And, what’s more, these days it’s where and when you say it too. Is your message for Tacos more relevant on a mobile phone or as a tweet? Does a political solicitation get more traction at four in the afternoon, or does it connect more with people who are surfing the internet at 4 in the morning when they can’t sleep?
Big data can tell us this. We can follow patterns of behavior that show us the strange and wonderful ways that people act — at least when dealing with a screen — and that can inform us about PAST BEHAVIOR.
But that’s not the final be all and end all. Or as they are forced to say in the investment ads, “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” Add where and when people connect with where and when and how and, most important, why they’ll act. Tomorrow.
And the crazy thing. We can’t know. The suspense, and promise, of the next thing is what keeps us going. So use data to uncover unexpected behavior patterns (for example, something like, “why do so many hunters in the Great North Woods buy Avon ‘Skin So Soft’ hand cream?*)
But use planning, and strategy, and guessing, and heart, to change the way people behave tomorrow.
* The answer on the Skin So Soft question: The stuff scares the hell out of mosquitos! Go figure.
To make a website that works, make sure it’s a robot. I don’t mean one of those Robby the Robot type things, though that would be pretty cool. I mean a machine that does cool stuff for your users that they can’t get anywhere else. And to make that even more challenging, that cool stuff needs to be defined in a super-simple, super-clear way. Consider (and try and link the game-changing website/app to the robot…)
* Get every book in the world.
* Get every song in the world.
* Book every flight in the world — for whatever price you want, cheapest to most expensive.
* Get every cool art movie in the world.
* Get the exact recipe you want.
* Get tons of cool information on anything you want instantly from anywhere.
And so on. The promise is big. It’s simple. It does a ton of heavy lifting for you you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do, unless you happen to be the President and he probably couldn’t have gotten all that stuff either.
So, make sure your site or app is a robot. And it doesn’t even have to make funny sounds like “bleep blip Zweep…”
Jonathan Newhouse really had no choice. Neither did the magazine business. People are just spending too damn much time online, and the people whose business it is to make beaucoups of bucks running what were once called magazines are racing to figure out how to fill in the revenue from all those missing ad pages. (Unless they’re spinning them off altogether like Time-Warner did this week to Time Magazine.) But Conde Nast, maybe in recognition of the deeper pockets of the fashion conscious, has lashed up with Farfetch.com, a four year old e-commerce “curator,” as Jose Neves, the no doubt hugely smiling founder describes his site.
This is not without peril. Perhaps. I mean, what about the old “Church and State” arguments? (Well, you can see how far that took Time Magazine…) But, then again, it kind of makes sense too. Interesting content that’s linked to, but not endorsing, interesting buying experiences — it is really just the logical extension of the tried and true retail saw, “retail as theater.” Except that it’s in the online space. With all its gnarly, sneaky metrics and all its free returns and all its overnight shipping from anywhere to anywhere. So, read a little, shop a little. It should be noted, Mr. Neves told the New York Times that since launch, 150,000 people shopped its 82,000 products from 140 countries, and SPENT AN AVERAGE OF $680 PER ORDER.
Is Groupon paying attention?
Or, to paraphrase, “interestinger and interestinger.”