Big Data – Marketing Gold or The End of Privacy As We (Think) We Know It?

August 12, 2013 Stephany Toman permalink

DatenklauEvery day we collectively produce billions and billions and billions of bytes of digital breadcrumbs, or bits and pieces of data, as a result of cell phones, social media, shopping, and receiving services in industries that collect and store data about their clientele.

Until recently, the data has been collected but not organized in ways that were particularly helpful, but now we’re beginning to recognize the importance of this volume of information for helping plan cities to be more energy efficient and better to live in; for improving the quality of life for our citizens; and for mapping health care trends to benefit communities’ overall well-being.

For example, Google already uses big data to help you avoid ugly traffic snarls. They purchase data from cellular service providers that tells them exactly how those phones are moving at any given point, say on the freeway leading from downtown into the suburbs where you live. This data allows them to see where the flow stops, and then the maps turn yellow or red, indicating areas to avoid during your drive. It would be hard to argue that this application of big data is negative, since it simplifies daily life and improves moods to boot – nobody likes to get stuck in traffic, so avoiding it is a good thing, right?

Another, (still in its potential stage), application for digital breadcrumbs would be to track the spread of annual flu epidemics through communities using data gathered from Tweets. An example that has been used? Capture every time the phrase ‘I feel sick’ is used in Tweets during flu outbreaks, and map, very closely (via geolocation) how an outbreak is spreading in real time, vs looking back over weeks like we currently do. Next steps could be to actually contact people (via Tweet, of course) who have been in contact with an ill person, and encourage them to wash their hands and get enough sleep since they’ve been exposed.

Supporters of Big Data believe it will enable better prediction of human needs, weather patterns (that will in turn help predict crop success/failure), resource needs, and will ultimately allow for more efficient planning across the board. Proponents are rubbing their hands together, anticipating unprecedented access to information that will help accurately predict human behavior and trends, thereby allowing proactive preparation for big surges in travel, purchasing, energy consumption, etc.

The flip side is the potential for abuse of personal privacy, and the possibility for abuse of data by less than scrupulous businesses seeking your absolute support and focus and who target you with relentless, highly personalized promotions that simply annoy, and make you want to abandon your iPhone or Droid or laptop and never look back.

The era of Big Data is here, and we want to know what you think about it.

Press Release: SpaBoom Launches Real Time Online Booking

July 30, 2013 Stephany Toman permalink

Gold Online bookingAlbuquerque, NM – The company that introduced Instant Gift Certificates to the lifestyle market has just launched Real Time Online Booking, their mobile-friendly online booking application for spas, massage therapists and estheticians. This newest feature gives consumers 24/7 access to scheduling appointments with their favorite practitioners, via their laptops, iPads, or mobile devices. Convenience, coupled with mobile functionality means consumers benefit and spas, massage therapists and estheticians enjoy secure, reliable, online booking that brings clients in the door.

“More and more consumers are making appointments from their mobile devices. We wanted to provide yet another feature in our robust online marketing system that addresses this trend and gives our clients state-of-the-art functionality at an affordable price point,” said Bill Bice, SpaBoom’s CEO and Founder. “We are all about giving small businesses great online marketing at a fair price, and that helps them compete with the big boys.”

SpaBoom’s dedication to their customers is well-known, and has separated them from the competition for years. In a space with an abundance of high-technology options, SpaBoom serves up the ideal blend of powerful online marketing and genuine, thorough customer service.

About SpaBoom
SpaBoom is dedicated to helping small businesses compete and succeed in a very noisy environment. Serving over 4000 spas, salons, massage therapists and estheticians nationwide, the company is proud to continue its legacy of bringing world class technology to the lifestyle space, technology that facilitates revenue growth and building strong online brands. SpaBoom has helped their businesses generate over $150M in online revenue, and knows what it takes to be seen, and effective, in the ever-competitive online universe.

 

Questions? Learn more HERE, or give us a call for the whole scoop on how Real Time Online Booking can help you!

Groupon, An Idea Whose Time has Passed

July 12, 2013 Stephany Toman permalink

the atlanticThis month’s Atlantic magazine has an article called Ideas That Have Outlived Their Usefulness.

Item #2 on their list, behind billable hours, is Groupon.

Why? We’re not positive, but here’s rationale that supports the designation in our book:

1. It’s expensive, and more economical alternatives are readily available.

2. It’s never about you. Groupon has always been about using the same mailing lists for you and your competitor around the corner when it comes to schilling deals. So you are the Groupon one day, and two days later the spa down the street is up, sending deals to the same people.

3. You have very little control in a Groupon deal. Success can be a terrible thing when it happens quickly, and you may not be prepared to deal with the traffic created by a mass deal. Unless you have absolute control over how the deal goes down, there’s a very good chance your existing customers, the loyal group you’ve nurtured since they first chose to visit you, are going to suffer while you accommodate the slew of folks responding to the latest Groupon. Ironically, the Grouponers are the ones least likely to become your long-time clientele.

Yes, we’re speculating a tad here, but given what we’ve seen during our tenure in the online marketing business, we’re pretty sure The Atlantic is in line with our long-held views.

Google+ Business Pages

June 6, 2013 spaboom permalink

Maintaining an up-to-date Google+ profile is a free, easy way to ensure that you’re current when it comes to Search Engine Optimization on Google for your business. Not only does it make sure your contact information is easy to find but it also allows you more visibility in the results by pulling up a large card with your contact information, recent Google+ posts, and even a follow button so your clients can follow you on Google+ without ever leaving the search page.

Google has been integrating its social network Google+ deeper and deeper into their products and services. As a business one great way to be more visible is to make sure that you have a fully updated Google+ page with as much information as possible about your business. Luckily Google has created a short PDF to help you get started in creating your page which gives you a short introduction into why Google Plus is important for your business which you can view here.

You will first need to create a Google+ personal page so that you can create your new business page. A Google+ account does require a Google account so you may want to sign up for a Gmail account before you begin setting up Google+.

Reviews on Google are now also submitted by Google+ users so in order to see the breakdown of the reviews for your business on Google they will need a Google Plus account, otherwise they may see something like this next to the reviews:

If you have a fully updated Google+ page for your business and a Google Places account set up as well you will start to appear on the right side of search results for your business. This card to the right of the results gives your customers a quick and easy way to find the import information about your business. You will also notice a “Follow” button under your business name which allows the customer to follow you from their Google+ account as well.

Google has also put together a great support site to help you navigate your way through Google+. If you are a SpaBoom customer we have already integrated the G+ share button directly into your events, specials and blogs so people can already start sharing the things they like right from your page!

If you already have a Google Places page you can now merge that into your shiny new Google+ account. Once you set up your Google+ personal profile and then your Google+ page you can learn more about Google+ Local here.

Ready for the influx of clients around Mother’s Day?

April 18, 2013 Stephany Toman permalink

mdaybeachAre you looking forward to a busy time around the annual celebration of Moms? Have you prepared special treatments, maybe added nicely wrapped gifts of lotions and potions to your retail offerings, and spiffed up the joint?

Maybe a visit from someone outside your salon or spa is what you need.

Bringing in an outsider who experiences your services from start to finish, who views your location as a stranger would, vs a staff member or someone much closer to the day-to-day, can provide very valuable feedback and ensure you’re delivering the very best possible to your clientele.

Your business is built on the details – what a client experiences from the moment they see your sign on the door until they leave, ideally relaxed and happy and looking forward to their next visit. Secret Shoppers provide a great way to obtain critical feedback, and if you use a friend rather than a service for this, you can simply offer them a gift certificate for services and let them enjoy treatments while they gather info to help you offer up fabulous experiences for your clients.

It’s a simple concept that works, and one that can also strengthen your team. Getting everyone on-board the ‘learning more about ourselves means we can improve and deliver even better treatments’ bus will engage your staff in the process. Everyone likes to feel like they’re playing a key role, and there’s no better way than to be inspired to be their very best, every service.

Who Are You Now?

March 25, 2013 Stephany Toman permalink

whoareyouHave you taken time lately to assess your business, and compare it to where you were a year ago? Or even a few months ago?

From a marketing perspective, continually looking closely at who and what we are and how we’ve evolved is essential to keeping all of our messaging consistent and fresh. We grow and change more than we realize, sometimes, and doing so with specific goals in mind and strategies for adjusting means we can do so comfortably and gracefully.

Things you need to ask yourself on a regular basis:

  • Have we added a new service that’s become a permanent offering? If so, have we added that to our service menu and any printed media that reflects services?
  • Have we shifted direction in any way? Become known for a particular offering or specialty? If so, have we mentioned that in emails, blog articles, social media and other outbound messaging? Have we updated our service menu accordingly?
  • Have we added to or changed our retail offerings? If so, do our clients all know our favorite product line(s) and why we feature them? People love to hear not just the what’s of what you do, but the why’s as well. You’re experts, and your opinion matters. Which also means any change warrants mention in an email, on your website, on social media, and certainly on your blog. People look for news from you in different places; be sure you’re reaching them in their individual information comfort zones.
  • Do we need to examine profitability and turn of our retail lines and adjust? Do we need to promote certain items more during services in order to move sluggish inventory? Do we need to discontinue items that simply do not appeal to our clientele? Look at your numbers, your average turn on retail, and on how you’re promoting. You may find hidden opportunities using only the communication between your practitioners and clients that will help create awareness and generate sales. And yes, you knew I was going to say this, talk about it on your website, in emails, in blog articles, and in social media. Make your audience feel like it has the inside track when it comes to info on your products. People like that.

Managing a spa or salon, or running a solo practitioner operation takes energy, creativity, passion and drive. Honest self-assessments work in all aspects of your operation, and small adjustments can mean big improvements on the face that you show your clients as well as the financial health of your business.

Take the time to reflect, and we’ll bet you’ll be pleased with the results.