Category Archives: marketing

MailChimp Announces Free Marketing Automation for Everyone

Mailchimp logoThe internet provides a plethora of communications options. Along with e-mail, there’s an ever-expanding array of social media channels that businesses can use to keep in touch with both new and established customers. It can be a real challenge for most businesses (especially the smaller ones) to keep up with. Mailing list and marketing services provider MailChimp recently announced it will be providing automation tools to help users manage their marketing communications:

Automation helps you communicate with your customers exactly how you would, but eliminates the need to create and send every message manually. Think of it as an extra set of hands that help you operate—and grow—your business each day.


Whether you operate an online store, head a nonprofit, or run a creative side project, automation makes it easy to send the right message to the right people at exactly the right time, giving you a competitive edge without burning a hole in your budget.

Our collection of preset automations gives you the power to choose the right workflow for your business, customize its settings, and start sending in just a few clicks. Greet your new subscribers with a welcome message, educate readers about a specific topic, follow up after a purchase, increase brand awareness, and more.

MailChimp is making its new automation tools available to all customers for no extra charge. The company has created a getting-started guide to help users learn about everything this service has to offer.

Perfect Packaging by Orlebar Brown

Apple’s a master at the complete end-to-end user experience and has elevated product packaging to an art form. Tech companies aren’t the only ones at this; I recently ordered some swim shorts from Orlebar Brown and this nondescript box arrived in the post.

Orlebar Brown Box

Pretty dull on the outside but open the box up and everything is a visual and sensory treat. The inside of the box is a rich red, the swimwear (not shown) is neatly folded within a branded drawstring bag, the clothing tags are quality card, and with Orlebar Brown one doesn’t simply get a receipt stuffed in the box; one gets a receipt in a crisp brilliant white envelope, reminiscent of an invite to an exclusive event. Glorious.

Orlebar Brown Inside Box

In all honesty, I have never seen mail order done better – I’m sold and I’m now customer for life. And that’s before I’ve even put on the swim shorts, which are equally fabulous. Now, if I can just get that six pack sorted over the winter.

One Does Not Simply Fly into Mordor

One must watch the safety video first! Those of you who have traveled by plane have had the experience of watching a flight attendant give a safety demonstration. He or she pointed out the exits, gave instructions on how to use a seatbelt, and talked about the oxygen masks. People tend to tune this out, especially if they are a seasoned traveler who has watched this demonstration many times.

Air New Zealand has created an airline safety video that everyone will happily pay attention to. The video shows a flight attendant who looks like a elf from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. She begins explaining the safety information to a group of passengers who include Hobbits, Elves, Wizards, a Ranger, and even Gollum himself. Filling out the remaining seats are passengers whose journey did not originate in Middle-earth.

Several characters in the video explain different parts of the safety information. Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the upcoming The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey makes a cameo appearance in the safety video. He finds a ring on the floor in front of his seat. “My Precious”, he says, before putting on the ring and disappearing.

According to Air New Zealand marketing manager Mike Tod, the video was part of a major global promotion for the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He said:

“We will invest several million dollars in Australia, Asia, the United States and Europe on uniquely Air New Zealand marketing efforts related to ‘The Hobbit’ movies to attract more tourists to New Zealand.”

Prize Monkey

We all like to get prizes, especially if we don’t have to do much. That is the concept behind Prize Monkey. Prize Monkey was being shown off at CES 2012, when Nick Dimeo, host of F5 Live: Refreshing Technology stopped by to find out what it was all about.

Prize Monkey is a kiosk, but instead of working like a normal kiosk, it interacts with your phone. A monkey ask if you want to play, if you answer yes then it sends a message to your phone. Hit the right answer and the Prize Monkey kiosk produces a prize. There is no application to download or install. Each monkey acts a little differently and can be programmed for a specific demographic. It is being marketed toward social campaigns, promotional campaigns, loyalty programs, product sampling and more. Managers can build the campaign they want based on the demographic they are going for with the dynamic campaign tool provided. It has in-depth metrics and analytic tools built right in. Prize Monkey is an example of a product that is shown at CES that is being marketed toward businesses and not directly toward consumers.

I am curious to know if anyone has seen or used a Prize Monkey Kiosk? How well did it work, was it fun to use? If you are a business or social group who installed a Prize Monkey kiosk did it work for your business?

Interviewed by Nick Dimeo, Host of [F5 Live: Refreshing Technology]((

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Flash Drives….Now in Color

Pantone Orange Flash DriveFlash drives are ten-a-penny these days but these color matched thumb drives from Pantone are pretty cool, especially if you are interested in design. Currently available in fourteen different Pantone colors, the aluminum designed drives can be laser engraved on the front and back with a company logo, web address or simply your name and phone number. Great idea as a corporate gift that includes your design portfolio but fun as your personal drive too.

Capacities range from 1 GB up to 16 GB, with pricing from $12.99 to $49.99.

CyberWeek Nets $6 billion in Sales


It’s going to be a really good holiday for some folks. Call it Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cyber Week or a big pain in the… Well, whatever you call it, retailers are calling it a success as the last week netted $6 billion in sales – 3 individual days hit over $1 billion individually.

comscore released their report of holiday digital spending in the last 30 days. Overall, $18.7 billion has been spent online – a 15% increase on Cyber Monday from last year.

2011 Holiday Season To Date vs. Corresponding Days* in 2010
Non-Travel (Retail) Spending
Excludes Auctions and Large Corporate Purchases
Total U.S. – Home & Work Locations
Source: comScore, Inc.
Millions ($)
2010 2011 Percent Change
November 1 – December 2 $16,257 $18,697 15%
Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) $407 $479 18%
Black Friday (Nov. 25) $648 $816 26%
Thanksgiving Weekend (Nov. 26-27) $886 $1,031 16%
Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) $1,028 $1,251 22%
Week Ending Dec. 2 $5,164 $5,959 15%

*Corresponding days based on corresponding shopping days (November 2 thru December 3, 2010)

The big promotion was free shipping. More than half the transactions included shipping (63.2% during Cyber Week).

“Free shipping is one of the most important incentives that online retailers must provide during the holiday season to ensure that shoppers will convert into buyers,” said  comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “Consumers have come to expect free shipping during the holiday promotion periods, and retailers, in turn, have realized that they must offer this incentive if they want to maximize their share of consumer spending – especially at the outset of the shopping season. In fact, more than three-quarters of consumers say that free shipping is important to them when making an online purchase, and nearly half say they will abandon their shopping cart at checkout if they find free shipping is not being offered.”

Comscore also polled people (1,000 internet users) to ask the value of shipping. 36% said it was very important, while 42% said it’s somewhat important and 12% was neutral.

Overall, people are feeling more comfortable shopping online. With a $6 billion dollar weekend and $1.25 billion Cyber Monday, it will be interesting to see what happens next year for CyberWeek.

It’s The Content, Stupid

Admittedly I’m coming in late to the party. I had all sorts of excuses – I already have a MacBook Pro, as well as the latest generation of iPod Touch. Why would I need an iPod with a giant screen to run mostly the same apps I can already run on my iPod?

After buying an iPad 2, I understand what all the fuss is about. It has also become immediately clear to me why there is a booming iPad market but currently not much of a tablet market. The reason is staring everyone in the face, yet few seem to see it, particularly large tech companies that are struggling to compete in the wrong arena.

The iPad is admittedly an incredibly nice piece of hardware – however, that’s not why it is so successful. The reason for the iPad’s overwhelming appeal and success is very simple – it revolves in large part around being able to run well-written targeted iOS iPad-specific apps that take advantage of the iPad’s screen size and svelte form factor. At about the size of a traditional magazine, it takes the best elements of the multimedia computer and puts them into a highly-readable, touch-interactive color screen that will easily fit into places and situations where even laptop computers don’t work so well.

In short, it’s all about the content and being able to easily consume it anywhere. The content isn’t just about browsing, listening to music or watching videos. The content in large part is the iPad-specific apps themselves, some of which are incredible, such as the 100% free Flipbook RSS reader app.

Amazon has a chance at success with the 7” Kindle Fire, not so much because of the $200 price point, but because Amazon has a lot of ready-made content hanging out in its cloud. Many people pooh-poohed the original Amazon Kindle, only to witness it quickly morph into a success. The Kindle was not and has never been a success because of the Kindle hardware – the plethora of Amazon ebook content is what caused the original Kindle rise to stardom. The availability of the content finally got the ebook ball rolling in a huge way, and the mass market finally realized the incredible convenience and advantage of having a cloud-connected ereader.

Would-be iPad competitors will never effectively compete with hardware alone, no matter how sexy or inexpensive they are able to make it. To borrow part of a phrase from an early 1990’s presidential campaign, we would all do well to paste this sign on our wall:

“It’s the content, stupid.”