on their website. These profiles allows users to see their vehicles checkup history.
The mobile world is only going to get bigger. We do double takes when we see someone not using a smart phone these days!
It’s not just the youth anymore. I see many boomers using smart phones as well.
With all this said, have you given much thought to mobile applications?